After a victorious night and a Hall of Fame send off to Omar Vizquel I’m not quite sure what to think of the 2012 season. I feel like I’m experiencing a case of deja vu as I sit here after the 162nd game of the this long and painful year. I haven’t lost my faith in the mythical Ninja that is Alex Anthopoulos but the vibe in Blue Jays land has changed over the course of the season.
Many fans began the campaign frustrated with the General Manager which I don’t believe was fair as acquiring both Prince Fielder and Yu Darvish were long shots. After a Spring Training filled with victories some became more accepting to the non-moves and the additions of Darren Oliver and Sergio Santos seemed to complete a previously shaky bullpen.
Our trusty GM failed to bring in a veteran slugger that could fill the DH role but that wasn’t a big concern with a combination of Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion being the answer. Left field wasn’t an issue either as we had two young and developing players battling over the position. A young and unproven starting rotation wasn’t improved upon either as AA reportedly turned down a deal for potential 2012 NL Cy Young award winner Gio Gonzalez.
Now after the final out of the season I’m sitting here wondering, has anything changed?
We head into this winter with many more questions and concerns than 12 months ago and the only significant changes in the Blue Jays roster over the course of the season was another revamping of the teams bullpen.
The deadline deals for Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln left fans wondering many different things including how could we trade a position player for a relief pitcher? Don’t forget it happened twice! With the way Delabar has performed and the many questions surrounding Travis Snider I believe both of those moves were positives for Anthopoulos but didn’t we already revamp the bullpen?
After finishing the year with the majority of his starting rotation nursing an injury AA has stated starting pitching is his top priority.
“A lot of where our team goes is going to be predicated on what we do with the rotation, it’s clear we have needs there, especially with the guys that were injured, they are not going to be ready for the start of the year or even the middle of the year.”
Both Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison were victims of the dreaded Tommy John surgery and will not be ready next season. Unless AA can pull off a trade or decides Carlos Villanueva is a big league starter I think it’s going to be open season for all the kids in the Blue Jays system. The free agent market is thin on pitching this year and everyones top target Zack Greinke has stated in the past he is not interested in playing for Toronto. It’s too early to predict what the rotation will look like come April but I’m hoping we have a couple fresh faces in the mix.
How about the #BattleForLF? Anthopoulos is still in search of an everyday left fielder but could the answer already be with the club? Rajai Davis has done an admirable job after both Travis Snider and Eric Thames managed to lose the job this season but in my opinion he is nothing more than a 4th outfielder with great speed if he were to be on a championship team. Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose have shown that they have arms that belong at this level but neither player seems to be ready. Gose is expected to spend the entire 2013 with the Buffalo Bisons and I expect Sierra will start there as well.
Part of the DH/first baseman question has been answered because Edwin Encarnacion emerged as a true slugger and even showed that he can flash some leather on defence but what can we expect from Lind? Plagued by injuries throughout the past few seasons he has shown some bring spots this year including a 4 for 4 night in the final series of the season. I’m so back and forth on Lind but in the end I think his lingering back issues tell me to trade him every time.
Don’t forget that I mentioned we have more concerns than last year! Kelly Johnson has been a complete flop at second base and I will be happy to never see him in the alternate blue’s again. In this case I truly believe the answer lies within the organization as Adeiny Hechavarria has tools that remind me of Tony Fernandez and he has shown improvements during his time with the team. I would love to see Hech as the shortstop come Opening Day but I expect he will be forming a great double play combo at second base with Yunel Escobar.
It scares me to even ponder the thought that Jose Bautista could have a down year recovering from his wrist injury but I’ll try to ignore that thought for the next 6 months.
So what to expect as a Blue Jays fan between now and April? Hopefully AA can make a splash in the trade market because that is the only way he will be able to improve the starting rotation. I don’t expect much turnover as far as postion players but I’d bet everything I own that KJ won’t be around. I also think that John Farrell will be back as Manager but if that’s the case AA needs to extend his contract immediately.
Time for Rogers to open up their wallets, AA needs to go shopping.