CHICAGO, September 19, 2013 — The Blue Jays had high hopes going into this season after their trades with Miami and New York. Today, however, the Blue Jays no longer have any outside chance of making the playoffs, therefore, this column wishes the Toronto Blue Jays Better Luck Next Year.
What Went Right: Both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista have proven that their breakthroughs are for real. Although he battled injuries and has not played since August 20, and is out for the remainder of the year Bautista had a strong campaign posting a .259/.358/.498 line with a 133 OPS+. Encarnacion, who broke out last year, was even better than Bautista with a .272/.370/.534 slash line with a 145 OPS+. Toronto can move forward next year knowing that the three and four spots in the order should be in good hands next year.
Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus did not confirm breakouts, but did show signs of life this year. Rasmus is enjoying his best season since 2010, with a .277/.337/.504 line with 5.2 WAR according to baseball reference and the Blue Jays still have him under contract for three more years. Adam Lind has been essentially an average player since 2009 but this year showed some of the promise that he had early in his career with a .282/.352/.486 slash line. The Blue Jays will need to make a decision in the offseason concerning Lind as they hold a series of club options through 2016. Given Lind’s relatively low salary next year, $7 million, and the $2 million buyout it seems likely Lind will be brought back.
The Blue Jays also got good results from their bullpen with a 3.41 ERA which is good for 11th in MLB. It seems whoever manager John Gibbons calls out of the bullpen has performed well as Sergio Santos, Aaron Loup, Casey Janssen, Brett Cecil, and Steve Delabar all have ERA’s below 3.50 with the latter two making the All-Star game.
What Went Wrong: The Blue Jays won the offseason, but like the Angels the year before, have not seen that translate to success on the field during the season. The Blue Jays traded a large portion of their top prospects, numbers one, two, three and eight ranked prospects according to Baseball America, in deals with the Mets and Marlins. Going all in will likely hinder the amount of trades the team will make this year and limit the number of young players joining the big club in 2014. The team has also been hindered by a large number of injuries to some of their best players. Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie, Melky Cabrera, Josh Johnson, and Brandon Morrow have all missed substantial time. Although this has seemed to be a bit of a lost season all of those players, except for Josh Johnson, are under contract for next year and could have a large impact on turning the team around if they can stay healthy.
The starting staff has underwhelmed for the Blue Jays. Mark Buerhle leads the team with a 4.17 ERA. Although Dickey and Buerhle have both been better in the second half the rest of the staff has been bad. Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and JA Happ all have ERA’s over 4.75 on the season and the Blue Jays will need to retool the back of the rotation if they hope to compete next year in the AL East where they are the only team with a losing record.
What to Expect in 2014: If the Blue Jays can retool the back end of their rotation and stay healthy they should perform much closer to the expectations entering this year. The team should not expect to see the same level of performance out of their bullpen however and will need to better their run differential in other areas to overcome that.
Free Agents/Options: Josh Johnson, Adam Lind (Club Option), Darren Oliver, Rajai Davis, Casey Janssen (Club Option), Mark DeRosa