TORONTO -- When prognosticators have you as a World Series favourite after your general manager adds star talent to an already formidable team, a 15-24 record to start the year is unexpected. That's where the Blue Jays find themselves at roughly the quarter mark of a 162-game season, sitting in last place in the American League East and 9 1/2 games behind the division-leading Yankees entering play Tuesday.
GM Alex Anthopoulos spent his offseason trying to turn the Blue Jays into an AL powerhouse, bringing in a collection of former All-Stars in R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Melky Cabrera. This was adding to a team that already had a strong middle-of-the-order presence in Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, power-righty Brandon Morrow, and young, talented players such as Canadian third baseman Brett Lawrie.
A slow start, however, hasn't discouraged president and CEO Paul Beeston, who doesn't believe fans should give up on the process this early in the season.
"There is real talent and there is no reason for panic. There is reason for concern, but I don't think there is a reason for panic," Beeston said at a Blue Jays charitable event at Rogers Centre on Monday night.
"Quite honestly, I expect, and I think [the players] expect, more importantly, that we will perform this year."
Slowly but surely, the Blue Jays are starting to do just that. Toronto finished a seven-game road trip against division rivals Tampa Bay and Boston with a 4-3 record, and won just its second series of the year by taking two of three from the Red Sox over the weekend. After scoring four runs over a four-game losing streak at the beginning of the month, the Blue Jays have scored double-digit runs on two separate occasions during a stretch in which the club has won five of eight contests.
The pitching, though, is lagging behind. Only Houston has allowed more runs than the Blue Jays' 201, while Toronto's .385 winning percentage tops just three clubs. The rotation sports the second-highest ERA in the Majors at 5.46, which has forced the bullpen to throw 141 2/3 innings -- the second most in baseball.
Some have referenced the 1989 Blue Jays as a source of hope for the current club. In '89, Toronto began the season 12-24 before firing manager Jimy Williams, replacing him with Cito Gaston, and storming all the way back to win its division. Beeston believes the this year's Blue Jays will experience a similar fate as the '89 squad, but said it won't take a shake up among the coaching staff to do it.
"We started out at 12-24 and made a managerial change, but we're not going to do that right now," Beeston said. "I think you look back at 1989 and just look back at what can be after what was. I think we have a very good team and a better team than our record."
Anthopoulos believes that, too, but he acknowledged it's not so early in the season anymore.
"You are starting to get into May," Anthopoulos said. "We need to make up a lot of ground, there's no doubt about it. We were playing so poorly early ... but we are finally starting to play better. Some of the players we expected to perform are starting to do that slowly.
"Ultimately that will lead to more wins in time. The biggest key for us is to not get too far ahead of ourselves. Think about streaks, try to continue to win series."
Better pitching, Anthopoulos said, is the way Toronto will begin to start doing that. But the Blue Jays are facing a challenge, as starters Johnson and J.A. Happ are on the disabled list, while Dickey, Morrow and Buehrle have struggled to begin the year, sporting a combined ERA of 5.35.
"It starts with the rotation," Anthopoulos said. "That's how you put together streaks. Offensively, you can put together streaks ... but, consistently, if you are getting quality starts, you will be able to win a lot of games."
"You are always emotionally invested. If you're not emotionally invested, you might as well not be in the game," Beeston said. "We measure our success in wins and losses, so each loss is difficult to watch and each win is something to celebrate."
And he's still confident, despite what the standings say, that there will be more to celebrate before the season is over.
"We aren't so far into the future that we can't pull this thing out," Beeston said. "More importantly than that, we have the talent."
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com.