It feels like the mid-to-late ’90’s all over again.
Remember back in those days? Remember watching a Jays game, and no matter what the score was, you just had the nagging feeling like they were going to lose? One run, two run, five runs – it didn’t matter the size of the lead. You just knew the loss was coming, and there was nothing that could be done to avoid it.
After a 1-6 road trip that saw the Jays lose all four games in New York, I have that feeling again.
Here are three things from week 4:
Week 4: April 22 – April 28
Record: 1 – 6
1. 9 – 17
No matter how much we want it to, the above number does not refer to September 17th. Sadly, it is the Blue Jays record through 26 games of the season. Many people thought the Jays weren’t as good as they were being hyped to be, including myself. After all, if you believed all you read, Toronto should have started 24 – 2. But even the doubters have to be shocked by what’s happened.
The 9 – 17 record is the third worst in the entire major leagues. When you consider that neither Houston or Miami is really fielding a major league team, then the Jays are actually the worst club in baseball thus far. And although recently you can point to bad luck
and fluky losses, the fact remains that Toronto is terrible in every category. Their 130 runs allowed is second worst in baseball. The -35 run differential is third worst. They rank 27th in team OBP at .291, 27th in team ERA at 4.46, and 29th in fielding with a -18 zone rating.
In a nutshell: they can’t hit, they can’t pitch, and they can’t field. They have all the makings of a last place team.
2. Silver Lining
If there is a silver lining, it’s this: the top two in the rotation are starting to come around. R.A. Dickey made two starts last week amid lingering back and neck pain. He had a very rocky second inning in Baltimore on Tuesday, but after that was lights out. He finished that start with four scoreless innings, then held the Yankees to four hits over seven innings yesterday. Brandon Morrow, on Wednesday, limited the O’s to three hits in 6.1 IP.
That’s the good news. Any contending team needs the front of its rotation to deliver quality starts in order to have a chance at the postseason. The bad news, however, is that they still combined to issue nine walks in those three starts, and the Jays lost two of the three. So while the pitching has improved, it still isn’t good enough.
And there’s worse news – Josh Johnson was scratched on Friday, Dickey will be going for an MRI on his neck and back issues, Aaron Laffey was terrible in a spot start, and Mark Buehrle has been just awful all year long. Never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for J.A. Happ!
The above has become quite a popular hashtag on Twitter these days. And why not? Picked to guide a rebuilt team into the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, Gibbons has instead guided the team to dead last in the AL East.
But really – is it his fault? He has already used 23 different batting orders in 26 games, an indication that he isn’t simply throwing the same team out there day in and day out. He is using platoon situations to his advantage, sitting Rasmus and Lind against tough lefties, moving Lawrie and Kawasaki up the order as they have improved, and shuffling Melky Cabrera between second and fifth. His bullpen management has been pretty good. He’s even been ejected twice, showing that he will get animated and stand up for his team.
So why the hatred? Is it because he wasn’t a sexy pick for the managerial role? Because fans wanted Sandy Alomar Jr., or Ryne Sandberg, or another high profile name? Is it because people heavily drank the Kool-Aid and expected the team to have 20+ wins already?
It’s easy to forget that teams need
time to mesh. It’s easy to forget that Toronto was pretty heavily impacted by the World Baseball Classic and didn’t have a real Spring Training Camp. And it’s easy to forget that Gibbons himself can’t hit, field, or pitch. But think about this: in 2010/11, the Miami Heat were expected to romp over the NBA. But after 20.7% of the schedule was played, the talented team was 9-8, and people were caling for the head of their not-so-famous head coach Erik Spoelstra.
They turned out to be pretty good, didn’t they?