Adam Corsair over at South of the Six has perfectly summed up the start of the Blue Jays season in his article 'It’s Not Pretty, But It’s Not Over,' and I couldn’t agree with him more.
Things certainly aren’t pretty right now, and this isn’t the start that any Jays fan envisioned. As Andrew Stoeten delicately (okay, maybe not delicately) has pointed out that Blue Jays Nation is ‘howling into the void’ bleak thoughts about the 2017 Jays, and that's fine - it's expected.
Now most fans have played the numbers game and understand how the Jays have to play to reach that 88 – 90 win season, and, yes, the team has an arduous road ahead of them. However, as perturbed as most fans are right now, I think that it’s important to just step out of the batters box and take a breath.
Tao of Stieb wrote an article the other day about how the Blue Jays need production from the bottom of the order, and he’s absolutely right. And at this point in the season (even though a small sample size) Justin Smoak and Kevin Pillar have been delivering at the plate.
Smoak’s recent production at the plate has every #SmoakSucks fan tasting their big toe right now, right? And listen, I’m not suggesting that he keeps producing the way that he has been for the next five months, but he has been a pleasant surprise.
Now what really inspired this piece I'm writing was something that Buck Martinez said during Tuesday nights game. He mentioned how when he was in spring training the starting lineup actually played every game and took at-bats. He went on to add that after each spring training game they would run the bases, and, well, train hard, which is the opposite methodology of today’s MLB training camp.
The players today are not getting the practice at-bats, which they need to have to work out their swing in order to feel comfortable at the plate come April. Buck also shared an interesting baseball tale about Pete Rose and his work ethic. He said that after every spring training game, Rose would have his own personal batting session to continue to work on his mechanics. Now here's the 'rub', Smoak and Pillar have worked very hard at their new approaches at the plate, and, well, look at the early results. As good as a hitter may be (Umm, Pete Rose), the training can't be all fun and games during spring.
The new era of training has gotten soft, the hard drills, the old school method of running the bags, and the starting lineup playing an entire nine innings has changed from previous decades. Now, this is no excuse for the Blue Jays, because all the MLB teams are approaching spring training under the same system, but maybe it’s time to think about a new approach in spring.
The Blue Jays bats were slow in April and May in 2016, and now they are slow again in 2017 (minus Tuesday nights game). I don’t know, but maybe a little old fashion grind in training camp isn’t a bad idea.
And I get it, there has been a string of bad luck to the 2017 Blue Jays campaign that has all the fans just shaking their blue heads. But remember as Adam Corsair said, ‘it's not pretty, but it’s (certainly) not over’. Once these Blue Jays field a healthy lineup, and the ball bounces for them, who knows – maybe, the team might find themselves in a Wild Card hunt.
Here’s the thing Jays fans, it is early, and, yes, the Jays need to start to win, but let's take a breath, and give this team a chance to sort themselves out because it certainly can’t get any worse than this.