New Toronto Blue Jays Mark Buerhle and Jose Reyes must feel as though they are experiencing de ja vu. The star pitcher and shortstop became members of the Blue Jays after being traded by the Miami Marlins in the off season. This is the second year in a row that each will be asked to help turn a franchise around and lead them to the post season.
In the 2011 off season, Buerhle and Reyes signed on as free agents with the Marlins. They became members of a Miami team that was moving into a new stadium and wanted to win right away. The Marlins not only signed Buerhle and Reyes, but brought in controversial manager Ozzie Guillen to lead them. It was hoped that this combination would help Miami challenge for the NL East pennant and win a World Series.
This was not the case as the Marlins finished a disappointing 69-93 and last in the division. Guillen was fired immediately following the season and Miami went about purging the payroll of high salaries. This led to Buerhle and Reyes being traded to Toronto and put in the same situation that they were last year.
After a disappointing season in which they finished 73-89 under manger John Farrell, the Blue Jays set about putting together a team that could seriously challenge the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto general manager Alex Anthoupolos traded Farrell to the Boston Red Sox and replaced him with John Gibbons. Then he went out and traded for Buerhle, Josh Johnson, and Reyes. Anthoupolos also signed 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey away from the New York Mets.
All of this looks similar to what the Marlins did last year. The moves are expected to put Toronto on the fast track, just as Miami hoped theirs would. Only time will tell if Buerhle and Reyes help the Blue Jays make it to the playoffs or live another nightmare.
On the positive side, the Blue Jays do have a budding star in third baseman Brett Lawrie. Last season he hit .273 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI. Toronto expects those numbers to improve and they should The only drawback with Lawrie is his temper. If he can harness his intensity and put it to good use a long career awaits.
If Dickey pitches the way that he did in 2012 when he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA it will take the load off of Buerhle (and Johnson) who went 13-13 with a bad team last year. The Blue Jays hope that their two aces can win close to 20 games apiece and make life easier on the rest of the staff.
Toronto can very well be considered the Marlins of 2013. They are the team which made the biggest off season moves. If those moves work, the Blue Jays could be a factor in October.
If they do not, Buerhle and Reyes could be experiencing a repeat of the disaster they were a part of in 2012 with the Miami.