The Toronto Blue Jays are being picked as the team to upset the Red Sox and the Yankees. At least Bob Ryan thinks so. I think otherwise and here is why. Vernon Wells is not the same player of old and the pitching has to stay healthy which I do not think it will. Most of all, this team has to gel together.
If they do have a productive Vernon Wells, have healthy pitching, and gel well then maybe, just maybe, they will upset the Red Sox and Yankees.
Fire Brand Quote of the Team: “In the National League, they compete for a playoff spot in any division. A deep and tough lineup coupled with a better than recognized starting rotation and bullpen make the Jays a tough series for anyone. But they don’t have enough to battle the Sox and the Yanks at the top of the A.L. East.” (Tim Daloisio)
Statistics code: AVG/OBP/SLG for hitters. W-L, ERA, WHIP for starters. ERA, WHIP, IP for relievers.
C: Rod Barajas (2007 stats: .230/.352/.382) | Gregg Zaun (2007 stats: .242/.341/.411)
Both of these catchers’ jobs this season will be to call a good game behind the plate, keep the ball in front of them, and limit errors. Honestly, with all the offensive firepower the Jays potentially have at the dish, these two catchers are just an added bonus whenever they reach base. Limit mistakes is all they need to do this season.
1B: Lyle Overbay (2007 stats: .240/.315/.391)
If the Jays truly want to contend this season, a .240 average from Lyle Overbay will not help. The Jays desperately need some offensive production from Overbay to contend. Overbay will bring the defense at first base for sure, but all of his offensive numbers need to jump this year for him to help the team out.
2B: Aaron Hill (.291/.333/.459) | Marco Scutaro (.260/.332/.361)
Aaron Hill is a real bright spot for the Jays at second base. If Hill can keep the same numbers from last year then Toronto will be all set at second base. Look for Scutaro to come in to relieve Hill and play solid defense. The Blue Jays are pretty solid at the second base position.
SS: David Eckstein (2007 stats: .309/.356/.382) | John McDonald .251/.279/.333)
I absolutely love this move made by the Jays. Eckstein is everything that Toronto needed at short. A solid defensive player who can also get on base — not with power, but a singles and doubles kind of guy. Whats that spell for their offense? A chance at driving Eckstein in 100 times. McDonald will fill in for Eckstein on days off.
3B: Scott Rolen (2007 stats: .265/.331/.398)
Rolen will be a rock at third base defensively and something Troy Glaus was not. Rolen has to find his old ways at the plate and if he does could really give the Jays that added push towards making a run at the playoffs. I love this move by the Jays to go to defense instead of an offensive player like Glaus.
LF: Reed Johnson (2007 stats: .236/.305/.320/) | Matt Stairs (.289/.368/.549)
Here is another reason why I do not believe the Jays will do that much damage. Remember, baseball is a long season and when you have two guys in your lineup that are starters who have an average of .240 or lower, how are you going to win games? Great fielder for the Blue Jays, Johnson, needs to be more productive at the plate. The only offensive productive outfielder the Jays have is Alex Rios since Vernon Wells fell from grace last season. Unless Matt Stairs starts over Johnson then the Jays have a problem in their left-field spot. Only problem with that is Stairs is not as good defensively as Reed is.
CF: Vernon Wells (2007 stats: .245/.304/.402)
A+ defensive player and we all know that, but a .245 average? Come on, Vernon Wells, seriously. He upset me because of my fantasy team last year, but irregardless that average has to go up if you want the Jays to compete. 16 homeruns and 80 RBIs is nice but the Jays need more O out of Wells.
RF: Alex Rios (2007 stats: .297/.354/.498)
Well quite simply he is the best all-around player on this team right now. Rios can hit, field, throw, and basically do it all. I bet Rios produces bigger numbers this year with Eckstein added to the fold.
DH: Frank Thomas (2007 stats: .277/.377/.480)
Drive in Eckstein and Rios. That is all you have to do, Frank. The Big Hurt will provide the same numbers as last year, but he has to stay healthy for the Jays to contend. Honestly, “stay healthy” should be the team motto this season.
SP: Roy Halladay (2007 stats: 16-7, 3.71, 1.24) | Shaun Marcum (2007 stats: 12-6, 4.13, 1.25) | A.J. Burnett (2007 stats:10-8, 3.75, 1.19) | Dustin McGowan (2007 stats: 12-10, 4.08, 1.22) | Jesse Litsch (2007 stats: 7-9, 3.81, 1.37)

