The Twins are taking on the first place Blue Jays this weekend, so I asked Tom Dakers from Bluebird Banter a little about how the Jays’ season is going and where the fans are at.
Take it away, Tom!
Q: How would you say the Blue Jays' season has been going? What's gone right? Wrong?
A: It seems weird to complain, because they are on first place, but it’s really been a roller coaster of a season. There hasn’t been any consistency.
What has gone right? The starting pitching has been terrific. When the team didn’t sign David Price, most of the Jays fans weren’t happy. And then they signed J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada, fans were less happy. It turned out to be a brilliant move. Add in that there was a lot of debate about whether Aaron Sanchez should be a starter or a reliever, who turned out to be an All-Star.
Wrong? The offense hasn’t been what we expected. We thought a full season of Troy Tulowitzki and a healthy Michael Saunders and Devon Travis, it would be even better than last year. Instead it has been hot and cold. We’ll have a couple of good games and then, for a week, it’s all strikeouts. It’s to the point that I’d fire the hitting coach just to give the guys someone different to talk to.
And the bullpen was awful early in the season. Off season pickups Drew Storen and Jesse Chavez were both terrible and were shipped out. Brett Cecil was terrible and ended up on the DL with CAD (Crappy Arm Disease strikes one in three relievers sometime in their life). Adding a couple of 39 year olds seems to have fixed things. Jason Grilli has been great and Joaquin Benoit has been either very good or very lucky (either way it has been working, 10 scoreless innings since we picked him up).
Q: I met some Blue Jays fans at Game 2 of the ALCS last year, and they were pretty excited about the team. How are fans feeling now? Did the playoff run get more fans into the team for the long-haul?
A: Well, we lead the AL in attendance, at an average of over 41,000 a game, numbers we haven’t seen since the glory days of the early 90’s. And TV ratings have been at hockey like numbers, which, in Canada, is a big deal. Since the guys that own the Jays also own the TV network that shows the games, they should really be just rolling in money.
Q: Do you wish the Blue Jays hadn't gone all out to try and win last season?
A: Well, no because I really enjoyed the playoffs, even if they came up just short of the World Series. We did pretty much empty upper levels of the farm system, but there are some good prospects in the lower levels. It will be a couple of years before we start seeing them knocking on the door of the major league team. I could have done without the deal for Mark Lowe, who we gave up a couple of pretty good pitching prospects, for a big 19 innings of pretty average work out of the bullpen. Other than that, I’d gladly do it all over again.
Q: What is Jose Bautista's secret to hitting so many damn balls out of Target Field?
A: You made me look: yeah 14 home runs in 21 games is pretty decent. It does seem to be a great park for right-handed power hitters, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson have done pretty well there too. I’d imagine it has something to do with seeing the ball well and, likely, some to do with the power of positive thinking…he figures he is unbeatable there and so therefore he is.
It is a great park. I enjoyed a series there a few years ago. Course it was 50% Blue Jays fans.
Q: The Chris Colabello 80-game PED suspension early this season was shocking to a lot of Twins fans. Colabello remains adamant he didn't knowingly take anything. Do you believe him? Why or why not?
A: I’d love to believe him but so much of it reads like the text book example of someone that was on PEDS. A guy, moving into his late 20’s, having a long minor/independent league career, maybe someone offers him something that ‘might give him an edge to make it to the majors’.
A couple of years later we get a .321/.367/.520 season out of him.
It was such a great story that we all wanted it to be true.
I want to believe him but I think it is more likely that testing got a little better this year, and he, and a few others, weren’t careful enough.
Q: The Blue Jays and Twins reportedly discussed a trade for Ervin Santana at the deadline. Are you happy or sad that didn't happen?
A: We picked up Francisco Liriano instead. Liriano has been pretty good since coming over from Pittsburgh. But the best part of that trade is that we picked up two pretty good prospects in catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez. And all we gave up was a pitcher (Drew Hutchison) who didn’t have a future with the team.
I’m pretty sure it would have cost more to get Santana.
Q: We beat Moneyball in 2002. How does it feel to know you also beat Moneyball with that Josh Donaldson trade?
A: It feels like playoffs.
I’m sure we wouldn’t have been in the playoffs without that trade and I doubt we’d be battling for first this season without Josh.
I loved the trade when it happened. Now? It looks so much better. We got a guy who could end up a Hall of Fame type, for a mess of an infielder (who the A’s quickly gave away), a couple of rather borderline pitchers and one good prospect (who is still a couple of years away from the majors) I have no idea what Brad Pitt was thinking, but it is likely to go down as the best trade in Blue Jays history.