Toronto Baseball Guys
Sunday, August 23, 2009
  This Rollercoaster Goes Right Off A Cliff
The Blue Jays currently stand at 57-65, 4th in the American League East. That's not terribly surprising, particularly in view of Tampa's ascendance last season.

But there are a lot of ways to get to 57-65, and the one the Jays have chosen has to be the most painful possible, as the team has Jekyll and Hyded its way to mediocrity.

Just imagine travelling back in time 5 months and telling expectant Jays fans the following:

The Good: Roy Halladay will compete for the Cy Young Award.
The Bad: Every other pitcher you've heard of will get hurt.

The Good: B.J. Ryan is now two years removed from Tommy John surgery
The Bad: He's also 8 MPH removed from his best fastball and we'll be eating the last $15 million or so of his contract.

The Good: Scott Rolen will stay healthy, hit .320 and play eye-popping defense.
The Bad: He'll then ask for a trade.

The Good: Aaron Hill will not only return from a near career-ending concussion, he'll blossom into a 30+ home run hitter. Oh yeah, so will Adam Lind, giving the Jays two inexpensive, productive young hitters.
The Bad: That won't be quite enough to offset the offensive abortions perpetrated by Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, for the bargain basement price of $27 million - or about $1 million per homer.

The Good: #1 pick Ricky Romero will justify the organization's faith in him and contend for Rookie of the Year.
The Bad: #1 pick David Purcey will walk the population of Nevada, and then be sent there in exile for the forseeable future.

The Good: For the first time in recent memory, the Jays will actually stomp the weak sisters of the AL and wrack up an impressive 27-14 record out of the gate.
The Bad: For the first time in recent memory, the Jays will be blown out of the water by the Red Sox and Yankees, negating their good work against everyone else.

The Good: Travis Snider will hit tape measure home runs from the #9 spot...
The Bad: ...until about the 3rd week of April, when he goes all Carlos Delgado circa 1994 and is dispatched to Las Vegas.

The Good: Marco Scutaro will solve the shortstop dilemna and become one of the top leadoff men in the league.
The Bad: He'll drive in more runs than a healthy Vernon Wells.

The Good: Roy Halladay, most beloved baseball player in these parts since the glory years will start the All-Star Game.
The Bad: He'll be so mired in trade rumours by that time that it will be next-to-impossible to enjoy the moment.

The Good: The team will find nearly $60 million in salary relief.
The Bad: They'll do it by letting Alex Rios, an all-star just two years ago, be claimed on waivers for nothing.

The Good: $60 million can buy lots of neat stuff for a baseball team looking to compete.
The Bad: Not if it goes into the pockets of owners looking to sell the team.

Stack up all the "Goods" in isolation and the Jays are cruising to a playoff spot. Stack up all the "Bads" and we could at least take solace in having the top pick in next year's draft. Since all of these things have come to pass, it's been quite a bipolar year for the Jays and their fans.

And it doesn't stand to get any better in the near future. If this were a team being held together by veterans having good years, it would easy to trade them for prospects and blow things up. But the core of the team - Hill, Lind, and to a lesser extent Snider and Romero - is certainly young enough to build around.

To that end, it's the final point that's most relevant. Who exactly is driving the bus? If Rogers is committed to the team and reinvesting saved money in that team, then the Jays might compete sooner rather than later. If they're cutting costs to make the team easier to sell, then fans could be on a path to watch the Florida Marlins North. And who knows what new ownership might look like?

For now the team remains in a kind of limbo, a team for which a plausible argument could be made for anywhere between 60 and 100 wins next season. If it's going to be closer to 60, all Jays fans can ask is that the team just tank out of the gate and not bother with raising hopes prematurely.
 
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