Was The Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Too Lax?

by Brandon Jopko | Posted on Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
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John Gibbons

All Blue Jays fans must strain to remember the hoopla that surrounded this team in the off-season and when it came time for spring training, everyone was basking in the glory that in 8 months time, they’ll be celebrating a World Series win – the first in 20 years for the organization.

Unfortunately, that’s not to be.

We all know the approach that the Toronto Blue Jays and Manager John Gibbons and his coaching staff took this spring. He let his players dictate the amount of work they put in because “they’re all professionals and know what they need to do” to be ready for the season. While I don’t dispute that fact, it’s human nature to take advantage of situations and “take it easy” if you know the responsibility of spring training is left to you.

Now that the Jays have nearly if not completely ruined any chance of playoffs only 5 games after the All-Star break having gone 7-18 since their 11-game winning streak, one has to wonder if the right approach was taken in the spring.

I’m not ready to blame it all on the coaching staff either. In hindsight, yes they could have had a more stringent spring – one where they ensure the work is done much like the supposed micromanager John Farrell did. However, blame also deserves to go the players way as they clearly weren’t ready it seems for the start of the year given all the gaffes in the field that occurred. Heck, in April they looked like a little league team that forgot basic fundamentals.

One could blame it on the interruption the World Baseball Classic caused, but every team went through that, so that’s not much of an excuse. Was it the turf? Something might be said for that given how all of Toronto’s new players weren’t used to playing on that surface.

Meanwhile the Tampa Bay Rays have been playing perfect baseball since they were tied for last with the Jays on June 23rd. They’ve gone 21-4 since that time and according to The Rays Rant, they’re firing on all cylinders.

So how does a team like the Rays do this as opposed to the Blue Jays? In my opinion, it appears like Tampa doesn’t panic. When they were in last place, they actually improved their play while the Jays, it seems became frantic, as if to say “Oh shoot, we’re above .500 now and have to stay there. I’d better get this runner in immediately.” As a result, hitters resorted to swinging at every possible pitch, and the pitchers couldn’t keep the opposition at bay. Truly, the Blue Jays’ inability to hit in clutch situations (aside from their inconsistent pitching) has been their downfall.

One thing is for sure, there’s no disagreement with the talent level that the Blue Jays have. Individually, it is simply very good. This leaves me to believe that they are capable of coming back in 2014 with a better effort. Maybe they can throw a second base upgrade in there, perhaps a fourth outfielder capable of spelling Colby Rasmus off versus a tough lefty, and then just hope for rebounds from everybody else.

Sound good?

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Brandon Jopko
About the Author

Senior Writer for Baseball Hot Corner and die-hard Blue Jays fan longing for another chance to experience his team in playoff glory. You can visit his blog at pumpedupjays.com or follow him on Twitter @pumpedupjays

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  • George Boyd

    I find it very interesting with the home stand of 10 games and the team saying we would like to win 8 out of 10 the way things are going these guys will be lucky if they win 2 out of 10. Watching again recently I end up shutting them off. These men are not even playing junior league ball. They don’t seem to know how to work together as a team they are disgraceful I have been a Blue Jays fan since the very first game. I am in my seventies and I don’t see any cohesiveness in this team. Wake up guys and get off the dime. Get back to some basics maybe then you will get some respectability back before the season ends. Lets hope so I personally would like to see at least one more World Series win before my ticket is called to the great beyond. Come on guys if you can’t or won;t do it for your selves. Think of all your fans and do it for us.

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