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Truth at Last March 7, 2010

Posted by dczarum in Uncategorized.
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The results speak for themselves. A 9-1 victory over the defending world champion New York Yankees, a 14-6 trouncing of the reigning NL champion Phillies, and a gritty 9-7 win over the Tigers courtesy of a clutch walk-off homer by catcher-of-the-future  J.P. Arencibia. Major League Baseball, be warned: the Toronto Blue Jays came to play. Sure, we’re only a week into spring training, but I’ve seen enough to be convinced that this year’s edition of Canada’s team will be the one that finally, finally, gets past the AL East and those damned Yankees.

Ok, I’m being facetious. Don’t get me wrong- if this were any of the previous ten or so years I would unquestionably allow a minute sample of Blue Jay spring-training victories work me into an unhealthy fervour, but this year something feels different. This season, you see, there are no dreams of division titles or wild card berths- expectations that had been undeservingly placed on the Jays for the past decade. And yet despite the widespread acknowledgement by Jays fans that this won’t be a season defined by winning, there is a sense of unprecedented clarity that has manifested itself in the form of optimism. The 2010 Blue Jays represent arguably the first true rebuilding effort witnessed since the teams’ early expansion years. Built around a slew of promising, if largely unproven prospects like Arencibia, 21-year old Travis ‘Lunchbox’ Snider, and Marc Rzepczynski, along with young stars like Adam Lind, all-star 2nd baseman Aaron Hill, and pitcher Ricky Romero, the focus has shifted from the familiar adage of ‘this year’ to next season and (well) beyond.

If we’re being honest, the Jays have been in a quasi-rebuilding mode for years. Yet former GM JP Ricciardi never seemed to be able to come to terms with this, acquiring one or two big name veterans every off-season, creating transparent hope year after year. I hate to knock the same guy who brought us Eric Hinske and JFG (John-Ford Griffin, for the uneducated), but the truth will set you free. Or so I’ve heard. This past winter saw no Frank Thomas signings; no hundred million dollar paydays to guys name BJ and AJ; no trades for Corey Koskie (hey, it was a big deal at the time). Instead, new GM Alex Anthopolous acquired young, cheap talent like 1st baseman Brett Wallace, infielder Jaret Hoffpauir, and pitchers Kyle Drabek and Brandon Morrow to complement the existing roster, creating promise and, more importantly, flexibility for the future.

Despite Anthopolous’ best efforts in reshaping the roster, the scars of the 2009 season, the last of the Ricciardi era, still exist. Alex Rios was allowed to go to the White Sox for literally nothing in return, and JP’s refusal to trade Halladay (who, now in Philadelphia, is poised to break Jack Chesbro’s 1901 record of 41 wins) resulted in an eventual haul of uncertainties like Wallace and Drabek. And still, as I mentioned, there is optimism in Blue Jay land. For the first time in years, fans and management alike know what this team is and what it most definitely is not; it’s the kind of clear-minded, rational thinking that the franchise has been void of, and is the lone reason for Jays fans to keep showing up to the ballpark. Clearly for the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays, honesty is truly the best policy.