Taking three of four from Oakland at the end of week four (April 26 – May 2) salvaged a rough start for the Jays, and left them at an even .500 through 26 games. The week started with three very competitive games against Boston that were at once encouraging and frustrating. Encouraging because the Jays proved that they could play with elite competition like the Red Sox, but frustrating because they know they can not consistently beat them. However, the fact that this ballclub, who was predicted to finish dead last, has won an equal number of games as they’ve lost, is a good sign.
Here are three noteworthy things from the week that was for the Jays:
An old saying says that in order to be the best you have to beat the best. Though the Jays are right at .500, one look at the competition proves that Toronto is nowhere near ready to challenge in the American League. To this moment they have played three series against legitimate World Series contenders, and have a dismal 1-8 record. Three game home sweeps by the Angels and Red Sox, and losing two of three in Tampa Bay shows that Toronto has a ways to go if they want to hang in the elite levels of baseball. The good news is that their 12-5 record against the rest of the AL has kept them above the doldrums of the league (I’m looking at you Baltimore and Kansas City). Toronto has to keep that success up because the schedule still shows 69 games against baseball’s toughest teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Angels, Phillies, and Cardinals). Ouch.
2. Bullpen Reshuffle
Last week’s column pointed to the struggles of the bullpen thus far, and how Shawn Camp and Kevin Gregg can’t carry the load forever. Don’t I look prophetic! After Mo
nday’s 13-12 debacle against Boston, Anthopolous finally made some moves, shipping out the dreadful Jeremy Accardo and the little-used Merkin Valdez to Triple-A Las Vegas. Gregg’s subsequent bases loaded walk on Tuesday (which resulted in the winning run for Boston) proved that reliable arms are necessity, not a luxury. While the jury is still out on Josh Roenicke and Rommie Lewis (the two have combined for 6.2 IP and 2 ER), one thing that is certain is that this could be the end of the line for Accardo. After bursting on the scene as Toronto’s injury replacement closer in 2006 (30 saves, 2.14 ERA), Accardo has managed only 43.2 IP in the big leagues, with maddeningly inconsistent results. Relievers normally don’t get three second chances, so don’t be surprised if we’ve seen the last of Accardo in Toronto.
3. Big Bad Buck
Two weeks in a row a Blue Jays catcher makes an appearance – last week Molina for his arm, this week Buck for his bat. John single handedly blew away Oakland on Thursday night with
a three home run game, giving him a total of four on the season. Three doubles on Sunday afternoon in another defeat of the A’s raised his average to a more respectable .243. But he is sporting a .818 OPS, good for fourth in the AL among catchers with regular playing time – only Jorge Posada, Joe Mauer, and Kurt Suzuki are higher. Last season, Rod Barajas finished with an OPS of .661 – a terrible number. Buck will