There may have been one or two editions of the ol’ Griff Bag to have been released already this spring, and I might even take a look at those this week, but on Friday over at the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin offered us a new batch of dispatches from the lunatic fringe, and I’m thinking it’s best we just dive back in with a caustic little hijacking of his latest. Shall we???
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
Huge fan of the column.
I’m down here in Dunedin, and in certain quarters around the stadium today you really could hear the negativity. I know Toronto sports fans are primed to go that way, but as disappointing as this off-season has seen there are always those other narratives in baseball. The thing that comes absolutely out of nowhere. And because it’s either search for some optimism or just go crazy now, my question is this: Are there any Jays that you think have the possibility of turning in a Hail Mary this season? If so, who, why, and what should we be looking for?
Denis McGrath, Toronto
You’re not wrong, Denis. The off-season has been an absolute gut-punch exactly because the Jays are so close and so talented as it is, and because we only allowed ourselves to give this organization so much goodwill and so much excitement a year ago on the condition that they wouldn’t do precisely what they’ve now done. All the prospect talent dealt away was accepted by the fans because we were told it was being done in what was to be a good faith effort to contend for multiple years, which they’ve now slithered away from, leaving nothing behind but shed skins that once spoke about “relentlessly pursuing improving the team in the off-season,” needing to address the rotation, and “If we don’t win this year, we win next year, and if we don’t win next year, we win the year after.”
It leaves a bitter, bitter taste in the mouth of anyone who ever actually — almost assuredly dumbly — believed anything these people said, or defended the trades of last winter on the grounds that they signaled things would actually get better, commitments would actually be honoured, and purse strings wouldn’t be suddenly tightened as they were back at the end of J.P. Ricciardi’s tenure. But yes, there will still be a lot that’s great to watch in 2014, and there are a number of players who could surprise and push this team to higher heights than many of us gutted by the winter may be ready to believe just yet. The offence is already going to be a blast, and I especially think that Melky Cabrera, if healthy, will be a whole lot closer to the guy Jays fans first dreamed on than the one that they actually saw in 2013. I also think Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman have the ability to be extremely good young pitchers for this club, provided expectations haven’t already been twisted out of proportion by the hype from a desperate front office. There was even talk on Monday — from Buck Martinez on Prime Time Sports, apparently — that Aaron Sanchez could genuinely be a strong, contributing part of this team. I think that’s a little insanely presumptuous — Jose Fernandez he is not — but a legitimate, sustained step forward in terms of command could definitely put him on the map, especially if the front office gets frantic to save their own skins, or if there is a massive offloading of expensive big league talent come July.
Hey, and that wretched business should at least be interesting to watch, too, should it come to all that! Ugh.