With pitchers and catchers shortly due to report to Dunedin, the Blue Jays spring season home, I thought it was time to do an overview of the upcoming seasons.
2012 was a total disappointment, especially for fans, as the team managed a lowly 73-89 record, and a 4th place finish in the American League (A.L.) East. The team lost José Bautista to a wrist injury, and Ricky Romero suffered through consistency issues.
The off-season saw manager John Farrell depart for the Bosten Red Sox, and the Blue Jays pulled off a huge 12 player trade bringing Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, José Reyes, and Emilio Bonifacio. Later signings and trades saw John Buck depart for the New York Mets in a trade for 2012 National League (N.L.) Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, and the signings of Left Fielder Melky Cabrera and infielder Maicer Izturis.
John Gibbons, Toronto’s manager from 2004 to 2008, was rehired as manager following the departure of John Farrell. On February 5th, 2013 John Gibbons announced that R.A. Dickey would be the Opening Day starter for the team. He will be leading a starting rotation which includes Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero. The closer position will belong to Casey Janssen, barring injury.
Questions have to be raised about this year’s season, which include:
- Can R.A. Dickey keep up his performance from 2012 (20 wins, 5 complete games, 233.2 innings pitched, 2.73 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP.) If he can post similar numbers this year, he should contend for another Cy Young award.
- Mark Buehrle, who threw a perfect game in 2009 and was the White Sox’s Opening Day every year between 2002 and 2011 with the exception of 2007, is now 33 and entering his 13th season. He is also a four time All Star and four time Gold Glove winner. Will his experience pay off in Toronto.
- José Bautista’s wrist is a worry. While reports indicate he is healthy, will last season’s injury reduce his output in 2012. While Edwin Encarnación stepped up and took over as the team’s heavy hitter, if both Bautista and Encarnación can step up with some power, the offence will be pretty difficult and opposing pitchers will have a difficult time handling both players.
- Can Ricky rebound after a rocky 2012 season? While it looks like Romero may end up being the fifth starter for the team, and based upon the competition for the starting rotation this is the best position for him to start the 2013 season, can the demotion – and reduction of stress by not having to be the team’s ace pitcher – help him regain his form?
- Is Melky Cabrera worth the risk? Cabrera was suspended 50 games in 2012 for testing positive to performance enhancing drugs, and was not added to the Giants’ post season team once he completed the suspension. Can he post good numbers like he did prior to the suspension? We will have to wait and see.
I am looking forward to the 2013 Blue Jays season. While I do not see the team winning the A.L. East title, I do see them competing for a wild card position and a second place finish. Rogers Centre will also likely be a stadium that other teams will dread visiting, especially if everyone stays healthy. After 20 years long wait, I think we have a chance to see a great team that is due for a long run in the post season.