The Toronto Blue Jays season has finally come to a disappointing conclusion. Before we set our sights on 2013, we must bid adieu to the likes of Omar Vizquel, Darren Oliver, Carlos Villanueva, Kelly Johnson, Jason Frasor and more than likely Adam Lind.
Here is your chance to give your two cents and grade the Blue Jays 2012 season position by position in the final report card of the year.
The duo of JP Arencibia and Jeff Mathis provided the Jays with a nice balance of power and veteran leadership, however the wrist injury Arencibia suffered definitely hurt his overall numbers playing in only 100 contests. The Jays locked up Mathis to an extension mid-season so now the million dollar question is whether the Jays dangle the likes of Travis d’Arnaud or Arencibia as trade bait this offseason. However if the Jays are serious about contending it would be tough to start the season with a rookie catcher behind the dish.
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ catchers this season?
FIRST BASE/DESIGNATED HITTER:
Edwin Encarnacion was the Blue Jays breakout player of the year and the unanimous team MVP. Edwin posted career highs in almost every offensive category possible while playing a solid first base in 68 of those games. On the flip side one of the team’s biggest disappointments was every day first baseman Adam Lind who is a shadow of his former self. Lind spent time on the disabled list and was assigned to triple-A with his conditioning being called into question. I believe you have witnessed the end of the Adam Lind experiment and the Jays will look to add a big bopper designated hitter with Encarnacion taking the lion’s share of the first base responsibility next season.
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ first basemen/designated hitters this season?
Kelly Johnson is undoubtedly the biggest disappointment for me this season which isn’t saying much after the debacle of a season Romero had. However I just feel that Johnson appeared disinterested for much of the season and I expected him to have a breakout season with free agency looming. Johnson tied the Blue Jays record for most strikeouts in a single season matching the 159 mark set by “The Human Steroid” Jose Canseco. Just to add salt to the wound former Blue Jay Aaron Hill had a nice rebound season in the desert. The Jays could look internally to fill the second base void with Escobar or Hechavarria if a trade cannot be had.
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ second baseman this season?
Yunel Escobar had a disappointing season statistically and was a huge distraction in the wake of the “Eye Black” scandal and his future north of the border is uncertain. Escobar saw his OPS drop almost 140 points from the previous season and showed terrible judgment on the base paths more often than not. Initially Escobar was thought to be a mentor to Hechavarria with the Cuban Connection manning the Jays middle infield in 2013. The Jays front office is the only one who knows if that belief remains true.
Escobar: .253 AVG, 9 HR, 51 RBI, .644 OPS
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ shortstop this season?
Brett Lawrie did not produce the offensive numbers many had expected this season but the 22-year-old did manage to put up a decent stat line and seemed to mature defensively. Lawrie still exudes confidence and is regarded as one of the most promising young players in the game. In order to improve, Lawrie will have to stop making mental mistakes on the base paths, find a way to stay healthy even if that means no more “Superman” dives into the camera bay and check his ego at the clubhouse door with the umpires. The best is still yet to come from Captain Canada.
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ third baseman this season?
If Jose Bautista remained healthy I would be willing to bet Miguel Cabrera does not win the Triple Crown or dethrone Joey Bats as the Home Run King. In saying that, Bautista’s overall numbers seemed to regress. When he is in the lineup he is arguably the most dangerous and exciting hitter in the league. However like Lawrie, Jose needs to refrain from the constant banter with the umpires and return to being humble Jose who was just happy to have a major league job. Regardless the Jays will only go as far as Bautista’s bat will carry them.
Bautista: .241 AVG, 27 HR, 65 RBI, .886 OPS
Colby Rasmus showed glimpses of his potential both offensively and defensively in 2012. Colby appears happy in Toronto rebounding nicely from his publicized divorce with Tony La Russa and company. Colby will need to improve his strikeout rate and avoid prolonged slumps moving forward next season but the talent is definitely there. Rasmus tied his career high for home runs and eclipsed previous highs for runs batted in and strikeouts. Colby is much like Lawrie where the best is yet to come.
Rasmus: .223 AVG, 23 HR, 75 RBI, .689 OPS, 149 SO
I am still battling the daily depression of the Travis Snider trade but my therapist insists I move forward so here it is. All kidding aside I thought Rajai Davis did an admirable job in left field minus the defensive miscues from time to time. Davis set a career high smashing eight homers was the team’s serial kleptomaniac swiping 46 bases, only three behind the major league leader. Davis can be a dynamic player with game changing speed and a valuable asset as a spot starter or fourth outfielder.
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ outfield this season?
