Through the late months of spring, Blue Jays fans could be seen proudly boasting smiles along with new Snider or Lind jerseys, as the Jays were actually winning. They won seven of their first eight series, and sat atop the division for the entirety of this run. But then, a nine-game road trip happened, in which Toronto won nada.
From there, the season went into a whirlwind, leaving Jays fans back in their usual state of disappointment, to where Toronto sits now: fourth in the division, comfortably behind the Rays and ahead of the Orioles. I, like many fans, am still in awe, wondering what the hell happened over the season.
Andrew Stoeten, author of The Score’s acclaimed DrunkJaysFans.com blog, believes it was due to happen, and fans just blew it out of proportion.
“[The Jays] just had a lucky start, and a lot of people were blinded by how well they started,” said Stoeten. “At the beginning of the year, the Jays were getting lots of lucky breaks, such as balls bouncing off the first-baseman’s glove for the winning run and stuff like that. In the end, their lucky breaks just caught up to them.”
In a season highlighted, yet again, by pitching injuries, poor hitting and big names not delivering, Stoeten believes it was the bats that hurt the most. The stats agree. In mid-August – a time when most teams are pushing to make the playoffs – there was not a single Blue Jay hitting over .300.
“Rios and Wells definitely should have been better,” said Stoeten. “Along with that, a lot of guys were getting too many at-bats. Kevin Millar proved he’s not the Millar of five years ago, while he along with Inglett and Bautista were getting lots of at-bats, which really isn’t good for anyone.”
Wells and Rios were dramatically the biggest disappointments to Jays fans this year. Wells, who is counted on as the team’s big hitter, has numbers similar to catcher Rod Barajas. Rios fared no better, leading to his release to the Chicago White Sox in early August. Unfortunately for Jays fans, it appears Wells won’t see the same move.
“There’s no chance [Wells] gets moved; no one wants to take on that contract,” Stoeten said.
The sole spotlight of the year was on the Jays rotation. Fans have fallen in love with rookie sensation Ricky Romero who, according to a Bleacher Report article, is the front-runner for rookie of the year.
“We could not have asked for more out of the group that played in such a patch-work system. We saw great things from Romero, Tallet and Cecil,” Stoeten said.
Unfortunately, it is tough to say when things will turn around as, according to Stoeten, the future is very unclear.
“It all depends on what Beeston decides to do, a new president could change everything,” Stoeten said. “Fans believe that if they really wanted to, Rogers should have enough money to go out and sign good free agents this off-season, but a new president could instead want to tear down the team and build from the ground up. One thing that I do think will happen for sure is J.P. [Ricciardi] will be fired.”
As for when success will come for the Jays, Stoeten says that will once again depend on the president situation.
“I could see it as a possibility as early as next year. It’s just so tough to say because the other teams in the division have so much money and can rebuild year after year.”
Jays fans are hoping he’s right, as this will now mark the fifteenth straight season of playoff abstinence for Toronto.