The Last Homestand
After a 3-3 showing on their recent road trip, the Jays head back to Toronto for their last appearance in front of the home crowds. Coming up are three final series: three games each against Tampa Bay, New York and Boston.
With 16 games left, the Blue Jays find themselves in the role of a spoiler, rather than a team hunting for the playoffs. A .500 record from here on out would give Toronto a 84-78 record. That’s short of where the Jays would’ve liked to have been at season’s end, but I think that’d be a decent mark, considering all the issues the club has had this year.
When the season began, there was one glaring weakness that I saw within the Jays. Sure, the 25-man roster looked strong when Opening Day arrived, but the depth behind the Major Leaguers didn’t seem to be a crop of players that would be able to step in and keep the team in a playoff race. Lo and behold, that’s what happened with injuries to A.J. Burnett, Gustavo Chacin, Alex Rios, amongst other issues.
The young fill-ins had their strong stretches, but it’s unrealistic to think guys like Casey Janssen or Ty Taubenheim — both pitched in A ball the year before — for example, could step up and instantly be a Jered Weaver or a Justin Verlander. The big league experience will help all the young players that helped out for next year and beyond, though.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting back to Toronto. I’ve only been home for about three days in the roughly the last three weeks. Given that fact, I’m going to be taking a day off on Friday. I’ll be back behind the keyboard starting Saturday.
Until then, here’s some notes to tie you over:
–Roy Halladay threw off a mound on Wednesday and appears to be set to start on Friday. If he doesn’t, Toronto manager John Gibbons said he would still probably pitch this weekend. Gustavo Chacin would pitch on Friday if Halladay couldn’t go. As of right now, the rotation will be Halladay, Ted Lilly, and Chacin in the three games against Tampa Bay.
–Alex Rios continues to sit due to a bone bruise in his right hand. He jammed his hand while hitting some time last week and hasn’t been able to grip a bat well since. He has played as a late defensive substitution lately, but hasn’t hit in a game in six games. No word on when he’ll be starting again.
–Third baseman Troy Glaus has been working through a tough slump lately. Gibbons said it looks like Glaus’ swing is a little long, which is a tendency that big power hitters tend to have sometimes. Gibbons bumped Glaus down to the No. 5 hole on Tuesday and sat him on Wednesday. I assume he’ll be back in the lineup on Friday.
–John Hattig and Adam Lind have been pretty impressive since joining Toronto. Hattig, who was called up when Toronto traded Eric Hinske, has hit .462. Lind, who was the Eastern League MVP this year, has posted a .464.
–Reports indicate that the Blue Jays are on pace to lose around $22 million this year. That’s roughly the amound of payroll Toronto added during its busy winter. Even so, owner Ted Rogers has said he’s willing to increase his club’s payroll for next year.