500 Level Fan Looks Back at 2011

2011 can be called a “tweener” year for the Blue Jays.  This is a year in franchise history where Toronto transitioned itself from an also-ran to a true contender, by cutting ties with players like Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, Johnny Mac, and various relievers, and bringing in new full time superstars in the making like Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, and Henderson Alvarez.

Let’s have a look back at they year that was, month by month, both the good and the bad:

January

Highlight

Jan. 21: Jays trade Vernon Wells to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.  Vernon was the face of the franchise for so many years, but with declining production and his enormous contract he was becoming an anchor on the team.  The fact that Anthopoulos was able to unload him is still seen as incredible, almost a year later.

Lowlight

Jan. 25: Jays trade Mike Napoli to Texas for Frank Francisco.  At the time I liked the deal, but in hindsight it looks pretty bad.  Napoli finished 2011 with 30 HR and a 1.046 OPS for the Rangers.

February

Highlight

Feb. 17: Jose Bautista signs a five-year $65-million extension.  Criticized by many as being an overpayment for one fluke year, Bau proved everybody wrong by having an MVP-calibre season.  That contract looks like a steal now.

Lowlight

Feb. 16: Jays sigm Scott Podsednik to a minor league deal.  He never played a single inning with the team, and all that the signing did was clutter up the outfield in spring training.  Waste.  

March

Highlight

Mar. 31: Toronto hires Roberto Alomar as a special assistant to the organization.  Having the Hall-of-Famer join the front office shows commitment to the history of the club, as well as the future.

Lowlight

Mar. 29: Jose Bautista named right fielder for the 2011 season.  What is bad about the declaration is that by starting Bautista in right, Edwin Encarnacion (a terrible defender) moves to 3B and Juan Rivera (a terrible hitter) to DH.  It took a while, but the Jays eventually made it right, by moving Edwin to DH and Rivera to the Dodgers.

April

Highlight

Apr. 1: Opening Day.  The Jays destroyed Minnesota 13-3 behind 6.1 solid innings by Ricky Romero and a barrage of home runs.  A perfect start to the season.

Lowlight

Apr. 28: Travis Snider is sent to the minors after a 1 for 4 afternoon vs. Texas.  The promising and hyped opening day RF was hitting just .184 with a .540 OPS, 1 HR, and 23 strikeouts on the season.  It was the first of two demotions for Snider in what was a disastrous 2011.

May

Highlight

May 16: The Jays pound out 12 hits in a 4-2 win over Detroit, giving the team six straight wins and pushing them back over .500.  The best news of all is that Kyle Drabek pitches seven solid innings, allowing only one earned run on three hits, giving fans a glimmer of hope that maybe, jusy maybe, he’d figured it out. 

Lowlight

May 7: Toronto is completely destroyed, overpowered, and humiliated by Justin Verlander, suffering the indignity of being no-hit at home.  If not for an Arencibia 8th inning walk, the Jays would have suffered a perfect game.

June

Highlight

Jun. 19: Jays lock up Yunel Escobar with a two year $10-million contract extension.  Yunel is regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and had one of his better offensive seasons in 2011 with a .782 OPS.  A great deal for the Jays.

Lowlight

Jun 12: The Jays are demolished at home by the Red Sox, 14-1.  Kyle Drabek is absolutely horrendous in the start, lasting four innings and giving up 8 ER, 7 H, 3 HR, and 4 BB.  The Jays send him down to the minors after the start – his final one in the big leagues in 2011.

July

Highlight

Couldn’t choose just one, so here are four:

Jul 1 & 2: Roy Halladay makes his return to Toronto.  On the 1st he delivers the Phillies line up to the home plate umpire, receiving a standing ovation in the process, and on the 2nd he shuts the Jays down in a complete game victory – but not before surrendering a MASSIVE home run to Jose Bautista.

Jul 3:  Bautista sets an MLB record for most All-Star votes and earns a starting spot in the mid-summer classic.  He is joined by Ricky Romero in Arizona.

Jul 24: Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick are officially enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Jul 27: Alex Anthopoulos makes one of the biggest moves of his tenure as Jays GM, sending Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart to the White Sox in exchange for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahan, then flipping Jackson along with Corey Patterson, Octavio Dotel, and Marc Rzepczynski to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus and three pitchers.  Rasmus looks set to be a fixture in Toronto for years.

Lowlight

Jul 9: Toronto is thrashed at home by Baltimore 12-4, as Brandon Morrow is lit up to the tune of 6 ER, 9 H, and 3 HR allowed in only 3.1 IP.  The start continues Morrow’s up and down season.

August

Highlight

Aug 5: The future is here.  Brett Lawrie makes his debut in Baltimore, going 2 for 4.  Five days later on August 10th, Lawrie hits his first career grand slam off of Oakland’s Craig Breslow, and goes nuts.  Absolutely nuts.

Lowlight

Aug 25: Manager John Farrell leaves the game with pain in the left side of his chest, and is later diagnosed with pneumonia.  Bench coach Don Wakamatsu takes over in his absence.  Farrell misses 10 games.

September

Highlight

Sep. 5 & Sep. 6: Two great moments in a series vs. the Red Sox.  First on Labour Day, Brett Lawrie breaks a scoreless tie in the 11th inning with a walk-off home run to give the Jays a 1-0 victory and kick-off Boston’s September collapse.  Then the next day, after more than two years away from the game, Dustin McGowan returns, coming out of the bullpen to throw four innings, knocking up five strikeouts.

Lowlight

Sep. 28: Back with the team and picthing out of the bullpen to try and prove he belongs in the big leagues, Kyle Drabek is hammered by the Angels, allowing 6 ER in only 2 IP.  His season ERA now stands at 6.03. 

October

Highlight

Oct. 24: Jose Bautista wins his second consecutive Hank Aaron award, given to the top hitter in each league as voted on by fans and media.

Lowlight

Oct. 28: Jays fans watch in disbelief as Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel celebrate a World Series title with St. Louis.  Dotel was outstanding in the playoffs, after being awful with the Jays in the regular season. 

November

Highlight

Nov. 18: Blue Jays unveil their new logo and uniforms for the 2012 season, a classic look that garners league wide recognition.

Lowlight

Nov. 2: Despite the wishes of many, Johnny Mac re-signs with Arizona.  Many Jays fans expected him to come back to Toronto in the offseason and retire as a Jay. 

December

Highlight

Dec. 6: Toronto acquires closer Sergio Santos from the White Sox for pitching prospect Nestor Molina.  Santos was one of baseball’s best closers in 2011 and he gives the Jays something they have lacked for years – a true, shut-down 9th inning closer.

Lowlight

Dec. 19: With many industry experts predicting Toronto to win the Yu Darvish sweepstakes, fans are stunned and disappointed to learn that the Texas Rangers place the highest bid on the Japanese picthing sensation.  Toronto is left with nothing.

One thought on “500 Level Fan Looks Back at 2011”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *