Bringing back ’93
What to expect from the Blue Jays this season
Has the time come for the Toronto Blue Jays to finally meet the expectations of their fans and step out of mediocrity?
They may be considered the Major League Baseball winners of the off-season for their drastic restructuring by analysts, but being the best on paper doesn’t mean squat until they yield significant on-the-field results.
After 20 years of missing the postseason, it is expected that this year’s Jays squad will make a drive for the pennant, and possibly even win the World Series.
There have been some significant additions to the roster which could make all the difference in the upcoming season.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has added three gifted starting pitchers who have yielded success already in the 2013 pre-season.
Pitching and fielding
R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are a starting pitching line-up to be reckoned with.
In the field they have starting shortstop Jose Reyes, two-headed second basemen Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio, and Jose Cabrera anchoring the left-field, all of who exemplify the Jays’ depth.
The closing pitching role is a concern with last year’s breakout star Casey Janssen facing injury. He has yet to face live hitters this preseason, and his backup Sergio Santos is being rested after straining his tricep muscle.
The wildcard this year is last year’s major disappointment. Starting pitcher Ricky Romero may be a pleasant surprise this season. The reality-check from last year could be the spark he needed, as he knows now that things won’t be handed to him.
Look for the Jays’ fifth starter to have a solid year. Anthony Gose is the one Major-League-ready prospect you could see very soon in Toronto. He has looked excel- lent in training camp and could be called up early if last years hope, Colby Rasmus, continues to disappoint.
Gose has great speed and ball contact ability, and is considered Toronto’s center fielder of the future.
The rest of the bullpen is solid with the presence of Esmil Rogers, Steve Delabar, Darren Oliver, Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup.
With such a successful home-run smashing campaign last year, Edwin Encarnacion may have difficulty meeting the expectations he set for himself last season.
Jays fans should not bank on an- other 42 home-run season. More likely the slugger will regress a bit, but 30 home runs should be expected and doable.
Jose Bautista is expected to return from injury and return to his usual heavy-hitting ways.
The Jays off-season managed to thrill fans who had long since have gave up on Canada’s only remain- ing MLB team.
Anthopolous’ may have not only saved the Jays, but perhaps also professional baseball in Canada. The onus is now on the players to live up these massive expectations and not fizzle out in July/August, like they have in so many seasons past.
Every Jays’ fan remembers Joe Carter’s famous home-run in 1993 to bring home the World Series. Hopefully, this year’s squad can bring in the same kind of thrill.