Toronto Blue Jays‘ General Manager Alex Anthopoulos didn’t envision his team’s season being on the verge of collapse by the end of the second week of the season. With Friday night’s injury to all-star shortstop Jose Reyes, along with putrid starting pitching, and very little hitting, that is exactly what he’s facing.
After reaching base on a single against the Kansas City Royals, it was time to do what he was brought in to do-make opposing pitchers fear his speed and game-changing abilities. That ability came crashing down as Reyes attempting to steal second base, slid awkwardly into the bag, and heard a pop in his left ankle. Toronto baseball fans became silent as their worst collective fear came to fruition: they have lost their shortstop until at least the All-Star break.
Mix that in with a 5.82 earned run average from the newly-acquired National League Cy Young winner in R.A. Dickey, and an atrocious 11.05 E.R.A. from power arm Josh Johnson, and the 2013 Blue Jays are quickly starting to resemble the 2012 Miami Marlins. The team is at or near the bottom in almost every hitting category, and the loss of Reyes along with slugger Jose Bautista could very well spell doom in Toronto in 2013.
The lack of sustained pitching has led the Jays to a paltry 5-7 record, good for fourth best in the five-team American League East. The team’s lack of consistent hitting has them scratching their collective heads and searching for answers. Fortunately, every one else in the division is playing right at .500 through the first couple of weeks. If Toronto has any intention of taking what pre-season experts called their rightful place atop the American League, things are going to have to turn around quickly. Multiple teams in this division can rattle off double-digit winning streaks, leaving Anthopoulos and retread manager John Gibbons answering for failures that could cost both men their jobs by season’s end.
Anthopoulos has already checked in with fellow general managers around the league, looking for solutions to the Reyes injury. With the position being one of the thinest of all everyday players, a suitable fill-in will not come cheap. If the Blue Jays continue to struggle and fall further behind in the standings, ownership may be less inclined to allow the open checkbook to remain the status quo.
The Baltimore Orioles are young and hungry, the Boston Red Sox appear to be back on track with former Blue Jays skipper John Farrell steering their ship, and the Tampa Bay Rays are always dangerous because of their depth of young pitching talent led by David Price. Everyone around baseball is waiting for the other shoe to drop in the Bronx, as the New York Yankees have surprised many by being near the top of the American League in home runs, despite the losses of key hitters Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and the Captain, Derek Jeter.
If the Yankees can hang on and stay with the pack until early summer, they could remain the class of the division once their collection of stars return. The team that couldn’t come out of the gates slow with such high expectations heading into the season, are the Blue Jays. They have proven that they are all in for 2013, and their fans have returned in droves. Just as in Miami last season, if the wheels come off and the team can’t recover, you could very well see an entirely different Toronto Blue Jays team in 2014.