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Big League Stew

Detention Lecture: Your 2011 Toronto Blue Jays

Big League Stew

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As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to detain their squads for the equivalent of a Saturday morning detention stay.

Up next in our series is our old friend Drew Fairservice of Ghostrunner on First and The Score. Despite his screed below, he considered this Jays season a success once Vernon Wells got on that plane to Anaheim.

[Deep sigh]

The only thing more pathetic than seeing you here again, Toronto Blue Jays, is how predictable it is for me to see you here at this time of year.

Look, we can all see how talented you are. The entire faculty knows what you're capable of and how far you might go one day, if you properly apply yourself. But we see you adopting this slacker mentality, this comfort in mediocrity. It isn't easy being trapped between two worlds, trust me — I know. Swindling the shop kids out of their gas money over and over hasn't gone unnoticed in the teacher's lounge, I assure you. A nice way to line your pockets but, really, are you any further ahead?

Pulling moves like that shows how keen you are to improve, to be one of the best run teams in his class. But being "good" isn't good enough. You are in the enriched stream, and we grade on a curve here, son. Eighty-five wins gets you an Oct. 4 flight to the Seychelles and a hearty slap on the back. At least with 85 you still sleep at night, knowing the poor saps who won 90 and went home early are kicking the sheets until January.

You sit in the back of the class with your hands behind your head, bragging about how much better your grades would be if you took cheese appreciation and "business math" in one of the lesser classes. Meanwhile your enriched classmates are taking MCAT prep courses and getting the best tutoring money can buy, setting themselves up for a lifetime of cyborg gardeners and high-end cutlery.

They achieve while you show potential. I realize your young rotation and depth around the diamond are reasons for optimism, but you know what I've learned in my 18 years in this job? Talk is cheap. And you didn't show me anything in 2011 I haven't seen from you a dozen times before. {YSP:MORE}

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The Punishable Offenses: Don't think we didn't notice that older crowd you were running with most of the season. I appreciate some of these guys are just a means to an end, somebody with a valid ID and a working car has a place. But you spent a little too much time with Proven Veterans and, before you know it, you've become one of them. Hanging out with Octavio Dotel, Juan Rivera and Corey Patterson for any amount of time serves only as a very long "scared straight" program for the Jays young studs.

Clever folks like you know one thing is for sure: success breeds expectations so why ever try? That way, everything you do well is a welcome surprise! Adam Lind and Aaron Hill tricked many people with successful years in 2009, but the weight of expectations let them down. Turns out they call them "career years" for a reason. Those of us that hoped you could reach those lofty heights again are at fault, not you.

Brandon Morrow, whip-smart as he is, gets no points for showing his work. For some reason, Morrow grades are in the dumps because he seems to test very poorly. We don't condone studying to the test — knowledge is its own reward — but, seriously, maybe take a peek over your neighbor's shoulder once in a while! Morrow's results are so far out of whack with his talent we can only offer a considerate shoulder and hope you learn your lessons the hard way. Teachable moments abound for you, Mr. Morrow.

Snider? Travis Snider, are you in here? Sit the hell down, I don't even know where to begin thinking about how to imagine addressing your situation. Both you and Mister Kyle Drabek might just be in for some long hours in summer school.

Partners in Crime: Have I already harped on your competition yet? Because just being clever isn't good enough when your division rivals are the Winklevoss Twins AND the guys who invented Facebook. Money, pedigree, legacy mixed with cutting-edge ingenuity and development. It is against these monsters of industry that you are measured. Compete with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays? You need to be better than at least two of them for an entire season.

Makes you long for a re-alignment, changing of the playoff system, SOMETHING, doesn't it? Well too bad, Princess, that ain't happening anytime soon. This is your lot in life.

Something to build on: This Brett Lawrie guy you brought around recently. The one with the flair for the dramatic and the ridiculous? He seems good. Don't bring him anywhere near my daughter, but I think he can play the game. Ricky Romero? I can think of worse leaders. Jose Bautista? Having the best hitter in baseball on your side is sure to win you points in my book. Young guys with the whole lives ahead of them at nearly every position is a pretty good way to go.

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Grabbing the problem children from every other impatient teacher's class and giving them an accommodating environment and a fresh start? Talent wins and talent is what you need. To me, it looks like talent is what you have in spades.

You might not all graduate at the top of your class but maybe you'll open a really popular faux-dive bar? Successful car wash? Compelling racketeering operation? Put enough like-minded individuals into one room and the sky is quite literally the limit!

But is it enough?

Shape up or ship out: I'll be honest — I'm only here because I really like you guys. I don't waste my time and energy on any shiftless layabout. I think there is real promise in you, with the right kick in the proper set of pants, you might make a go of it. You need some tweaks, you need to zig while others zag, right?

We mentioned first base. Lind might not be the guy for that spot. There are some mighty big fish with resumes polished to a high shine. They might not be exactly your style, but they're surely worth a look.

The bullpen is a mess in this transitional time. Extract a few high-powered arms from some unsuspecting dopes in one of the remedial leagues and we can all stop caring about the hippy kids whining about "blown saves, man." Their parents wanted to change the world, they just don't want to get up before noon. But I digress.

Don't get lazy and throw a bunch of your hard-earned capital at a Big Name Closer — just make sure to build the pen with as much flexibility as possible. May the best man compile saves and steal the spotlight for one year. Then trade that shiny quarter to somebody for a rumpled dollar bill so fast the buyer won't even know he's been duped until June.

Realistically, you don't need me to tell you what needs doing. You know better than anyone. You are acutely aware of your failings and have that unsettling air about you — as though you're calm and passive on the outside while you plot the demise of the entitled jerks you share a division with. Any ideas I suggest, you already thought of them months ago. I trust you to pull yourself out of this funk and break though — something I couldn't say about you in the past.

Keep surprising us but make us proud. We all know what you're capable, don't let us down. Nothing is more tragic than wasted potential — try to get the most out of yours.

Principal Fairservice
Ghostrunner on First
The Score

Read more of Big League Stew's Detention Lecture series here.

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