While I have, obviously, worked hard to maintain a positive attitude about the Jays' record, given that coming into June they had really only been a bad team for two weeks, I do need to make a point more clear and qualify my position.
My confidence was based on the assumption that June provided a golden opportunity for the team to redress a lot of the lost ground and begin to put some real distance between themselves and other wild card contenders. Looking ahead to June there were, on the horizon, only seven really tough games and three middling ones. My prediction of 16 wins or so this much was based on the reasonable conclusion that having recovered their offensive abilities to a degree (albeit with still a freakish lack of power) that the Jays would take advantage of the softest month on their schedule to build some momentum.
To this point they haven't done so. With those seven hard games now in the rear view, it is not disappointing that they won only two of them (though I did entertain some fantasies of sneaking out of NY with two wins) - it's not unreasonable at all that those seven games would have produced only two wins. What Is maddening, however, is having lost four games out of the six easy ones they have had in June. Five, or at least four, wins would have been a reasonable expectation for those two series. So the team is now down 2 or 3 wins from what might have been expected in June. Was that a fluke? One would like to think so but let me be clear, optimism or no, regression to the mean or not, the Jays CANNOT any more lose series that they should win. As it is they are going to have to win some that they shouldn't to make up for their failings earlier this month.
I, for one, am not going to begrudge this team the two massively awful weeks in April - every team will have a stretch like that in every season, no matter how good they are. I'm not going to sweat the freakish offensive ineptitude of earlier in the year or be stupid enough to cite overall statistics now as if what happened in late April and early May is relevant to June BUT the Jays have used up that grace. The CANNOT hit in June like they hit back then and stay in the race. Being in front of Cleveland and within a game or two of New York is not enough right now. The whole difference in being in the race on Labor Day or not may well come down to the 2 or 3 or 5 games they didn't win in June against teams like Seattle, Baltimore, and Cincinnati.
If they continue to stumble in these games that are ripe for the taking, then the whole season grows dark because, even if the Yankees and Indians continue to lag, the Jays will have missed an opportunity to make up some distance on those teams. Starting with Pittsburgh there are 12 consecutive games in which the Jays need to do more than take advantage, they need to once and for all get on a significant roll. Eight wins in that stretch is a MINIMUM. If that doesn't happen, then the real possibility exists that the Jays will once again be caught in that no-man's-land that seem to snare them every July....buyers or sellers?
As much as I think the criticism of JP is highly over-stated - perhaps his greatest failing is July indecision. The team is, year after year, just barely good enough to give you faint hope, yet just bad enough to give you a bad feeling. Frankly, I'd rather the suck out loud as to wander in that particular fog yet again.
Further, JP has already said this year that the team has to give him reason to believe they are going to contend if he's going to give up prospects to bolster the lineup.
So, here we sit, 24 games away from the All-Star break, 15 of them against teams the Jays should handle easily, and one game under .500 wondering what to do. It would be easy for me to say that if they don't win 15 of those games and go into the break five games over that we MUST sell (I think it goes without saying if we win a ridiculous number like 19 or 20 of them we are in good shape) but what happens if we are two games over at the break and the Indians and Yankees are still no better than us? Especially if the Devil Rays (ya I said Devil) come back to the pack?
Once again, I fear, we'll face a July of maddening indecision. THAT, my friends, is the worst possible outcome. We need to either be in a position to add a guy like Jason Bay and take a real run, or we need to be damn-well out of it and begin to sell off the surplus (Burnett, Frasor, Tallett, Eckstien, Barjas or Zaun, Stewart - if anyone is that desperate - maybe even listen on Overbay) - sure only Burnett is going to produce an impressive return but doing that opens the way for seeing how next years team is going to shake out. It's lets us get Lind and League and Diaz and Purcey and maybe Davis Romero up here for an extended look.
Look, I'd much rather be in contention. And frankly, I can demonstrate AGAIN that the divergence between the offensive production of this team and what might be expected in a non-bizzaro world is extraordinary in a way that the language doesn't provide adequate adjectives to describe. It's insane to even consider this team will be this bad offensively at the end of the year. But they don't have to be to miss the playoff run they should be making - all they have to do is continue to fuck around and lose games they should win while the days on the calendar pass them by.