Monday, February 14, 2011

Doom, Gloom, and Sponging Up the Fun

It looks more and more likely that Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays will reach a long-term agreement, especially after postponing their arbitration hearing until Friday. That, I think, could be a good thing for the Blue Jays in the future, provided the length and terms are agreeable.

Just about everything looks good for the future of the Blue Jays. The present...not so much. It isn't that the upcoming season is already lost or that I don't eagerly await Opening Day. I just think there are many short-term potholes between the Jays and a steady cycle of success.

I said as much during my turn at the helm of the ESPN Sweet Spot blog over the weekend. The Jays are in great shape for the future, unencumbered by regrettable contracts with a nice pipeline of talent streaming towards the big leagues. Too bad not enough of that talent is ready to salvage 2011.

The 2010 rotation was alarmingly durable, not missing a start until the Jays shut Brandon Morrow down. Can that continue? I know I'd like to think pitchers progress in a linear fashion but there is a real chance either Ricky Romero or Morrow suffer setbacks at some point of their career. If anything, shouldn't we hope this happens in 2011?

Adam Lind and Aaron Hill were very bad in 2010 at doing anything other than hitting one home run a week. They were much better in 2009 as you well know. Which season was the fluke? Adam Lind has the minor league track record and all but Hill is the human outlier. Assuming this duo fills the productivity hole left with Vernon Wells' departure & Jose Bautista's return to Earth is reckless indeed.

Frankly, I'm scared. I'm afraid 2011 will be ugly enough to kill all the good vibes Alex Anthopoulos accrued this winter. I don't even know why. What does it matter to superfans like us? (That's me writing this and you reading it.) The fairweather fans are only going to be there in fair weather, it's right there in the name! Maybe I like the idea of bloggers and fans of other teams coveting our wonder boy and his Ichiro-esque batting average.

As warily cynical as I am about the two items discussed above, I am completely bullish and hopelessly positive about Travis Snider in 2011. Nothing I see or read this spring can dissuade me from believing, for no real reason, that this is the year he goes off. Even if he doesn't, he sure seems like a swell dude to hang out with, which is more than any of us have any right asking for.

Building on the 85 wins Cito's magic potion rung from the Jays in 2010? We cannot get greedy. Enjoy the growth, enjoy the sun and enjoy the ups and downs. I think it is important we take the downs in stride because I've written this post too many times and at some point need to sack up and demand Playoffs!!1! like a real fan should.

Reuters Image courtesy of Daylife


  1. The fact that Travis Snider somehow managed to lose quite a bit of weight while spending the offseason eating dinners worthy of Epic Meal Time has me convinced that some sort of magic is at play here. It's only reasonable to expect said magic to propel this team far beyond the projected win totals and into the hearts of fairweather fans at large once again.

    And let's not forget John Farrell, whose immediate appeal resulting from his not being Cito Gaston is augmented by his apparent awesomeness in his own right. I'm banking on somewhere around 5 intangible wins above replacement at the very least.

  2. "If anything, shouldn't we hope this happens in 2011?" = Logic Fail

    If a player takes a 'step back' or gets hurt one year, you think they are LESS likely to continue to underperform/be hurt. Crazy.

    But I get it, and I otherwise share the same feelings/fears about the team/2011. Always a great read here.

  3. @anon: I feel like a down season or period of struggle is inevitable. Especially with a guy like Romero, I think players can bounce back and learn from it ( like my old post comparing Romero & Cliff Lee.) Get the teachable moments out of the way in 2011 then #beastmode from 2012 til infinity.

  4. Drew: there is actually evidence that young pitchers progress at geometric rates after spproximately 30 Major League starts, which bodes very well for cecil and morrow. Ricky could take another step forward and make his first all-star appearance. should be a good pitching season from the top three (Assuming health). The back of the rotation will have a larger part to play in the overall team success.

  5. Not a single semi-colon? Pussy.

    2011 will be a fun but nerve racking year of figuring out how many holes the Jays have that need to be filled in order to make a run in 2012. The scary thought is that if Hill and Lind regress even more there could actually be more holes that need filling than the start of 2010. And if that's the case does AA wait for players like Gose to be ready before making a push or does he become the GM who starts flipping high-celing prospects for major league established ballas?

    2012 is the line for me, I've been pining for it since AA took over. That'll be the year I cry out for playoffs!!1

  6. Always interesting stuff here. Even when I disagree I generally learn something. Thanks Drew!

    Personally, I believe that 2011 will be the year that the players expected to carry the team don't and those thought to be as yet unready step up, and don't match 2010 totals, but definitely surprise.

    I may be the only one willing to say this out loud but I don't believe Morrow was the same pitcher after his epic 1 hitter and (given Cito's historic abuse of young pitchers - can you say D Ward, etc.) and will need surgery or significant time off or both before returning in 2012 to some form of dominance.

    It is my further contention that Brett Cecil will take a step backward and need to find himself, not to the same extent but in a similar vein to Halladay's re-configured approach with the help of Mel Queen in 2001. Short term pain but long term benefit. I simply refuse to believe that transitioning to a #3 pitcher in the major leaguse is as easy as Cecil makes it look. A little struggle will make him better for longer.

    Ricky Romero will continue to hone his craft and emerge as the undisputed ace of the team.

    I believe in 2011 Travis Snider will emerge as a perennial top 10 slugger in the American League when he can stay healthy. I like him a lot but I think he is klutz!

    Drabek will be middling through the first half and then after the all star break it will click and he will take an obvious step forward. How far? We'll see!

    Litsch will pitch like a true number 3 and be traded at as his reward before season's end for prospects.

    Rzepczyinski will start in triple A but be brought up when either Morrow or Cecil falters and will do his best to make bluejay fans forget jimmy key was the best left handed starter the franchise has ever known.

    Lind will prove last year was a fluke, Hill will demonstrate to all that if we just have slightly lowered expectations then he will be fine and by the end of the season the jays will be looking for a new shortstop either through trade or as a free agent because as much fun as he is to watch, no one is as a good a shortstop as Escobar THINKS he is. And if a player doesn't see any room for improvement, well they just stagnate.

    Just a few thoughts on the season I wanted to share! Drew, I know the most incredible thing you will find among my comments is my belief in Litsch! You will see, he is a gamer.

  7. Juan Rivera will replace Vernon Wells production, anything from Lind and Hill will just be gravy.


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