Both franchises were in it to win it this season, investing big money and making dramatic changes this offseason. There’s little hope of either team turning things around to make a playoff push, but that doesn’t mean they can’t turn things around for 2014.
The Blue Jays were a trendy pick to win the American League East this season, but the team is in a familiar spot: out of contention.
Maybe there was simply too much change for one offseason. They not only assembled a new-look roster, John Gibbons is in his first season back as manager. Maybe another season together, maybe better luck with health, maybe another piece or two is all Toronto needs to live up to the hefty expectations bestowed upon them this winter.
One player the Jays may be shopping is starting pitcher Josh Johnson, a pending free agent, but his down season could mean Toronto would have the first crack at bringing him back on the cheap for next year. The 29-year-old has been knocked around in his first stint in the AL, but he still has the stuff that made him a Cy Young-caliber ace, posting an impressive 9.1 K/9.
Baseball Prospectus has Toronto’s odds of making the playoffs at 0.3%, but that doesn’t mean this has to be a completely lost season. If they give this team the time to gel, for the players and coaches to make adjustments, it could make all the difference in 2014.
For the second-straight offseason, the Angels signed the top hitter on the market. For the second-straight year, they’re off to a disappointing start. The Angels have just a 2.8% chance of making the postseason according to Baseball Prospectus.
New acquisition Josh Hamilton hasn’t hit his weight and Albert Pujols is playing on one foot. But the worst part is their pitching staff has been inept or injured. Despite all the negatives, the team still has a solid core of veterans in its lineup who will be back for 2014.
The main reason the Angels should keep their eyes on the prize? Mike Trout isn’t going to be cheap forever. It won’t be long before the team can’t afford to build much around its young superstar. Trout is going to be arbitration eligible in 2015 and is set to hit free agency in 2018.
Anaheim also has its share of trade chips on expiring contracts, but Jon Morosi of Fox Sports suggested if the Angels look to sell, they could look to move Erick Aybar. This is the first season of his 4-year $35 million deal, but the Angels didn’t give him a no-trade clause. But shortstops are hard to find, and now that Jean Segura is an All-Star for the Milwaukee Brewers, the team doesn’t have any internal options to step in at short.
For the Jays and Halos, it looks like 2013 is just not their year. Both front offices have to be frustrated, a little embarrassed and feeling some pressure to get their organizations on the right track. That doesn’t mean they need to blow up their rosters and put their chances of contending in 2014 at risk.