The Jays are winning at a .333 clip so far in 2008. With six feet of snow on just about every sidewalk in Toronto, that's no big deal. As anyone who has ever followed Grapefruit League action knows, spring training games are completely meaningless. Remember Juan Samuel leading the league in homers? I'm sure he does, too.
Spring training games are useful only in allowing position players to accrue some at bats and ease back into shape and allowing pitchers to build stamina. Clubs would be perfectly happy to go 0-for-spring, so long as they don't hear the word "ow."The Blue Jays, riddled with injuries in 2007, have enjoyed an uneventful spring medically, with the exception of A.J. "For this much money, I should have someone open my car doors for me" Burnett and his crushed fingernail.
That is, until today, when Casey Janssen said "ow."
With a torn labrum, Janssen is not only out of the picture this season, his odds of coming back and being an effective major league pitcher are rather long. Despite his excellent 2007, Janssen's strikeout numbers didn't mesh with the profile of an elite reliever, and he was a little hit lucky (the batting average against him on balls is play was just .260). So it may have been a lot to ask for a repeat performance.
Where the Janssen injury really hurts is the versatility it costs the team. Without Janssen in the pen, the Jays can't afford a letdown from Jeremy Accardo, or a delay in the return B.J. Ryan, or another Brandon League relapse. Without Janssen's presence in the race for 5th starter, one of Jesse Litsch or Gustavo Chacin will have to perform, and there's now added pressure for the rest of the rotation to remain healthy.
This isn't a fatal blow to the Jays' season - after all, B.J. Ryan went down last year and the bullpen was still one of the best in the league. If Ryan's even close to his performance pre-surgery, he will easily replace Janssen. The rotation is less of a sure thing, especially in light of Chacin looking positively ordinary in his first action. But again, it was his first action, and spring is the time to give up 420 foot Alex Rodriguez moonshots. Should his struggles continue, the Jays now find themselves with one less option - and a team hoping to compete for the AL East title can't afford to lose too many options.