The Sun Shines Through the Curtain Lace: 2011 Bluebird Banter End of Season Roundtable, Part I

Hi everyone.  Well, the world series is still going, but we wanted to share some of our thoughts on the season past.  Please continue the discussion in the comments, that's what makes the conversation "dangling" - also, it's a great Simon and Garfunkel song.  Without further adeiu:

Hugo:   Hi everyone, and thanks for participating in Bluebird Banter’s 2011 end of season roundtable.  I’m Hugo, your humble host, from Washington DC, and Revolver is my favorite Beatles record.  Go ahead and introduce yourselves along the same lines.  And if anyone says "well, I’m more of a Stones guy," then seriously, just get out now.  

Tom: Favorite Beatles record? It changes from day to day. For a while I was listening to the early stuff, because I had dismissed it for years and was rediscovering how good it really was, but at the moment I’ve got the White Album playing on iTunes (RIP Steven Jobs). I know it is really 4 (or 3 and a half) solos albums, each guy only interested in his songs, but it is good music.

jessef: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, though I truly love Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) . . . errr . . . since Hugo beat me to Revolver, I’ll go with Abbey Road.  Though I’m really more of Kinks guy.

JohnnyG: Who are the Beatles? Kidding Kidding stop booing me now.

Hugo: I know we had a similar discussion on the most recent podcast, but what was your greatest disappointment and the most pleasant surprise of the season?  

Tom: My biggest disappointment is the impatience with Travis Snider. Travis has a poor April and they send him down? I thought this would finally be the year they give him a reasonable number of at bats and let him figure out major league pitching. But no, 99 plate appearances is all they need to see from him before they send him down. I’d still like to see what he could do if he wasn’t worried that a bad game would have him in the minors. The team had no patience with Snider but Jayson Nix gets 151 PA, Juan Rivera gets 275 and Corey Patterson gets 341. We knew none of those guys would be with the team when we are a contender but Travis might be. Why would you rather they get the at bats?

Other than that, Jon Rauch disappointed me, or maybe Farrell’s use of Rauch did, I’m not sure which. Rauch gave up 11 home runs in 52 innings and yet Farrell kept sending him out to close games, and likely would have until the end of the season, if it wasn’t for him hitting the DL.

Johnny: Aaron Hill and Brett Cecil were the two biggest disappointments for me, Both were favourite Jays of mine going into the season. Everything looked good going into pre-season. We had a lot of hope that Hill would rebound and Cecil would build on his good season from last year. Then the games started and everything went to pot. Seriously. How bad was that? Cecil completely lost his fastball and then his location right after that because of the frustration. Hill seemed to actually regress at the plate much to the surprise of everyone. It was really depressing to watch.

As for surprises? I have to take a cop out answer and say the Front Office. We have been hearing Rasmus come up in trade speculation for awhile now and I was firmly under the belief that there was no way Cardinals would give him up for anything the Jays would offer, even if he was having a down year. Then low and behold AA pulls off a trade picking up the struggling Rasmus for what amounted to a handful of relievers, Patterson and one prospect in Stewart. I really was stunned.

Tom: I didn’t pick a pleasant surprise.  Maybe the continued improvement of Ricky Romero. In his first 3 seasons he has had ERAs of 4.30, 3.73 and 2.92. Inning pitched goes up: 178, 210, 225. Hits per 9 innings goes down 9.7, 8.1, 7.0. Walks go down 4.0, 3.5, 3.2. Wouldn’t it be nice if every player had a nice progression like that?

Beyond that? Henderson Alvarez was a nice surprise. Starting the season in Dunedin and finishing in Toronto is pretty good, but not only did he make it to Toronto, he did a good job for us. A 3.53 ERA in 10 starts is pretty decent for a 21 year old, who only had 14 starts above A-Ball in his career.

Hugo:   Like you, Tom, I was disappointed by the number of plate appearances given to also-rans and equally surprised by how long the Jays stuck with Jo-Jo Reyes while giving more promising players a much shorter leash.  You already mentioned Snider, and I totally agree.  I was also quite disappointed in Adam Lind’s season, but that’s another question.  

In terms of pleasant surprises, it was great to see Colby Rasmus come to the Jays without a huge cost.  I was shocked to see the Cardinals part with him so cheaply, but hey, it worked out for them this year.  It wasn't quite a surprise to me because I've always thought highly of him, but I also really enjoyed seeing Casey Janssen light it up out of the bullpen.  
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