TORONTO — Frustrating. Entertaining. Disappointing.
The Toronto Blue Jays wrapped up yet another roller-coaster season Sunday rife with emotion.
“We were an entertaining team,” manager John Gibbons said before the season-ending 1-0 loss to Baltimore. “A frustrating team but very entertaining. I think we gave our fans some pretty good entertainment along the way. But in saying that too we’re all disappointed.”
Toronto finished the season at 83-79 record, falling into third in the American League East on the last day as the Yankees (84-78) moved ahead with a win. The Jays finished 13 game behind the Orioles.
The Jays were 38-24, six games atop the division, on June 6 — fuelled in large part by a 21-9 May (a .700 record for the month).
If May was the peak, August was the valley. The team slumped to a 9-17 record (.346) with Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie missing chunks of action through injury.
Pitcher R.A. Dickey talked of the need for consistency.
“We need to figure out how we can consistently be better,” he said. “How can we have the May that we did in multiple months and how do we eliminate the August that we had?”
General manager Alex Anthopoulos also said the team fell short.
“We didn’t achieve our goals. That goes without saying,” he said.
“It’s more disheartening this season, I felt like we were close. Obviously we were there the bulk of the year,” he added.
But he repeated his confidence in Gibbons, who has a rolling contract that kicks in every Jan. 1.
Anthopoulos said he was excited about the off-season, given the team has some roster flexibility in terms of options and expiring contracts.
But he said it was too early to talk about the 2015 payroll. It was reportedly around US$137 million this season.
The GM did repeat Toronto’s stance that it won’t offer contacts longer than five years.
The team will have to dig deep into its pocket to re-sign left-fielder Melky Cabrera and needs to solve question marks in centre-field, second base and the bullpen. The bench and defence also need upgrades.
Anthopoulos said he did not expect the team’s limit on contact length would hinder attempts to retain Cabrera.
“I think Melky and his agent know the policies of the organization, and that doesn’t seem to be a stumbling block,” he said. “We’ve been consistent with those things. If something like our five-year policy was a problem, I’m pretty sure I would have been told that already, and it doesn’t look to be the case. It’s probably as much as I can say on that.”
The starting rotation of Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchinson, Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ was better than expected once it came together. Aaron Sanchez, used in the bullpen, is also likely to see action as a starter in spring training.
“You can never have enough depth,” Anthopoulos said when asked whether the team can afford to trade any of its starting talent.
Anthopoulos said the team is reviewing what it can do to keep oft-injured third baseman Lawrie on the field. As to the August slump, he called it a “bad month.” But he said it showed the need for better depth, among other things
“And that’s not to make excuses for it. It was bad,” he said. “We’re all accountable for it … As a front office, we need to do a better job of either getting players that are a little more durable or having players that can come in and fill in and keep the ship afloat.”