Many prognosticators thought that the Blue Jays and not the Rays would be the team to challenge the recent Yankees-Red Sox domination of the AL East. Many prognosticators are usually wrong. Sure, the Jays have a winning record and might even topple the Yankees to overtake third place, but with just 4.3 runs scored per game, their offense has simply been abysmal.
So Toronto G.M. J.P. Ricciardi has got to figure out how to put together a better hitting team for 2009 (assuming he's still around to put it together). Just don't expect him to start throwing money around at free agent sluggers, because according to J.P., they're all Cheaty McCheatersons:
But many teams, Toronto included, are increasingly leery about buying sprees. The post-steroid era in baseball has skewed the stats of older stars. Asked how much faith he has in the free-agent market, which most recently brought the club the disappointing Thomas, Ricciardi said, "A lot less now."
"Look at the offensive numbers this year. It's like, bizarro. There's a lot of guys whose numbers have been good in the past, but they're not as good this year. So I think until we get to the point where we've seen those guys play another year or so, get a little bit of a track record, saying, 'OK, this is what those guys really are.'
"You can fill in the blanks. I'm not going to say the words. There's been a lot of false numbers in the past."
Yes, J.P. Let's fill in the blanks. You signed and/or traded for the following players to improve the Blue Jays offense for 2008: David Eckstein and Scott Rolen. What exactly were you expecting from these two? Haven't you ever heard of steep career decline due to age? Heck, did Eckstein ever reach career numbers good enough to experience a decline? Weren't you supposed to be one of them Moneyball fellas with a good knowledge of sabermetrics? Are you really going to throw the players you hand-selected by accusing them of being steroid users?
Or does this all go back to Ricciardi's problem with Frank Thomas?
(We owe some of that Diet Coke with Splenda to the BBTF Newsblog)