This season is a make-or-break year for the Toronto Blue Jays — and just a couple months into the year, it’s looking like a royal bust.
The Blue Jays generated a huge buzz during the offseason by finally forking over significant money and mortgaging their future by dealing away much of the franchise’s most promising youth to acquire proven talent.
The transactions (the Blue Jays traded away 13 players) were likely met with resounding cheers from Blue Jays fans, who have constantly watched their team flounder in the ultra-competitive American League East with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays. While nothing is guaranteed in what many consider to be the toughest division in baseball, there was still a glimmer of hope after an incredibly active offseason.
That optimism has been squashed as Toronto started off at 13-22, easily dead last in the division.
Here is a rundown of the acquisitions made by general manager Alex Anthopoulos during the offseason.
The Blue Jays’ starting rotation suddenly transformed into one of the more formidable ones in all of baseball. The Jays picked up aging, yet still-crafty knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who has proven it doesn’t matter how old you are as long as you can master the one mythical pitch. He was an all-star last year, but is carrying a bloated 5.36 ERA this season.
Toronto also added Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson into the mix of the starting rotation. Both high-profile additions to the team have ERAs north of 6.00.
The lack of production is somewhat of a head scratcher. All these pitchers are more than productive just one year ago with their respective former teams. Some might argue that thus is life in the American League East, but none of them are coming close to fulfilling their apparent potential.
The field/batting order
The biggest get for the Blue Jays during the offseason came in the form of Jose Reyes. After finishing fifth in hits last year with the Miami Marlins, the former batting champ was brought in to lead off a lineup that features power in Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
As seems to be the theme with these offseason moves, Reyes is almost 30 and some of his signature speed might soon be going out the door. Reyes has shown flashes of brilliance, but has only gotten to the plate 38 times due to an ankle injury. He sports a batting average of .395. Everyone else is south of .300.
Also in the field, the Blue Jays acquired Emilio Bonifacio for a utility position and Josh Thole for catching duties.
Toronto also supplemented their power with the addition of former San Francisco Giants slugger Melky Cabrera. Edwin Encarnacion is the only stud that has lived up to his billing at the plate. He has swatted 10 home runs this year. But, when he isn’t parking the ball, he isn’t getting on base with a .227 batting average.
What did the Blue Jays get for a return on their investment? The third-worst ERA in all of baseball and the fifth-worst batting average.
What moves do they make now?