Boom Town: Welcome to the New Toronto

by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

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Don’t blink. The Toronto Blue Jays are the most exciting team in baseball.

Not exciting in a Red Bull sort of way – this is baseball, after all. It’s half-sport, half-tobacco chewing pastime. But exciting in an unpredictable, “I wonder what’ll happen now” way.

On the field, the blueprint is still a blueprint, albeit one with frothing production. And that’s how it’s always been for the Jays – their young players never quite ripen until the veterans are past their prime, and their pitching and hitting trade three-year cycles without ever once lining up for the same starting gun.

Read: Jays trade Reyes, Hoffman, Castro to Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki, via Surrey Leader (July 27, 2015)

The Jays thought they had something special a couple years ago, with a new uniform and a retro bird blue-and-white colour scheme, but they’ve had to re-fill the ride a couple times since then. Young muscles like Travis Snider, J.P. Arencibia, and Brett Lawrie were thrown out with Adam Lind and others, while R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buerhle immigrated to Ontario in 2012, overlapping with the since-departed.

And now, with trades netting Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki in just a few months, Canada’s only team is worthy of its three-coast fandom. Will they win, or even make the playoffs? That’s a question for tomorrow, as it’s always been for the Jays.

“We think the world of Jeff (Hoffman)… and we think he’s going to be outstanding, going to have an outstanding career,” said Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos on Tuesday. “And it’s not easy to part with those guys but, at the same time, a chance to get Troy Tulowitzki for us, something that we wanted to take advantage of.”

The Jays already bad the best offence in baseball, and a big four of Donaldson, Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion should continue to lead what’s been a dominant year at the plate for Toronto.

(The Jays lead the majors with 530 runs scores and are third with 131 home runs. But their ERA of 4.06 in the league and second-last in their division – where they also trail the Rays, Orioles, and Yankees in the real standings, too. It’s almost as if pitching and defence translate to wins…)

The pitching, as you’ve heard, is still what’s dragging this team down. (How else can the highest-scoring club in the majors have a 50-51 record?) And while the now-traded Hoffman and Miguel Castro are futures, along with Daniel Norris and the injured Marcus Stroman, there was a cupboard there that would have been ready in a year… or two… or three.

It wouldn’t have been that long to wait – for Stroman to get healthy, or to add an arm instead of a shortstop for a playoff push they’re already very much a part of. But of course, as Tom Petty sings, “waiting is the hardest part.”

And with Tulo, there’s no waiting. He’s already the best shortstop in baseball.

“Troy’s just an impact player at a premium position,” said Anthopoulos. “That’s hard to find, both a two-way player with the glove and the bat… middle-of-the-order bats at shortstop really don’t come often.”

Yeah, yeah, enough with the evidence, Alex. It’s okay: we’re allowed to be vain about this. The Jays are top-heavy for sure, like a bra without a body. It may be one leap forward, two steps back to the playoffs… the pitching didn’t get better, in fact long-term it got worse.

But at least it’s fun to be a Jays fan again, win or lose. That counts, too.

Troy Tulowitzki – 2014 Highlights with Colorado Rockies