COMMENTARY | The Toronto Blue Jays had lofty expectations heading into this season as the local media and a bunch of writers south of the border had the team being a contender to win the World Series.
With the team only winning one more game that last season -- and finishing 14 games below .500 -- there are plenty of reasons why this season didn't pan out.
1. John Gibbons
Alex Anthopolous may be confident about bringing John Gibbons back next season, but I'm not. Gibbons was only able to improve the team's win total from one game last season despite the team payroll ballooning from $82.3 million last season to $125.1 this season.
Despite this -- and a bunch of odd roster moves during the season -- it appears the Gibbons' is safe as manager of the Jays. Sorry, but I don't get why Gibbons has so much job security. Why bring back a manager that guided his minor league team last season and major league team this season to last-place finishes back for another season? It's clear no other major league team would touch Gibbons.
2. The Pitching Staff Failed to Deliver
R.A. Dickey arrived in Toronto last winter being heralded as the new ace of a much-improved rotation. With the team rolling out a five-man rotation of Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ, it appeared the team would have an embarrassment of riches for John Gibbons to play with. Not so fast. Those five pitchers combined to win only 35 games -- hardly the kind of stuff a team needs from its pitching rotation to make a push for the playoffs. Johnson and Morrow both won only two games. For comparison sake, Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers won 21 games all by himself.
3. Injury to Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes injured his ankle and was limited to 93 games. The team was expecting big things from its leadoff hitter, and when he went down with an injury Toronto's lack of depth with middle-infielders hurt. A lot. Sure, Munenori Kawasaki became a folk hero, but it didn't translate to wins.
4. Melky Cabrera Failed to Bounce Back
Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games last season due to taking performance-enhancing drugs. The Blue Jays took a risk on him and banked on the fact he could hit above .300 this season. It seemed liked a fair move as he hit .305 in 2011 and .346 last season. Instead, Cabrera played in only 88 games and hit a modest .279.
5. JP Arencibia's Regression
Unfortunately, for the Blue Jays, the only time Arencibia made headlines this summer was when he beefed with Gregg Zaun. Arencibia boasts a horrible career batting average of .212, yet he hit below that this season at .194. The young catcher got into trouble swinging for the fences as he rarely made contact. In fact, he had more strikeouts (148) than hits (98). He also came close to getting more extra-base hits (39) than hits (53). Between his prickly relationship with the local media and his struggles on the field, it looks like Arencibia might be playing for another team next season.
Ryan McNeill became a Blue Jays follower when as a pre-teen the team won back-to-back World Series. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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