This article is not intended for the true Jays Zealots out there, who never miss a beat during the offseason, because for the true Blue Bird fanatic there is really only one season – and that’s a year-round baseball life.
This Blue Jays bandwagon fan guide is full of bird words specifically targeted at the fans that flew on the 2015 David Price band-to-the-lionized-wagon trade and have been riding it since.
As a big time Blue Jays fan, you are always welcome amongst the old Jays mobile - Bats style, of course, that we ride year-after-year through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
So let's hook up those training (bandwagon) wheels because it has been a long offseason and a load of Blue Bird droppings have happened:
Toronto Blue Jays 2017 Calendar Circling Schedule
The Toronto Blue Jays season is finally approaching as the cold dark January and February days are behind us on this road to the boys of spring, summer, and fall - so, I guess, you, Blue Bird bandwagoners, might be wondering when does the season start?
Well, the season begins on Monday, April 3rd at 3:05pm, against our favourite Trash Birds from Baltimore – note: this is not a home game. That’s right, the Jays begin the season on a 6-game road trip that takes them from a Birds ‘Wire’ (see what I did there – if not, damn, no pop culture reference on this one) in Baltimore to the land of Tampa to play those crafty Rays - who the Jays will hopefully learn to beat in 2017.
The home opener is on Tuesday, April 11th at 7:07pm, so all you Blue Jays bandwagon bros and sisters get your tickets because the Birds play the Milwaukee (said like Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World) Brewers – that’s right, not the division rival Red Sox or Yankees, but the Brewers. You can thank MLB scheduling for that one, but, at least, the Trash Birds of Baltimore come to the SkyDome after the two game mini Brewers series for a four-gamer from the 13th – 16th, so that will be a fun Friday or Saturday outing of baseball in Toronto.
Other important scheduling information that should be tossed on your baseball calendar would be the lovely ‘odor’ that Rougned and the Texas Rangers will bring to town May 26th – 28th, so there are some other baseball dates worth penciling in on the old calendar hanging on the fridge, held up by magnets, that reflect your inner style.
I will not tell you when Boston rolls in to town on their John Farrell bus, but I’ll give you a hint – it’s right after the Trash Birds leave. As for those damn Yankees, well you’re going to have to wait until June to see them play in Domer's good old Sky Dome.
Remember Domer, well, if not:
There he is. R.I.P Domer - he died when Ted Rogers purchased the SkyDome, but we don't need to get in to that 25 million dollars steal from the taxpayers, do we? What a cute little turtle thing he was.
The New Birds
1. Kendrys 'the new Beast in the East' Morales
You had to be buried in an avalanche in the Canadian Tundra to not know that EE took his wings to Cleveland and that the Shap-At tribe jumped all over Kendrys Morales. The switch-hitting Morales is going to be a nice fit and soon fan favourite in Toronto once he starts smacking some royals in the old dome. So bandwagoners get ready to buy this guys jersey!
He is born on June 20th, 1983 in Fomento, Cuba. He is a switch hitter (bats from both sides of the plate, I don't know, just in case), which is something the Jays desperately need, and he has a nice career production line with a .273 AVG and a .795 OPS. He broke into the MLB with the Angels in 2006 and played six seasons in La La Land, followed by two season in Seattle (Jays Nation’s second home ), and then, of course, his last two seasons with the Royals.
A lot of MLB people out there believe that he will take advantage of the hitter friendly SkyDome and put up some nice numbers, so be excited about this guy – he will be a great DH.
2. Steve 'I look like a bouncer' Pearce
Steve Wayne Pearce is a journeyman in the MLB as his career has taken him all across the good ol’ United States of America: Pirates 5yrs, Trash Birds (Orioles) 5yrs, Rays 1yr, and Astros 1yr. He cracked his first big league at bat in 2007 as a Pirate, but never played more than 60 games in a season over in Steel Town. He played most of his baseball games as a Trash Bird and put up his best numbers in the orange and black uniform.
Steve Pearce underwent surgery during the offseason to repair the flexor mass in his right forearm, but it looks like he has recovered because he has been making a strong case in Dunedin (don't you think, *cough* Gibbers?) to become the Jays first baseman and not *cough again* Justin the Smoak and mirror show, or - maybe just no show.
Pearce was outstanding when healthy last season, hitting .288/.374/.492 with 13 homers and 13 doubles in 302 plate appearances for the Rays and Orioles. If Steve Wayne Pearce can stay healthy, he should be the everyday first baseman for the Blue Birds, and have a positive impact with his bat – unlike the zero 'bat and ball' impact from the 'Smokeless Wonder' - Justin.
3. J. P. 'House of Pain' Howell
J.P Howell is the free agent lefty that the Shap-At Tribe 'jumped up, jumped up and got down' signed in the offseason to fill the Brett Cecil void after Cecil flew the Blue Bird coop (by rejecting Toronto’s offer) to land in the St. Louis Cardinal nest of $CASH$.
