2010 Toronto Blue Jays Preview

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-CA
X-NONE
X-NONE

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}
table.MsoTableGrid
{mso-style-name:”Table Grid”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-priority:59;
mso-style-unhide:no;
border:solid black 1.0pt;
mso-border-themecolor:text1;
mso-border-alt:solid black .5pt;
mso-border-themecolor:text1;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-border-insideh:.5pt solid black;
mso-border-insideh-themecolor:text1;
mso-border-insidev:.5pt solid black;
mso-border-insidev-themecolor:text1;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

blue jays.gif2009 Record: 75-87,
4th AL East

2009 Prediction: 78-84,
4th AL East

2010 Prediction: 5th
AL East

 

Impact Player: Aaron Hill

Impact Pitcher: Ricky
Romero

Top Prospect Player: 1B Brett
Wallace

Top Prospect Pitcher: RHP Kyle Drabek

 

Manager: Cito Gaston,
3rd Season (126-124, .504)

 

Significant Acquisitions: C John Buck, SS Alex Gonzalez,
OF Jeremy Reed, INF Jarrett Hoffpauir, RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Merkin Valdez

 

Significant Losses: C Rod
Barajas
, SS Marco Scutaro, UTIL Kevin Millar, UTIL Joe Inglett, RHP Roy
Halladay
, RHP Brandon League,
RHP Brian Wolfe

 

It pains me to say it, but it looks like we need to brace
ourselves for a long summer, Jays’ fans. 
Toronto was a 75-win team last year with
the best pitcher in baseball on the roster; without Roy Halladay pretty much guaranteeing a competitive team every
fifth day, the Jays may be headed toward their worst season since the early
days of the franchise.  The bright side
is that new GM Alex Anthopoulos is implementing a plan, something this
franchise lacked under former GM J.P. Riccardi. 
That plan is simple: Strip down the organization, lower the payroll, and
build from the ground up with high-ceiling prospects and a new-found commitment
to scouting and player development. 
Anthopoulos has a lot of work to do. 
The organization has one of the weakest farm systems in baseball, a
product of years of bad drafting and bad trades under Riccardi, and worst of
all has had nothing to show for it with the best finish under Riccardi coming
in 2006 when the Jays finished second in the AL East with 87 wins.  Anthopoulos garnered an impressive haul of
talent in the biggest trade in franchise history when he dealt Halladay and the
team hopes it’s the beginning of a new era in Blue Jays’ baseball; just don’t
expect a winner any time soon.  The
plus-side is that ownership has said it will spend the money necessary to
contend when it feels the team is in a position to do so.

 

 

Pitching

ricky-romero.jpg

The most exciting news in the offseason for the Jays besides
the Halladay deal, was how hard the organization pushed to sign Cuban-defector Aroldis Chapman.  Chapman is considered a phenom with a very high
ceiling and the fact that ownership was willing to spend money in that area
should show the fans that there is a definite plan for the future.  The Jays lost out in the end to the Reds, but
the effort should not go unnoticed. 

 

As it stands, the Jays are thin on major-league-ready arms
heading into the Spring.  The top pitcher
in the rotation based on 2009 performance is lefthander Ricky Romero who was a contender for Rookie of the Year until he
showed signs of wearing down in the second half.  Although Romero is a late-bloomer, his raw
stuff is impossible to ignore and his wear-down could have been a result of
never pitching a full season worth of innings in the major leagues; the Jays
believe he is finally ready to show what he can do in 2010.  After Romero is Shaun Marcum who is coming off Tommy John surgery.  The Jays are hoping that he rebounds to be
the pitcher he was in 2007 when he won 12 games and began to establish himself
as a top-of-the-rotation talent.  Whether
or not that’s realistic is yet to be seen but there’s no doubting Marcum’s
ability to throw quality strikes and he’s considered to be one of the most
intelligent pitchers in the game.  What
makes him good is more mental than physical which bodes well for a return to
form.  In December, the Jays pulled off a
deal that sent Brandon League and
his inconsistencies to the Seattle Mariners along with a minor-league
outfielder for former top pick Brandon
Morrow
.  Morrow never lived up to his
potential in Seattle, but will be given a spot in the rotation with
Toronto.  This deal certainly will have
the most impact on the 2010 season than any of the moves the Jays made this
offseason.  The Jays will look to a
number of young pitchers to fill the final two spots with lefties Marc Rzepczynski, and Brett Cecil leading the charge.  Both were impressive in their rookie
campaigns and are well-liked by the coaching staff.  Scott
Richmond
, David Purcey, Casey Janssen, Robert Ray, Brad Mills
and maybe even Kyle Drabek (the
centerpiece of the Halladay deal) should get Spring auditions, and a minor
league contract was handed out to Canadian-born Shawn Hill.  Dustin McGowan may also be in the mix
if he’s healthy, which is a big if, and Jesse
Litsch
may be ready to return from Tommy John surgery sometime around
mid-season.

