Toronto Blue Jays are going to score a ton of runs in 2021, and get huge TV ratings because of their explosive lineup, but rules of baseball insist that manager Charlie Montoyo put his team out in the field on defence for nine innings every day.
That could be the part that hurts.
Toronto’s offence was ranked third-best in all of Major League Baseball by MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince (behind only the Yankees and Dodgers), but unless Hyun-Jin Ryu — the only legitimate pitching star on the team — can pitch every other day, the Jays could lose almost as many as they win.
But what an offensive lineup! And if the pitching somehow overachieves, Toronto might just make the playoffs and give hope to fans across Canada that a World Series title is possible.
The Jays, who will use Dunedin, Fla., as their home base for at least the first two months due to COVID-19 restrictions, have one of the most talented young teams in baseball.
The trio of Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette, all sons of former major leaguers and all entering their third year, are expected to blossom this year.
The slimmer and quicker Guerrero, especially, is expected to have a breakout season, having lost about 30 pounds in the off-season.
But that’s not all.
The Jays braintrust went out and signed free agent centerfielder George Springer, who was a member of the ‘Cheatin’ Astros in 2017 who won the World Series.
He was probably the best free agent available and that the Jays were able to sign him ($150 million for six years) offers proof that ownership is intent on winning.
Springer and the three aforementioned youngsters have plenty of talent surrounding them.
Teoscar Hernandez has 25-30-home run potential and Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., is a future star and power to spare (42 career HR in 206 games).
Another outfielder with pop is Randal Grichuk, who hit 12 homers in 55 games in 2020.
Marcus Semien was another free-agent signing and while his stats pale in comparison to Springer’s, he has enough power to put fear into opposing pitchers.
But ah, the pitching. After Ryu, the Jays are thin on the mound. None-household names Robby Rae, Nate Pearson and Tanner Roark fill out the other three rotation spots, with Steven Matz the fifth starter and out to prove that his 0-5 record and 9.68 ERA with the Mets last year was an aberration. He was 11-10 with the Mets in 2019.
Injuries, hot streaks, breakout players …. who knows what will happen in the next six months? But it’s almost guaranteed that the Jays will never be out of a game, no matter how far behind they might be.
It may or may not be a championship season, but they’re going to be a fun team to watch.
• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha, who spent 13 years as a writer for Jay Leno’s NBC Tonight Show, about Leno’s lack of sports knowledge: “(He would use) an elaborate set of notes in case anything came up that he didn’t know — for example, how many points a touchdown is worth or what’s meant by the word ‘dribble.’”
• Dickson again, on the night Terry Bradshaw was a Leno guest and how ‘stupid’ they acted together: “How stupid did they act? Picture Curly and Moe if Larry called in sick.”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Brian Cashman, GM of the Bronx Bombers, pays his ex more than $1 million annually in their divorce settlement. So Yankee Stadium isn’t his only costly diamond.”
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: “A Miami Heat arena name change is at hand. It’s going from AmericanAirlines Arena to FTX Arena, after a cryptocurrency exchange. Will players now be paid in Bitcoin?”
• PGA Tour player Chesson Hadley, who thought Joel Dahmen might party too much after winning his first PGA Tour title at the Corales Puntacana Resort championship, on Twitter: “I’m so happy for @Joel_Dahmen! Absolutely first class human. No chance he makes the charter tomorrow to San Antonio.”
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Gov. Greg Abbott has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions in the Lone Star State, meaning the Texas Rangers’ home opener might be a sellout. The rules there are now so lenient that even catcher’s masks aren’t mandatory.”
• Another one from Perry: “And, in news about free agents, the Blue Jays signed George Springer, the Phillies signed J.T. Realmuto and the Royals slammed the door on Prince Harry’s possible return.”
• Headline at TheOnion.com: “Nelson Agholor signs 2-year, 23-drop contract with Patriots.”
• Headline at Fark.com: “NFL owners approve increased profits for NFL owners.”
• Another headline from fark.com: “The Pittsburgh Pirates surprise a local health-care worker with tickets to the home opener. Hasn’t she suffered enough?”
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by Bruce Penton