It may not feel like spring is on the way, but a definite sign of it is taking place in strange little corners of Florida and Arizona, where the teams of Major League Baseball have gathered to ready themselves for the upcoming season. The local nine begin their annual grim ritual march to mid-season irrelevance on March 31st in Tampa, and here we have all you need to know and watch for over the next eight glorious-ish months of Blue Jays baseball.
March and April
Optimism is in the air, even around a Jays team largely unchanged from last year’s 74-win, injury-filled disaster. Shapely veteran (round is a shape, right?) Dioner Navarro takes over for human strikeout J.P. Arencibia behind the plate. Would-have-been ace Josh Johnson’s spot has been turned over to a competition among younger, cheaper, and hopefully healthier pitchers from the club’s minor league system and its bullpen. Second baseman Ryan Goins, a defensive wizard who has struggled to hit in the minors, seems to have inexplicably been deemed good enough to be a big-league regular. Otherwise, the Jays are basically rolling with the status quo, plus crossed fingers for fewer health problems than they experienced last season. It could actually work, but fans are rightly confused by the team’s lack of visible improvement over the winter, after the Jays seemingly went “all in” the year before. None of this will stop the Friday-night home opener against the Yankees on April 4th from being the train wreck it always is, though.