For Toronto Blue Jays fans
Fast start key to Jays’ 2013 playoff drive
This is the most anticipated Major League Baseball season in the franchise of the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball history.
Jays’ General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has provided Jays fans with answers to every position problem in 2012. In just three years at the post, he poured funding into the scouting staff (where he first started with the franchise in 2003 – happy 10th anniversary by the way A.A.), then he started putting key pieces into place and built an exciting club that shows more potential than their routine fourth-place finish will attest.
Many fans will be snapping up programs to be able to identify some of the new faces on the team, but this provides them with the information they will want to learn about this powerful team.
Not only does the club boast some of the best players at every position but the organization still has some of its future just a couple of hours away down the Queen Elizabeth Way in Buffalo, New York, just itching to show they belong. How do we know? We saw many of them last season. Other prospects are now on teams playing for other organizations after Anthopoulos showcased their talents at the major league level through the 2012 season.
Some of you may be nodding in agreement but others may be wondering who were these players and why were they traded away if they were so good?
Adeiny Hechavarria, the phenomenal short stop who may still want to ply his trade as a New York Yankee one day, was chased (not just scouted) by Anthopoulos and his staff in order to bring him into the fold. The young infielder did an admirable job of filling in when teammates were sidelined. He is among the top prospects within the Miami Marlins organization. Should his hitting rise above .250 in the organization’s lower levels, the Jays may be playing against him one day soon.
The shortstop is just one of many players who helped provide the MLB club with the players (through trades) who can compete today. This is how many baseball franchises build championships. It is how the Jays were able to get the players they needed to win in 1992 and 1993. The only difference is that Anthopoulos is getting it done sooner than most GMs.
The organization may be among the best in the majors but what prompted the meteoric rise? How could a club that continues to finish out of the Wild Card hunt by August still keep fans interested through June or July? Certainly there is more to this club than just the marketing behind Jose Bautista’s home runs or Canadian Brett Lawrie’s wry humour and national heritage.
The answers may just lie in the club’s bad luck through 2012. Whether it is coincidence or just protecting their players in a lost cause, the Toronto Blue Jays lost more players due to injury than they had in franchise history.
Every position player suffered due to a season-ending injury or a prolonged ailment that caused the club to rethink how it was going to fill the voids. The club needed to address the closer role after it acquired Sergio Santos and came up with the idea of using former starter Casey Janssen. Bautista, Lawrie, Encarnacion, the entire pitching staff all suffered injuries at one point in the season and needed time off or surgery.
Every night, fans tuned into the sports highlights to see which Blue Jays player was injured this time. What made the situation worse was the midseason news that the Boston Red Sox were tired of how that club was performing that thought that the Jays’ manager might fill the void better than any other.
John Farrell’s aloofness and off-hand remarks about being “still under contract with the Toronto Blue Jays” were accurate but did not dissuade the Red Sox from getting their man in an off-season deal. Alex Anthopoulos was forced to make the move and that left him with just a few options for the 2013 season.
Anthopoulos is a first-class individual but when the Jays open up some big leads this season in Toronto against Boston, he can be pardoned for a smile when the fans start chanting “Dream Job.”
There is an old saying that throwing money at a problem does not make the problem go away but in baseball, it can certainly provide the basis of a solution.
Back to building the club: someone in the front office must have taken pity on the baseball team because when Anthopoulos went to his bosses for money to secure players in a trade with the Miami Marlins, the team approved immediately.
With the trades, Toronto management and staff addressed the holes in the infield including second base, short stop and first base. The trade provided an answer to the DH role, starting pitching and the outfield which already seemed set to compete.
As if to say, “But I’m not done!” Anthopoulos picked up the most coveted pitcher available in Robert Allen Dickey. All before Christmas. Thanks Alex. Everyone was asking what we got you.
While many may say Anthopoulos was just doing his job, he certainly took advantage of making a bad situation good and providing the club with a very real opportunity to win. The Jays are going to need it because with a terrible Houston Astros franchise now in the American League West, there is a very good possibility that the wild card teams will be coming from that division.
The Jays are going to need a strong start, the kind where they win two out of three games or sweep some series because they play all of their division rivals twice over the next two months. Here is hoping the club is on top by the end of May and we will be talking about everything Blue Jays.