This is/ isn’t the Year!
Mike Corbett (3L)
Following an offseason flurry of pickups, the Toronto Blue Jays were poised to make a run in the AL East. The excitement started on November 13, 2012, when reports surfaced that the Jays had acquired three marquee players and former all-stars in shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. The 12-player mega deal was eventually finalized on November 19th. That same day the Jays signed Melky Cabrera to a free agent deal and almost immediately some major holes were filled. The final piece of the puzzle was added in December when the Blue Jays acquired R.A. Dickey, the 2012 National League Cy Young Winner.
In less than two months the Blue Jays added a proven journeyman in Mark Buehrle, a potential ace in R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson, a driven professional in a contract year. The pitching rotation, a point of weakness in 2012, was now the envy of the league. Could a team have too much pitching? With Dickey, Buehrle, Morrow, Johnson, Romero and Happ the Jays certainly appeared to have plenty of options.
Plugging Reyes into the lineup at shortstop gave the Blue Jays an immediate upgrade both defensively and offensively and with Cabrera the Jays added a switch hitter with a 2012 league leading .346 batting average. Admittedly, Cabrera’s results were tainted as he was suspended for 50 games for high levels of testosterone. The offence looked strong featuring power hitters Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, contact hitters Reyes and Cabrera, speedsters Reyes, Rajai Davis and Emilio Bonifacio, and up and coming stars Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. This was the year Jays’ fans had been so desperately waiting for; this was the year the Jays were going to make the playoffs.
This was not that year. This was the year where the Blue Jays underperformed and failed to meet expectations. The strong pitching rotation was just not to be as Ricky Romero spent the majority of the year struggling in AAA Buffalo, Morrow pitched poorly over 10 games before hitting the DL and Johnson struggled mightily posting a 2-8 record and a 6.20 era through 16 starts. The only starters that stayed healthy were Mark Buehrle and RA Dickey who through September 10th had posted respectable earned run averages in the low 4’s with a combined record of 23-20. Amongst American League competitors, the Jays currently rank third last in team era and below average in both on base percentage and batting average.
To their credit the Jays were ravaged by injuries losing a slew of their stars for long stretches at a time. On a positive note, Rasmus had a breakout year despite a season ending injury, Reyes played strong on both sides of the ball, Lawrie appears to be ending strong and Bautista and Encarnacion, when healthy, are deadly at the plate. Looks like Alex Anthopolous is human after all and he will certainly have his work cut out for him this offseason. Let us hope next year is the year.