|View single post by CanadianHorseman|
|Posted: Fri Sep 20th, 2013 10:25 pm||
|Looks like some of the Canadian media still holds a grudge against Farrell.
Ah, let the circle of pain that has been the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays season be considered complete.
Barring a series sweep by Toronto—unlikely given the Blue Jays are 7-9 against Boston so far this season—the team led by THAT guy is going to clinch first place in the American League East against the Blue Jays. The only thing the Blue Jays have left to clinch is how far in last they are going to be after a season that has been about as much fun as a flat tire in the dead of a Saskatchewan winter.
THAT guy is John Farrell, who engineered his departure from Toronto at the end of last year’s crummy Blue Jays season, which was the 19th crummy one in a row. This year’s is the 20th and most crummy, based on expectations unmet.
Anyway, about mid-winter Toronto time this year it seemed like one of the great comeuppances in recent memory was about to happen. Put yourself back there: Square-jawed, do-it-by-the-book Farrell has just dumped the Blue Jays like a homely high-school girlfriend for Boston and their sexy Red Sox, and so Toronto gets the Oprah treatment, a complete makeover. They are on fire and win the off-season in a landslide. Alex Anthopoulos, you are gorgeous dahhling. Gorgeous. Love that R.A. Dickey.
Meanwhile Boston is team meltdown. The Red Sox imploded at the end of September 2011, squandering a perfectly good playoff spot and then they turned into the American League’s sinkhole in 2012. Good luck with that mess, Farrell. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Remember the Jays’ opening week and the boos cascading down on Traitor John from the far reaches of a sold-out Rogers Centre? It seems like a lifetime ago, and now it’s all turned upside down. The team has been a slow-motion car crash, a chain reaction of crumpled bumpers and smashed radiators. Steam is rising. Fans are staggering from the wreck.
The Jays have been reduced to playing spoiler, a role they have plenty of experience with and which they played to the hilt this week in essentially squishing the New York Yankees’ slim post-season hopes. But there is no spoiling Boston’s season. They are playing with house money. They clinched their playoff spot Thursday night when John Lackey threw a complete game in Baltimore. Their “magic number’ to clinch the AL East is one, so they will win the division regardless of what meaningless dents the Blue Jays manage to put in their armor this weekend.
With their 93-61 record, the Red Sox have a 2.5-game lead over Oakland for the best record in the AL; clinching that would give them Fenway Park advantage all the way through to the World Series.
Not bad for a team that won 69 games last season.
Did we mention that John Farrell is the leading candidate for manager of the year?
But the interesting thing about the Red Sox revival is that there are seeds of hope in there for Toronto—at least the hint of a whisper of a suggestion that things can turn around quickly and without some kind of magic act.
The Red Sox have had all season what the Blue Jays have lacked, and that’s solid starting pitching.
Two years ago John Lackey was Ricky Romero and Josh Johnson rolled into one incompetent body. He was 12-12 in that 2011 season with a 6.41 ERA and was first at the fried-chicken-and-beer buffet in the clubhouse. Last year he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. This season he’s been at the forefront of a Red Sox starting staff that has been among the very best in the AL, ranking third in starters’ ERA (3.83) and second in innings pitched.
“The remake of John Lackey both physically and getting back on the mound and performing as he’s done all year, mirrors that of this team,” said Farrell to reporters after Lackey went the complete-game route in a 3–1 win. “It’s been a remake and it’s somewhat fitting that, to clinch a spot to get into the playoffs with him on the mound and to go nine innings like he did—like I said, very fitting.”
Their starting pitching has been complemented by a group of newcomers that perhaps lack star power but seem to provide the kind of competitive baseball IQ that has meshed well with an existing core—David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury—that needed the help.
All of which is to say the Blue Jays, for all the pain they’ve suffered and for the indignity they are about to suffer in Boston this weekend, may not be that far off from a turnaround of their own.
In Dickey and Mark Buehrle they have some dependable mid-rotation pitching. The one thing this season has proved is that there will be all kinds of legitimate competition for the bottom end of the rotation as extended auditions by Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers and others have shown. The bullpen seems to be in good hands.
Can Romero and Johnson find themselves again? Can Anthopoulos bat his big, dark eyes and lure a quality top-of-the-rotation arm in case they can’t?
Those are pressing questions for the off-season. But there remains a core of talent that—like the Red Sox core—is good enough to be part of a contending team with the right help.
A maturing Brett Lawrie. An emerging Colby Rasmus. A more consistent Adam Lind. Production (when healthy) from Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Some promising role players up from the farm.
Yes, the J.P. Arencibia riddle needs to be solved behind the plate and there are other holes. But this weekend’s visit to Boston—a painful reminder of the season that has been, to be sure—at least holds out hope that things can change, and change for the better.
It’s just too bad it’s THAT GUY providing the lesson.