Continuing from our season preview of the Toronto Blue Jays earlier today…
What makes the 2013 Blue Jays different from the 2012 Marlins?
The Blue Jays-Marlins comparison is bound to come up a lot this season if the Blue Jays struggle out of the gate. Just like the 2012 Marlins, the 2013 Blue Jays experienced a major retooling in the offseason, bringing in numerous stars in an attempt to change the fortunes of the team going forward. But there are a few reasons why the Blue Jays this year are different from the Marlins last year.
1) The Blue Jays are a veteran club with leaders already in place, and aren't trying to make the new guys the backbone of the team. This isn't going to be Jose Reyes' team right off the bat like the Marlins were. With guys like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Adam Lind firmly entrenched in Toronto, this is their team. Who was the Marlins leader heading into 2012? The petulant Hanley Ramirez? Josh Johnson? Ricky Nolasco? Or…the new guys they brought in?
2) The environment in Toronto isn't nearly as toxic as the environment in Miami was. Last season, the Marlins had to deal with the circus surrounding the funding and opening of Marlins Park (a sideshow in and of itself), the drama surrounding Ramirez's move to third base, owner Jeffrey Loria flexing his muscle often and having a very public profile, and the chaos surrounding new manager Ozzie Guillen, especially when Guillen's comments about Fidel Castro ignited a firestorm. There was always *something* surrounding the Marlins last year to draw attention away from the team on the field. In Toronto, there really aren't going to be any distractions to start the year, especially now that Yunel Escobar and John Farrell are out of town.
3) This team is constructed much better than the Marlins were. Despite signing Reyes, Buehrle, and Heath Bell last winter, the Marlins still had holes behind the plate, on the right side of the infield, and in left field. The team also had no depth, and when someone got hurt (which of course happened immediately), they were screwed. Looking at the 2013 Blue Jays…their weakest spots are behind the plate and in center field, and that's about it. The Jays also have plenty of depth in the outfield with Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose waiting in the wings to replace Colby Rasmus if he struggles, and have a pretty nice supply of starting pitching, even if they have upwards of three starters that probably won't pitch in 2013 due to injury. It's not the end of the world for the Blue Jays if someone gets hurt.
There are definitely reasons to be apprehensive about the Blue Jays in 2013, but they're not going to end up as a complete and utter disaster like the Marlins were last season. And even if the team disappoints in 2013, they're not going to get blown up after one season like the Marlins were. The team's only significant free agent this winter is Johnson, and this is a two or three year window for the Blue Jays, not a one year gamble that has everything riding on the 2013 season.