North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

The Tables have (finally) turned

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Usually when I heard complaints about the Jays in the recent past, it was that they didn’t have enough hitting. Sure, they had Halladay, Towers, Chacin or whomever – but after Carlos Delgado left the team, they had no real batting power other then Vernon Wells… and it doesn’t matter what yr pitcher does on the mound if you’re not giving him any run support.

But this year has been different – it’s like how I vaguely remember the Jays of the early 1990s being: they has great starters (Jack Morris, Dave Stieb), a memorable closer (Duane Ward ) and great sluggers (Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter, John Olerud). Thanks to the mix of good hitting, good pitching and the ability to protect a lead, the Jays were the AL East team to beat for a few years and the World Series champions in 1992-93.

Since then we’ve seen the Jays pay arm-and-leg for big names like Roger Clemens (who jumped ship once he realized that he was still a good pitcher) and Jose Canseco; had our talented players head out fast (David “Boomer” Wells, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Delgado, Olerud) or put use subpar players in positions where they didn’t fit (Batista as the closer for example)… and since that 1993 World Series win, the Jays have never even won the AL Wild Card, let alone the AL East. Yes, using a pseudo-Billy Beane method to try and build up the Jays worked in it’s own ways (we’ve never finished last in our division; we ended up with some good talent [Doc, Orlando Hudson, Vernon Wells, Corey Koskie] – but when you play against the two biggest spenders in the big leagues, it wasn’t enough.

So this was the year that the Jays decided to go all-out and spent some money on big name free agents to gave us a similar lineup to those glory years: A theoretically great pitching rotation (Doc, AJ Burnett, Chacin, Lilly and – suddenly – Jassen); BJ Ryan anchoring the bullpen; Troy Glaus, Lyle Overbay adding to Wells slugging. And thus far it seems to be working, despite injuries to some major players. The Jays are above .500 and are just a few games back of the Red Sox for the AL East lead.

I guess that you could say that this season has been a turning point for the Jays. Now that there’s actually some hitting in the lineup, I’m not as worried that one of our stars (mostly Doc, really) will burn himself out to get a win. Indeed, no longer does it seem necessary for the Jays to throw a shutout in order to get a win – but I wouldn’t mind it if they did, anyway.

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Written by M.

May 24, 2006 at 1:35 am

Posted in baseball, MLB

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