COMMENTARY | The Toronto Blue Jays saw a chance to make a major splash, and they took it.
The team acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle, right-handed pitchers Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey, catcher John Buck, and outfielder Melky Cabrera -- all former All-Stars -- along with utility player Emilio Bonafacio in what can be viewed as the team's most active offseason in franchise history.
They put the American League -- and Major League Baseball as a whole -- on notice. The Jays are back, and they are ready to be included, and taken seriously, as World Series contenders in 2013.
There's an excitement in Toronto about the Blue Jays for the first time since the early 1990s when they won back-to-back World Series. To this day, 1992 and 1993 are the only championship teams the city has seen when it comes to baseball.Of course, with a flashy new roster, and new, old manager John Gibbons taking over, there are great expectations in Toronto for the Blue Jays to produce. There is actual hype for an organization that hasn't qualified for the postseason since 1993.
It's hype that is on par with, or even surpassed that of, the 2012 Miami Marlins, something that wound up blowing up in management's faces. They were a major bust from the get-go last season, finishing last in the NL East with a 69-93 record. It led to the franchise gutting the roster, and shedding millions of dollars in salary during and after the season.
Ironically enough, nearly half of the players traded by Miami ended up in Toronto with just as much riding on their shoulders as they did when they all signed with the Marlins. The Jays need to make sure they avoid repeating history and do not become the 2013 version of the Marlins. To do that, it all starts between the ears of the players.
Whether they admit it or not, the players all hear the talk going around about the team this year. They all know about the hope and faith that Blue Jays' fans have in them that they will get their team to the postseason for the first time in 20 years. The big thing is, can they block it out?
To succeed, they're going to have to. The players, especially the ones who had to deal with it last year in Miami, can't let all the talk get inside their heads. Being able to just go out on the field day in and day out and play their game is what will lead to success for this team.There are bound to be down times during the season as there always are for teams. The key is not letting all the negativity that comes from the media and the fans have an impact on the on-field performance. It was clear that the 2012 Marlins let all the talk get to them, along with other factors, which ultimately led to their poor season.
However, there is one major factor the Blue Jays have that Miami didn't that could very well be the biggest reason they don't repeat history. They have young, up-and-coming players along with veterans who can help steer the ship.
With young, still-maturing players like Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia; quality starting pitchers in Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero who've been with the team for three and four years, respectively; a no-nonsense manager who will put players in the best positions to succeed and not cause controversy; and upper-management, which made the moves based on improving the quality of baseball played, the Blue Jays have a mindset that they are ready to compete with the "big boys" of the AL. And it's not just thinking and believing that they can compete -- they know they can compete.
They aren't making moves to sell seats to a big new fancy ballpark, and they aren't bringing in a bunch of me-first individuals who care only about personal performance as opposed to team success. The team has a mission and a goal of giving Toronto a third world championship.
They just have to get over the obstacle of comparisons to past superstar-laden teams that have failed first.
Michael Straw is a sportswriter who lives in Buffalo, NY and has been covering baseball, primarily at the Triple-A level, for two years. He has been published in multiple Western New York publications.
- Sports & Recreation
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Major League Baseball
- Miami Marlins