Two years ago, it was “World Series here we come”. Last year, the overriding theme was indifference. This year, the tone at the Blue Jays State of the Franchise was one of cautious optimism; but without saying it, the theme was really “playoffs or bust”.
It seemed that Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston were especially cognizant that this may be the final chance they have to make playoffs, and that time is running out for these franchise figureheads to deliver.
For those who were unable to attend or catch the full livestream of the Blue Jays State of the Franchise, MLB.com has provided a condensed version below.
Unlike previous years, there really wasn’t all that much new information unearthed that we didn’t already know. Anthopoulos essentially said the bullpen will remain as is and the second base position will be filled from within.
Also Paul Beeston declared the Blue Jays are preparing a bid to bring another MLB All-Star Game back to Toronto for the first time since 1991, but it sounds like that is in the preliminary stage and may just be a pipe dream more than anything at this point.
Sanchez – Starter or Reliever?
The fact that the Aaron Sanchez subject was broached multiple times leads me to believe that the front office and the coaching staff are really keen on Sanchez pitching out of the bullpen this season.
It also got me thinking as I discussed this with another attendee; how stretched out would Aaron Sanchez really get in Spring Training anyway? At most, by the end of Spring Training, his outings might go five innings. But that wouldn’t be until the very end of the Grapefruit League schedule.
It seems like Sanchez has an incredibly small window to impress as a starter, and if he doesn’t impress within his first few outings in Spring Training, the Blue Jays may very well pull the parachute on the Sanchez starting experiment and just throw him into the bullpen.
A few weeks ago, I speculated the Blue Jays would not have traded away J.A. Happ had they not had confidence that one of Aaron Sanchez or Daniel Norris could step in and take his spot. Add Marco Estrada to that mix now and suddenly the situations gets even more complicated.
The one sort of big reveal was that the Blue Jays just officially signed an agreement with the University of Guelph to research the feasibility of installing natural grass at the Rogers Centre.
The firm deadline hasn’t been given yet, but the original target date of 2018 still stands. Aside from this agreement being firmed up, there really haven’t been that many public developments in this venture.
Three years from now seems like a long time to figure these things out and get the infrastructure in place to install a grass field, but it really isn’t that much time at all.
I mean, I can’t even grown grass in my tiny backyard, so I can only imagine the resources and man power it would take to get grass to grow inside the Rogers Centre.
And if for some reason say the Blue Jays do break ground at the Rogers Centre in the next few years and need some extra time to complete the installation, why not start the first few months of the season by playing their home games in Montreal?
In the meantime, the Blue Jays will continue to be one of only two teams to play their home games on artificial turf, but at least for the 2015 season it will be a brand new turf.
We also got a chance to see the brand new artificial playing surface on a grander scale, and it actually looked pretty good (for a turf, at least). The Blue Jays pitchers will also be pleased to hear this; it sounds like this new turf will play much slower than the previous iteration.
Ultimately the new turf looks much better than the previous one, but it will all depend on what it plays like and how much of an impact it will have on the players.
Beeston’s Swan Song
Despite the controversy surrounding finding a successor for him, Paul Beeston was met with fairly positive feedback from the fans. In fact, after the panel discussion, Beeston stood on the concourse for a good hour chatting and taking pictures with fans.
This was Paul Beeston’s final State of the Franchise, and judging by how happy and enthusiastic he was to meet with ticket holders, something tells me he’s really going to miss that aspect of the business come next year.
What About Josh Thole?
In case you missed it, Buck Martinez had quite the zinger about the Blue Jays’ backup to the backup catcher, Josh Thole. I’ll give Buck credit, this one was pretty good.