Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have a right to be upset about 2017 after the way this offseason has played out
It has been a rather emotional offseason for many fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. As of right now, we seem to have lost out on Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Brett Cecil and not landed Dexter Fowler and others. People are livid. Earlier today, our James Dailey wrote that everyone really needs to calm down and take a step back for a second. James did a good job of using numbers to show how the Blue Jays actually aren’t as bad as we might think. It was a refreshing piece, honestly.
But, the problem is that fans DO have a right to be upset about how this offseason has gone and how management has gone about setting themselves up to repeat the success of the last two seasons.
Here’s the thing: James is right. Mathematically, and logically, the Blue Jays will likely be a competitive team this coming season. But, logic and math don’t put butts in the seats, not right away. The results of math likely won’t be seen until later in the season, should logic come to fruition. Instead, the first part, of the season relies on fans to follow their hearts, to put faith in their team.
And, there is a large section of fans that will do just that. These are the “hard core” fans that were likely in the seats during the terrible J.P. Ricciardi years; they’re used to supporting their team through a lot worse. But, there is a lot of money tied up in a section of the fan base that spends based on the emotional connection to the team. Buying tickets to cheer on home runs, or buying shirts and jerseys is the picture of emotional support. It is fans spending with their hearts. That is why things don’t look so good for the upcoming season.
Regardless of who you blame, the club let Edwin Encarnacion go to Cleveland. The very guy who hit an 11th inning walkoff home run just this past October to save his club from elimination in the Wild Card game has departed in a rather messy manner. At the end of the day, logic doesn’t help fans accept his departure. The emotional connection made matters much more. One could also argue that the deal he struck in Cleveland was certainly well with in logic for the Blue Jays.
The very yo-yo- like, back and forth “negotiations” (can we even use that word?) with Jose Bautista are downright infuriating. Here we have a guy who was even more of an organizational icon than Edwin being dangled in front of us without any kind of forward movement. On the one hand, we hear that Jose is the best remaining option- after a couple of months of waiting and whiffing on others- for the Blue Jays and yet, they covet that draft pick they would get should he sign elsewhere. Man, nothing fills those seats like forgoing the chance to bring back a franchise icon for a supplemental draft pick in June. Even if making a play to secure that draft pick works out, the logic of it will be lost on those emotionally pining for even just one more postseason bat flip.
Then, we have the longest serving Blue Jay, Brett Cecil walk out the door to sign in St Louis. Now, one can hardly blame the Blue Jays for not matching the 4yr/$30M deal the Cardinals gave him. It is likely not logical. But, allowing someone we’ve all become attached to walk out the door is just another shot at the heart, which, again, is from where we spend our money.
In Cecil’s departure, there is another layer of frustration that president, Mark Shapiro, added on Friday:
Shapiro expects bullpen to be "constant area of adjustment" in '17, even with moves expected. Mentions Biagini, Grilli's emergence in '16.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) January 13, 2017
One could read into these comments an underlying sense of despair. “Constant area of adjustment” sure seems like code for “we have no idea how we are going to piece together a bullpen for 2017. While that may sound over-dramatic, and illogical, it kind of looks that way right now. Other than bringing in guys like Gavin Floyd and Brett Oberholtzer, this bullpen seems to have been forgotten. And, we’re coming off two straight seasons where the need for a strong, effective bullpen has been displayed in neon lights for the world to see. And, yet, the Toronto Blue Jays have not really addressed it. There have been options out there, they have money to spend, yet the bullpen remains a giant question mark; it remains a “constant area of adjustment”.
This doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the fanbase. Even if it is illogical to spend what it costs for bullpen pieces, fans want to know that winning is likely. With a questionable bullpen, that is not a given. And, if you add in the moves that have taken place, they don’t exactly appeal to the heart- or wallet. Shapiro has commented that they tend to target the most value for the dollar. Apparently, Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales provide that. And, you could get into the analytics behind whether they do, or not, and probably build a case that they do.
Morales could very well be an acceptable substitute for the departed power of Edwin and (maybe) Jose. Heck, our Roy Widrig could be right that Morales could be the key to the Blue Jays 2017 success. Logically, it could play out and make total sense. But, it is a difficult sell to fans who have become so attached to two (arguable) outcasts that slugged their way into the franchise’s history.
When all is said and done, success will be measured by winning. And, teams have to set themselves up to be in the best shape possible to do that. Sometimes that means that you have to do what is right, rather than what is popular. If 2017 works out, Blue Jays management will be able to hang their hats on that approach. And, fans will respond by purchasing their playoff tickets like they’ve done for the last two seasons. But, in January, what is illogical is to expect fans to be excited about spending their time and money on a team that has not really operated the way they would have liked.
Right now, logic may dictate that the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays are in good shape to compete. But, the same emotion that has us cheering in October, has us angry in January. Fans can’t be expected to just put that on a shelf until late in the season. And, frankly, the club can’t afford for us to.
*Featured Image Credit: S Doyle- JFtC
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.