When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series at the end of October, I began to think about writing an article detailing some of the highlights and (mostly) lowlights from the year that was for the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays. I was expecting to tell a sad story about a sad year; and while that would have been right up my masochistic alley, I much prefer the article that I present before you today.
Yes, Darvish Day happened in 2011 (on December 19th). I'm including it here anyway because it was, I think, what the 2011-2012 off season will be most remembered for. When reports were coming out declaring the Jays the front-runners in the bidding for Yu Darvish I (and I'm sure many others) let myself get far too hopeful. I'll never forget sitting on my bedroom floor on December 19th--the day I wrote my last exam--refreshing Twitter over and over again until I saw this tweet from Jeff Passan. It was a disappointing, angry night (I was angry with myself, mostly, for getting my hopes up so high), as I'm sure many of you remember. From then on it felt like the rest of the off season was just a jumble of arguments about whether or not the Jays bid on Darvish, how much they bid, should they have bid more, and whining about how cheap Rogers is. And thus began the season from hell.
Despite the disappointment of losing the bid for Yu Darvish, spring training was a very exciting time for the team and its fans. The Blue Jays set a franchise record for most spring training wins with 24, and had the best spring training record in all of baseball. They entered the 2012 season on quite a high note, with both fans and players excited and expecting big things. It would have done many people well, I think, to remember that Spring Training Means Nothing.
The Blue Jays' 16-inning come-from-behind victory on opening day in Cleveland was arguably the greatest game of the season (so it shouldn't surprise anyone that I missed it). Ricky Romero started the game, and struggled: he allowed 4 runs on 3 hits in 5 innings pitched, and left the game with the Jays trailing 4-1 (the one run was a Jose Bautista homer, of course). It wasn't until the top of the ninth inning that the comeback began, with the Jays scoring 3 runs to tie the game. The game then dragged on for seven more innings before J.P. Arencibia pulled his team ahead with a three run home run in the top of the 16th. I arrived home from The Hunger Games a few hours later, and had a fit of something between excitement, remorse, and frustration. Mostly excitement, though. Hooray for MLB.tv archives!
All The Injuries
2012: The Year of the Injury.
The list of players that hit the Blue Jays' disabled list this year is an impressive one: Jesse Litsch, Sergio Santos, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Ben Francisco, Luis Perez, Jose Bautista, Jason Frasor, J.P. Arencibia, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie, and J.A. Happ. Perez, Hutchison and Drabek all underwent Tommy John surgery, Bautista had surgery on his wrist, Lawrie fell into a well, and both Casey Janssen and Ricky Romero have had minor surgery in the off season. Welp.
Let's all just desperately hope that the team holds up better this season--we'll certainly need them to.
Goodbye, Disappointing Left Fielders
The Battle for Left Field began in spring training and carried on throughout the season. Eric Thames won the job in April, but his awful defense and sub-par hitting got him sent down to Las Vegas at the end of May. Travis Snider (a classic example of a prospect heartbreaker) was called up on July 20th: many thought that perhaps this would finally be when the young outfielder would prove himself at the major league level.
It was not to be.
Snider and Thames were traded late on the night of July 31 for a pair of relievers. Snider was sent to Pittsburgh for Brad Lincoln, and Thames was off to Seattle for Steve Delabar. It's too early to declare a winner in either move, but the trade for Delabar is certainly looking like a good one. Improvements from Lincoln in 2013 would be much appreciated.
Losing And More Losing
The Blue Jays lost a heck of a lot of games in the last few months of the season. They went 19-37 in August and September (see "All The Injuries" for why this happened). The team's record overall was a fair bit below .500, and bad enough for a top ten draft pick. Needless to say, the end of the season was not fun to watch, and I'm only a little ashamed to admit that I often didn't bother.
John Farrell Gets His Dream Job
I covered my feelings on John Farrell's flight to Boston in a post back when it happened, and I don't really have anything to add to them two months later. I will say this though: I am VERY excited for daily John Gibbons press conferences. And for the proper use of platoons. And hopefully some good bullpen management.
The Trade That Changed Everything
November 13th, 2012 is a day that will go down in Blue Jays history, no matter what the outcome of the next three years turns out to be. I was at Tim Hortons with a friend of mine when I checked Twitter and saw this. My friend was probably angry that I cut our shopping trip short, but I really didn't care. If she didn't understand that Alex Anthopoulous had just pulled off a trade that vaulted the Blue Jays into the Zone of Contention, that was her problem.
Josh Johnson: a potential all star. Mark Buehrle: a workhorse who has never hit the DL. Jose Reyes: a speedy shortshop who won the batting title not so long ago, and Emilio Bonifacio: a decent player who can play six positions. I'm certainly quite pleased with that. The cons are just as obvious, of course (Johnson and Reyes are injury-prone, Buehrle's aging, and there are a number of huge contracts going forward), but I think the trade was a risk worth taking.
R.A. Dickey Is A Blue Jay, And Hope Returns To Toronto
I love the trade for R.A. Dickey. I love it to bits and pieces, I love it to the moon and back, and I just want to hug it and feed it cookies. I explain why in this post, so I won't go through it all again here, but this trade has made me check my countdown to opening day ten times more often than I had been, and it gave my friends the extra push they needed to agree to buying a flex pack with me (yay!).