Groundhog Day in Blue Jay Land

For the odd baseball executive, I’m sure every day must feel like Groundhog Day. Despite their best efforts, sometimes they are just stuck in the endless loop of mediocrity and have no way of getting out of it.

Luckily for us Blue Jays fans, Alex Anthopoulos is not one of those people. AA has been furiously pursuing signings and trades this offseason in what has been one of the most active winters in recent memory.

After all, it wasn’t all that long ago when the biggest offseason acquisition by the Blue Jays was the minor league signing of Kevin Millar. We were chomping at the bit for any morsel of Blue Jays news, and the only thing fed to us by the front office was Kevin Millar’s Spring Training invite.


I’m thankful there’s been a flurry of activity this offseason because the six months between the final game of the regular season and Opening Day can drag on longer than an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball matchup between the Yankees and the Red Sox.

With all the trades, free agent signings, and a new manager at the helm, I can’t think of a better time to get excited about Blue Jays baseball again.

So however you chose to celebrate this obscure rodent-centric holiday, just be sure to remember this very recently constructed Groundhog Day baseball proverb:

If Alex Anthopoulos sees his shadow, then it’s eight more weeks of the offseason. But if the Silent Assassin doesn’t see his shadow, then a blindsided trade is surely on the horizon.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

10 thoughts on “Groundhog Day in Blue Jay Land

  • February 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Careful that your enthusiasm does not lead to misguided expectations for this season. While all of the moves Anthopoulos has made are good for the Jays in the long run, I do expect the Blue Jays to take a step back this season.

    Yes the Vernon Wells trade is unbelievable for the long run, but it doesn't make the team better this year. Same with the Marcum deal.

    In fact until we actually see some of these players take that next step in development leading the Blue Jays to actually start spending some money, it could be a bumpy ride.

  • February 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    ^^Last year there were folks talking of a 100 loss season so tempering enthusiasm is always the safe thing to do, but why? I'm not convnced Toronto will be taking a step back at all. On paper, sure. There's something different about these guys that we saw last season-they want and even expect to win…

  • February 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Peter, by no means do I expect the Blue Jays to win the division this year, but the picture is much less bleak to begin 2011 than it was at the start of 2010. So long as the deals make the team better in the long run, I'm all for it.

    Mattt, I think they're hungrier to win this year, but it will definitely be an uphill battle. I'm looking forward to seeing Drabek and others get some playing time this year.

  • February 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I just have concerns that if the Jays get off to a bad start or have a say 70 win season, that a lot of the fans that are rejoicing now will be crying the blues. It's important not to take your eye off the big picture.

    As the team currently stands there are question marks at essentially every position:

    C – Will JP Arencibia translate his minor league success to the majors this year, can he handle a major league pitching staff, is his defense good enough?

    1B – Can Lind handle first base, even so, can he rebound from a dreadful season offensively?

    2B – Can Arron Hill rebound from an awful season offensively?

    SS – Will Escobar return to pre-2010 form?

    3B – Will Batista be happy playing 3B, can he repeat his success from last year, or even close?

    RF – Will Travis Snider finally have his break-out season, will he be good enough defensively to handle RF.

    CF – What can we expect from Rajai Davis?

    LF – Will Rivera be the everyday left fielder, and if so what can we expect from him?

    SP's – Can Morrow, Cecil, Romero build off their success from last year or will they revert to pre-2010 numbers? Who will be the 4th and 5th starters and will they be good enough?

    Bullpen – not too many question here other than who will be the closer and get the last couple of spots.

    I don't think I can ever recall a team with so many questions, or one with such a variance in potential results at every position. At the end of the day the Team should be okay, they could be amazing, but they could also be awful.

    Should be an interesting year at least.

  • February 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Peter, agreed – I think the wins and losses are secondary compared to player development this year. Really hoping that Snider and Arencibia can break out of their shells, and Lind and Hill can bounce back. That way we can have a better idea of what kind of run the bluebirds can make in 2012.

  • February 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I am still interested to see what AA does about 3b besides Bautita. I am thinking he either gets Chavez as many have speculated or goes for Willy Aybar. I would be suprised if the Jays went with Michael Young I think Richard Griffin was way off the mark there. I think the VW and 'suprisingly' was meant as the fact they would be on different teams in the same division. I think Chavez and Aybar are the best options and they jays should try to sign either of them to two year deals allowing time for Laurie to develop. the biggest question mark for me is the fact the jays need Bautista in the field and need to find someone else to play 3b. besides that they need to find a 5th sp. they need someone older who can eat up some eatings (do to the fact that Cecil, Drabek, Morrow are still not at the stage to play a lot of innings, but this is just me,.

  • February 3, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Psmith, I think the Jays will roll with Jose at third base. It's much tougher to find a decent third baseman than it is an outfielder, so it's just easier for them right now to have Bautista play the hot corner.

    I'm not crazy about going after Eric Chavez because even if they sign him and he makes the roster, we're in the exact same spot next year. He would just be a temporary solution until Lawrie comes up. But you know what? If it's a minor league deal, why not give him a shot?

    As far as 5th starters are concerned, I think the Jays are okay for the time being. It'll probably either be Litsch or RZep to start the year, and if they need guys to eat innings there's Stewart, Mills, Richmond and others who could step in and get some starts when Morrow/Cecil/Drabek are being shut down.

  • February 3, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I'm with psmith – AA obviously wants players to think highly of the organization, given the Buck/Arencibia comments, and continuing to jerk around a star player who has made it clear he prefers a certain position flies in the face of that. As you mentioned, Ian, it's just a matter of time before Lawrie's up, so some shitty temp third baseman presumably won't hurt the team that much.

    Plus, it's not like they absolutely have to make room for superstar Juan Rivera.

  • February 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Xave, it's a tricky situation for the Blue Jays right now – do they try to keep Bautista happy and play him in right field in hopes that will leverage a contract extension? Or do they just stick him at the hot corner and let him ride out the contract?

  • February 4, 2011 at 1:21 am

    It also begs the question as to what directio the Jays are hoping to go next year, as in more or less than 80 wins. The reason I say this is because I could see the jays be worse with Bautista at 3b then RF. Why? Well they could get someone like Chavez or Aybar who could fill in for 1 year. Thus, covering the corner till Laurie is ready in 2012 and who in August of 2011 could platoon with. Bautista would you a better outfield than you are looking with Paterson or Rivera and allows for him to play more field and to not put a heavy burden on davis. For a outfield of Snyder Bautista, and Rivera does not have the same Range.

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