Toronto Blue Jays: 5 Takeaways from the Jays First Third of the 2012 Season

Ross Gottschalk@@ro55_gContributor IJune 5, 2012

Toronto Blue Jays: 5 Takeaways from the Jays First Third of the 2012 Season

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    We're through a third of the Major League season already, and there is both bad and good news for Toronto Blue Jays fans.

    The bad news—the Blue Jays find themselves tied for last in the AL East.

    The good news—they've yet to find any sort of groove this season, but are only three games back of the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

    There's no question that the Jays have great potential. If, and when, they reach that potential still remains a mystery.

    Here are some things we do know about Canada's Team after 54 games.

The Blue Jays Are Going for It This Year

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    If the Blue Jays don't make the playoffs this year, it won't be because of a lack of effort from the front office.

    General Manager Alex Anthopoulos made his aspirations known when he signed veteran slugger Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league contract in early May.

    It's clear Anthopoulos believes the Jays are close to competing in the AL East. Adding a 37-year-old free swinger wouldn't make much sense for a team that's rebuilding. 

    When Vlad is going to appear in the Blue Jays lineup is still a mystery, but it could be as soon as this week according to the Toronto Sun

    Anthopoulos is typically very active around the trade deadline, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Jays make some more moves later on in the season. Maybe towards veteran pitching?

Drew Hutchison Is a Stud in the Making

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    Since being called up to majors in late April, Drew Hutchison has been a pleasant surprise for the Jays. In nine starts, the 21-year-old Hutchison has gone 5-2, allowing an earned run or less in four of his last five starts.

    What's most impressive about the young right-hander is his command—41 strikeouts to just 18 walks.

    The emergence of Hutchison creates a solid pitching trio in Toronto which includes Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow

The Blue Jays Are Hitting Home Runs (But Not Much Else)

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    In recent years the Jays have lived and died with the long ball.

    This year is no different.

    Toronto stands fourth in the majors in home runs with 77, as well as eighth in the league in slugging percentage (.416).

    Jose Bautista is getting his typical numbers, but the biggest surprise this season is designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. "EE" is second in the AL in homers, with 17, and third in RBIs, with 43. 

    Although the Jays are among the league leaders in runs scored, it's pretty much been "boom or bust."

    The blue birds are the third-worst team in terms of doubles with 75. It's never good when a team hits more home runs than doubles, and Toronto has found it hard to generate offense at times this season. 

    The Jays will have to provide more offensive consistency if they want compete in the division.

Adam Lind Is out of the Picture

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    Whatever the Blue Jays plan on doing moving forward, it doesn't seem to include Adam Lind.

    Lind, who struggled most of last season, and in the beginning of this season, was demoted to Triple-A in Las Vegas last month. 

    Lind was hoping this was only a temporary move in order to get his swing back, but the first baseman was outrighted to the Las Vegas club on May 31. He was removed from the Blue Jays' 40-man roster.

    In 34 games with Toronto, Lind could only muster a .186 batting average—quite a long fall from grace for the 2009 Silver Slugger Award winner.

The Schedule Is Ridiculous

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    You've read that right.

    The Blue Jays haven't taken a series against the Rays in over five years. They're going to have to turn that around if they want to seriously compete this year.

    It's no secret that teams in the AL East is legitimate. It's probably the best division in baseball, and that makes the scheduling brutal.

    As the standings are now, the Blue Jays will have gone over a month between facing opponents with a record under .500 when they face the Brewers on June 20.

    There aren't a lot of "gimme" wins on the schedule when you play in this division. This means there probably won't be a lot of long winning streaks coming for the Jays anytime soon. 

Looking Forward

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    Pitching has typically been the main concern for previous Blue Jay teams. Although the statistics aren't fantastic, this very young rotation has performed admirably in 2012.

    If the Jays want to see themselves atop of the standings, they are going to need to find a way to manufacture runs other than the long ball.

    We haven't seen a lot of come-from-behind victories for Toronto this year, and a lot of that stems from their inability to generate high scoring innings. 

    Along with first baseman Encarnacion, David Cooper has provided some much- needed pop in the offense since being recalled from Vegas.

    But, a big hole remains in left field. It will be interesting to see how the addition of Guerrero affects this club, in terms of both performance and on the roster.