This is not where I thought I would find myself in October. I’m not afraid to admit that I bought into the optimism Spring Training brought out in many, and I’m not afraid to say that I saw overwhelming potential in the Blue Jays line-up and rotation, and I was confident that the Blue Jays time was upon us. I’m also not afraid to say I wasn’t wrong.
2012 was a dismal year, there is little doubt about that. A record of 73-89 isn’t anything to be proud of, and more clear than ever that the Blue Jays still have work to do over the offseason. This season, despite its high expectations, was a season that featured flashes of brilliance with stretches of disappointment.
If you were expecting a World Series Championship, you are probably more upset than most, but if there are a few things we can all take away from the season as a whole, it’s that as dismal as things went this year, at least Boston finished below Toronto, our first round draft pick is protected, Edwin Encarnacion has evolved into the player Alex Anthopoulos believed he could be, and AA will finally have to deal with the type of adversity that will help him mold this team into a postseason regular.
The stretches of disappointment are still a fresh would in many fans’ minds, and I don’t want to put salt in anyone’s wound, so I’ll be brief. Aside from Ricky Romero’s season long struggles, the Blue Jays season was one that was derailed by countless and often severe injuries. Throughout the season more than half of the opening day roster spent considerable time on the disabled list.
Almost immediately, Sergio Santos was lost for the season, (although Casey Janssen eventually rising to the occasion was a very welcome surprise), and then in June it really fell apart. First, we lost 3/5th of the rotation to devastating arm injuries in less than a week, and while the offense came to life to support their absence momentarily, soon the heart of the order was decimated by injuries as well as Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, JP Arencibia, Adam Lind all went down for considerable time. And while all of that is considerably bad, the season was not devoid of signs that greatness is just ahead.
Through the early stages of the season the Blue Jays young and untested rotation was thoroughly impressive and was unquestionably one of the best in baseball. The 5-man rotation of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchinson, Kyle Drabek, and Henderson Alvarez either led or were among the leaders in the AL in almost every pitching stat while the offense was slow to come to life.
When the Jays lost Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchinson, and Kyle Drabek in the span of four day the Jays were still in the thick of the AL Wild Card hunt, but many immediately said the Jays were done, that the injuries were too much to overcome, but the resiliency of the Jays began to show.
Soon after, the offense finally sprang to life, and began to carry the team in the absence of the injured arms. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion soon became one of the most potent and most feared twosomes in Blue Jays history by swatting more home runs than any other duo in the majors. Still others such as Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie both stepped up their games for considerable stretches, and the likes of Adam Lind, David Cooper both stepped up at different points to help the team out in ways few expected. Even towards the end of the year, young call-ups like Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose, and Adeiny Hechavarria all started to show the potential we have all been made so aware of. Until the injuries finally claimed the offense as well, the Blue Jays lead the Majors in runs scored as well, one of the most frequently referenced accomplishments of the Jays.
Over this offseason if the Jays can truly address whatever was the cause of the surreal rash of injuries, maintain a healthy (and potent) offense and rebuild the rotation from the ruins that it currently resembles, the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays should maintain all of the potential that this year’s squad carried and realize a great deal more success. While there is no way right now to know what represent the best solutions available to answer the Blue Jays many needs, and if we can take Anthopoulos’s most recent comments to heart, with the Jays fans’ outpouring of support over the season in the form of merchandise sales and increased attendance, the Jays front office might finally have the resources they desire to make the best moves possible. And I for one, am looking forward to opening day.