I'm sorry that I've been MIA lately, my dad had pretty major surgery a couple of weeks ago. So I've been up to see him a fair bit of the last 2 weeks. The good news is that we took him home Monday and he, once again, looks far healthier than a man his age should look. All is good.
Anyway, I thought I'd ask you all what you think is the biggest surprise out of our Jays, so far this year? I'll chime in with a few possibilities after the jump:
- Jose Bautista. When Alex signed Jose to the big contract, I seemed to get drawn into arguments with anyone that didn't watch the Jays very much, all telling me what a terrible contract it was going to turn out to be. And they had a point, if you were just looking at his stats, it seemed like a bad contract. But, for us that got to watch him last year, he really did seem like a different player than he had been before. So far this year, he is even better than last year, with a .357/.530/.762 line.
- Our running game. We all heard the hype during spring training. I figured, yeah we have Rajia Davis, he'd steal a bunch, but the rest of the guys would play like the usually do. But no. Jose Bautista already has 4 steals (and has caused roughly the same number of errors in rundowns). Juan Rivera has a steal (and 2 times caught, stop sending him John) and he can be timed, running from first to second, with a sundial. Aaron Hill has 6 steals, Snider has 5 (before he was cast out), Davis has 6. In the "please stop trying" category, John McDonald stole 1 and has been caught twice and Adam Lind is 1 and 1. All in we have 33 steals, trailing only the Royals, with 35, in the American League.
- Adam Lind's fielding. He is doing pretty good with the bat, but he has looked great at first base. I didn't expect him to be bad but he's even surprised me at how well he has done.
- Carlos Villanueva. A guy we picked up basically for free and he has been lights out from the pen. I think he's had one bad outing (he gave up 2 runs against the Rays a week or so ago), other than that, he's gone 3 innings twice, 2 or more 4 times in his 9 appearances. Pretty good for a guy that had ERAs of 4.07, 5.34 and 4.61 in the last 3 seasons, playing in the NL Central.
- Juan Rivera's awful start. The guy was hitting around .400 this spring, then the season starts and he couldn't hit a thing. He did get it going and I'm hoping that the last two games without a hit means nothing.
- Brett Cecil's poor start. He won 15 games last year, starts this year with a 6.86 ERA in 4 starts and off to the minors he goes.
- Travis Snider's poor start. A .184/.276/.264 line bought him a ticket to Vegas too.
- The organization's impatience. This is likely the biggest surprise to me. Snider has 87 not great at bats: Ok we've seen all we need to, let's send him to Triple-A. Huh? Don't we have the organization's best batting coach in Toronto? Brett Cecil? 21 innings, gone. I like Bruce Walton and Pat Hentgen a lot, why would you send a guy away from these two? Add in that Juan Rivera has a slow start, so we bench him so we can play Jayson Nix? What is there in this guy's history that suggests to you that he should get starts? I'm sure he is a nice guy, but his career FA at third is .901 and his career batting line is .217/.293/.383. It seems like an throw back to the Brad Wilkerson/Kevin Mench days.
- Jo-Jo Reyes. The team that seems so impatient with other players, has a lot of patience for Reyes. And I guess his 4.66 ERA looks ok, but he has given up 8 unearned runs. So his unearned run average would be 7.13. He did have his best start of the season yesterday, but 10 fly outs to 2 ground outs, for a pitcher that has to live at the bottom of the strike zone, makes it seem like he was getting a lot of luck on balls finding gloves. He has been keeping the fly balls in the park, only 1 home run allowed, I can't see that continuing. Sooner or later some of those fly ball are going to start finding the seats. I know he is out of options and the team would love him to show some value so they could trade him. I don't see it happening and I don't see him being a part of the team next year.
- J.P. Arencibia's defense. We were kind of lead to believe that JP's defense would be lacking. If it is, he's managed to hide it well for the first month of the season. Then there were whispers (or shouts) that his game calling skills weren't up to major league standards. It is one of those things people say that I never believe. Teams put together game plans before the game, catchers generally follow the plan. Earl Weaver always said that his pitchers called their own games. I mostly believe that, if the catcher puts down a sign the pitcher doesn't like, shake it off. It is best if the pitcher isn't shaking off a lot of signs, but if there is a problem, the pitcher and catcher can discuss it between innings.
Anyway those are my thoughts for the biggest surprises of the Jays season so far. As alway, leave your thoughts, but I'll put up a poll.