COMMENTARY |This wasn't how it was supposed to go.
The Toronto Blue Jays, full of preseason hope and excitement, have come crashing down hard before even getting a real chance to spread their wings. Their pitching has been atrocious from top to bottom, they can't hit the ball, and the injury bug has caught the Jays once again.
Entering May 1 they are near the bottom of the standings, had just earned their 10th victory of the season on April 30 with a 9-7 win over Boston (prior to that win, the Jays were one of five teams yet to hit the double-digit win total), and had a 1.1% chance of making the postseason according to Sports Club Stats. I guess when you're a snake-bitten franchise, it's hard to close that wound after it's been open for so long.
The problems have gotten so bad with the team that the dreaded players-only meeting had to be called. You know, the meetings that never actually seem to work, but if they do they are viewed as the turning point of a saved season? It was called for by 16-year veteran Mark DeRosa, and took place on Sunday, April 28 before the team's final game in its weekend series against the New York Yankees.
They had the meeting, and supposedly had renewed vigor to turn things around. However, the losing didn't stop. The team went out after the meeting and lost a 3-2 decision to New York for its eighth loss in its last ten games.
Sure, they won last night, but the team still has major issues that won't be fixed overnight. Heck, they may not be able to be fixed at all with the way this team is currently built. It begs the question, is it time to hit that panic button everyone seems to be afraid of reaching for.
The answer to that is simple: yes.
It needs to be accepted by upper-management that the team is neither gelling nor is it good enough to get the job done. The players aren't playing like a team, and the coaching staff, including manager John Gibbons, don't seem to have a way to fix it.
I mean, it's obvious. When a team's manager blatantly comes out and gives an answer of "I've got no answer" to a postgame question after the aforementioned 3-2 loss to New York, it's time that something needs to be done. But that doesn't neccesarily mean that the manager has to be the first one to go.
Usually the manager gets fired and is used as the scapegoat when a team struggles. In this case, maybe changing a couple of the faces, and giving players in the minor leagues a chance to showcase their talent may be the best route to take.
From day one, I believed that the R.A. Dickey deal was a terrible decision by the powers that be in Toronto. And so far, I've been proven right about my thoughts. Dickey is 2-4 in six games this season with a 4.50 ERA. Not the numbers of an ace pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, but he isn't the only big name pitcher on the staff struggling.
Former All-Star and NL Cy Young candidate Josh Johnson has looked nothing like the pitcher that he was while in Miami. He has a 6.86 ERA in four starts thus far this season. That's more than double his career ERA of 3.23.
With Ricky Romero working his way back into the Blue Jays lineup, it's time to dangle those two pitchers on the trade market and see what the team can acquire. Even if it's for just a handful of young prospects, it will show the team that players will be shipped out if they don't produce now.
Toronto's hitting as notably struggled this season, and it currently has the third lowest batting average, ahead of only Miami and Chicago (AL), in all of MLB with a .229. The team needs to get rid of underperformers and call up players from AAA Buffalo.
The Bisons have three of the top four batters - in terms of batting average - in Triple A. Jim Negrych (1st - .429), Moises Sierra (2nd - .389), and Luis Jimenez (4th - .373) all have batting averages higher than any player who has played in more than half of Toronto's games this season -- the highest Jay is Rajai Davis who is batting .279 in 19 games. It's time to give them a shot.
In regards to Negrych, I wrote an article three weeks ago about it being time for him to get a chance in Toronto. With things clearly not getting better for the Jays, the time is now for him to final be able to prove his worth. Then again, maybe going to Toronto will ruin a good thing for him. After all, he plays on a team in Buffalo that sits atop its division in the standings unlike the Jays.
There are ways to try and fix the quickly sinking ship that is the 2013 season. However, there isn't much more time to figure something out before it's too late.
It's now or never for the Jays, but will they pull the trigger.
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 began covering the Blue Jays in the fall of 2012, and has been published in multiple Western New York publications.
For Blue Jays and other sports news, follow Michael on Twitter @MikeStrawQCS.
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