The 6’0, 180-pound lefty Howell has pitched 11 seasons in the big leagues. His career began in Kansas City in 2005, and then took flight in Tampa where he spent most of his time baseballing with the Rays from 2006 – 2012. He has spent the past four seasons in La La Dodger land where he went 14 – 6 with a 2.49 ERA.
Howell is a soft throwing MLB hurler. He tosses his sinker in the mid 80's, topping out at 90 MPH. He has a 'cuts like a knife' curve ball that breaks down, which should have Russell Martin busy blocking it in the dirt. He’s a key lefty piece in a Jays bullpen that desperately needed another alternative to the Loup.
Other notable Blue Bird additions are: Bullpen pitcher Joe Smith (not John Doe), bullpen pitcher Dominic Leone, backup catcher Jarrod Salty Saltalamacchia who is not Josh Thole, and the most interesting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. who you should Google baseball read about - a nice piece written by Callum Hughson at mopupduty.com.
And the good Blue Jays bullpen news is:
Drew Storen is STILL not a Blue Jay. He's a Cincinnati Red now - good luck.
However, bandwagoners - we still have this guy:
Aaron Loup. I have a feeling a lot of you might get the same feeling every Monday morning when you wake up as you do when John Gibby Gibbers signals for Aaron Loup in the pen – and I hope you don't, some call it the blue Mondays, others, the Loup Mondays.
Non-Roster Dunedin Blue Bird Invitees
There are a number of players on this list whose names you are going to become very familiar with sooner than later.
Gavin Floyd – you may remember Gavin 'the Pink' Floyd from last year before his injury, it’d be nice to see him bounce back
Mat Latos – a newly signed Blue Bird who might get some work out of the bullpen
Tim Mayza – who has been called a flamethrower and who I wrote about in my last edition of the Weekend Hangover
Baseball America’s Top 5 Bird Prospects
Bandwagoners start working on the pronunciation of some of these names in a 'Buck Martinez' kind of fashion because they will be rolling off those tongues during your future baseball summer beer chatts.
The Jose Bautista Report
Even you bandwagoners were well aware of and thrilled about the signing of Jose Bautista, and, yes, it was awesome to see Joey Bats come home. But let’s not forget that his play in RF isn’t exactly Jesse Barfield sharp, and his arm isn’t as strong or accurate too, so thank the good SkyDome, Domer, of course, there is a Kevin 'Superman' Pillar to cover a lot of turf in the outfield.
As for Bautista, let’s hope that Joey Bats will booster juice his numbers from last year and stay healthy and avoid turfing any toe. One thing for sure, his 2017 beard game is spot on (as I’ve noted in one of my previous articles) - so keep an eye on the 2017 facial hair game of Joey Bats as well.
Things to be worried about, but not too worried about, because the Jays are STILL really fucking awesome:
The capricious health of Devon Travis as he is injured right now and probably won’t be ready by Opening Day.
Jays management starting Justin Smoak at first base and not Steve Pearce.
The uncertain bullpen that you hope has a pleasant surprise – I don’t know, maybe, like a Tim Mayza flame throwing kind of surprise – here’s to wishes.
The LF situation because unless Dalton Pompey steps up and steals the spot, it’s going to be a Zeke/Upton Jr. platoon alley of 'GEEZ' over there.
The starting rotation is the Jays strength, but who’s the sixth man? Or, the seventh? There is a real lack of depth after Liriano and if one of the 'five' goes down, who steps up?
Bandwagon 2017 - Coles Notes - Conclusion
So there you have it Toronto Blue Jays Bandwagoners, I like to call it the Coles Notes to the Toronto Blue Jays 2017 team. I tried to make this manual somewhat knowledgeable, quick, and just enough to give you what you need to head into the season with the on-again, off-again relationship that you have with your beloved Jays.
You may have one bandwagon type of question bandwagoners, like: Are the Jays still good? And yes, yes they REALLY are, which means you will still be around this year, and, who knows? Maybe even the next. So you still have some time on Blue Jays Way with your old wheels before the dog days of losing return.
But I have one question for you bandwagoners, what if John the Skip Gibby Gibbers Gibbons and the rest of this 2017 SkyDome ship sails to the bottom of the AL East come mid-July, will you jump? Will you turn your wheels off of Blue Jays Way? Well, of course, you will – and you ARE welcome back anytime. It is you, the bandwagon, 'uncouth' fans, that bring the ruckus to the SkyDome and, YES, mostly make very vacuous comments on Jays blogs, and that’s okay too - there’s room for all of us in Blue Jays Nation.
But remember that the season is long. The Jays will lose games in April and in May, and in June and in July, and in August and September too - just like they did last year. They will streak and win four in a row and they will get swept too. They might lose all the time to the damn Tampa Bay Rays again, who knows? Who knows what will happen, but enjoy the bandwagon ride, hopefully it will take all of us in to October together as one nation of Birds – the blue is back and it’s not Labatt, it’s our Jays.
Enjoy the season from my wagon to yours.