Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Jays Post-Mortem

How do you measure a season? By expectations going in vs final result? Or by the peak of your hopes vs the rocky cliff they fell down?

The Blue Jays had a season that fell right into the expected results at the beginning of the season. They went 75-87, finishing 4th in the AL East. At least they were miles ahead of Baltimore.

But for a couple months there, they looked liked winners. The pitching was unstoppable, and the hitters were actually hitting. Perhaps everyone had underestimated these birds.

But my usual mantra at the beginning of the season was "talk to me in August" because I had little faith in the team maintaining its lofty standards, especially once their scheduled toughened up.

And I was right. The hitting collapsed, and the big names in the lineup never found a groove. Pitching? It was surprisingly good for a team that started 6 or 7 rookies and didn't have a steady closer for the duration of the season.

But the season was marred by J.P. Ricciardi's ham-fisted handling of the Roy Halladay situation. Now I don't think he had intended to start the firestorm when he made his comment about listening to trade offers, but he's an idiot when it comes to dealing with the media and said exactly the wrong thing for stability. Giving the impression that you're willing to trade your one legitimate star tells the team you've given up on them now and in the future. It screws with your ace's mind and Halladay's performance from the height of the trade talks forward showed that and likely cost him the Cy Young this year.

And J.P. was rewarded for his incompetence by being fired. It's about fucking time. The guy has shown time and again that he's all talk, but a poor judge when it comes to creating a team that plays well together. Big contracts, long terms, and regularly poisoning the clubhouse at the worst possible times with his blabbering to whoever put a mic in front of him had what remained of the fanbase up in arms. Good riddance to him.

Now someone do something with Vernon Wells.

But there were a few highlights in the season - Ricky Romero, Aaron Hill, and Adam Lind. Ricky's got rookie-of-the-year consideration for a 13-9 record, although his 4.30 ERA is a bit high. Hill - 36 HR, 108 RBI, 37 2B. Lind - 35 HR, 114 RBI, 46 2B and a .305 average, and .526 slugging.

And of course Halladay was excellent as always, even with his JP dip. 17-10, 2.79 ERA, 9 complete games, 4 shutouts, and 239 innings pitched. The man's a workhorse and the model of consistency.

And the Jays were in the top 10 in the league for nearly every offensive category. Hell, they were in the top 5 for some of the key ones.

Running through so many rookie starters showed something else - depth. Most of these guys came up too young and still performed. There's at least a couple future stars among those arms, and next year could present a good problem for the manager - who's in the rotation. If one assumes Halladay will be back, that leaves 4 spots. Romero is a shoe-in, and then there's the 3 guys who have missed this season - Marcum, McGowan, and Litsch. With those 5 starting, it leaves a glut of young pitchers from this season who provide either depth or trade bait. Of course, those last three have to recover first.

Because our team pitching stats aren't nearly as impressive as the hitting ones. Take out Halladay and they're downright dismal. It's tough to put together good numbers when you never know who's going to start the next game.

So, what happens next? Does Cito get another shot in the dugout? Who gets to determine the direction of this team with a new GM and President on the way? Will ownership still back the team now that Ted Rogers is gone? Can we get through a season without half the team being decimated by injuries? A healthy, happy Jays team is a decent one. Better than the Yankees or Red Sox? No, but there's a ton of potential in there that could at least be competitive.

1 comment:

lightning36 said...

So ... are you happy that the White Sox claimed Alex Rios off waivers? For a guy who seems to have talent, he sure has a bad rep. Many in Chicago think that the Sox were fools to take on Rios's big contract.

Kenny Wiliams doesn't usually make big-time errors. Did he this time?