It’s been a tough task to be a Blue Jays fan in recent years with the team continuously sitting in the American League East division basement and 2012 has been no different. This season however, was expected to have more promise. Talk started in spring training of the Jays finally making that push for that much sought after playoff spot in one of baseball’s toughest divisions.
The team looked like it was entering a new era in this past offseason with slick marketing campaigns and the reveal of the new jerseys that reflected the look of the ‘glory days’ in 1992 and 1993 when Toronto was on top of the baseball world with back to back World Series wins. Those days are a while ago now, and with the team missing out on the playoffs since 1993 fans held an ounce of hope that this perhaps could be the year that the Jays made a triumphant return to MLB postseason play.
Led by ace starting pitcher Ricky Romero, and star players Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia, and Jose Bautista this season was hyped up with a new look. These players were all expected to lead the club to that next level…well, that exactly hasn’t turned out as planned. Leading up to the August 31st MLB trade deadline the chatter surrounding the team heading into the second half of the season was whether they should sit tight and ride the season out, or make a few moves and exchange some prospects for a big player to help make a run at the playoffs. After witnessing their demise since then, as a Blue Jay fan you have to be thankful that they didn’t bargain their future (some may point to the Travis Snider trade as otherwise) to make an unrealistic shot at the playoffs.
The Blue Jays downfall this season can be attributed to a few obvious reasons. The one that stands out is the injuries. The Jays starting rotation has been terrorized as well as injuries to key field players who have been missed in the field but especially at the plate. The one starting pitcher that has remained healthy is Romero but describing his current form as “struggling” would be an understatement. Romero has lost ten straight decisions and at this point looks like a pitcher who is perplexed on the mound with no confidence and unable to locate the strike zone. Recent talk regarding Romero suggests a demotion to AAA Las Vegas could be in the cards, although the team says he will remain with Toronto, to address the issue and allow him to regain his form and work on his mechanics while not facing major league quality hitters consistently.
In all moments of crisis the one positive is that things can only get better. In the Blue Jays situation you also have to acknowledge that on the bright side of their struggles is the fact that prospects who usually wouldn’t be up in the major leagues at this point are being given the opportunity due to the injury woes. Giving these players the chance to either pitch or hit against MLB all-stars and top quality opposition rather than the AAA level allows for them to become comfortable at this level and make the transition to the big leagues down the road easier.
Unfortunately, the playoff picture is out of sight once again in Toronto and as disappointing as that is Blue Jays fans should feel optimistic about the team’s future. These young players are getting a shot up at the major league level that they never thought they would get at the start of the season and while it’s hard for fans to stomach another season short of the playoffs, a team that is moving in the right direction with a promising future is something to be excited about.