And I’m not talking about vaccinations.
I get the excitement. I really do. I mean, I said on the radio that the convergence of MLB Trade Deadline and Friday’s Home Opener could bring up memories of the 2015 trade deadline, when in a few days – and in the middle of a series of weekend with the Kansas City Royals – David Price was acquired two days after Troy Tulowitzki. The Blue Jays weren’t much worse off back then than they are now in the standings, but the similarities between this team and this one aren’t as pronounced as you might think.
Forget the ranking.
It’s not 2015.
Letters @ArdenZwelling and @bnicholsonsmith discuss the shortened 2020 MLB season + from the Blue Jays front office with the trade deadline in a few days.
Presented by @MillerLiteCA. pic.twitter.com/J85sF1DW8Q
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 29, 2021
For starters, then-CEO Alex Anthopoulos was in the final year of his contract and was unsure of his professional status before even knowing that Mark Shapiro would become president and CEO. Current general manager Ross Atkins doesn’t have that concern. But more than that, this Blue Jays team has a young core and a longer competition window; time was running out for the 2015 Blue Jays and 30-year-old Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson. The best days of this nucleus are well ahead of them.
So the ranking is lying, in that regard. Yes, there is a strange and unique story in a lifetime until 2021. At no point in the history of the franchise has the trade deadline fallen three hours before Rogers Center sees its first launch. in nearly two years, the product of a pandemic that opened up all manner of unimaginable medical and logistical fears as it closed borders.
I never believed in the idea that sport can be used to celebrate humanity’s ability to overcome obstacles. I grant you the National Rally Cry aspect of it – it’s the Olympics and all – but as long as the variants are unleashed and vast swathes of the planet have no access to the jabs and people are in pain of real-life implications, well, I’ll wait for the hype.
I’m just glad I got my ball team back. I’m glad it’s run by people like Mark Shapiro who can balance responsibilities to their team – I’m talking about ownership, league partners and any other stakeholder – while still staying away from the three. levels of government in times of crisis. The Blue Jays haven’t had a big payoff since that 8-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in front of 25,738 fans. Meanwhile, they awarded George Springer a six-year, $ 150 million contract and gave Hyun-Jin Ryu four years and $ 80 million. They also made bad decisions that cost money that could have been used elsewhere. Kirby Yates was a bet that fell apart; Tyler Chatwood too. But it was not born out of a lack of willingness to spend money.
And against that backdrop, the Blue Jays went from a team that lost 95 games in 2019 to a 32-game regular-season club that clinched one of the few wild card spots. This season has been… well, it has been something. Four All-Star Game hitters and…
Yes. A 27-38 record against teams over 0.500, a 21-25 record in the American League East. A lift pen that set fire to tracks after being minced meat in the first month while beginners were being educated. A line-up that was not excellent late in the game or in close matches and was not always there. A team that on most nights feels like they’ll be 0.500 out of 162 games or maybe a little better due to a soft schedule backend.
That’s at least a 15-win improvement over the last 162-game schedule. while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette continue their ascent. Guerrero in particular… my word. Forget about the threat of the Triple Crown, just focus on developing its defense. If you tell me you saw it coming, you’re lying. Sorry. Bichette always has the hiccups on the pitch, but when you watch him make a split second decision, you can see him fit into an everyday shortstop role, or at least do it pretty well. so you don’t have to rush to add an elite shortstop.
And you know what we not talk with these two? They play all daytime. Every day. Junior, in fact, is one of the few people I know who hasn’t missed a day’s work since the start of the pandemic. His team have played 159 games since starting MLB after the pandemic break; he started them all. You can be the best player on the planet, but you are of no use to your team if you are injured. Ask the Los Angeles Angels.
I get the fuss. This weekend is going to be a special time for all of us, including the Blue Jays players. But I guess the franchise will stick to their strategy of adding pitchers or players with some control and maybe pitching another relocation contender like they did with Robbie Ray last season. I would listen to anyone other than Vladdy, Bo, Springer and Teoscar Hernandez…. but I’d rather hang on to Marcus Semien and Ray and take off-season compensation or have the potential for a qualifying bid rather than getting someone else’s eighth best prospect.
As of now, the Blue Jays don’t have, I believe, next year’s starting receiver in tow (Gabe Moreno is the guy but he’s injured) or next year’s second baseman (though Semien walks) or, for that matter, next year’s third baseman. They’ll need Nate Pearson to stay healthy and earn a starter spot next year and Alek Manoah to grow. And even then, they will have to level up if they want to win. As for the bullpen? Yes. Other than Adam Cimber, I don’t see much certainty or day-to-day reliability.
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 28, 2021
I’ve always thought that the only way the Blue Jays seriously think about giving a game of 2022 or 2023 this week is if they do a real run for the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Jays players have not forced the hand of management, which says nothing other than it may not yet be their golden moment. I get it: the Yankees look like a team waiting for their manager to get fired and they’ve faced crisis after crisis and you know they’ll come back strong next season but that’s missing the basics: in the here and now, the Red Sox and the Rays have to be beaten.
I’d rather the Blue Jays be cautious and make deals that will impact next year’s trade deadline. But it’s me ; you have the right to feel the opposite and, frankly, if you do, that’s a good thing. Because that means you’re even more excited that the boys are back than me and I can’t imagine what that must be like.
Jeff Blair hosts Baseball Central with Kevin Barker from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Sportsnet 590 The Fan