9

A Different Kind of N i g h t m a r e B a s e b a l l

Rick Porcello. Chris Sale. Mat Latos. Casey Lawrence.

Those four pitchers will be on the hill in each of the next four Blue Jays games. Two for the opposing Red Sox, then two for the Jays in Anaheim. The reigning Cy Young winner. The angel of fucking death. Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence.

Jesus lord fuck, and you thought this nightmare April couldn’t possibly get worse!

I mean, it still might not. Porcello is a trash Cy Young winner — more Bob Welch than Bob Gibson — and as Cam noted earlier, in his piece on Joel Sherman’s report about the Jays’ impending call-ups, the two right-handers have at least a fighting chance against the right-hand-heavy Angels. But the odds of the Jays pulling out of this tailspin that everybody but Mike Wilner fears may already have doomed the season in the next four games aren’t great. Nooooope. Not great at all.

Sigh.

Hey, but it gets even worse! If the 2017 season is doomed, there’s are some pretty compelling reasons to think 2018 will be a rough one, too. Though it could at least be one with the promise of an up-and-coming 2019 team on the horizon, which would be a whole lot better than watching… well… this. This morning for “fun” I re-read a piece I wrote back in December for VICE, about the possibility of a coming Blue Jays rebuild — something perhaps inevitable because of the roster the new front office inherited, which they’ve keenly kept possible by avoiding more contract bloat — and oh my god I never thought we’d be actually grappling with this in fucking April!

Nobody, outside every comment section’s most miserable negative-spewing defence-mechanism loser, would or could or should have seen this coming. That’s mostly because so much of what we’ve seen so far is a complete and total mirage. Only four teams in the last three seasons have played worse than the 2014 Rockies, who finished the season with a .407 winning percentage. The Jays aren’t a sub-.200 team, or a sub-.300 team. Nobody ever is over the course of a full season. Sub-.400 is fairly rare. How they’ve played so far and what they truly are and where they’ll wind up are all very different things, and they will win, even though it feels right now like they can’t.

It’s just “Hey, they’re probably not going to finish below .400!” isn’t the world’s greatest rallying cry. (Though I still like it better than [sic] “#LetsRise”.)

And, I dunno, sometimes just when you think the roller coaster is about to get worse, it suddenly doesn’t. It’s calm, you can breathe, you’re in the sky and rising and the view is spectacular. Or it does get worse, but things still end up working out OK. It’s a long season! The Blue Jays are only a few wins away from being a few wins away from no longer seeming entirely fucked — and they’ll be in about the same spot no matter what happens in these next four or five games before oh my pissing shitting fuck, then they go from Anaheim to St. Louis??!?!?

Silver linings, though!

Not only that, but Porcello has allowed five home runs in three starts this year, and 25 hits in 16.2 innings. Lawrence, despite having an abysmal time pitching out of the bullpen for the Jays in Tampa (something he hadn’t done since four appearances in Double-A in 2014), has some fine numbers in Buffalo and opened some eyes with his performance this spring. And Latos… uh… at least theoretically could show up and not be complete dog shit. He’s walked six batters in nine innings so far for Buffalo, but otherwise his numbers look fine, and it’s not like he isn’t capable — he’s done it before. It was just, y’know, a long time and a significant injury ago.

I’m not exactly holding my breath that this is the start in which it really clicks for him, or for Lawrence, but I’m not completely despondent about it either. I mean, look at who Boston got away with starting last night, and they still got the win. Baseball’s a funny game sometimes.

Ho ho ho! Like when a 2-11 team with title aspirations (guffaw!) has to face the Cy Young winner, then the best left-handed pitcher in the world not named Kershaw, before handing the ball over to a couple Triple-A call-ups from about as weak a field as you could imagine. That’s a real fucking laugh riot, baseball! You really got us with that one, you fucking hilarious motherfucker of a sport, you!

  • The Humungus

    Bright Spot on the season #1 : The front office is more than smart enough not to have listened to clowns and traded for other teams declining assets for more bloated contracts that pay guys tens of millions into their late 30’s.

    Bright spot #2: At least we don’t have Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols’s contracts on this team. Christ. If you think the Jays contract bloat was bad, look at those fuckin guys. The Angels are paying Pujols $140M for 2017-2021 (he currently has an OPS of .592), and the Tigers have Cabrera at $212M for 2017-2023 (ok, at least he was still kinda good last year)

      • The Humungus

        Right. I generally agree with that. I just don’t want it to be “The Votto Trade” (which definitely needs to be capitalized and in quotations after 18 months of relatively constant speculation).

        But by generally, I mean they should try to make the season not be awful. But they don’t “owe” it to the fans. The fans don’t get magical special rights because everything that can go wrong is. It’s baseball. Sometimes you look better on paper than you are. After the 2012 Red Sox “won the offseason”, did they owe it to their fans (who had sold out the building for like 7 years straight) to salvage it when it turned to shit? No, they didn’t. They traded Beckett and Gonzalez and Crawford and everyone else they could get a return on to reload for 2013.

        So, yes, they should try to keep it from going further off the rails. But no, they don’t owe the fans anything.

      • Just Jeff

        Like what? Sell off what few prospects we have to get a stop-gap? That’s what got us into this situation.

        Look, when AA made all those deals in 2015, this was always the trade-off. We traded being at least a good team for the better part of a decade for a chance to be great one for a couple of years. He made that call and we have a revitalized fanbase and 2 playoff runs to show for it. But there was a price, and we’re now staring at it.

        It’d be interesting to know how the fanbase feels about those deals now. I’d still do it again, but maybe now that people appreciate the cost a bit more, they might feel more mixed about it.

        • Mule or etc...

          The David Price trade still bugs me. Eleven starts for 12 combined years of team control over Norris and Boyd. They would certainly come in handy right about now.

          • Just Jeff

            It was an awful gamble, but it worked. Realistically, we were 7 games behind the Yankees at the time of that deal, so there was no guarantee of a playoff spot even if things went well. The fact that things went almost perfectly sort of hides the fact that it was an extremely risky move.

            Had the Jays missed the playoffs by one game in 2015, I don’t think AA would be remembered remotely as fondly.

  • Just Jeff

    If this season continues on this rather disgusting trajectory, there will be one silver lining: There will be no dispute or confusion about what this front office should do next. I, like a lot of others, have had concerns about the age of this group and that their production as a whole could fall off a cliff at some point. It’s too early this season to say that we’re at that point, but it’s sure starting to feel like it.

    Shapiro and Atkins deserve credit for not taking on too much long-term money this offseason, clearly with an eye towards the future. Say what you will about Morales, but that contract is certainly movable without having to eat salary if they opt to blow things up.

    In hindsight, this might not have been the right year to become a flex-pack holder though.