During the 2018 Winter Meetings, Charlie Montoyo compared his Jays to the 2012 Red Sox team. Was he right? How do the two teams match-up?
The Boston Red Sox have led the American League East since 2016. Prior to the 2016 season, the leading spot fluctuated between the other teams in the division. During the 2018 Winter Meetings, the Toronto Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo compared his team to the Red Sox five years ago.
“What this team reminds me a little bit of is Boston five years ago when Mookie Betts was there, and finished last, and look where they are now. So that’s my hope, the team they have now, that all these kids become players like that. That’s my hope, and I think that’s what’s going to happen.”
2012 Red Sox
In 2012, the Boston Red Sox finished last in the AL East. They won a measly 69 games, losing 93. The Blue Jays were the only other team in the division that year below .500. The separation between the top teams and the bottom teams ranged from 21-26 wins.
The Boston Globe reported that 2012 marked a year filled with injuries, negative publicity, questionable PR comments, and to top it off the team was facing seven members becoming free agents at the end of the season.
Bleacher Report published an article summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of the team. The offense, while inconsistent, was good. The team had a middle of the pack rated defense, the team failed to make outstanding defensive performances, and had a fair amount of errors. The Red Sox had a year filled with poor pitching. The pitching was inconsistent, with moments of promise and moments of staggeringly low ERA rates. The team faced internal drama, in which the staff was unable to mitigate.
2018 Blue Jays
In 2018, the Jays finished fourth in the AL East. The team won 73 games and lost 89. The Jays were ahead of the Orioles by 26 games, but behind the top teams by 17-35 wins.
SportsNet covered a piece about how the season was bursting with below-expected performances, key injuries, questionable coaching decisions, and an inability to motivate the team.
During 2018, the Jays pitching rotation accumulated one of the worst ERA in the MLB. The team had numerous injury issues that plagued Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Marcus Stroman, and Aaron Sanchez. Players were unable to get batting streaks going and overall played sloppy defensively.
In 2011, the Red Sox faced a major coaching staff redesign. General Manager Theo Epstein left Boston to join the Cubs organization. Terry Francona parted ways with the club. After an unsuccessful 2012 season, the one-year manager, Bobby Valentine resigned. The Red Sox hired John Farrell to replace him as the new skipper.
The MLB announced the following coaching changes: the team hired Tim Bogar as the new bench coach, Bob McClure as the pitching coach, Jerry Royster as the third base coach. Alex Ochoa got promoted within the team’s system to be the first base coach.
As a result of the poor outcome of the 2018 season, the Jays fired long-time manager John Gibbons, also letting go of all but two of his coaching staff. The team hired first-time manager Montoyo to lead the team. They added Dave Hudgens as the hitting coach, Mike Budzinski as the first base coach, Matt Buschmann as the bullpen coach, and Shelley Duncan as the field coordinator. In addition, the Jays promoted John Schneider within the system as the new catchers’ coach.
Parting Ways and New Additions
The MLB transactions that occurred in 2011 include the Red Sox signing catcher Kelly Shoppach, pitcher Rich Hill, and extending first baseman/DH David Ortiz. They acquired and shortly after traded utility player Marwin Gonzalez. In 2012, the team added pitcher Aaron Cook, pitcher Clayton Mortensen, pitcher Vicente Padilla, outfielder Jason Repko, and outfielder Cody Ross.
The team parted ways with an abundant number of players including pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, utility infielder Jed Lowrie, infielder Nick Punto, outfielder Josh Reddick, and pitcher Dan Wheeler.
The Jays parted ways with a large chunk of their infielders this year: Troy Tulowitzki Josh Donaldson, Yangervis Solarte, and Aledmys Diaz. The team cut Tulo, traded Donaldson, traded Diaz, and decided against re-signing Solarate.
Of the trades, the team owes Tulo $38 million and Donaldson $2.7 million. The Jays received minor league pitcher Trent Thornton in the trade agreement with the Astros for Diaz. Additionally, the team lost Jordan Romano and Travis Bergen in the farm system as a result of rule 5. However, under the same rule, were able to pick up 18-year-old Elvis Luciano.
During the 2011 draft, the Red Sox added new fresh talent that would go on to make a big splash in the MLB. Some of the notable prospects were Matt Barnes, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Travis Shaw, and Blake Swihart. Other drafted players include Williams Jerez, Henry Owens, and Noe Ramirez.
While not drafted by the Red Sox, Drew Pomeranz was another player of the 2011 class listed as number 26 on the top prospect watch list, adding to the point of how important the farm system shaped up to be.
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Within the Jays farm system, there are plenty of talented young players. Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and shortstop Bo Bichette have been noted as being one of the best prospect tandems in baseball and they’re known for their offensive abilities, according to MLB.com. Other up and coming talents include center fielder Anthony Alford, catcher Danny Jansen, and pitcher Ryan Borucki.
Borucki, Jansen, and Richard Urena all saw some action in the majors in the 2018 season.
The Year Leading Up
2012 season for the Red Sox followed a year that marked one of the biggest collapses in MLB history. A year in which the team had a nine-game lead for a wildcard position and a two-game lead for the AL East. The team wound up losing 21 of the 29 following games.
For the Jays, the 2018 season followed a year that was plagued by disappointment. As SportsNet recants, the Jays started the season trying to climb out of a hole, dealing with serious injuries to big-name players, the failure to find a capable lead-off hitter after letting Ben Revere go, a lack of depth in the rotation, key players such as Jose Bautista unable to perform offensively, and making numerous defensive errors.
After the 2017 season, the Jays decided to part ways with Ryan Goins, the only player consistently performing with bases loaded and packing a great glove.
Red Sox-Blue Jays Comparison
Both the 2012 Red Sox and the 2018 Jays found themselves in a rebuild phase. The teams rebuilt starting with the coaching staff which then followed down to players. Both teams found themselves with players that were not performing to expectations. Similarly, they both parted ways with players that left fans questioning certain decisions. In addition, both teams were focusing on developing talent within the organization, strategically leaving positions open in the future for potential opportunities.
It’s safe to say the Jays are unlikely to pose a huge threat in the 2019 season. However, given the similarities between the teams, it’s possible that they might be strong competitors for the Red Sox in time.