5 Musts for the Toronto Blue Jays to Compete in 2014
5 Musts for the Toronto Blue Jays to Compete in 2014
Let's face it. The Toronto Blue Jays' 2013 season has been an absolute nightmare. The hype was there, but the execution wasn't. The big names were in the clubhouse, but the big plays weren't made on the field. You get the picture. It doesn't really matter what the Las Vegas odds makers make of the team and whether or not they think the team should win the World Series. It's what the team need to do to put wins on the board day in and day out that matters. For most of the season, it seemed as though the players themselves were comfortable with being the favorite, but not playing like one. The pieces are there. They just need to be put into the right place.
This isn't a team that needs to be blown up in the offseason by GM Alex Anthopoulos in order for them to get back on track to secure a playoff spot in 2014. Second thoughts and second chances both need to be given to those that have the talent and the drive to win. When a group of athletes as talented as the ones on the Blue Jays' roster fail like they have, the amount of motivation to succeed that can come out of that can often be unmatched. The wasted talent on this team is absolutely daunting, and eventually something has to give. The Blue Jays can and will compete for a playoff spot in 2014, as long as the front office makes the correct decisions in all of the right places. Here are five things the Blue Jays must do in order to ensure they are able to continue to put a quality team on the field, and finally reach the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years.
5. Jose Bautista Must Stay a Blue Jay
Okay, I get it. Jose Bautista has failed to complete both last season and this season, being forced to bow out due to being bit by the injury bug. But Anthopoulos and the rest of the front office still believe that Bautista is very much the leader of this Blue Jays team. Still, there are rumors that Bautista isn't going to be rocking a Blue Jays jersey in 2014. This cannot happen. He is the leader. He is the best offensive weapon on the team. He makes everyone better. He is stellar in right field and can hit in the three-hole, at clean up, or in the five-hole. You are not going to find many players that are as versatile as he is in the meat of the order on many teams. If Toronto gets rid of Bautista, they can kiss Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion goodbye, because they will be two very unhappy fellow Dominicans.
4. Josh Johnson Must Be Given a Second Chance
This may be a tough sell, but Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays should consider giving Josh Johnson one more shot at reclaiming that 2010 pitching magic that he displayed for the Miami Marlins. Believe it or not, Johnson was the bread and butter of that blockbuster trade between the Blue Jays and the Marlins back in November of 2012. Anthopoulos shouldn't give up on his big investment like he has so many times in the past with the likes of Mike Napoli. Johnson is a proven quality pitcher and although he hasn't put up the staggering numbers that he is capable of, he still fits in nicely amongst the rest of a rotation that pretty much underachieved from top to bottom in 2013.
3. Adam Lind Crushes Righties -- Pick Up His Option Now
Adam Lind can be a tough guy to interview as it seems as though he often feels very uncomfortable in the line of fire. But when it comes to him being in the of fire in front of a right-handed pitcher, Lind is the guy that proves to be tough. He has tore up the right-handed pitching this season and has made a strong case for the Blue Jays to pick up the $7 million club option that they currently hold on the first baseman/designated hitter. Lind ranks amongst the best in the club with a solid .348 on-base percentage, and there is no reason to believe that this won't continue into 2014 no matter where he ends up. Being a threat from both sides of the batters box is important for every team, and the likes of Colby Rasmus, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera and Lind hitting from the left side could spell trouble for right-handed pitchers in 2014. The Blue Jays need to pick up his option and stick with the hot hand in 2014.
2. Ryan Goins Will Provide Alomar-Type Defense
Ryan Goins has been a breath of fresh air when it comes to the lack of solid second basemen throughout MLB. He has the footwork on the right side of the infield that hasn't been seen at the Rogers Centre since it was called the SkyDome and was home to Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar. Defense is often taken for granted, but if the Blue Jays make it a priority, they could have the most dynamic infield in all of baseball come April 1, 2014. Ryan Goins would round up an infield already consisting of Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie -- two players that are as exciting to watch on defense as they are on the basepaths. The Blue Jays need to give the kid a shot right from the get go.
1. J.P. Arencibia Needs to Be Upgraded
A lot of faith has been put into J.P. Arencibia to be the backstop for the Blue Jays for the foreseeable future, especially when top prospect Travis d'Arnaud was dealt to the New York Mets as part of the deal for R.A. Dickey. But there's one problem. I'm not even sure he thinks he can handle the job on a daily basis. Yes, he can consistently hit 20 home runs a season and provide the occasional pop, but he doesn't provide solid defense behind the plate, nor does he put up a solid average in the batter's box. This is a team that needs to move players around the bases and use the speed that they currently possess to score runs. Arencibia has proven that if he doesn't hit the ball out of the park, he misses it all together. The Blue Jays need a catcher that they can rely on both defensively and offensively (Mike Napoli ring a bell? They owned him for about 24 hours). Arencibia would thrive elsewhere where he doesn't have any pressure and he can just go with the flow. The Blue Jays need a guy that welcomes the pressure to perform.