Blue Jays franchise spinning its wheels

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. (BOB TYMCZYSZYN/QMI Agency file photo)

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. (BOB TYMCZYSZYN/QMI Agency file photo)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:12 AM ET

My buddy Steve Chalmers and I were playing golf at Lakeview once when we were matched up with this myron who looked like a comptroller.

The myron promptly hammered his first tee shot into the creek and as Chalmers and I began to walk down the fairway, the dude shouted that he was taking a mulligan.

Not caring whether the guy was alive or dead, we let him shoot again, though he had to endure being called “Mulligan Myron” the rest of the day.

The point is, we gave him the mulligan, whereas if the dude was a friend, there’s no way.

And that’s how it is in the happy world of Toronto professional sports.

For Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, there are no mulligans (more or less). Every move Big Burkie makes is (rightfully) scrutinized and criticized.

But it’s a completely different story for Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. Although the Jays are on their way to a 19th straight season without qualifying for the post-season, fans (and some others) are ready to give baseball’s Boy Wonder a mulligan — proving again that Jays fans are either the most loyal or gullible supporters in the world (probably a combination of both).

Can you imagine New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox fans in this situation? The Sox have two bad seasons and the Fenway faithful are ready to march the front office and players into Boston Harbor. The Yankees almost always make the post-season, so it’s difficult to imagine a 19-year drought for the Pinstripers.

But in kind and gentle T.O., it’s “trust in Alex and wait until next year.”

Big Burkie must gag on his stewed prunes when he sees fans prance around the Jays’ maypole.

Despite being 11 games below .500, despite being out of the pennant (and wild card) race again, despite a relaunch or rebuild (whatever you want to call it) with any number of holes, there are few calls for Anthopoulos or manager John Farrell, or even team president Paul Beeston, to be fired. And there are few calls for Rogers to get off their billionaire hides and start acting like the big-market, deep-pocketed owner they are. My buddy Roger Lajoie, the Fan 590’s utility infielder, said it best the other day when he wondered why Jays fans seemed to be so obsessed with Rogers saving money.

It’s stunning, really ... 19 years and so little angst.

A baseball insider friend believes that Jays fans, recently anyway, have been placated because they see Anthopoulos making some shrewd moves. He could be right. But the 2012 season was supposed to be the final stepping stone toward playoff contention for this team. And it hasn’t been. It’s been a step backward. Yes, the Jays have suffered an inordinate number of injuries, but so too have the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, and they’re both in post-season contention.

For the Jays, injuries aside, there are as many question marks about this team as there were in 2011, perhaps more. Ricky Romero, for starters, is supposed to be the team’s ace for years go come. But Romero has been one of the worst starting pitchers in the majors in the second half of the schedule. If he was hurt, wouldn’t the Jays, who have been out of playoff contention for at least a month, shut him down? This is a guy Anthopoulos is supposed to build his starting rotation around, a guy who has gone 0-11 since June.

My colleague Bob Elliott believes the Jays need to go out and sign a couple of quality starters for 2013 if they expect to take a step forward. But that’s the million-dollar question. We keep hearing how Rogers will finally spend some money on free agents “when the time is right.” The worry is, have all the injuries this season, and the step backward, given Rogers a convenient excuse to wait yet another year before they finally open the vaults? My worry is yes.

Before the season began, Beeston said that he expects the Jays to make it into the post-season two or three times in the next five years. I guess he’s going to have reevaluate that statement, unless Rogers starts cutting some cheques in the off-season.

If the Jays add a quality starter or two for the 2013 campaign, either via free agency or trade, they have the making of a quality rotation, that is, if they can get Romero back on track, which is no guarantee. Imagine a rotation looking something like Romero (repaired version), Brandon Morrow, a free agent or two, and Carlos Villanueva and/or J.A. Happ? Not bad. But, again, is Rogers going to untie Anthopoulos’ hands and let him wheel and deal like his contemporaries in Boston and New York?

The Jays’ legion of trained seals say they will. I’m not so sure.

And what about the question marks on the field?

Are we sure Colby Rasmus is the real deal in centre field? Yes, he has 22 homers, but he’s hitting a paltry .227. He’s a career .244 hitter. Is that good enough for a contending team?

And I know this may be sacrilege, but is Brett Lawrie everything he’s been made out to be? We’re still hearing about how great of a trade that was (Shaun Marcum for Lawrie). But, again, I’m not so sure. And will Edwin Encarnacion continue rolling, or is this a career year for the Dominican? Furthermore, will the Jays make the necessary upgrades to contend (perhaps at second and one spot in the outfield)? Who knows.

The problem is, after 19 years, there’s very little pressure on the owners of this franchise to do what they have to do to win.


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