May 13, 2009

Are the Blue Jays for real?

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

The real furor over the Toronto Blue Jays hot start has finally started. All it took, for some reason, was a victory over a team that’s under .500 and greatly underachieving (the Yankees last night). You’d think that being the best team in baseball would’ve triggered some media attention earlier, right? Wrong.

Until last night, the Jays had yet to play an AL East division rival, so there’s no real way to judge how well the season will actually unfold for the soaring birds. We will find out soon, though, and I think the real test starts tonight, when Doc Halladay’s not pitching.

How the Jays’ back end of the rotation performs against division foes will be the key to how the Jays do this season. With the likes of Scott Richmond (who pitches tonight), Brett Cecil (who was atrocious in AAA), Jesse Litsch, Rickey Romero (both currently injured), Ricky Ray (as if you’ve heard of him) and Brian Tallet (journeyman long reliever), “Doc’s interns” are low on experience but high on gusto. But how far can gusto take them?

On the other side of the ball, the Jays bats are as hot as ever. With unheralded Marco Scutaro leading off and Aaron Hill killing the ball after a concussion-shortened 2008 season, the Jays are set up for success. The weirdest part of that success is the lack of performance from their big-name, under-performing, middle-of-the-lineup stars, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios. When you’re paying guys $10-plus million per season they should be the ones leading the league in hits, not your young second baseman.

Here’s something that actually dumbfounded me when I read it today: The line for the Jays-Yankees tonight is a pick ‘em. And it’s proven starter Andy Pettitte going against Richmond, the ace of Team Canada’s WBC staff — said with tongue firmly in cheek. This is even more shocking when you consider that the Yankees are usually favoured because of name alone. It really says that even Las Vegas is on the Toronto bandwagon.

Now, the worst part about the Jays stunningly hot start is that it is in spite of J.P. Ricciardi, who now is seen as redeemed after years of inadequacy. But hey, this is year eight of his four year plan to greatness.

Really, this Jays surge can be credited to one man, Cito Gaston. Since Gaston took over the Jays mid-season last year after John Gibbons flamed out, the Jays have the best winning percentage in all of baseball. Seriously, look it up. This guy can manage a team and get everything going right.

And, for the record, I have never heard of the Jays rotation being called “Doc and his interns,” until yesterday, in the ESPN.com piece. But then again, it’s not like a work at the local paper’s sports section or anything. But, then really, it’s one hell of a nickname.

4 Comments

  1. Toronto Blue Jays should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here:

    http://www.bluejayshome.com

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