After a roaring end to the 2011 Major League Baseball season, the finality of it all has just started to strike us.
The season is long and intense, densely packed with 162 games over 26 weeks, plus the four weeks of postseason. The days without baseball between the spring and fall are few, and the season proceeds so relentlessly that there's barely time to digest the previous night's game and contextualize it. (Try as we might.) We all tend to get a bit lost in the moment.
So it follows that the moment they stop playing the games, the silence gets deafening. The vacuum that is created from the lack of games to discuss hisses and wheezes and begs to be filled. We would be better served to take some of the downtime to relax, recover and salve some of the injuries, including the repetitive stress on on clicking finger as well as the imagined bruises to our ego. But given the fact that being a Jays fan means fixing your gaze to the future on an almost perpetual basis, the start of the wintertime sabbatical is the time when we'll probably kick our hindsight-fuelled recriminations and unfounded speculation into overdrive.
Oh, the fun we'll have.
Thankfully, we haven't had any frost settle on us in advance of the long winter whinge, as the business of baseball cranked up the machine first thing Monday morning, in a hurry with a flurry. (The other flurry, you know.)
The Excercism of Edwin's Option - It was a no-brainer that the Jays should pick up the 2012 option on Edwin Encarnacion, whose bat carried the team for significant stretches in the second half. From June 1st onwards, EE posted a .858 OPS (.360 OBP/.499 SLG) and hit 16 of his 17 homers in the final four months of the season. As a full-time DH, occasional 1B and emergency 3B, Encarnacion could be a steal at $3.5 million for next year. (And apparently, he might possibly play left field, but more on that below.)
We couldn't be happier to see Edwin come back, as we thought that he endured an unfair onslaught of snarkily cynical scorn through much of the first few months of the season. We can't remember who called him "garbage" on Twitter, but we hope that person feels shame that eats away at their soul every day for such denigration.
We don't want to get ahead of ourselves here, but we still figure that Edwin could be a 30 homer, .850 OPS guy in the middle of the Jays lineup next year, even though we said the same thing last year. But this year, we really and truly believe it. For realsies, this time.
If You Like Tony LaCava, and Getting Caught in the Rain: So on the one hand, we hope that the casual fan appreciates the fact that other teams within their highly competitive division are looking at the non-player personnel of the Blue Jays enviously. Boston's potential interest in John Farrell (which we figure was nothing more than someone saying "Sure wish Johnny was still around") and the Orioles' pursuit of Jays GM Tony LaCava should indicate to one and all that the team is not administered by a bunch of nincompoops who stumbled accidentally into their position. These guys know what they're doing.
Moreover, the news from NBC Sports' Aaron Gleeman that O's Meddler-in-Chief and Chief Mediocrity Officer Peter Angelos was unimpressed by LaCava and thought his desire for greater authority over the baseball decisions in Baltimore was overstepping his bounds is a triple shot of happiness because:
1) It means LaCava might return to the Jays;
2) It shows that bad organizations don't appreciate smart baseball people;
3) Baltimore is looking for some stooge with shallow charisma and a desire to be Angelos' hand-puppet through another decade-long cycle of basement-dwelling.
That, kids, is what we in the business (which business?) call a "win-win".