2011-11-08

Blue Jays Fair to Middlin’ Ways Continue


It is hard to believe now but there was a time for a glorious decade from the mid-1980’s through the 1994 strike and season cancellation when the Toronto Blue Jays were a dynasty that consistently beat the MLB odds and would play before packed sellout crowds at what was then known as the Sky Dome. Things have simply not been the same since that work stoppage, as fans turned away from the Blue Jays and baseball in droves and the team has been unable to keep up with the Jonses, or make that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

The Blue Jays broke even with the MLB odds this year as they were 81-81 but 16 games out of first place. This has been the pattern of the Blue Jays in recent years, as they will often give fans a hint or tease at success only to then fall back as a small market type of team that actually plays in Canada’s largest market and a market with plenty of funds.

Pitching was the biggest reason for Toronto’s problems this year, as they ranked 24th in the major leagues for staff earned run average and 21st in quality starts. The poor performance by the pitching staff wasted a solid offensive season that saw the Blue Jays ranked a surprising 6th for runs scored and 5th in home runs. It is interesting to note the lack of a home field advantage for the Blue Jays as they won 39 games on the road compared to just 42 at home. Much of this has to do with the antiseptic sterile environment of Rogers Centre and a town that is obsessed with hockey’s Maple Leafs.

The bullpen blew a staggering 25 saves and lacks a quality starter at the 4th and 5th slots. Filling those slots will be the priority of the management staff in the off season. There is considerable depth in the Jays' developmental system and they expect to develop their own rising talent to fill other needs on their own.

The anchor of the team is, of course, Jose Bautista, who hit .302 with a whopping 43 home runs and 103 RBI, in 2011. Another Toronto mainstay is Yunel Escobar, who hit .290 and scored 77 runs with an ailing elbow down the stretch, but is expected to be healed when spring training begins.

With division rival Tampa Bay winning on a shoe string budget, there are simply no more excuses for teams like Toronto and 2012 will be a pivotal season.

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