Well today’s the day that pitchers and catchers report. While Romero, Lawrie, JoeyBats, etc. have been holding workouts the past few days, the first official P’s and C’s workout is tomorrow, with everyone else due in at the end of the week. Start getting excited.
As for spring training, it seems that there will only be a few battles this year. Left Field will be the most interesting, with Eric Thames and Travis Snider fighting it out. The 5th starter battle is between Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek, and apparently Aaron Laffey, with Deck McGuire and Drew Hutchison said to be right about there as well. Backup IF will be between Omar Vizquel, Luis Valbuena, and Mike McCoy. The last bullpen spot looks to be a battle between Luis Perez and Jesse Litsch, with Perez probably getting the spot as a Lefty.
Offseason Overview Whats left to be said. After all the ranting and raving, Darvishing and Princing, we have our team, devoid of those two guys. If I were to sum up the offseason for the Jays, I would say it was a Failure to Manage Expectations. Prior to the offseason, everyone was on board, excited, happy, and sold on AA’s plan of building the foundation, stockpiling prospects, developing the young talent, getting greater value by acquiring talent through trades and not free agency, not rushing the rebuild, doing it right, and ‘when the time came’, and only then, getting the final pieces through free-agency, the Morris’, Winfield’s, Molitor’s, Stewart’s, etc.
Then came the rumors. With the team armed with a deep-pocketed media conglomerate as owners, and Beeston saying the team could support $120-140MM in payroll, the Hot Stove chatter put the Jays up there with the Marlins, Angels, Rangers as teams who would be the offseason’s big spenders. The Twitter/Blogosphere had the Jays bidding the highest for Yu, and had Blue Jays fans celebrating the team finally being relevant again. Rumors of the Jays being in the running for Prince were rampant, after all, his dad played here, and visions of a JoeyBats and Fielder 1-2 punch had fans planning the parade.
Of course, none of that was to be. And did we really expect it to be? After the last 2 years of AA preaching The Plan, The Plan, The Plan, maybe it was wishful thinking on our part that he’d forget The Plan and ‘go for it’, but he never intended to do so. AA is not innocent in all of this either. Indeed, he has always had a veil of secrecy, a no-comment policy, no exceptions, honed from years of watching JP Ricciardi make an ass out of himself with his big mouth, but you have to believe that the buzz in the city surrounding the Jays was something that he and Beeston loved, something they had not had in years, and something that they were loathe to put out, so they let the buzz continue. They let the rumors get out of hand, in turn, allowing the Jays fans’ expectations to become more and more unrealistic. Failure to Manage Expectations. If they had come out early in the offseason and said they didn’t plan to spend like the Marlins and Angels on free agents, come out early in the Darvish rumor cycle after the bids were submitted, and denied their bid was $50MM+, had they said Prince was out of their price/term range (AA actually did say this, but later in the game than he should’ve), and gone back to preaching The Plan, The Plan, The Plan, that everyone loved and was on board with, there wouldn’t be this feeling of doom and gloom surrounding the team. The fact is they did not put out the fire, because they loved the buzz the false rumors were creating, and that’s AA’s and more so Paul Beeston’s fault. Failure to Manage Expectations.
Do I believe that Beeston was lying when he mentioned the $120-140MM payroll? No, I think we’ll get there, as The Plan progresses, and the talent develops as AA has always said it would. We were fooled into believing that it would start this year, and shame on us. Shame on management, though, for allowing this to continue, while reaping the rewards of the buzz in the city. Shame on management for not getting out in front of this to set the record straight, but instead throwing cold water on it here and there by introducing terms like ‘payroll parameters’ and implying that it was the fans who would have to step up and increase attendance, before the payroll was increased. The same fans, mind you, who have supported this team for 18 straight non-playoff seasons. This is where the frustration lies.
So here we are. Back to The Plan. Take away all the rumors and unrealistic expectations about the offseason, how did we do? AA said the goals were as follows: Front of the rotation SP, Big Bat, 2B, and rebuilt bullpen. He got the latter two covered, and did a pretty good job there, having Kelly Johnson accept arbitration, acquiring Darren Oliver, and Francisco Cordero via Free Agency, and Jason Frasor and closer Sergio Santos via Trade. A front of the rotation SP and big bat, however, were not to be. The price, in terms of prospects needed to complete the deal, were too high for Latos and Gio Gonzalez, per AA. As for the big bat, apparently Carlos Beltran did not want to play on turf, so that nixed that. End of the world? No. If one or more of the SP’s not named Ricky Romero can step up, as they have the potential to do, we’ll be fine there. If Snider or Thames, especially Snider, can play up to his immense talent, we’ll be more than alright there. Building the system, developing the prospects, that was The Plan, and it’ll have to work for us to be competitive in those areas, and contenders in 2012.
Another Offseason is completed, and spring training is here. While we may not rejoice as Jays fans, as Marlins, Rangers, and Angels fans are this spring, we still have The Plan, and its a pretty good one. Lets sit back, relax, and see how it unfolds.