That was ugly.
The 22nd week of the MLB season is over, and it couldn’t end quickly enough for Toronto. Six games, all at home, and for the most part, all disastrous. The Jays dropped five of six to the Royals and the Rays, pushing both their overall record and their home record below the .500 mark. Whatever faint hope the club had of competing for a postseason spot this year is now all but gone. The focus on 2012 has begun.
But, disappointing as that is, it can also be seen as a good thing. Now is an exciting time to be a fan as Alex Anthopoulos can evaluate the young talent on the roster and make an assessment for what is required next year. Call it audition season.
Besides, after the 12-0 drubbing suffered on Sunday, things can only get better from here.
Here are three things from week 22:
Week 22: August 22 – August 28
Record: 1 – 5
1. Wall = Hit
At this time of year, when many other teams are kicking it into high gear to chase for the playoffs, it feels like the opposite is happening in Toronto. The young Jays look like they have hit the wall and run out of gas. How else to describe a week where they looked so futile in all aspects of the game?
In losing five of six games to Kansas City and Tampa Bay the Jays were awful on offense, defense, and on the mound. They scored only 20 runs in the six games, and managed only 40 hits. Toronto’s batters struck out a whopping 65 times in six games, including 18 times on Sunday alone. Defensively they weren’t much better, booting the ball around for five errors. And the pitchers were plain awful too. After allowing 18 runs in three games to the Royals, they were destroyed for 24 runs in three games by the Rays. Not good. At all.
Everybody is scuffling right now. Brandon Morrow looks beat (0-2 with a 9.90 ERA in his past two starts). Adam Lind is lost at the plate (.143 average last week, .181 average in August with a tiny .485 OPS). Colby Rasmus is on the DL. Even the great Jose Bautista is struggling – he struck out 11 times last week alone.
Things are so bad that even the manager is out, as John Farrell continues to recover from a bout of pneumonia.
Tough times in the city.
2. Opportunity Lost
It was documented several times on this very site, that beginning on August 5th, Toronto began a 19 game stretch against largely beatable opponents. With a great run against lesser opponents such as Baltimore, Seattle, Oakland, and Kansas City the Jays had a real chance to gain several games on the division leaders. While it likely wouldn’t have been enough to claim the Wild Card, it would have been more than enough to generate September excitement in a city that is desperate for some.
But Toronto suffered the fate that so many non-contenders suffer – they failed to beat the teams they should. With many dreaming of a 15-4 or 16-3 stretch, the Jays went only 10-9 against the also-rans of the AL, and in the process became an also-ran themselves for the rest of 2011.
For a team that is in an almost impossible division with Boston, New York, and Tampa, it is essential that the Jays take full advantage of soft spots in their schedule. Teams that win championships don’t necessarily dominate other elite teams, but almost always destroy the weak sisters of their divisions. Until Toronto can do that on a consistent basis they’ll always be a year away.
But you have to learn sometime. Let’s hope the learning starts now…
3. Tough End to a Tough Year
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This was supposed to be the breakout year that everybody was expecting and hoping for. This was supposed to be the year when he stepped into a role as offensive juggernaut beside Jose Bautista, and prepared to lead the Jays in the future. 2011 was supposed to be all about Travis Snider.
Instead, it has been an absolute disaster. Travis had two separate stints with the Jays this year, with each ending in a demotion to the minors. From Opening Day to April 28th, Snider hit .184 with a .540 OPS and only one home run. In his second stint he was better (.260 AVG, .682 OPS, 2 HR) but not good enough to stay ahead of the Brett Lawrie express. With all signs pointing to a September recall, Snider instead is done for the season, diagnosed with tendinitis in his right wrist last week. The injury will force him out for 4-6 weeks, forcing him to wait until 2012 to prove he belongs.
An avid tweeter, Snider appears to have even turned off his Twitter account. His last tweet was on August 25th, a cryptic message stating: