It's around this time of year that baseball fans will often hear the old clichés like ‘hope springs eternal' and ‘everyone has an equal shot at World Series glory'. Ha! Just ask any Pirates fan how true that is.
But the start of spring training and those four hallowed words in the title of this post do have a certain majestic quality. Baseball's on its way, and along with it comes summer and shorts and sunglasses and… okay, I just peered outside to falling snow and realized that April is still a ways away.
But back to this idea of hope.
Hope may not always be realistic, but it is often one of the few things that teams have to hang on to. Take the Blue Jays, for instance. Here is a team that has hit the reset button and will begin a new chapter under rookie GM Alex Anthopoulos by without long-time franchise cornerstone Roy Halladay. In Halladay's stead, they've added a slew of prospects and bargain bin types that look like they could tease Jays fans with tastes of what might be.
Is this a play-off contender? Certainly not, but it is a team of maybes that should excel in the spring (with very little settled in the rotation or bullpen, most hurlers will be pitching to impress) and allow fans to dream.
Can Aaron Hill and Adam Lind continue to grow as the heart of Toronto's line-up? Can Vernon Wells bounce back and play like a $126 million dollar player? Can Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch rebound from injuries to become key pieces of the rotation? Can Ricky Romero claim the throne as staff ace? Can newcomers like Brandon Morrow, Kevin Gregg, Alex Gonzalez, John Buck and Dana Eveland make an immediate impact? Can the Jays' solid stable of youngsters (Travis Snider, Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace, to name a few) lead this team towards more prosperous times down the road?
This will be a fascinating team to watch this season, not so much for what is as for what could be. It is to Anthopoulos' credit that there is a real big picture idea on how this team will progressively develop. In the meantime, let's just remain hopeful and enjoy a fun season of the boys of summer… eventually.
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Written by Ben Fisher