For Toronto Blue Jays fans
AFTER THE FIRST MONTH
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the Jays’ 2012 season so far. I hear it is easier to be upset about the losses and failures but that is beside the point.
What seems to be lost this early in the season is why the youth of the Jays pitching staff is taking a major role in the club’s success. Former Jays catcher Gregg Zaun indicated that he would not bring in the young pitchers at this point in their careers. It might hurt a valuable “commodity.” Normally I would tend to think he is right. However, these Jays youngsters seem to have the maturity to handle any opposition or mistakes.
Zaun’s fellow Sportsnet television commentator Pat Tabler let us know exactly what is going on out there. He suggests that because all of these pitchers: Henderson Alvarez, Kyle Drabek and the latest acquisition Drew Hutchison are keeping the baseball low in the strike zone (“pounding ’em low”) they are getting the opportunity to move up to this level of competition and stay up with the big club.
The Jays management seems to be saying: Those who cannot show that they can keep the ball low will not be able to play in Toronto.
Because at the Rogers Centre the balls that creep up on the strike zone keep landing on the wrong side of the fence. This is one comment short of calling the Jays’ home field a batter’s park – that is exactly the situation. This is no secret. The Jays are hitting more home runs at home than on the road but then again so is the opposition. The slammers like David Ortiz love hitting here. He feasts on Jays pitching more than in any other ball park.
We need to tip our collective hats to Manager John Farrell who is pulling all of his pitchers when they need to stop. The pitchers are not out being left out there too long. The last two games saw the Jays starters fire about 90 to 100 pitches. That is enough at this time of year.
I enjoy seeing the pitchers not want to come off the field. Those are the guys I want out there.
What we need to acknowledge is that after 23 games your Toronto Blue Jays are 12-11. No, this is not the kind of start many Jays fans envisioned but with the kind of opposition that they are facing; it is a wonder that they have a winning record. The Jays are among the leaders in home runs, only Texas, New York and the first-place (gulp) Orioles have more homers than Toronto as of May 1.
No, Jose Bautista is not leading the team in that category but it is early in the season and he seems to be getting the timing down. It is funny how everyone has a reason for Bautista’s lack of power lately but only Sportsnet’s Gregg Zaun and the television staff have isolated the difference between what the Jays hitter is doing and what he was doing last year. Great work. However, finding the cause and correcting it are two different matters. Last season, the critics were wrongfully suspecting steroid use and this season they are wondering why Bautista hasn’t hit more home runs.
There is no pleasing some people. Folks, hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports and hitting home runs is just another level of challenge only the gifted and hardworking can accomplish. It still astonishes me that Bautista’s tear in the last three seasons is among the all-time leaders in baseball – Ruthian to be sure, in the truest sense of the compliment.
Gee, do you think he should be asked to participate in the home run hitting contest this season? What does the man need to do to gain the respect?
Picking up the home run slack is designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. He is showing that he will not be waiting until the all-star game to wake up. He is making such an impact on the league right now, even some of the best pitchers such as Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish feels he needs to throw differently to the Jays slugger.
Speaking of sluggers, who would have thought that second baseman Kelly Johnson would be second on the team with five home runs. His defence is solid but if he adds to that a propensity to drive in runs and grab some extra base hits and you have a double threat.
I enjoy that Manager John Farrell is providing each player some down time throughout the season. I always thought Roberto Alomar’s role with the team as Special Assistant should be broadened to include some coaching but the next best thing is to bring in an all-star infielder who used to play with Alomar. Omar Vizquel is a fine acquisition for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The biggest surprise for the Jays besides Encarnacion’s hitting is the catching and hitting of Jeff Mathis. His offence and defence means that J.P. Arencibia can take time off to nurse some of those unspoken injuries that catchers endure throughout the season. In the first game against Texas, I counted at least three pitches that beat up the young defender behind the plate. Add to that the times he is hit by a pitch while at bat and you see why more people do not take up the sport.
Eric Thames, Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind and Canadian Brett Lawrie all deserve to stay with the club since they each add an element this team needs to succeed. Their only downside is actually an upside to the team – they are so young! Sure Lind is a veteran to most of us but he is only 28 with less than 700 at-bats. His ailing back might be more of a hindrance than the organization is letting on but he can take time out with the kind of bench Toronto provides.
As you can tell by the theme of this post and of course the title of this blog, I believe the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball organization is certainly a team to watch. I still believe that the club’s real impact will come in 2013 when it contends for the American League flag and then the World Series. It in no way diminishes my enjoyment of the team’s performance or the possibility that I may be incorrect. I secretly hope so.