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November 20, 2017

Don’t Rebuild! Re-Tool Instead…

A Full blowup could mean another long stretch with no playoffs, and no one wants to go through that again.

For even the most loyal optimists, it’s about time you faced the cold harsh reality; the Blue Jays won’t be seeing action in the 2017 postseason. I could go on all day, as to the reasons why, but that’s another blog for another day. Today, I’d like to discuss why I believe it’s vital that the Jays try to put a contending team in the field in 2018.

For many, especially those who are big hockey fans, you’ve likely seen your favourite team tear down, rebuild, then a few years later, get right back into the playoffs. Baseball doesn’t work that way.

First of all, only 5 teams from each league make it to the postseason, and for one of them, they are gone after just 1 game. So even in years when you’ve put together what appears to be a team poised to make a run, those World Series dreams could be dashed after 1 game. The thought of going into a 162 game season, without any hope of competing for one of those spots, is very disheartening to the fans, to the players, and to the owners, who are trying to sell tickets.

Since the Jays pulled off their historic 12 player deal with the Florida Marlins, prior to the 2013 season, there has been a buzz around the team. Even though 2013 was a major disappointment, a new base of fans had been formed, and when they made that magical run in the late fall of 2015, this entire country was riding the wave.

What made that playoff race so special was that it was the first time in the lives of anyone born after 1993 that the Jays would see a game 163. After the drought that followed Joe Carter’s momentous homer, this was finally a real reason to cheer. It had been hard to follow this team year after year, knowing that the playoffs weren’t going to happen.

Do you really want to go through that again? I’m not saying they have to be a playoff team every year to keep the fans compelled, but you have to at least start the year with a fighting chance.

The tricky thing is staying competitive, while also turning over the roster. For those calling for a full rebuild, understand that could take many years and leave your team with little or no playoff hopes during that time.

Here’s the good news; the Jays already have a number of great players that can be built around. The rotation has 2 of the best young arms in the game in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. Throw in J.A. Happ and possibly a re-signed Marco Estrada, and you’ve got a solid 4 in the rotation. Roberto Osuna is a lock as the closer, so you need to figure out your 5th starter and fill out a pen that already has Ryan Tepera and Danny Barnes.

Like him or not, Russ Martin is your catcher, and as we’ve seen since he’s been on the DL, they are a better team with him. Smoak is your first baseman and Pillar in CF. The huge X-factor is Josh Donaldson. The Jays must convince him to sign an extension this winter or look at dealing him. Let’s assume he stays, that takes care of 3rd base.

That leaves some holes to fill, but they can add free agents, make trades, or have their own prospects step in. This doesn’t assure them a playoff spot next season, but it sure gives them a fighting chance.

So what would you rather see happen? A full “blow up” and potentially years of meaningless baseball in September? Or, some re-tooling and the chance of starting 2018 with hope and promise?

The choice isn’t ours to make, but my money’s on Shapiro and Atkins doing everything in their power to keep all of you interested. After-all, you loyal optimists seem to be in the minority.

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