Ferguson: Wrapping up the worst season in Jays' history

Scott Ferguson
9/21/2012 11:18:51 AM
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There is no question, there is no debate. 2012 has become the worst season in franchise history. So much promise in the spring, such a devastating crash from June on.
If you look back over the years though, the Blue Jays have had other seasons that have tested our emotions.

Let's start with 1987. The Blue Jays looked like a lock to make the post-season for the second time in three years when they beat Detroit three out of four at Exhibition Stadium on the second last weekend of the season.

However during that series, Tony Fernandez suffered a fractured elbow in a collision while making a play at second base. Days later Ernie Whitt suffered a rib injury while sliding into second and was knocked out for the rest of the season as well.
With a depleted line-up, the Jays dropped their last seven games, including three in a row at Detroit on the final weekend and wound up behind the division-winning Tigers.

In 1995, the year after the lost season, and two years after the second World Series victory, the Blue Jays re-acquired David Cone from Kansas City in spring training. Expectations soared. The season came unravelled though and Cone was ultimately traded to the New York Yankees. Roberto Alomar, who was in a contract year, had grown disenchanted with playing in Toronto. Alomar loudly voiced his displeasure when Cone was traded and he wasn't, and ultimately Robbie left for Baltimore as a free agent after the season. Oddly enough, Alomar made $5.5 million in his final year with the Jays. According to Baseball, he only made $4.27 million in his first year with the O's.
In 1997, it was the final break-up of those great World Series teams. Cito Gaston was fired with about a week to go in the season. In protest Joe Carter wore Cito's number on his sleeve during the final week, and the following season joined Alomar in Baltimore as a free agent.
1998 saw the Blue Jays win 88 games under rookie manager Tim Johnson, the most they had won since the World Series years. But Johnson ultimately lost the respect of his team, when they discovered his motivational stories about serving in Vietnam were bogus. Johnson had been an instructor, but never actually went overseas and fought in the war.

Over the winter Johnson tried to make amends. It was clear though in spring training that the Blue Jays had tuned him out and he was fired, and Jim Fregosi took his place a week or two before the start of the regular season.

2002 was the year skipper Buck Martinez was hung out to dry. J.P. Ricciardi had taken over as General Manager after the 2001 season and had inherited Buck as his manager. J.P. did little or nothing to improve the team for Buck and ultimately fired him a couple of months into the '02 season, replacing him with his man Carlos Tosca.

Counting this year, that's seven seasons that went awry in a big way. But the good far outweighs the bad with this franchise and I honestly believe the core group is in place that gives Alex Anthopolous the chance to turn this club around quickly.
The darkest year for me personally in Blue Jays history was 2005, when my friend and colleague Tom Cheek died of brain cancer. I had the pleasure and honour of working with Tom and Jerry Howarth and Bruce Brenner for 14 seasons in total. I can tell you Tom would have been mortified over what's happened with his beloved Blue Jays this season.

Peavy's Future

It's a crazy time for this story to leak out. but Jon Heyman of CBS claims the White Sox are not going to pick up the $22 million option on right hander Jake Peavy's contract for next season. Peavy has had an incredible bounce-back season with the White Sox and has become the leader of their staff. His record is only 11-11, but his other numbers are good and he has become a leader and mentor on the staff.

He would be the perfect fit on the Jays staff next season. He'll be 32, but has shown the durability to pitch nearly 200 innings this season and is a major reason Chicago is in first place in the AL Central. He's not a $22 million pitcher anymore, but a three-year deal at $16 or $17 million per season might be enough to get him. Of course the competition for him will be fierce.

The Senior Circuit

After missing the entire season thus far, ex-Jay Chris Carpenter returns to the Cardinals rotation Friday to face the Cubs. It's a lot to expect, I know, but "Carp" just might be the catalyst to another long playoff run for the defending World Series Champs.

The National League has won the last two World Series. Did you know though that it has been 31 years since the last time the Senior Circuit won three in a row?

In 1979, the Pittsburgh Pirates were champs, followed by Philadelphia in 1980 and finally the Dodgers in 1981.

This weekend, six of the seven series in the American League have some meaning. As well, six of the eight series in the National League are of some consequence with just 13 days left in the season.

I guess that second Wild Card spot really worked.

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