It's fitting the Blue Jays finished with a .500 record this season.
This was a Jekyll and Hyde team. There were times when I loved them and there were times when they made me want to pull my hair out.
There were issues with this team. Specifically, the pitchers.
For the last few years, Toronto's rotation was its biggest asset. This season, most of the starters were underwhelming. Branden Morrow, Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek did not have good seasons. Morrow simply went through an ugly slump. Cecil and Drabek showed some brilliance, but were usually dominated by the opposition. Drabek's issues don't concern me since he's young and has less than a season worth of MLB experience. Cecil, on the other hand, is a concern.
The lefty was fantastic in 2010. He struggled this year, despite some positive time in Las Vegas. Cecil could be the odd man out in 2012. He needs to work harder and find ways to improve. Otherwise, Cecil and now-reliever Jesse Litsch could switch spots.
There were some bright spots in the rotation: Ricky Romero was fantastic and would've had more wins if his teammates gave him more run support. Henderson Alvaraz certainly made a nice impression. John Farrell has plenty of options for 2012's starting rotation, which is a blessing and a curse.
The bullpen, with the exception of Casey Janssen, was a mess. Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are not stable enough to hold leads. I'd be very surprised if they return next year, let alone return to their 2011 roles.
So what does this team need to compete in 2012?
- Another starter. Not necessary, given what they already have. But it couldn't hurt. Mark Buehrle would look good in a Toronto uniform.
- A closer. Right now, Litsch, Carlos Villenueva and Janssen are the only players with guaranteed spots in the pen. Everything else is up in the air. Janssen or Litsch could become the closer, but AA should see if he can bring in someone more suited for the position, via trade or free agency.
- A DH. I'm not confident with Edwin Encarnacion. He is just not consistent. Then again, he's cheaper than Prince Fielder.
- A second baseman. I was very happy with Kelly Johnson, but I'm not the GM. If Johnson is the man, then the Jays need to sign him ASAP.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons to be happy with the Blue Jays: Jose Bautista had another phenomenal season (despite a lukewarm second half). J.P. Arencibia and Yunel Escobar made vast improvements. Janssen was excellent. And Brett Lawrie was simply incredible. He lived up to the hype, which is always hard to accomplish.
2012 will be an exciting season. Interest in the team has picked up and fans hope the Jays can keep it up. Making the playoffs won't be easy, although an expanded playoff format would help. Regardless, their chances are better than they were a year ago.
I'm definitely looking forward to it.