Who Is To Blame For Blue Jays Struggles?
Lately I’ve been finding fanatical claims from some Jays fans or general MLB followers rather ill-informed because they make grandiose statements like “the Blue Jays were going to be bad because the Marlins were bad with these same players.” Or else they blame Manager John Gibbons for what has occurred on the field as if he can swing the bat or pitch the ball for his players.
Some even incredulously give fault to GM Alex Anthopoulos saying “he has not improved the team since he got there.” GAH!
My, how short are people’s memories?
First off, Anthopoulos not only acquired Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins this off-season, but he also acquired Melky Cabrera and Macier Izturis to help with the offense. Oh yeah, and he got the reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner too. That’s hardly the same team that the Marlins had in 2012.
As far as firing Gibbons or his mostly rookie coaching staff goes, Blue Jays President Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos deserve to give them a bit of a leash since it’s only been SIX weeks since the start of the season and that’s hardly enough time to make an assessment as harsh as a firing when it’s clearly not been the fault of the coaching staff…at least not yet. The players were given the time and the freedom as professionals to do what they have to do to get ready for the season. They were simply trusted, instead of micromanaged ala John Farrell, to do what was required. The question of whether that was correct or not will be answered invariably by how well they pull together later on this season. Then and only then will there be judgement made, if indeed there is judgement to be struck down.
I know anecdotally that Bonifacio wants to do so well for Toronto that he’s pressing so hard and is not allowing his natural ability to take over.
The thing is these players need to relax and have fun in this game while not trying to do too much. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true. As Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network mentions,
[quote]They entered their April of expectations — great expectations — swinging for the fences. A two-strike approach or hitters making adjustments? Non existent.[/quote]
The Jays can’t try to hit 10 home runs in a game because it just doesn’t happen that way in baseball. No matter how highly lauded were the Jays in the pre-season, no team completely over-powers their opponents that way. Each baseball game, heck, even each at-bat is a fight that turns into 27+ mini fights each and every day which turns into a 6 month long marathon where the winner at the end of the season is the team that plays well the most consistently day in and day out.
The problem is that baseball players are human.
Jose Bautista himself said during the off-season:
[quote]We’re going to go out and relax. When you have such a competitive group put together on the same team, you can’t help but to feed off each other. Nobody’s gonna have to press or over do it because nobody has to be spectacular, everybody has to come in, do their job. As a group, we’re gonna play pretty good baseball if everyone does what they’re capable of doing. [/quote]
And yet he clearly hasn’t done that nor has any player. Quite frankly, Blue Jays players have failed miserably playing to these expectations by not staying within their own capabilities.
The Jays need to do what they can do as individuals to help this team win, and that means making the routine defensive plays, throwing strikes, moving the runner over, and getting those base-runners in with key hits while picking up your team-mates when a mistake does happen. That’s obviously nothing eye-opening, but the Blue Jays still have the talent level that they were commended for where they could turn things around.
Lately fans have begun seeing some positive signs like starters pitching into the 7th inning and beyond, hitters getting some key hits with runners in scoring position, and generally having a better approach at the plate like hitting the ball up the middle or to the opposite field. And having Mark Buehrle pitch his heart out yesterday in Boston showing precise command gave a glimpse of what he is still capable of.
The Blue Jays surely have dug themselves an unbelievably big hole being 10 games below .500 and 9.5 games back of the now division leading New York Yankees. But let’s wait, sit back and see just how this team responds to adversity before counting them out on May 12th.