Sounds like a fine rotation to me. Halladay will get 18 wins this year. Marcum will be their number two pitcher by the end of the season. I expect good things from him this year and if Burnett can stay healthy that is a great 1-3 in the American League.
RP: Jeremy Accardo (2007 stats: 2.14, 1.11, 67.1) | Scott Downs (2007 stats: 2.17, 1.22, 58.0) | Jason Frasor (2007 stats: 4.58, 1.23, 57.0) | Brandon League (2007 stats: 6.17, 2.23, 11.2) | Brian Tallet (2007 stats: 3.47, 1.24, 62.1) | Brian Wolfe (2007 stats: 2.98, 0.99, 45.1)
This bullpen makes me think of one thing. This is the reason why the Blue Jays fail or succeed this year. Do any of these names really pop out at you? Not really, so they will be the reason why the Jays lose a lot of games that Halladay and company keep them in. Losing Casey Janssen really hurts. [Evan's note: When Casey Janssen went down, the Blue Jays signed Armando Benitez. It is possible he makes the bullpen. I also think the bullpen could be pretty good, but this is Shawn's team profile, not mine.]
CP: B.J. Ryan (2007 stats: 12.46, 2.54, 3 SV)
If he stays healthy, he is arguably one of the better closers in the league. If the bullpen can get the game in a save opportunity to Ryan, he will more than likely close the door.
MGR: John Gibbons
May be an underrated manager with the likes of Terry Francona and former Yanks manager Joe Torre, but look for his stock to go up this season if the Blue Jays have a lot of success this year.
GM: J.P. Ricciardi
Arguably one of the most noticed GMs in the MLB, is good at what he does. Had two key off-season moves with Rolen and Eckstein and will make more moves near the deadline. Overshadowed by having Theo Epstein as the Red Sox GM in the same division.
Fire Brand‘s Favorite Move: It still is David Eckstein. Why? Because he plays incredible defense, brings this team some National League style play like moving over runners by way of the sacrifice so that the Blue Jays have more chances at scoring runs.
Fire Brand‘s Least Favorite Move: Not bulking up the pen. That bullpen does not seem reliable especially down the stretch. Look for this team to acquire more pitching before the trade deadline because that bullpen is weak, very weak, in my opinion.
Fire Brand‘s Prediction: Third place. I think that the Jays make a real push at second place but no one will contend with the Sox this year. I am not being a homer, but the Red Sox have all the components this season and to me these other teams still do not.

Categories: A.J. Burnett Aaron Hill Alex Rios Armando Benitez B.J. Ryan Brandon League Brian Tallet Brian Wolfe Casey Jannsen David Eckstein Dustin McGowan Frank Thomas Gregg Zaun J.P. Ricciardi Jason Frasor Jeremy Accardo Jesse Litsch John Gibbons John McDonald Lyle Overbay Marco Scutaro Matt Stairs Reed Johnson Rod Barajas Roy Halladay Scott Downs Scott Rolen Shaun Marcum Toronto Blue Jays Vernon Wells

16 Responses to “Know Thy Enemy: 2008 Toronto Blue Jays” Subscribe

  1. Daniel Rathman March 19, 2008 at 8:31 PM #

    I would've gone with the Glaus-for-Rolen swap as the Jays' best move of the winter. They're both injury prone, but at least the Jays got a defensive upgrade out of it. Eckstein was an OK addition, with Hill and Rolen surrounding him to make up for the "meh" defense, but I think the Jays got the better end of the 3B trade.

  2. jose March 19, 2008 at 8:41 PM #

    I believe you are way off on McGowan he has the best stuff on that staff…he may be the staff ace by 2010.

  3. Ryan K March 19, 2008 at 8:46 PM #

    On the offensive side, there were a lot of injuries last year that led to sub-par seasons – Wells' shoulder surgery, Johnson's back surgery and Overbay's broken hand and surgery to name just a few – I think those injuries led to some very unusual offensive numbers for this team. Look for them to bounce back this year.
    In the pen – how can we look at a pen that has ERAs of 2.14, 2.17, 2.98 and 3.47 (leaving out Janssen's 1.something and League's 11 innings) in regular work, that's getting BJ Ryan back and call it "weak, very weak".
    The Jays have some great pitching, and if McGowan, Marcum, Accardo and the likes can repeat their 2006 performances, the Jays have the best pitching in the AL.

  4. Moshe Mandel March 20, 2008 at 6:07 AM #

    I think Marcum is a fifth starter who had a nice year. McGowan, on the other hand, may take a leap to being an All Star caliber player this season. He is just plain nasty.

