Like most professional athletes, Jose Bautista wants to win. The 32-year-old slugger has been the star of the Toronto Blue Jays for three seasons now, earning a reputation around Major League Baseball for his ability to hit the long ball.
But he has yet to play a post-season game in his career and this summer with the Jays in the hunt for one of two American League wild-card spots he urged general manager Alex Anthopoulos to get some pitching help in an attempt to counteract the injuries the Jays had already suffered on the mound – Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek were all out of the lineup with injuries at the time. The latter two aren’t even expected to be back to begin the 2013 season.
Bautista told Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star in mid-July:
“Hopefully we can get some help on the pitching side. I don’t think it’s a secret and I’m not saying it to put any pressure on the organization or on (GM Alex Anthopoulos), or on ownership, but they’d be the first ones to tell you that’s what they need to do.
“I think that’s what we need. In the past, I think there was a different view on what the season was going to be like. Being so close to the second wild-card has changed Alex’s view a little bit. He knows we’re within striking distance, our offence is clicking. We’re already playing such good defence that if we get strong on the pitching side it will probably make our club come together and win even more games. We’ve managed to play .500 ball with all the problems we had to deal with.”
Anthopoulos responded to Bautista’s comments almost immediately saying that he wanted to win as much as anyone else, but that wasn’t going to change his outlook on the proper way of building a winner. And rather than making any rash decisions that might have affected the teams future Anthopoulos stayed the course and chose not to strike a desperation trade at an attempt to save the season.
And over the last month Anthopoulos has proved his commitment to winning. While the 2012 season ended in disappointment – Toronto finished 73-89 – the Jays are heading into 2013 with arguably the best pitching rotation in baseball and they’re one of the favourites to win the World Series.
The same Bautista who was preaching at the franchise to add to it’s pitching staff couldn’t be more excited about the off-season acquisitions especially on the mound.
He told Sportsnet’s Evanka Osmak Monday when asked about Anthopoulos’ adding Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to the team’s already dangerous rotation:
“Well [I felt] excitement like with all the other deals that happened earlier this off-season. We have a pretty good team, we had a pretty good team before all these moves and we just became that much better and it’s something that the fans and everyone in Canada should be really excited about because we’re in it to win it.”
At 32 Bautista is in the prime of his career, so if ownership was going to commit serious money to allow Anthopoulos to acquire big-name talent, it appears there couldn’t have been a better time to do it. Now it’s up to Bautista and the rest of the Jays clubhouse to take huge expectations and turn that into success on the field.