After making a teeny tiny bit of a sort of quasi run in early September, the Blue Jays have done an excellent job this past week of crushing any feelings of hope and “well what if” any fan had.
Unless there’s a miracle beyond all miracles there won’t be any play-in games featuring Toronto this year. So where are we left?
Well personally, I’m disappointed. Mostly in the fact that I missed those wonderful two-ish weeks in May when they played wonderful baseball. But I’m also disappointed that the problems everyone knew the team had going back a calendar year are the things that sank them: a black hole in the infield, and a lack of outfield or starting pitching depth.
Of course the bullpen’s collapse was also a big problem.
However, that all ties back to the root of the problem, I think. And that’s the fact they had no flexibility, or perhaps no willingness, to make a move.
This team, despite what many of the negative suckholes say, is not far away. The top four in the order is arguably the best in baseball. Say what you want about Jose Reyes’ season, he’s still a pretty solid leadoff hitter. Melky Cabrera showed this year how much a tumour in your lower spine can affect your ability to play baseball. And the Jose Bautista/Edwin Encarnacion duo is reminiscent of Manny-Ortiz.
It’s the bottom half that leaves a lot to be desired. The problem going into this year was that we all sort of penciled Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus in as being strong everyday players. We knew Adam Lind would do well against righties and that Navarro would probably be okayish. But there was no viable platoon partner for the Man from Muncie, no legitimate fourth outfielder and no second baseman.
I have no problem going into a season with a few question marks. The problem is going into a season with a couple question marks and a couple definite black holes.
Luckily, the farm system seems to have largely solved the lack of rotation depth. Imagine what this season would have been like without Stromania running wild all over the American League?
But getting back to the lineup, what’s so disconcerting is the team really didn’t have to do much, in my opinion, to put themselves in the playoffs. A legitimate infielder, simply someone who can play average defence and be average with the bat, and maybe the $16 million would have taken to sign Ervin Santana. Think of how much Stroman, Happ or Hutchison in the bullpen would have helped.
The nice thing is the needs are still crystal clear, and very doable. Resigning Melky should obviously be a top priority. Then find a decent infielder and decent centre fielder and you’re pretty much set. You could even go all defence with a Gose-Pillar centre field, or Goins in the infield as long as you get a solid option at the other position.
There’s not much on the outfield free agent market, but there certainly are some intriguing infield possibilities. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are at the top of the list, and while I’d love either one it’s hard to imagine the Jays being able to afford them. But still, names like Asdrubal Cabrera, JJ Hardy, Jed Lowrie, and Aramis Ramirez could go a long way.
In fact, Ramirez has me very intrigued. Yest, he’s no young pup, but that simply means he won’t cost a lot. You could give him a rest by DHing him against lefties (140 wRC+ against lefties this year) and putting Danny Valencia in at third. With an addition like that I’d be fin with a Gose-Pillar outfield.
Do a little tinkering with the bullpen – they’re the most combustible and volatile area anyway – and voila.
It’s too bad we have to now look ahead to 2015. But hey, at least we got through most of the season before giving up!