I am going to start this random blog appearance off with a moment of Q&A to myself? Yes … myself an all too familiar sight on this blog.
Q: How depressing was the Blue Jays 2013 season?
A: About as depressing as the activity on this blog in the past two years. Zing! Ouch! My very own work art – I have taken it for granted – left out in cyber dust, lifeless, void any passion or energy.
Similarly, the Blue Jays of 2013 were a work of art crafted by GM Alex Anthopolous. The season that began with great hype and fanfare (lol, sure) following the acquisitions of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Melky Cabrera, Josh Thole and Emilio Bonifacio ended in depression as the Jays finished in the basement of yet another very tough A.L. East division.
The optimism that was at an all-time high in ‘Blue Jay Nation’ coming into the year quickly turned to frustration and sadness. The point that I knew season was lost was Mid-April in Kansas City when Jose Reyes broke his ankle stealing second base. Reyes wouldn’t be back until June while all of the other pieces Anthopolous acquired struggled to excel in a Jays uniform. Dickey’s game did not look good in the Rogers, Bonifacio struggled to find a defensive position (then played great in Kansas City, bastard), Johnson had a rough go of it and Buehrle was … well himself (nothing too special).
This year the Jays seem poised for a better win/loss output as the team remains relatively intact with a huge statistical upgrade at catcher (going from a player getting on base at .227 clip, to one at .365) HUGE! The pitching rotation still seeks a few players to emerge, but some may argue that the Jays have some young arms in the system ready to perform (Hutchison, Drabek, Stroman).
I’m also not a believer that the lack of activity in the offseason will be detrimental the Jays this year. The team made ample moves last season, so this year it was not a necessity. To keep it brief (because if you had followed this blog rarely do I write about the Jays) the Jays still have a solid core of talent in Reyes, Encarnacion, Lawrie, Bautista, the Bullpen and Dickey. With a bit of luck from the injury bug, and at the backend of our pitching staff from young unprovens we could be very competitive club.
Anyway, I’d like to apologize for the poor effort that I have put out on this blog. Comparatively, I’m also sure that the Jays want to apologize for their performance on the field last season. Okay … so all things considered even I’ll end with a famous baseball quote from ‘Dem Bums,’ the pre-1940’s Brooklyn Dodgers, “We’ll get em’ next year.” The Jays and the blog.
Although I have absent from this blog, I’m still a living, breathing person. Send me tweet @talkinhomer … always like connecting with Jays fans.
Establishing a starting catcher has to be the most underrated position need in the game. A solid catcher is integral to a team’s success, look at the Yankees with Posada and the Red Sox with Varitek. Those guys have been with their respected clubs for a long time, they also know the ‘ins and outs’ of the system and the coach under which they play.
Probably one of the greatest catchers of our time, Yogi Berra (who helmed the plate for the Yankees from 1946 to 1965), is an excellent example of the importance of a catcher. Yogi, when he first came up with the Yankees, was awkward, unsure of himself and didn’t know precisely how to command the position. Pitchers constantly teased him and got outright violent with him sometimes, if he would ignore them and relay pitches from the manager in the dugout. He didn’t know how to comprimise between the players and the managers, who both had their own agendas. Yogi would eventually catch on and become more confident handling the position, but for a time, he demonstrated the crucial need for confidence and leadership in a starting catcher.
A catcher has many responsibilities and many of them are imporant to being successful in any ballgame, here is an 11 point list of many important ones:
1. They are involved on every pitch and every at-bat.
2. They prevent passed balls and wild pitches.
3. Field bunts.
4. Prevent stolen bases.
5. Pick off runners.
6. Must be able to accurately throw to all positions.
7. They block to plate from runners.
8. Takes hits and hold onto the ball.
9. Direct and lead defensive alignments.
10. Call pitches and memorize signals.
11. Have great awareness of pitcher’s strengths and batter’s weaknesses.
The position requires a great understanding of the game and all it’s strategic elements. Jason Varitek wears a C on his jersey and understandably so. The catcher is often looked upon for this kind of leadership.
The backbone of a solid club, is a strong catcher that will stay with their team for many years. Look what happened to Braves pitching after Javy Lopez or the Marlins after Pudge left.
There are exceptions, but teams that have high turnover, at catcher, often fail. The Jays, right now, are admist a catching dilemma between Gregg Zaun and Rod Barajas. These guys are very similar, except Barajas packs more of a punch with his bat and Zaun will hit for a higher average. Since Zaun came to the Jays in 2004, he has been an outstanding fill in; however, you never really got the feeling that he was our main guy. Barajas needs more time with the team, but I really like his bat, considering the Jay’s recent power outage. I think that he is due for some more playing time Gibby! I’m still hoping that our ‘catcher of the future’ is in the minors Jeroloman, Arencibia, Diaz, Thigpen?????????
With that, I will end with my favorite Yogism. “I didn’t say everything I said”. Surprisingly, this can get you out of a lot bad comments you make to your girlfriend. For that, I am forever greatful to you Yogi. Got any other Yogism’s? I would be delighted to hear more, if you want to share.