Brandon Morrow rebounded nicely from an oblique injury securing the team lead with 10 wins and electric stuff on the final day of the season. Morrow pitched more to contact this season mixing up his arsenal of pitches effectively relying less on the 96 mph heater. The strikeout numbers were down for Morrow but so was his era and whip and I am very intrigued to see what he can do in an injury free season.
Morrow: 10-7, 2.96 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, 108 SO
The implosion of Ricky Romero has been exploited and regurgitated repeatedly over the course of the most disappointing season of his career. Fingers crossed Romero can find his inner Zen and rite the ship for next season. A dominant Romero would be a huge boost for the Jays starting five. Just be forewarned the stat line below is not pretty, viewer discretion advised.
Romero: 9-14, 5.77 ERA, 1.674 WHIP, 124 SO, 105 BB
Henderson Alvarez is turning into a bit of an enigma as he possess a dominant repertoire but strikes out very few batters and pitches to contact too often, surrendering 216 hits in 187 innings pitched. Depending on the off-season additions Alvarez may have to fight for a spot in the rotation come spring training.
Alvarez: 9-14, 4.85 ERA, 1.441 WHIP, 79 SO
Carlos Villanueva held down the Jays rotation for a period when the starting five were ravaged with injuries. Villanueva had very good numbers going into the final month of the season however 3 poor starts inflated his overall stat line. Carlos will be sporting a new uniform next season after being publicly criticized in the media by Alex Anthopoulos questioning his durability as a starter moving into free agency and adding insult to injury Villanueva was scratched from his final start of the season for the likes of Chad Jenkins.
Villanueva: 7-7, 4.16 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 122 SO
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ starting pitchers this season?
The foundation for the bullpen is set for next season with a few tweaks depending on the retirement of Darren Oliver and the pending free agency of Jason Frasor and Brandon Lyon. The bullpen was impressive with closer Casey Janssen coming into his own and establishing himself as a premiere closer, the emergence of lefty specialist Aaron Loup, the career year for the ageless wonder Darren Oliver and the acquisitions of Steve Delabar, Brad Lincoln and Brandon Lyon. If Sergio Santos can return to form the Jays should have a bullpen second to none.
Janssen: 1-1, 2.54 ERA, 0.864 WHIP, 22 SV
Oliver: 3-4, 2.06 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, 52 SO
Delabar: 2-2, 3.38 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 46 SO in 29 IP
Lincoln: 1-0, 5.65 ERA, 1.360 WHIP, 28 SO
Loup: 0-2, 2.64 ERA, 0.913 WHIP, 21 SO
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ bullpen this season?
With all the unforeseen injuries the Jays were able to audition a number of highly touted rookies. Regarded blue chippers Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria were able to make adjustments and showcase the raw skills they possess. Moises Sierra also got a shot and seemed to move up the depth chart with a solid debut minus the fact he can’t catch a fly ball if there is a hint of sunshine in the sky.
Hechavarria: .254 AVG, 2 HR, 15 RBI, .645 OPS and a 10 games hitting streak in 137 plate appearances
Gose: .223 AVG, 1 HR, 11 RBI, .622 OPS, 15 SB, 3 CS in 189 plate appearances
Sierra: .224 AVG, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 648 OPS IN 157 plate appearances
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ rookies this season?
In his second season as Blue Jays manager, the club yet again finished fourth in the AL East. Farrell has taken a little heat of late since the Escobar fiasco and the Red Sox rumour that just won’t die. There have been accountability concerns raised publicly by veteran players and one has to wonder if Farrell brought the beer and chicken wings mentality over from Boston.
Personally Farrell comes across as a nice guy, polite articulate baseball man, but in saying that if the Jays can snag a top five pitcher like Clay Buchholz in a deal for Farrell, Anthopoulos would be neglectful not to pursue that avenue.
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ manager this season?
Alex Anthopoulos once could do no wrong in the eyes of many Toronto Blue Jays faithful however those eyes have grown tired and weary as Anthopoulos moves towards the most important off-season of his Blue Jays tenure. Anthopoulos has strayed away from free agents signings in the past, instead working the trade angle to solidify his roster needs. Jays fans want a winner, and the time is now for Rogers to pony up some scratch.
In my opinion, Anthopoulos dropped the ball on the Snider trade, trading a position player for a middle reliever and selling short on the Lunchbox. Anthopoulos gave up too much in the Happ/Lyon deal even before handing the Astros first round pick Kevin Comer as the player to be named later. The Escobar and Farrell sagas have been handled poorly and just won’t subside.
Here’s hoping the Silent Assassin will have a busy off-season and finally bring a winner north of the border.
How would you rate the Blue Jays’ front office this season?
Clayton Richer is a baseball writer for Baseball Hot Corner, his interviews and blogs can be found daily at www.baseballhotcorner.com as well you can also follow him on twitter MLBHotCorner