Back in March this year, the feeling around Spring Training was one of cautious optimism.
After coming off a humbling 75-87 season, the firing of J.P. Ricciardi and the trade of team icon Roy Halladay, the Blue Jays were clearly embarking to rebuild.
Fast forward to May 9, with a record of 19-14, the water cooler talk was all about our "great young arms", our "potent offense" and dare I say it—Wild Card!
And why not? We had just taken 3 of 4 against Chicago and previous to that we swept the Indians.
The Jays are the top power hitting team in baseball with 51 Home Runs and lead the AL in Total Bases with 535.
John Buck, with a .237 career batting average, is all of a sudden a .270 hitting juggernaut who's on pace to obliterate his career highs in every major statistical category. This includes almost tripling his previous bests in HR's and RBI's.
How about Alex Gonzalez? The light hitting baseball nomad has either been eating out of Victor Conte's garbage or is on the hot streak to end all hot streaks. The most glaring stat? His SLG% (Slugging Percentage) is a ridiculous 185 points higher than his career number.
As for those "Great Young Arms", Ricky Romero and Shawn Marcum are indeed pitching well. However, Romero has been the recipient of great defense and quite a bit of luck as his unusually low .288 BABIP (batting average for balls in play) would suggest. Once that number climbs to around .300, Romero's stats should even themselves out.
Even still, 19-14 is nothing to scoff at. Until we went on the road to face the Red Sox.
After allowing seven walks last night (six in 1.2 innings from starter Brendon Morrow, one of our "great young arms") we narrowly lost a sloppy game to Boston. However, that was just one game and there's no way we walk seven again tonight.
Well we didn't walk seven, we walked eight. Red Sox 6 - Blue Jays 1.
That loud THUD you just heard was the other shoe dropping.
This is to be expected from an elite hitting team like the Red Sox. They are third in the AL with a .353 team OBP and 4th in fewest strikeouts (from their hitters).
On the other hand, the Jays are in the bottom three in the AL for OBP and have struck out at the plate more times then any other team in baseball.
Home runs are great but nothing kills a rally more than a strikeout or hitting into a double play. There's a reason why Adam Dunn is playing in Washington and guys like Russell Branyon and Jack Cust can't keep a job even though they are legit power hitters.
Apologies to my fellow Jay fans out there as I know I can come across as a bit a buzz kill . However, this is still a rebuilding season and when we beat up on some the leagues lesser lights we all need to take it with a grain of salt.
Having said that, there are still lots to be excited about! Lyle Overbay is making Mendoza look like Tony Gwynn so we can expect to see Brett Wallace manning First Base hopefully by July when we make our west coast road trip.
It’s all about perspective.