Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Toronto Blue Jays preview

The unknown team of the East, no one knows what they have, or in many case, who they have. Since last season, they have traded off the veterans stars, acquired a lot of young talent, and still have some mid-range established players. Some thought they could contend, or compete, last year, and now we’re not so sure. There is some power in the line up and they will bash. What the pitching can do remains a mystery, at least for now.


J.P. Arencibia, by the depth chart. Only a handful of major league at bats, he’s shown good power in the minors, so he’ll fit in with this team. Average to below average defense, he’s there for his bat, and not his glove. Jose Molina is also in the mix, and should be the back up. If Arencibia doesn’t hit, or not enough to cover his fielding, Molina, at 35, will get the call. This isn’t the way to contend.

Upside:  Arencibia shows the power in the majors he did in the minors

Downside:  Molina ends up the starter

Score:  - 1

First base:

Adam Lind, starting at his 3rd position in the last 3 years. He’s got the bat, but needs to have a bounce back year after last season. It was a big drop-off, but I think that was more because he overachieved the year before. He’ll show power, and provide a much needed left handed bat to balance the line up. Not much defense, but this team isn’t going to win Gold Glovers, just Silver Sluggers. If he can be slightly above average, he’ll have a good year.

Upside:  thinks its 2009 again

Downside:  becomes Carlos Pena

Score:  0

Second base:

Aaron Hill. Another guy who needs to bounce back to 2009, he’s showing good power, but really needs to get on base more. 20 more walks would really help. His defense is good, and his range is okay, so he’ll help the right side defense while Lind is holding all of those runners on first. He’s a good player, but more doubles and walks and fewer homeruns would make a big difference with Hill.

Upside:  starts getting on base more often so they don’t hit as many solo homeruns

Downside:  thinks he can be Jose Bautista

Score:   0

Third base:

Jose Bautista. I didn’t see it coming, and neither did you. He’ll be back at third full time, but not for his glove. The middle will really have to help the corners. Anyone who expects him to repeat probably shouldn’t operate heavy machinery. It could happen, but history is really against it. I think its park effect, and better pitch selection, and he should still hit a lot of homeruns, but he doesn’t have to do what he did last year. Just a good solid year will really help.

Upside:  last year wasn’t a fluke

Downside:  a lot younger than Luis Gonzalez when he did this

Score:  + 1

Short stop:

Yuniel Escobar. Easily his worse year last year, and a full year in the American League could make a difference. He’ll get some power back, and he’s shown the ability to get on base, which this team really needs. Bet you didn’t know he was second on the team in OBP last year. His defense is good, so up the middle will really help the pitching, which is what is needed more than anything else. Lots of bashers is good. Some leather is also.

Upside:  gets back to his normal averages

Downside:  the American League eats him up

Score:  0

Left field:

Juan Rivera. As up and down as a player comes, it’s the turn for an up year. He’s a good left fielder, so if he does well, his bat will be a bonus. The Blue Jays have a lot of spare pieces, so they don’t have leave him out there too long. He’s seems too old to start having a breakout year, but he’s the same age (pretty much) as Bautista. I wouldn’t look for the same numbers, but he could hit a ton in that park.

Upside:  has one of his up years

Downside:  has one of his down years

Score:  - 1


Rajai Davis. He’s shown the ability to get on base, but in limited playing time. The more he plays, the less success he has. No power, but lots of speed. He’ll get a lot of chances to run if he can get on. An excellent corner defender, he isn’t as good in center, but is better than anyone else they have. If he stays at about 120 starts, he’ll be more successful than 150.

Upside:  gets on base and plays good defense

Downside:  full time shows he can’t go the distance

Score:  0

Right field:

Travis Snider. A part timer over three years, he’ll get the chance to mostly start, but probably platoon, if the Blue Jays can find someone to do that. He’s been pretty much average, so extra playing time should help. At 23, he’s still got some time to develop, and he’s not going to hurt the team, especially if he can hit left handers. His defense won’t help, so Rivera and Davis will both have extended areas in the outfield.

Upside:  becomes the player everyone thinks with extended playing time

Downside:  still needs to develop

Score:  - 1

Designated hitter:

Edwin Encarnacion. Moving from third base, this isn’t a bad move, as he really doesn’t have the glove for the field. When he gets regular playing time, he can get on base and will hit some doubles. He’s still adjusting to the American League, so getting back to what he did in the National will be a big help. He could have a break out season like Bautista, but is more likely to have one like Lind or Rivera. That’s not bad, but it’s not good when that would make him the second best player on the team.