 

The bullpen, as it has been for a few years, is a
strength.  It isn’t as dominant as it was
in the 2008 season, but it is filled to the brim with serviceable pitchers.  The Jays just signed Kevin Gregg to a one year deal with two options and he’ll be thrust
into a competition with Jason Frasor
and Scott Downs (who split closing
duties last year after B.J. Ryan was released) for the closing job.  Gregg likely has the inside edge at this
point as the Jays feel Frasor and Downs are better in a setup role.  The latter two posted 20 combined saves last
season but also blew 7.  After those
three are lefties Jesse Carlson and Brian Tallet who are both solid
all-around.  Carlson is more of a
lefty-specialist while Tallet can do just about anything including start (which
he may get the opportunity to do). 
Righthanders Shawn Camp and Josh Roenicke should also be in the mix
and if the universe is just, so will Jeremy
Accardo
who seems to be on the outs with the organization in spite of
recovering nicely from a shoulder injury that appears to have derailed his
career.  He saved 30 games for Toronto in
2007.  Off-season acquisitions Merkin Valdez and Zechry Zinicola may also get a look.  Dirk
Hayhurst
looks like he’ll be on the DL to start the year after surgery on
his shoulder.

 

ROTATION

 

 

Ricky
Romero

25

R/L

Shaun
Marcum

28

R/R

Brandon
Morrow*

25/6

R/R

Marc
Rzepczynski

24/5

L/L

Brett
Cecil

23/4

R/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Kevin
Gregg*
(CL)

31/2

S/R

Jason
Frasor

32/3

R/R

Scott
Downs

34

L/L

Jesse
Carlson

29

L/L

Shawn
Camp

34

R/R

Brian
Tallet

32/3

L/L

Josh
Roenicke

27/8

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Jeremy
Accardo

28

R/R

Merkin
Valdez*

28

R/R

Shawn
Hill*

29

R/R

Scott
Richmond

30/1

R/R

David
Purcey

27/8

L/L

Dustin
McGowan

28

R/R

Dirk
Hayhurst

29

L/R

Casey
Janssen

28

R/R

Zechry
Zinicola*

25

R/R

Robert
Ray

26

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

Lineup

adam-lind.jpg

The Jays had one of their best starts in franchise history
in 2009 because their offense carried them through the first month and a half
or more.  It seemed like everyone on the
team was hitting.  Conversely, when the
team started to struggle, it was their hitting that let them down.  Three players had career years in 2009 and
one of them is now a member of the Boston Red Sox.  The other two return and form the core of a lineup
that has some of the pieces of contention already intact.  The rest may be a few years off.

 

In the outfield, the only real locked down spot belongs to Vernon Wells who had a dismal
season.  I was one of Wells’ staunchest
defenders last February after he was taking flack for a down year in 2008.  My argument was that if you pro-rated his
numbers for a full season in 2008, you’d have a .300/30/100 guy.  Vernon made me look like a fool.  He had an awful
campaign in 2009 hitting just .260 with a .711 OPS; both well below his career
average of .280 and .799.  He managed to
play in all but 3 of Toronto’s games yet still ended the year with only 15 HR
and 66 RBI.  Not only that, but his
defense in center slipped further to where very few even consider him average
anymore.  The organization is still
standing behind their $126-million man, saying a nagging wrist injury caused
him to lose bat-speed and power; he had surgery in the offseason.  Either way, he’s the starter in center for
the foreseeable future.  In leftfield
will likely be highly-touted Travis
Snider
who will get another chance to stick after falling out of favour
with the coaching staff.  He’ll likely
end up in rightfield at some point.  In
right will be Jose Bautista whose
versatility and inconsistency are better suited for a bench-utility role.  Adam
Lind
could be forced into leftfield at some point this year if this
arrangement doesn’t work out; for now, he’ll be the everyday DH with the
occasional outfield start.  Lind was
arguably the best hitter on the roster last year after a monster breakout season
where he finished with a .305 average, a .932 OPS, 35 HR and a team-best 114
RBI.