  5. Daniel Rathman March 20, 2008 at 6:27 AM #

    I agree with Moshe. Marcum hasn't impressed me all that much yet, but McGowan has the stuff to be dominant — possibly even to be an ace-caliber pitcher if he can get some more control.
    But other than that, I agree that this is a third-place team. A single key injury to a Sox or Yanks player can change that though, because I would argue that the Jays have the best pitching staff in the division going into the season.

  6. RollingWave March 20, 2008 at 6:34 AM #

    Marcum is a righty that avg 89mph on his FB. that's a #2 if he's 89mph moves like Gregg Maddux. and it doesn't.
    Jesse Litch is also in worrisome territory, he also throws pretty soft (91mph) and doesnt' whiff anyone ( Marcum at least whiff enough people thx to vast array of breaking stuff) there's some legitimate worries wether these two guys are for real. McGowan's stuff is very real. but his health trouble is pretty significant too. last year was his first healthy season in several years.
    Gregg Zuan is actually more of an offesnive catcher. he hit pretty well in 06 and wasn't bad in 07. his defensive game is truely awful. and he was named as a HGH user. that aside, he's basically a less impressive version of Jorge Posada (he's older than Jorge too!)
    Their problem is that they MIGHT be a good team if everyone stays healthy. but looking at that track record they might as well have Nomar and Pavano on their team and it wouldn't really hurt their chances of everyone staying healthy that much. Eckstien hasn't been healthy in a loooong time. (check out his games played) ditto Rolen, Wells had shoulder surgery last year. Johnson had back surgery (kiss of death) Overbay and Zuan were both hit by balls and had wrist operations. hell the only guys on their everyday lineup that look like a picture of health is Hill and Rios.
    and that's not even getting to the pitchign side. Ryan / Burnett / McGowan are all pretty big health risks. Halladay has a knack of missing time to strange accidents .

  7. Sean O March 20, 2008 at 6:34 AM #

    Sorry, Eckstein was the team's best offseason move? Good god, then the Jays won't be any good at all. At best he's average defensively, with absolutely no arm from short. He has a good OBP, but brings pretty much nothing else to the table (since it's all BA driven).
    I'll never understand why eckstein gets all the credit he does. Surely there are more worthy albino midgets out there to fawn over, right? Hell, look at Dustin, can we get him lionized like that?

  8. Jaredk March 20, 2008 at 9:28 AM #

    Not sure that Eckstein really gets that much credit from the people who count…he is on his third team and is only making a little over 4 mil as a starting short-stop. Agreed that fans generally get carried away with the whole scrappy non-sense, he is not particularly useful.
    I think if League can figure out how to get some people out at the MLB level and Ryan stays healthy (kind of similar to Hansen imo) their bullpen could be pretty good, even with the Janssen injury…Accardo will be one of the best set-up men in the game this year.

  9. Mike VT March 20, 2008 at 9:44 AM #

    Wow that is a stretch of an addition to the poll;
    Pick a player on our right.
    Barry LOL. You have to be kidding, I appreciate the humor seeing as how we are in an odd spot in our schedule.
    As long as it is a joke.

  10. Evan Brunell March 20, 2008 at 9:56 AM #

    Mike:
    My guess is Dave B left it and it's not a joke.

  11. Jaredk March 20, 2008 at 10:15 AM #

    Just an edit from post #7…meant League reminds me of Hansen…I wish I could say Ryan reminded me of Hansen.

  12. bjoh March 20, 2008 at 1:14 PM #

    Anyone who says this pitching staff is weak does not know what they're talking about.

  13. Mostly Running. March 20, 2008 at 6:17 PM #

    bjob-
    As soon as they put up the numbers, I will be a believer.

  14. Erik March 22, 2008 at 5:37 PM #

    Wow… takes alot for some of you to be impressed. How many times did Marcum take a no hitter past the 6th? 2 or 3 times? a shutout into the 7th? 5 or 6 times?

  15. Simon March 22, 2008 at 5:46 PM #

    I put very little stock into the opinion of anyone who uses "irregardless" in a team preview. You also show how little you know about the team by completely ignoring the addition of Shannon Stewart, referring to Overbay's 2007 without even a mention of the .312 average in 2006, and criticizing the bullpen for a lack of big-name guys.
    2002 Angels? 2005 White Sox? When referring to bullpen guys, "big-name" often translates into "recently had a career year likely never to repeat" (see: Koch, Billy; McDougal, Mike).
    This bullpen was terrific last year and while I think a number of guys have the potential to regress there's a solid chance they will be even better this year with the return of League and Ryan.

  16. bjoh March 24, 2008 at 3:11 PM #

    Mostly Running —
    I guess you're a believer because this staff put up the numbers last year. I can understand that you must have overlooked it though just like you overlooked my name. I suppose it's not the pitching staff