2008 MLB Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Ranks

Overall – 80 points (13th MLB, 7th AL)
Starting Rotation – 31 points (12th MLB, 7th AL)
Line-Up – 31 points (22nd MLB, 10th AL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 18 points (2nd MLB, 2nd AL)

Offseason Additions – Scott Rolen, David Eckstein, Rod Barajas, Marco Scutaro
Offseason Subtractions – Troy Glaus, Josh Towers

Biggest Strength– Players you’ve never heard of

If the Blue Jays stay healthy, they are a real good team. If they are in the NL, they are a playoff team. But you would never know it because all of the media attention in their division goes to the Sox and the Yanks. When studying their roster, I found out a lot of players I just figured weren’t any good, were actually pretty decent. They have a pretty deep rotation, with a 3 pitchers any team would want at the bottom of their rotation in Dustin McGowan (25 years old, 4.08 ERA in 169.2 IP), Shaun Marcum (26, 4.13 ERA in 159 IP) and Jesse Litsch (22, 3.81 ERA in 111 IP). On the offensive side, Aaron Hill has become one of the best young 2B in the league, going for 78 RBI and 47 doubles at age 25.

Biggest Weakness– Health

If you told me that the 2 pitchers at the top of their rotation, Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett, as well as their dominant closer, B.J. Ryan, and their best hitter last year, Frank Thomas, would be healthy the entire year, I would pick this team to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening. Burnett has only pitched 200 innings once since 2002, Ryan missed all but 4.1 innings in 2007, Frank Thomas can barely walk, and while Halladay has been healthy the last 2 seasons, his prior injury history leaves a lot to be desired. This team reminds of the Phillies of the last 5 years who have had the talent but just haven’t been able to put together an injury-free season.

Key Player in ’08 – Vernon Wells

After the Blue Jays rewarded Wells with a 7 year, 126 million dollar contract, he rewarded them with the worst season of his career (.245 BA, 16 HR, 80 RBI, .706 OPS). It is imperative for the Blue Jays that he comes back to form and proves to be a force in the middle of their line-up. I like their pitching, but they cannot rely on Frank Thomas to carry the offense again.

Player to Keep an Eye On – Scott Rolen

One of the strangest trades of the offseason had the Blue Jays and Cardinals swapping 3rd basement who seemed like they would never be healthy again. Personally, I think the Jays got the better of the deal because Glaus did PED’s and usually those players don’t make miraculous comebacks once they start downhill. Rolen, on the other hand, can be a top 3rd basemen, offensively and defensively, when healthy. He COULD be healthy this year, and if he is, he could help make this a very dangerous team.

Outlook/Prediction – 3rd Place, AL East. If there is a team in the AL that is going to come out and surprise, I believe it will be the Blue Jays. They have a deep rotation, good bullpen, and solid line-up (I didn’t even mention their best player, Alex Rios). However, they need a lot of things to go right – no injuries, young pitchers pitching well, and Thomas, Rolen and Wells having good years. If all this happens, they have the talent to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, as a Phillies fan, I know that regardless of how a team looks like on paper, things don’t always go right, and as long as the Red Sox and Yankees are around, this team seems doomed to have things go wrong.

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6 Responses

  1. […] Pete wrote a fantastic post today on “2008 MLB Preview: Toronto Blue Jays”Here’s ONLY a quick extractKey Player in ’08 – Vernon WellsAfter the Blue Jays rewarded Wells with a 7 year, 126 million dollar contract, he rewarded them with the worst season of his career (.245 BA, 16 HR, 80 RBI, .706 OPS). It is imperative for the Blue Jays … […]

  2. As a fan who has followed the Jays since their inaugural season in 1977, I think your rating system sells this team a little short in two categories: team defense and bench players. The Jays have excellent team defense especially on the infield which takes advantage of the ground-ball style of a lot of their pitchers. Moreover, they’ve added solid bench and platoon players to deepen their lineup in the event of injuries this season, including Shannon Stewart (just announced), Rod Barajas and Marco Scutaro to go along with defensive whiz John Macdonald, pro hitter Matt Stairs and Adam Lind (if needed in AAA). This would put them easily on par with the Yankees. If the Jays surprise this year, it’s only because everyone is so used to the usual Sox/Yankees outcome that they are not being honest about the other strong and improving teams in their division (yes, the Rays). You are correct about the fact that everything needs to go right for them, but it will probably have more to do with competition from other AL divisions for the Wild-Card than the potential impact of injuries this year. I expect the Jays to finish second in the AL East in 2008 but still not make the playoffs owing the the increasing competitiveness in their own division which will negatively impact the win totals of Yankees and Sox as well.

  3. actually, the rating system rewarded them for their defense and bench. They are 2nd in MLB in that category! The only way I could have them any better would be to put them first!

  4. 3rd Place?

    Common lol I see at least a second place this year. The Yankees look weak on the mound and I think Toronto has a great bullpen.

    I did a very similar post to this as well as Hubpage.

    Toronto Blue Jays Outlook 2008

    That is the URL to the Hubpage of my Toronto blue Jays Outlook.

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