Upside:  shows his National League ability in the American League

Downside:  last season is what he’ll do in the American League

Score:  - 1

Backup catcher:

Jose Molina. Unless he becomes the starter, if Arencibia can’t get it done. I’m a Molina fan, and if Jose is starting, the defense will be better. I would see him still getting into a lot of games, but he won’t really hit much. They have to decide on veteran defense over rookie offense, but this club will probably go with the bat.

Upside:  doesn’t have to play a lot, and helps out when he does

Downside:  becomes a starter

Score:  - 1

Backup first baseman:

Pick a name. Anyone else could get playing time. However, this would be a problem because it would cause movement all over the field, and probably to the detriment of the defense. They position wouldn’t necessarily hurt the offense, but they have to hope they really don’t need to move anyone. No for a defensive replacement is also a problem.

Upside:  Lind is able to play all year

Downside:  movement hurts the defense

Score:  - 1

Back-up infielder:

John McDonald. A career utility guy, he’s well suited to the role. He’s got a good glove, and can play all three positions. He won’t have a big bat, but extended playing time won’t hurt the team. He should get some time at third as a defensive replacement, and spell the others on a regular basis.

Upside:  continues to do what he does best

Downside:  starts all year, which means a bigger bat will be out of the line up

Score:  0

Back-up outfielder:

Same thing as first. Anyone who’s available. This won’t necessarily hurt, as they do have guys in the line-up who can do it. No speed to replace Davis, and the defense could take a hit. This probably wouldn’t hurt as much as losing someone on the infield long term, but it would disturb the line up. It’s always better to have one guy to do it.

Upside:  they shouldn’t really need one

Downside:  too much disruption in the line up

Score:  0

Rotation (front 3):

Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, and Brett Cecil. Not as bad as it sounds, these guys are better than a lot of people think. Lots of strike outs and not too many homeruns, considering the park they pitch in. Fewer walks would help, but they’re still young and should get better. The rotation might just surprise, and they’ll get a lot of runs to work with.

Upside:  pitch better than their reputation

Downside:  pitch to their reputation

Score:  + 1

Rotation (back end):

Kyle Drabek and Jesse Litsch. Litsch was good before the injuries, and if he can come back, he’s going to make the rotation pretty good. Drabek has a good reputation, and the hype (he needs to have), but no one knows what he’ll do. He’ll get plenty of chances. If these two are even average, this rotation could be pretty good. I think it will be.

Upside:  Litsch comes back

Downside:  Drabek doesn’t live up to the hype

Score:  0


Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor, Jesse Carlson, and Casey Jannsen. Not bad. They’ll do okay. A lot of closer experience, and some good years last year from the non-closers. They also have someone who can step in to close if needed, without an appreciable drop off. If they can get the job done, and I think they will, the rotation will be that much better.

Upside:  they all continue to pitch at the level they have been

Downside:  not enough innings for them all to stay effective

Score:  + 1


Frank Francisco. A good one, if he’s healthy. He should be fine, and should get quite a few leads with the offense and rotation ahead of him. If he can’t get it done, he’s used to setting up, and there are other guys who can fill in. This position is strength for the team, and they shouldn’t have too many blown saves.

Upside:  lots of guys who can step in if needed

Downside:  bad mojo in the bullpen about who gets the ball when

Score:  + 1

Team speed (which includes base running):

Lots of doubles, and not many stolen bases, but Davis should help. They don’t really need to run a lot, or even that well, as they don’t walk or hit singles. They bash and moving runners won’t be the issue. The speed they have will be a bonus, and help in the outfield, which will make a lot of difference for the staff. It won’t hurt the team, but might help.

Upside:  they get to use the speed a lot

Downside:  it becomes a too important part of the offense

Score:  0

Team defense:

Good up the middle, minus catcher, and good in left field. The rest won’t help. It would be better with Molina, but he can’t go full time. The defense will help the staff, which will help the team. They’ll be better than people think. No gold gloves, but not too many lead ones either.

Upside:  the outfield defense gives the rotation a lot of confidence

Downside:  the opposing players hit everything on the line

Score:  + 1

Team batting:

It’s not a great offense. They don’t walk a lot, but they will hit the ball a long way. They’ll go station to station, but they will score a lot of runs. They won’t be as good as other teams in the division, but all things considered, they are going to give the rotation a lot of room to work with. They might set some power records, but have to hope they aren’t empty numbers.

Upside:  lots of repeat band bounce back years.

Downside:  too many solo home runs

Score:  + 1

Team pitching:

This might actually be the strength of the team. They will strike out a lot of guys, pitch effective innings, and keep the team in the game, mostly because they will score a lot of runs. They rotation could end up being as good as the Yankees or the Rays. The bullpen will be deceptively good. The staff will make this team competitive, if not actually letting them compete.

Upside:  the rotation hits their stride and the bullpen maintains their effectiveness

Downside:  not quite ready this year

Score:  + 1

Total score:    + 1

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