 

aaron-hill.jpg

The infield is led by 2009 AL Comeback Player of the Year Aaron Hill at second base.  Hill stunned everyone by not only coming back
to be productive after a long bout with post-concussion syndrome, but by
destroying the baseball on every opportunity and playing outstanding
defense.  Hill smashed the team record for homeruns and RBIs by a second baseman
taking Roberto Alomar‘s 17 and 93
and parleying 36 and 108.  Don’t expect
those numbers again this year, but do expect a very productive, perennial
All-Star who will routinely lead all second-basemen in a lot of offensive
categories.  He’ll win a Gold Glove soon
too.  Outside of him are some questions: Lyle Overbay at first who was nearly
traded to Arizona for catcher Chris
Snyder
after another sub-par year at the plate; Alex Gonzalez at short who was signed in the offseason for his
defense, but certainly not his offense; and Edwin Encarnacion at third who’s a mess defensively but may supply
you with the occasional homerun…along with the more-than-occasional strike
out.  All of those players are just
holding places until a longer term option is found.  Brett
Wallace
(another piece acquired in the Halladay deal) could see action at first by the end of the year if Overbay
continues to struggle.  Catching duties
will belong to John Buck who was
signed from the Royals.  He’s awful
defensively but combined with Miguel
Olivo
to form one of the most productive catcher duos in all of baseball
last season.  He’s also holding a place
for one of Toronto’s catching prospects.

 

The bench is thin.  Shortstop
John McDonald is a good defensive
player, but is probably a better second basemen at this point in his career.  He might see significant time if Gonzalez
struggles.  Raul Chavez is your classic defend-well/hit-bad backup catcher but
is serviceable and Jeremy Reed
signed in the offseason and figures to be the fourth outfielder.  The last spot could go to 4-A slugger Randy Ruiz who was impressive in a
short stint last year or one of two utility-infielders in Jarrett Hoffpauir or Mike
McCoy
.

 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-CA
X-NONE
X-NONE

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}
table.MsoTableGrid
{mso-style-name:”Table Grid”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-priority:59;
mso-style-unhide:no;
border:solid black 1.0pt;
mso-border-themecolor:text1;
mso-border-alt:solid black .5pt;
mso-border-themecolor:text1;
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-border-insideh:.5pt solid black;
mso-border-insideh-themecolor:text1;
mso-border-insidev:.5pt solid black;
mso-border-insidev-themecolor:text1;
mso-para-margin:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

RF

Jose
Bautista
(3B, CF)

29

R/R

LF

Travis
Snider
(RF)

22

L/L

2B

Aaron
Hill

27

R/R

DH

Adam
Lind
(LF)

26/7

L/L

CF

Vernon
Wells

31

R/R

1B

Lyle
Overbay

33

L/L

3B

Edwin
Encarnacion
(1B)

27

R/R

C

John Buck*                   

29/0

R/R

SS

Alex
Gonzalez*

33

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

INF

John
McDonald
(SS, 2B, 3B)

35/6

R/R

1B

Randy
Ruiz
(DH)

32

R/R

C

Raul
Chavez

37

R/R

OF

Jeremy
Reed*
(LF, CF, RF)

28/9

L/L

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

INF

Jarrett
Hoffpauir*
(2B, SS, 3B)

26/7

R/R

INF

Mike
McCoy
(SS, 3B, CF, RF, LF, 2B)

29

R/R

C

J.P.
Arencibia

24

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

It’s going to be a long year for the Jays and their already
impatient fans (myself included), but it is the first year in the post-Halladay
era; patience is a virtue.  Given time,
it appears as though Anthopoulos will pull the Jays back to respectability soon
with a focus on scouting and player development that this team has not seen
since its heyday in the mid-80s and early 90s. 
With the Orioles improving a little and the rest of the division leaps
and bounds ahead of them, this may be the first time since 2004 and only the
second time since 1982 that the Jays finish last in their division.

Final Prediction:
68-94, 5th AL East

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s