500 Level Fan Looks Back At 2012

2012.sflb_

There’s no other way to say it: 2012 was a dud for the Blue Jays.  A season that began with such great expectations didn’t simply disappoint.  No – it crashed and burned and left legions of fans disillusioned.

But good news – the offseason has been a different story, as the Jays have remade the roster to turn themselves into a contender.

In keeping with 500 Level Fan tradition, let’s take a look back at the year that was, month by month, showing the good and the bad.  Note – it was very, very difficult finding some good moments in several months, so bear with me.

Happy New Year!

January

Highlight

Jan. 9: Jays sign LHP Darren Oliver to a 1-year $4-million contract with a 1-year option.  Meant to come in and bolster the bullpen by giving a solid lefty presence, he instead became THE man in the ‘pen, putting up a team leading ERA of 2.06 and a 1.02 WHIP.  Ended the year as Toronto’s second most effective reliever behind Casey Janssen.

Lowlight

Jan. 24: Jays sign Francisco Cordero to a 1-year $4.5-million contract.  The thought was that bringing in the ex-Reds closer would provide sufficient coverage for Sergio Santos.  But when Santos went down, and Cordero took over, he was just plain awful.  2 for 5 in save opportunities, a 5.77 ERA, and a 1.81 WHIP earned him a trade to Houston, where believe it or not he was worse: 19.80 ERA, 3.40 WHIP in 5 IP.

February

Highlight

Feb. 14: It was a good valentines day for the Jays as they signed Casey Janssen to a 2-year $5.9-million extension with an option for 2014.  Janssen took over the closers role in early May and ended the season with an 88% success rate and a team leading 0.86 WHIP.

Lowlight

Feb. 28: Jesse Litsch shut down for the season with shoulder inflammation.  Though he might not have made the opening rotation, he was expected to at least add depth.  Instead his injury was just a sign of what was to come.

March

Highlight

Mar. 31: Toronto beats the Phillies 8-5 in spring training action to improve their record to 23-5 in Grapefruit league play – the best in baseball.  The Jays would finish the spring with a 24-7 record, giving fans hope that the same was possible when the real games started.

Lowlight

Mar. 26: Travis Snider sent to AAA Vegas to start the season, giving the Opening Day LF job to Eric Thames.  This was basically the end of the Snider era in Toronto, with management showing the fans that Snider wouldn’t be a part of the team moving forward, a thought confirmed when he was called up in the summer only to be dealt to the Pirates.

April

Highlight

Apr. 5: Opening Day.  The Jays beat Cleveland 7-4 in 16 innings in a game that had everything: a 3-run 9th inning comeback, a Jose Bautista HR, outstanding pitching by the bullpen, and the first signs that Edwin Encarnacion was ready for a breakout year.

Lowlight

Apr. 21: Prized offseason acquisition Sergio Santos is placed on the DL, ending his season.  Expected to solidify the Jays bullpen, the closer instead only lasted 5 innings before going down.  A massive early season blow.

May

Highlight

May 3 and May 4: Toronto pitchers throw back-to-back complete game shutouts in LA against the Angels.  First, Brandon Morrow dominates Trout, Pujols and co. with a 3-hit gem.  The next day, Henderson Alvarez tosses a 6-hit shutout.  The wins put Toronto a season-high five games above .500, a level that would only be matched once more later that month.

Lowlight

May 10: Toronto signs Vladimir Guerrero.  While the signing created some excitement in the city, in the end it only proved to be a distraction.  Guerrero’s presence turned the Jays minor league teams into a media circus, and his eventual demands to be called up to the majors despite little to no preparation put all parties in an awkward situation.

June

Highlight

Jun. 28: Jose Bautista hits his 14th HR of the month, setting a club record.  After a slow start to the season, he erupts in June with 14 HR, 30 RBI, a 1.158 OPS, the AL HR lead, and the American League Player of the Month award.

Lowlight

Jun 11, 13, & 15: The Jays lose 3/5 of their starting rotation in four games.  On the 11th, Brandon Morrow leaves the game after facing one batter, and is placed on the DL the next day.  On the 13th, Kyle Drabek leaves mid-way through a start against Washington, and two days later Drew Hutchison throws only nine pitches in his start.  Neither are able to pitch again in 2012.

July

Highlight

Jul 26: Edwin Encarnacion hits his 27th HR of the season, setting a new career high.  His performance is one of the few bright spots in what was becoming a dismal season in Toronto.

Lowlight

Jul 16: Jose Bautista leaves a game in Yankee Stadium with a wrist injury.  He is placed on the DL the next day, and though he makes an abbreviated two-day return in August, the injury effectively ends his season – and with it, unofficially ends the Jays season as well.

August

Highlight

Aug 27: In a rare moment of greatness for both him and the team, Colby Rasmus hits a go ahead 3-run HR in the 9th off of Rafael Soriano to help the Jays earn an extra-innings win in Yankee Stadium.

Lowlight

Aug 25: Toronto hits rock bottom with an 8-2 loss to Baltimore.  The loss is the team’s 7th in a row, putting them dead last in the AL East – 14 games under .500, 17 games back of first, and 3.5 games behind the Red Sox.

September

Highlight

Sep. 19: In a month nearly empty of highlights, Omar Vizquel provides one by collecting his 2,874 career hit to pass Babe Ruth on the all-time hit list.

Lowlight

Sep. 12: Ricky Romero loses his 13th consecutive decision.  His record, which once stood at an impressive 8-1 falls to a terrible 8-14.  In the losing streak his numbers are awful: 0-13, 7.91 ERA, 48 walks to 44 strikeouts, and a 2.00 WHIP.  Not very ace-like.

Sep. 15: Yunel Escobar plays a game with a gay slur written on his eye black.  He is suspended for three games, but comes across looking like an idiot and further sullies his already poor reputation.

October

Highlight

Oct. 2: On the second last day of the season the Blue Jays beat the Twins 4-3 to officially clinch 4th place.  Though the season was an outright disaster, Jays fans can take a little bit of comfort knowing that we at least finished ahead of Boston….

Lowlight

Oct. 21: …until now.  On this day, manager John Farrell officially abandons his position with the Jays and takes over the manager role with the Red Sox.  Farrell angers and alienates all Jays fans by referring to Boston as his “dream job”, and leaves Toronto, coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history, without a manager.

November

Highlight

Nov. 13: The magical offseason begins.  A couple of days after signing Maicer Izturis, Alex Anthopoulos completes a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, acquiring Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck in exchange for a package of young players including Jake Marisnick and Adeiny Hechavarria.  The trade instantly upgrades Toronto’s rotation, depth, infield, and batting order, giving the Jays contender status.  A few days later, Toronto signs Melky Cabrera to continue the transformation.

Lowlight

Nov. 14 – Nov. 18: MLB commissioner, understandably upset with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria for dumping most of his team after opening a new, taxpayer funded stadium, takes several days to approve the trade.  There is legitimate fear by Jays fans that he will veto the deal, thus extinguishing all the excitement around the city.

December

Highlight

Dec. 5: Tom Cheek finally wins the Ford Frick award for broadcasting excellence.  The longtime Jays announcer will enter Cooperstown, a much deserved honour.

Dec. 17: In his second massive trade of the offseason, AA acquires defending NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey from the NY Mets.  While the Jays give up a lot in terms of prospects, the trade suddenly vaults Toronto to the top of Vegas oddsmakers boards as World Series favourites.

Lowlight

The only negative with December is that there are still over three months left until Opening Day.  Good luck with that everybody!!

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