Blog Entry

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays

Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 pm

By Matt Snyder

The 2011 Blue Jays were 81-81, despite blowing an AL-worst 25 saves. So the task heading into the offseason for general manager Alex Anthopolous was pretty clear: Improve the bullpen. And he did, in trading for Sergio Santos and signing Francisco Cordero, among other upgrades. If the Blue Jays can knock off 10-15 of those blown saves and basically play similarly in every other aspect, they'll have a great shot at one of the two wild card spots. And the good news for the Jays is that they appear a bit better in other aspects than last season, like getting a full season from Brett Lawrie, to name one example.

Major additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jason Frasor, OF Ben Francisco, IF Omar Vizquel
Major departures: C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch

Probable lineup
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Eric Thames, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C

Probable rotation
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Henderson Alvarez
4. Brett Cecil
5. Dustin McGowan

Kyle Drabek is also in the mix.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Sergio Santos
Set-up: Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen

Important bench players

OF Rajai Davis, OF Ben Francisco, OF Travis Snider, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel

Prospect to watch
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, one of the players who came over in the Roy Halladay trade, just turned 23 years old and is considered a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers in 114 Double-A games last season. And while Arencibia hit 23 bombs last season, he also had a paltry .219 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. He struck out 133 times while only walking 36. So it's entirely possible he struggles mightily and is replaced by d'Arnaud at some point this season. Or maybe the Jays trade one of them? We'll see, but keep your eye on d'Arnaud's progress. Many believe he's special.

Fantasy sleeper: Henderson Alvarez
"Alvarez wasn't considered a high-profile prospect at this time last year, so understandably, his 10 starts during a late-season trial weren't enough to put him on most Fantasy owners' radars. But consider just how impressive those 10 starts were. Better yet, consider how impressive his final eight were. He pitched at least six innings in each, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He also issued only six walks during that stretch. Six. In 53 innings. And this isn't some soft-tosser who took the league by surprise simply by throwing strikes, a la Zach Duke in 2005. Alvarez throws in the mid-90s. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff to go along with a good feel for the strike zone and has already tasted success in the heavy-hitting AL East." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust: J.P. Arencibia
"Arencibia was one of five catchers to hit 20-plus homers last year, and he did it as a rookie. But before visions of Mike Piazza start dancing in your heads, keep in mind he was especially old for a rookie, turning 25 before the start of the season. He's 26 now, which means he's already in the thick of his prime, which means what you see with him might be exactly what you get. And it's even worse than it looks. Arencibia hit only .219 in 2011, which is discouraging enough, but when you consider he got worse over the course of the season, hitting .199 over the final four months, you have to wonder if his excessive strikeout rate makes him a sitting duck against major-league pitching." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Morrow has a huge breakout campaign, giving the Jays a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. Alvarez blossoms into a good No. 3 while Drabek realizes his potential and has a huge second half. Lawrie enters stardom early and Rasmus reaches his potential, making the offense even more potent than before. Plus, the new back-end of the bullpen is dominant. That gets the Blue Jays into the 90s in victories and they win a wild card.

Pessimistic outlook
The Jays just didn't do enough to close the gap, as they still aren't good enough to finish ahead of any of the following, at the very least: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers or Angels. Instead, they're more on the same footing as the Royals and Indians. Thus, it's another fourth-place finish for the Blue Jays, who haven't made the playoffs since 1993.

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Since: Feb 21, 2007
Posted on: March 17, 2012 3:08 pm

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays

Matt Snyder should be fired or give him another chance in writing about flowers or something cause he doesn't know shit when it comes to baseball.  Same footing as Royals or Indians, lmfao, this guy is a joke.  I believe the Jays will make the play-offs, Yankees or Boston won't.

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:37 pm

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays

Royals and Indians?????...what a dick!

Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: March 4, 2012 2:08 pm

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays

The last thing the team should be worried about is who is batting ninth. Sure it would be better if they could put another lead off type in the 9 hole (Rajai Davis-esche type), but their lineup likely doesn't warrant that. The closest thing would be if Snider wins the job and ends up batting 9th, but otherwise it'll likely be JPA. 

In fact, as for catchers batting ninth, I believe Pat Borders lived there during the two WS Championships, and he was slower than Jose Molina.  

Since: May 24, 2011
Posted on: March 4, 2012 12:25 am

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays

Where else are you going to hit JPA? There's no way I want him hitting in front of any starter on this team.

"A small hitting shortstop, who can get on base via the bunt, and can snag a base is ideal."

Why is this ideal? Who cares if he gets on base via the bunt or a walk or a hit if he just gets on base?

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:28 pm

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays

Not sure where he got the J.P. Arencibia batting last, but in the American league, you do not, or should not, always put your worst hitter number 9. A small hitting shortstop, who can get on base via the bunt, and can snag a base is ideal. Your lead off hitter too is a contact hitter and thus should be able to at least advance him for your number 2 hitterl. Now, I am aware the Jays do not have an obvious player to fit the role, but J.P. is not even close to being a number 9.

As far as Travis D'Arnaud, his striking out 133 times and walking 36 is so bloody typical of the free hitting players in the league today. I suppose they have all grown up embracing "chicks dig the long ball" premise to how to approach hitting. The days of Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn are practically gone. As much as I love watching MLB baseball, this is one aspect that drives me bonkers. I think managers should start taking a similar approach to the movie Major League where they had one of the players do pushups every time he hit a flyball and tried to jack it out.

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