April 9, 2013

Don’t get down on the Jays – yet

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

This may sound a bit weird coming from a guy that wrote how we shouldn’t be so quick to expect a title, or even the playoffs, from the Jays, but let’s not be so quick to condemn this team. Let’s just say that this is the optimist’s side of things, something a commenter suggested I should take.

Let’s start with the best thing that the Jays have going for them: The long ball. As of Sunday, the Jays were top of the American League in homers. The bad part is that with the dingers usually comes strikeouts at the plate – a category that the Jays aren’t faring so well at.

But as the excitement of the early season hype dies down, we’ll see some more control at the plate and less whiffs. But we won’t see the long balls slow down as much. As the weather warms up and the dome is opened, the ‘condo jetstream’ will still help push those fly balls carry.

The Jays vaunted revamped rotation has also taken a bit of beating, especially ace R.A. Dickey. The thing with knuckleballers is that they will inevitably go through rough patches. It looks like Dickey is in one of those now, in a very unfortunate point at the start of the campaign. Well, considering his Cy Young reputation, it seems like a good bet that the former Met will turn things around in a couple of starts and perhaps even go on one of those outstanding runs that knucklers can. We used to see Tim Wakefield get shelled for a week or two then bounce back with three incredible starts in a row. It’s just how these things work.

Opening the season at home with the amount of pressure that comes with being a World Series favourite was bound to impact this newly put together squad. Perhaps getting out on the road will put some of that at ease.

This is also a team of guys that are relatively new to each other. With some players also away at the World Baseball Classic this spring, many guys are still learning about each other’s games. The more they play now, the better they’ll play with each other.

Let’s also remember that Brett Lawrie is out of the lineup. Once he returns, the Jays will be solidified at third base both offensively and defensively. That will allow the Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis to return to the platoon they were supposed to play in.

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