The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of the best stories in the young MLB season, riding hot bats and surprisingly-good young pitching. The Jays were in first place in the AL East until Sunday, where after a now seven-game losing streak, are in third place in the toughest division in baseball.
If you didn't see this fall coming, you must be a die-hard Jays Fan. Here are five reasons the Jays have cooled off.
5. Overpaid, Underachievers
In recent years, general manager J.P. Riccardi has brought in several high-profile players to Toronto, and much like in the 90s, it has received various results, mainly bad ones.
B.J. Ryan has totally lost any skill and confidence he once had, Vernon Wells is not worth the money, and Alex Rios plays erratically in the field lately. The Jays have great young talent. The guys who have been around the block need to step it up if they want to return to first place.
4. Lack of Fan Support
Even with their hot start, the Jays can't seem to fill the Rogers Centre, which, when it opened as the SkyDome, had one of baseball's most raucous fan bases. The Jays fans still have bite (look at their forced forfeit during their home opener against Detroit for evidence) but the fans just don't come to the ballpark consistently.
If you look at the top attendance in baseball, it almost directly relates to the standings. The Jays' young players would definitely get a morale boost if their fans were behind their back.
But let's face it: Toronto is, and always will be, a Leafs town and the novelty of the Jays wore off the minute the Rocket and Carlos Delgado left town. If they don't pick up their act, the Jays might be in danger of turning into the Expos, and Canada will be left without a team.
The surprise of the Jays young arms has been exciting to watch, especially Canadian-born Scott Richmond. But the scary thing is that two of the Jays' best young pitchers, Dustin McGowan and Shawn Marcum, are injured for the majority of the year.
If the current pitching staff develops and aces Marcum and McGowan get healthy, the Jays will be a force, but until then, injuries will continue to hamper this team.
2. Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells was given the role of face of the Jays once Carlos Delgado forced his way out of town. Wells is a five-tool player at best, and at worst he is a Gold Glove Outfielder with alright base-running.
Wells' performance at the dish has been sub-par for awhile now and his RISP is even worse. The Jays need to move him out of the cleanup role and replace him with Kevin Millar or Lyle Overbay until he gets his confidence back.
1. They Are Just Not Good Enough
Well, the Jays' run has been impressive. Not one person would have told you in March that the Jays would even sniff the Wild Card, let alone first place, but despite the injuries and lack of talent, the Jays are still in contention for entering the playoffs in June.
They do have bright spots, but they also have glaring weaknesses. For all the offense of Hill, there is the slumps of Rios and Wells. And for the impressive start of the young rotation, there are the mishaps of B.J. Ryan.
Don't get me wrong: the Jays are a talented, young baseball team, but they just don't have the names, or payroll, that Boston and New York have.
If the Blue Jays put their act together soon, we will be having an interesting summer; if they don't, we will be having another typical Jays season: over by mid-August