2012 MLB Season

I’m trying to be positive about the Blue Jays’ outlook this year. I really want to be excited about the team. But I just can’t do it.

They are having a great spring. There’s no arguing with that. They’ve been playing incredibly well in Grapefruit league play. As I write this, they have an .815 winning percentage. That’s leaps and bounds ahead of their closest competition. But years and years of watching baseball (and pretty much every other professional sport) has shown me that preseason numbers don’t mean shit when it comes to the regular season. In the preseason, you’ve got a bunch of minor league players giving absolutely everything they have in an effort to make the team. Every year, that inflates many teams preseason stats.

In my opinion, it actually benefits the teams that will probably be shitty in the regular season. The perrenial contenders have their rosters pretty well set before spring training ever kicks off. The minor leaguers know they probably aren’t making the team, so they don’t press nearly as hard. If you’re a first base prospect in Boston or New York, why bother? You’re not making the team. But in the weaker teams, the prospects know they’ve got a shot. They play as hard as they possibly can to try and make it. That gives a bump to those team, gives them a competitive advantage over the teams whose own minor league players are just there to fill spots when the major leaguers don’t feel like playing.

Obviously, I know it’s not just that simple. But that’s part of it, and it’s a major factor in why preseason numbers rarely have any relevance on the final standings in the regular season.

Back to the Jays, there are numerous reasons why I doubt they’ll finish higher than fourth in the AL East this year. For one, they are as good as Boston, New York, or Tampa. Personally, I think it’s possible for them to finish as high as third, but only if they have record-setting offensive output and Tampa’s pitching fails them completely. I doubt Boston will meltdown again like they did last year, and despite being old as dirt, the Yankees are the Yankees. They’re better than the Jays.

In the end, it comes down to the on-field product. I don’t think the Jays have done enough to field a competitive team. I think AA did his best to improve the team; I just don’t think it was enough.

From a pitching standpoint, I just don’t think they’re good enough. Romero is a solid pitcher. But he’s not an ace. He’s Shawn Marcum, version 2.0. Ideally, he slots in the two-hole, behind a real ace. Brandow Morrow is similar. He throws heat, but if he’s off, he gets lit up. He’s like a young A.J. Burnett. I know nobody wants to hear that, not even me, but they’re very comparable. Brett Cecil is about as inconsistent as it gets. Alvarez and Drabek have a shitton of potential, but they’re young. And McGowan is trying to come back from injuries that should have ended his career. There’s no way to know how he’ll hold up.

The bullpen is the same. They shored it up a bit, but still. Who’s their closer? Sergio Santos? He blew six saves last year. Cordero’s not getting any younger. The rest of them haven’t been able to do shit up to this point; why should we think they’ll be able to get it done this time?

For the position players, it’s as simple as looking at each position and seeing how the Jays’ stack up against divisional rivals. At catcher, if Arencibia can mirror last year’s performance, I give the Jays’ the edge at that position. At least offensively. Defensively, Arencebia isn’t great. He isn’t the worst, but he’s not the best.

First base, no. With Tex and Gonzalez in the division, they aren’t even close. At the moment, I don’t even know who their fucking first baseman is. Is it Adam Lind? He’s a DH at best. Realistically, the Jays are probably dead last in the division at first. I’m not sure who Tampa and Baltimore have there, but it can’t be much worse than the Jays.

Same thing with second base. Kelly Johnson? Fuck that guy. He can occasionally put up decent numbers, but he’s streaky as hell. And even his best numbers weren’t great. It’s a crapshoot, at best.

And that’s all I really need to say. When you go into a season with no clear-cut first or second basemen, you’re screwed. But I’ll go on, just so I can actually talk about the Jays’ high points.

Yunel Escobar at short is decent. He’s probably not tops in the division, but he’s solid, consistent, and not a defensive liability. I’ll take it.

Third base. Brett Lawrie. A bright spot for the Jays. The kid’s got potential and intensity coming out his ass. Statistically, he’s one of the weakest third basemen in the division, but he could easily be one of the best before too long. Obviously, I’m biased, but watching him play, there’s nothing in his game that I think could hold him back to being equal with Evan Longoria before too long.

The only other bright spot for the Jays is, of course, Jose Bautista. Regardless of where they play him, the guy hits like a fucking truck. I don’t need to say much more about him. Any guy who gives you 40+ HR and 100+ RBI is a good thing.

The rest of the outfielders are a bunch of prospects and guys known for their fielding/base-running. Sure, Thames or Schnieder could have breakout years, offensively, and nail down one of those positions. Or they could do what they’ve been doing and routinely float between the Majors and Triple-A ball. It’s impossible to tell.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I think the Jays are doomed, once again. Too much unknown. They have skilled players, good prospects, but they’d all need to come together at the right time, and in a major way, to make any kind of meaningful impact. There’s too much left to chance, and that rarely, if ever, works out well.

Plus, I think their pitching sucks.


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