Watch as I discuss the 2015 Blue Jays with Cito Gaston, and we make connections to the 1992 and 1993 World Championship teams that he managed. The 3-part interview is posted below.
At roughly this point in time one year ago, Toronto baseball fans were excited.
Way too excited.
Following a series of moves and acquisitions, Alex Anthopoulos had put together a group of players that immediately moved everyone’s perception of the Blue Jays from a struggling franchise to not just a playoff contender, but a favourite to win the World Series. ESPN’s Dan Shulman wasn’t fooled. I discussed the Blue Jays collapse with Dan last year, you can find that interview here.
Oh how excited we all were.
Ticket sales were up. Merchandise sales were drastically up. New, royal-blue caps became very noticible throughout Toronto streets, bars, and of course Rogers Centre. Spring training was a media frenzy, with much focus being on the two biggest names Anthopoulos had acquired, being Reyes and Dickey. Suddenly, it was cool to be a Blue Jays fan again.
And then the Toronto Blue Jays won the 2013 World Series, we all held hands and sang Kumbaya, THE END.
…sorry, where was I? I must have been daydreaming again…
Obviously we all know how 2013 really ended for the Jays, and I find it painful and pointless drudging up the past. However, we can all learn something from history. The past gives us something to measure progress against. And progress is what the Jays could use, having come off a 74-win season (sorry, sometimes I rub salt in my own wounds).
Fast-forward to Spring training 2014. This off-season has been drastically different for Toronto. The addition of Dioner Navarro as AA’s only significant off-season acquirement pales in comparison to what he did last year. And as a result, the Blue Jays are now flying somewhat under the radar.
Florida is quieter this year, as far as the Jays are concerned. I spoke with Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell, who said that there are significantly less reporters covering the Blue Jays this spring training. He also said it’s a welcome change for the players, considering the circus they dealt with last year. To listen to the entire interview with Jamie, click here.
Does less media mean fewer expectations?
Hardly. This is almost the same team fans were ecstatic about last year. Only healthy…so far. Think about this scenario: Brett Lawrie, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, and R.A. Dickey stay healthy for the majority of the season. Let that sink in. Now feel the warmth of the Florida sun across your face as your smile grows bigger. Let us consider one more scenario: Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ also stay healthy. Suddenly the rotation doesn’t look so bad, does it? I know, there were so many big-name starters available this off-season, of which Toronto acquired none. But perhaps they didn’t need to. At the 2014 State of the Franchise, Anthopoulos suggested it might be a possibility to add another starter late spring. That possibility seems to be slipping away. Jamie Campbell doesn’t see it as a concern. He and I discussed the expectations from Toronto fans regarding acquiring Ervin Santana, but he pointed out that Ervin has been battling injuries. Combine that with Ervin’s expectation of a $50 Million commitment, and suddenly Toronto’s current options seem somewhat more attractive. Waiting in the wings are a handful of hungry pitchers, with a significantly smaller price tag. Toronto also had a very dominant bullpen last season. Delabar and Cecil both had All-Star worthy performances through the first-half. And who doesn’t like a fairy-tale/David-vs-Goliath style story that could be Marcus Stroman?
Yes, I know I just painted a very colourful picture with a rather optimistic brush. What can I say? I bleed blue.
But “worst-to-first” isn’t an impossibility. Ask Boston, they know all too well (jeez that still stings, doesn’t it Toronto?)
So get excited again.
Why not? It’s baseball season.
Anything can, and usually does happen.
For more on Toronto’s current pitching situation, listen to my interview here with Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell. We also discuss the home plate collision rule change by Major League Baseball, which should prove to make for some interesting calls this season!
Follow Jamie Campbell on Twitter: @SNETCampbell
At the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays State of the Franchise, season ticket holders had emailed in questions ahead of time for Paul Beeston, Alex Anthopoulos, and John Gibbons.
Full Q & A session in the video above explores topics such as the Blue Jays playing on a grass surface at home, Roy Halladay joining the Level of Excellence, the ownership’s level of financial commitment and concerns surrounding financial obligations towards other sports (Maple Leafs and Toronto FC). Other topics discussed included Gibby’s predictions for players who will have break out seasons (spoiler alert – expect a lot from Melky, Lawrie, and Morrow this season), and Anthopoulos discusses the current position on pitching and if they plan on adding more before the start of the season.
For other videos such as the introductory speeches for this event, click here.
Click here to listen to: Brock Picken talk about the All Star Game with The Fan 590’s Jeff Sammut
Brock Picken discusses the 2013 HR Derby and All Star game with Sportsnet FAN 590’s Jeff Sammut.
They discuss the significance of the game in determining the home field advantage for the World Series, Mariano Rivera’s 13th (and last) All-Star appearance, and the four Jays appearing in the mid-summer classic, including the story-book selection of Steve Delabar.
Follow Jeff Sammut on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeffsammut590
Click here to listen to: Brock Picken discuss the Blue Jays 11-game win streak
The Toronto Blue Jays are finally playing like the team everyone was hoping for at the beginning of the season. 11 straight wins ties a franchise record. Can the Jays keep the streak going? Do they now have more of a realistic shot at the playoffs? Will they be a buyer at the trade deadline? Is Bautista the leader they need him to be? Brock discusses this and more in this episode.
Click here to listen to: The Dugout Show #16: Bleacher Report’s Tim Mackay
Tim Mackay, two-time #2 Blue Jays Top Writer (April, May 2012) for the Bleacher Report joins Brock Picken on The Dugout, to talk about what the statistical make-up of a World Championship team looks like, based on 8 key criteria, as written about by Zachary Rymer. They also discussed the current situation of the AL East, touching on key points of focus for the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays.
In mid-April, Tim took an in-depth look at the criteria for the World Championship statistical requirements as laid out by Rymer, and applied the Blue Jays current squad to see if they have “what it takes”.
While some criteria are as simple as having starters who can log high innings or rack up the K’s, there are also more in-depth requirements taking a look at some of the lesser known stats to the average baseball fan, such as a pitcher’s WPA and a fielder’s WAR.
Take a listen, as Tim discusses what criteria the Jays will likely meet, what they’re going to struggle to hit, and what’s a toss-up.
Follow Tim on Twitter.
Click here to listen to: The Dugout Show #10 – Recap Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Honda Home Opener
Brock Picken highlights the positives and negatives from the Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Honda Home Opener.