Toronto Blue Jays Last Year: 86-76 4th in AL East This Year: 4th in AL East
It is safe to say that the Blue Jays are the best 4th place team in baseball. They have a good team but are in the wrong division. How much must it have hurt last season to see the Rays do what the Jays have tried so hard to do and pass the Yankees and Red Sox. The problem is how they go about trying to get better. They try to spend and acquire and you can not beat the Yankees that way because they will always outspend and outacquire. This season will be very familiar to Jays fans as they are a good team that has no chance to make the playoffs or contend.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections SS Marco Scutaro .261 6 HR 45 RBI 2B Aaron Hill .277 13 HR 58 RBI RF Alex Rios .293 17 HR 83 RBI 26 SB CF Vernon Wells .277 23 HR 89 RBI DH Adam Lind .285 13 HR 76 RBI 3B Scott Rolen .259 11 HR 54 RBI 1B Lyle Overbay .264 14 HR 57 RBI C Rod Barajas .241 9 HR 45 RBI LF Travis Snider .278 16 HR 54 RBI
Rotation RHP Roy Halladay 16-8 3.04 ERA 177 K RHP Jesse Litsch 14-7 3.37 ERA 121 K LHP David Purcey 8-10 4.78 ERA 121 K RHP Casey Janssen 6-10 4.98 ERA 98 K RHP Scott Richmond 3-8 5.23 ERA 103 K
CP LHP B.J. Ryan 3.15 ERA 29 SV 58 K
Best Case Scenario: Selig re-aligns the teams in mid season sending the Blue Jays to the NL West. Travis Snider explodes and becomes a reliable 5 hitter. Rios and Wells finally don't disappoint. Dustin McGowan comes back this year and contributes. Rolen spends the entire season pretending the baseball is Tony LaRussa. This team wins 85 or 86 games.
Worst Case Scenario: Halladay gets hurt. Snider is sent to AAA. Rolen and Overbay are totally ineffective. Fail to fill out the back half of the rotation and gets beat around by the top of the division. This team quits realizing the hill they face in the AL East and finish with 75 or 76 wins.
Player Most Important to Success: Travis Snider. He is the 6th best prospect acording to Baseball America. In only 73 at bats last year he showed glimpses of his potential going .301-2-13. He has serious .300-30-100 potential. The question is when does he realize it. If he can develop this year he can move up the lineup to the 5 hole and protect Rios and Wells better than Adam Lind. If he can hit 20+ homers this year the Blue Jays should have a solid middle of the lineup that can get them a few games.
Outlook: The Blue Jays despite the division won 86 games last year. That will be significantly more difficult this year because they lost A.J. Burnett to free agency, Shawn Marcum to Tommy John surgery and Dustin McGowan is out until the All-Star break because of his shoulder. They still have Halladay and a few decent hitters but there is not nearly enough to make a run. It must be hard to play knowing that the best they can hope for is 4th place and the worst they can do is also 4th place.