If I'm being honest, I very nearly packed up the keyboard and threw it out the window (as opposed to simply putting it in the garbage, because that would be too easy) after reading the Tao's "Bandwagon" post. How do you follow that up? Answer - you don't. So I'll apologize in advance for the letdown. Jesus, Tao, throw me a friggin' bone here. You should know better than to post solid gold on a Thursday. Or on a Monday. Makes me look bad.
In a strange twist of fate, it did actually set up the post I had been thinking about......reasons for Jays fans to be optimistic about this season and next....or not. You decide.
Schedule = opportunity
One week from today, the Jays begin a stretch of fifteen games facing the three teams ahead of them in the division - 6 against Boston, 6 against the Yankees, and 3 against Tampa (fuck you, Joe Maddon). Wouldn't it be interesting to have a gander at the standings if the Jays can take, say, ten or twelve of fifteen? Admit it....a little exciting, no? Borderline delusional, yes....but still something to be optimistic about. Even the asshat bandwagon JaysTalk callers crowd has to be able to see that.
Bottom line - if you can't get up for that stretch of games, then turn in your fan card and apply for citizenship to Red Sox Nation. Or join the Rays Rebellion (that's a freebie, from me to you, Tampa fans). Or latch onto the Evil Empire. Whatever.
On the flip side, they could lose ten or twelve of those fifteen, and be buried before this month is out - leading to......
It sucks having to be excited about admitting your season is over, but hey, at least you get a chance to see the kids. Ricciardi has said he didn't expect to bring up a whole whack (I think those were his exact words - a whole whack) of players, but we could see the likes of Robinzon Diaz, Free Buck Coats, and Davis Romero for a cup of coffee.
And, are you ready for this? You sure? I have a sneaking suspicion we could have a Ricky Romero sighting in Toronto before the season is out. Sounds crazy, I know, but he's been promoted to AAA already, pitching reasonably well, and Ricciardi could be establishing make-or-break time with the former 6th overall pick. Just keep an eye on him, is all I'm saying.
Hey, did you know the Jays passed on Troy Tulowitzki to pick this kid? Someone should phone in on 'Wednesdays with JP' and ask about that.
Question: AJ Burnett, Frank Thomas, David Eckstein, Shannon Stewart, and Greggg Zaun?
Answer: Who are approximately $35,000,000 of payroll coming off the books at the conclusion of this season.
In my mind, I'm already spending Fast Teddy's money. Let's see.....$15 million for a front-line starter to replace AJ....$10 million for a mashing 1B/DH who actually owns a fielding glove and isn't 40+ years old with declining batspeed.....maybe $8 million for a legit everyday shortstop who can swing - with apologies to Johnny Mac, who's been out of his mind defensively lately and chipping in with the bat. So the money's gone and we haven't addressed the losses (bear with me here) of Zaun and Stewart. Shit! Now what?
The Farm - 2009
The Jays minor league system consistently ranks in the bottom third (or worse) of the league by guys who get paid to know these things - our guy Keith Law, BA's Jim Callis and John Manuel, etc. And who am I, some shmuck blogger, to argue with that knowledge? But for the holes in the roster at the major league level that need to be plugged, I think the Jays are in decent shape.
Zaun will be replaced by one of Diaz, Brian Jeroloman, or JP Arencibia. My money's on Jeroloman to be a twice-a-week guy next season behind Barajas. His bat might not be ready, but Jeroloman was never about the bat - his value lies in defensive abilities, handling a staff, and walks. Lots and lots of walks. Besides, 2009 will be a nice little transition year for when he assumes the same role in 2010 behind Arencibia.
Diaz seems the odd man out here. I don't know that anyone thinks his future is behind the plate, and offensively, he's Vladdy Guerrerro without the pop. Which is to say, he's a singles hitter who swings at everything. And Curtis Thigpen....we hardly knew ya.
Shannon Stewart will be replaced by.....wait a minute. Shannon Stewart is still on the team?
Travis Snider, Brett Cecil, and JP Arencibia. These are the blue-chippers, and sure, we could see them sometime in 2009, but I don't think it's fair to expect big contributions from them.
After all, we have to have something to look forward to in 2010, right asshat bandwagon JaysTalk callers?