Was The Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Too Lax?
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.