5 Questions the Toronto Blue Jays Must Answer During Spring Training
5 Questions Surrounding the Blue Jays
Not much has changed on paper for the Toronto Blue Jays since the end of last season. On paper it still looks as though they have a potent lineup from top to bottom that could do damage in any ballpark at any given time. However, given the dismal season that the Jays experienced in 2013, which was supposed to be a year where October baseball was a given in Toronto, there isn't that much optimism surrounding the team as they head into Spring Training.
Perhaps more than any other team in baseball, the Jays need to use this upcoming Spring Training in order to figure out what went wrong with their 2013 quest for playoff baseball. We can't classify this as a new beginning for Toronto simply because not much has changed in regards to their lineup which greatly underachieved last summer. If anything, they have more to worry about this time around due to the fact that they still have two vacancies on their starting pitching staff.
The many questions that need to be answered by the Blue Jays does not just solely involve the players. The coaching staff is average at best and the lack of activity that went on in the front office this offseason should and will be the subject of many questions that will surely be fired at both John Gibbons and Alex Anthopoulos when they arrive in Dunedin, Florida in less than 10 days.
It's more than likely both Gibbons and Anthopoulos will give the same safe and predictable answers we all expect when they are confronted by the media in Dunedin. Whether they choose to answer these questions with a sense of accuracy and honesty or not, the fact remains that this is a baseball club that doesn't lack in uncertainty. Here are five questions that the Blue Jays must answer during Spring Training.
5. Can Dioner Navarro Adjust To A New Pitching Staff?
As Dioner Navarro makes his way to Spring Training as a member of the Blue Jays, he can't possibly feel as if his new club has set him up for immediate success. The starting pitching rotation is still incomplete and although Opening Day is over 50 days away, the longer the rotation has it's missing pieces, the longer it's going to take Navarro to adjust to his new surroundings. Not to mention that he is going to have to learn how to catch a knuckleballer in R.A. Dickey as well. It could be a very long early spring for the new backstop.
4. Is Melky Cabrera Healthy Enough To Play Everyday?
Melky Cabrera is an extremely important piece to the puzzle that makes up a potent lineup in Toronto. Last season was a massive disappointment for the left fielder as he battled injuries on what seemed like a consistent basis. If Cabrera is able to stay healthy and regain the pop in his bat that he once had, the Blue Jays will have arguably the best top half of the batting order in all of baseball. However, if he re-aggravates a past injury or goes down with another, the Jays are in trouble as they are awfully thin in reserves at the outfield position.
3. Are There Enough Power Arms In the Pitching Rotation?
This is where the Blue Jays really need to get their act together. Their current starting pitching rotation consists of only three pitchers that are guaranteed jobs in 2014. Two of them in R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle throw nothing but junk, and Brandon Morrow isn't guaranteed to make 20+ starts due to his injury riddled past. The Jays don't have enough power arms in their rotation or in the minors. Unless they make a last minute free agent signing or give the ball to Marcus Stroman for the first time in his young professional baseball career, opposing batters will have the luxury of making a lot of contact with Blue Jays pitching on a daily basis.
2. Is Jose Reyes Healthy Enough To Contribute On A Daily Basis?
Jose Reyes can and would be the heart and soul of any major league baseball team he found himself on. When he went down with a serious ankle sprain in 2013, you could literally hear the Blue Jays deflate as a team. There's nothing more the Blue Jays need than to have Reyes play 150+ games this upcoming season at shortstop. He is that much of a difference maker. He is a threat at the dish and even more dangerous when he gets on base, all the while making the shortstop position look like an absolute breeze to play. If Reyes is fully recovered and doesn't re-aggravate that ankle sprain, consider the top of the Jays lineup to be in very good hands.
1. Has John Gibbons Changed His Lazy Ways?
Let's face it, John Gibbons does as much for the Blue Jays as Erik Spoelstra does for the Miami Heat. The only difference being Spoelstra at least makes it look like he's trying to coach and motivate his team. Last season it seemed as though Gibbons failed to rally his team when down while failing to praise them when they were hot. He rarely left his seat in the dugout and when he did it was if he was going to do something for himself.
Unless Gibbons has managed to change his lazy ways and plans on bringing a new approach to the job he is lucky to have kept, the players themselves may as well walk past him in the dugout when on the hunt for some encouraging words or motivation and come to the realization that they are going to have to win by themselves.