Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Nowhere But Up for the Jays!

Some of the baseball experts have predicted that the Toronto Blue Jays will finish last in the American League East this coming season.

Despite their best efforts, they were not able to retain the services of A. J. Burnett. Burnett was a starting pitcher for the Jays the last few seasons. When all of the planets were properly aligned, he was almost unhittable. But he carried a little baggage with himself, in terms of attitude. Many Jays’ fans were not sorry to see him go.

Naturally, the success of this coming season rests squarely on the shoulders of “Doc” Halladay. Without question the best pitcher in baseball for several, the owners of the Blue Jays must wince a little when they consider playing a full season without the Doc. He has been an absolute marvel on the mound for the Jays.

He is a refreshing reminder of the way it used to be, in terms of competitive sports. He simply does his job. No complaints. No attitude. No glares at infielders who make costly errors. He simply wants the ball, climb the mound, and face opponents. And he does it better than anyone else.

The Jays do have offence, but that does not win enough ball games to fly pennants. Vernon Wells needs to have a healthy season. Alex Rios has the potential to become a super star, but must show that talent this year. Bautista, Snider and Lind will all serve in the outfield, and will contribute at the plate.

The greatest question marks surround the pitching staff. The number two and three starters are Jesse Litsch and David Purcey. Neither has made the hoard at the Rogers Centre jump out of their seats. The other two starters will need to put together a few quality outings to win over the rabble in Hogtown.

There is also a large question mark at the closer position. B. J. Ryan insists that the job is his; hopefully, he will have magnificent stuff, and will mow down the opposition. Realistically, there is a chance that Brandon League might be called on to assume that role sooner than expected.

They have played musical chairs with the catching position this spring, and will be relying on Barajas and Barrett to provide the work at the backstop position. Greg Zaun was a popular catcher, but could not throw out base runners. He was also one of many who got caught with their hands in the banned substance “Cookie Jar”.

This will be the first season of the post steroid/human growth hormone era. Frankly, I do not know enough about the drug market to determine the current situation. There are “masking agents” which help to obscure test results. Apparently, there are ways to manipulate the detection systems; nonetheless, the penalties are severe, and most players will at least think twice before using the performance enhancing substances.

Certainly, the balls will not fly out of the parks the way they did at the height of the “juice era”. Pitchers will not get quite the same mustard on their fastballs. In a recent book on Roger Clemens, it was reported that with a month or so of his alleged steroid use, he added almost 10 miles per hour to his fastball!

The Jays did add a proven commodity in Kevin Millar to back up Lyle Overbay at first base. With Scott Rolen healthy at third, there will be runs tallied on the score sheets. The Blue Jays are still lacking in “pop” in the other infield positions, which has hurt them significantly over the past few years. Marco Scutaro, John McDonald, and Aaron Hill will likely finish the season batting .250, with very few long balls, and few stolen bases.

The Rogers Centre has been gussied up for the season. More variety of food, more places to enjoy the atmosphere.

As you must well know from my perspective, it all happens between the lines.

Get out to a game or two to enjoy “America’s Pastime”. By the way, plans are in place for a great World Series reunion and tribute to the players from 1992 and 1993.

Play Ball!

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