11:00 PM Eastern
The curtain came down on the 2010 season for the Blue Jays in much the same fashion that the rest of the season went. They got a terrific performance from a starting pitcher, they hit timely home runs and they won. That’s what happened more often than not this year.
Granted, this afternoon was a little bit different in that it was played in that last game of the season pace – everybody, including the umpires, has a plane to catch and all that – so it likely wasn’t a true indication of anything. But Marc Rzepczynski threw seven innings of four-hitter and didn’t allow an earned run while Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind hit two-out solo shots for the Jays’ only runs. Perfect work from the bullpen, too, and the game finished with Shawn Camp showing everybody how it’s done – retiring the side in order in the 9th on just 10 pitches. Who knows? The Blue Jays could wind up with a 35 year-old closer next season.
The disappointment of the day was Jose Bautista’s failure to reach base, not that anything would necessarily have happened had he done so. I don’t know if he was even aware that he was one stolen base shy of becoming only the third player in major-league history with a season of 50 home runs, 30 doubles, 100 walks and 10 stolen bases – the only others are Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds, arguably the two greatest hitters ever. Still, I wonder how many players have had a season with 50 homers, 30 doubles, 100 walks and nine steals.
There’s no question that Bautista was the highlight of this season. I was adamant this spring that the Jays should have given Randy Ruiz his everyday job – couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t keep Bautista on the bench to get a look at a guy who had never had the chance to fail at the major-league level, but man, were they right. Bautista was phenomenal, and if the Jays had been in a pennant race at all over the second half of the season, he’d be a shoo-in for MVP.
The starting pitching, which so many thought would be so lacking this season, wound up being incredible. Brandon Morrow was the wild card here, most figured he’d be at least a two- or three-year project, but he continued to throw strikes just as he did last September, and was a revelation. Morrow and Bautista both had their games click in September of 2009, really for the first time, and both carried it over into this year. Can they do it again? If they can, the Blue Jays could be even better next season.
Vernon Wells wound up with strong numbers, despite doing nothing for almost a third of the season. From June 25th to August 20th, over 46 games, Wells hit .235/.292/.382 with four home runs. Over the rest of the season (116 games), he hit .288/.347/.574 with 27 homers. Strangely enough, the Blue Jays winning percentage was actually higher during Wells’ dry spell.
Bautista, John Buck and, when he was here, Alex Gonzalez had career years offensively. Adam Lind and Aaron Hill – we hope – had the opposite of that. In the overall, the Blue Jays led the league in home runs by a wide margin and led in slugging as well, but they finished in a pack at the bottom of the league in batting average and on-base percentage, one that was ahead of only the Seattle Mariners. If their pitching continues to improve – and they should do far better from the 5th spot, at the very least – they need to find a way to get more runners on base so that they can have a chance to win some more games.
Now, I don’t think that 2011 is going to be “the year” for the Jays, I think it’s going to be another year of building and developing, breaking in guys like J.P. Arencibia, Travis Snider, David Purcey and more into bigger and more important roles, but I still think they’re going to be a good team, and fun and exciting to watch.
Of course, who knows what changes are afoot over the off-season? That’s going to be interesting to watch as well, and choosing a manager will be the first step. We’ll be watching and reporting on that with great interest. I still say I want Butter to get a shot.
It was a tremendously fun year. We got to see one of the greatest games ever pitched, we got to see the greatest offensive season a Blue Jay has ever had, we got to see the greatest major-league debut any hitter has ever had, we got to see the Jays tie one league record with six doubles in an inning and another with six homers in a loss and we got to bite our fingernails as a Blue Jay starting pitcher took a no-hitter into the 7th inning an astounding FIVE times! Heck, we even got to go through the Nick Green era – remember that? It was a fun ride, made that much moreso by having all of you along for it.
We get to do the fun stuff – to go to the games, to talk to the people about whom everyone is talking and from whom everyone wants to hear – but we only get to do it because you’re out there to listen, read, comment and phone in. So thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you, and I look forward to continued interaction during our playoff coverage along the good old Fan Radio Network!
It’s hard to imagine that I won’t be going to another baseball game until March. That sucks.
Here’s the final edition of The JaysTalk – 2010 version – for your listening pleasure:
And here’s the transcript of this afternoon’s “Miked Up LIVE!”: