Toronto Blue Jays: Maybe next year
The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays was a team that could have been and should have been, but never was and most likely never will be as all signs are point toward a major rebuild over the offseason, some suggesting both on the field and in the office.
As the Kansas City Royals advance to the American League Wild Card Game against the Oakland A’s, the Blue Jays are now officially the team with the longest postseason drought in Major League Baseball. It’s been 21 years and over 3,300 games since the Jays have made it to October, but fans left the sold-out Rogers Centre optimistic for next year as they put their blue and white hockey sweaters over their blue and white baseball jerseys for another winter.
Toronto started off this season a little more low key than the one before, although still confident that a healthy squad, which had a disastrous season to work out its kinks, could get the job done this time around. This year, GM Alex Anthopoulos decided to stay quiet during the trade deadline, while speculation swirled that his spending was locked down, and he put his faith in the club that made headlines going in to 2013. When all was said and done on Sunday, it was another season of disappointment, but at least this time, with short spurts of hope.
At the end of May, going into the beginning of June, the boys in blue seemed untouchable. They were six-games ahead in arguably the league’s toughest division and had recorded an 11-game winning streak. Yet, “this is our year” turned into “this is our couple of weeks” as the injury bug returned, the bats cooled down, the bullpen self-destructed and the team was reminded that all 162 games count.
The All-Star break paved the way to a foggy August, and Toronto licked its wounds by focusing on rookies like Marcus Stroman who will change the tide next year (hopefully), instead of focusing on loss after loss as the Jays tumbled down the standings.
September-ball sparked the city again and gave fans a “light at the end of the tunnel” feeling that they will cling onto until the boys touch down in Dunedin in February. We watched veteran pitcher Mark Buehrle reach a 200-inning milestone for the 14th consecutive season and heard soon-to-be free agent Melky Cabrera say he would like to return to Toronto next year. Stroman’s solid talent has clearly secured his spot on the starting rotation, and right-hander Aaron Sanchez just might find himself closing games next season. Although it was its hometown hero — Dalton Pompey from Mississauga, Ontario — who kept fans on their feet in the final homestead against AL East champion Baltimore Orioles. To say he stole the show is an understatement. Pompey made an entrance hitting his first major league career home run and two-triples in a single game, while exhibiting highlight-reel defense in the outfield.
With free agency and options looming, Anthopoulos admitted there will be a handful of new faces on the squad next year when he addressed the media before the final game. The GM is excited for what the future has in store and wants to bring in talent with a track record of staying off of the disabled list … probably something on every organization’s wish list, but he had to say something didn’t he?