Adam Lind can kill a fastball. The problem with that is pitchers can adjust, and they did. If Lind, who will see time at DH and in the OF (and potentially first base if Overbay is dealt at any time this season), can adjust to the offspeed stuff, he has the ability to be an above average Major League hitter.
SP ROY HALLADAY | JESSE LITSCH | DAVID PURCEY | RICKEY ROMERO | SCOTT RICHMOND
Last year, the Jays redeeming strength was their starting pitching. Led by the throwback workhorse Roy Halladay, the Blue Jays rotation finished the season with the best starting pitching team ERA (3.72) while amassing the most innings pitched (1021.2) and the second lowest batting average against (.250).
Starting pitching should be a strength again in 2009 right? Wrong. It’s nothing but a question mark. As of today, a week before Opening Day, they still haven’t locked down their rotation. What happened to cause such a steep fall?
Out: #2 AJ Burnett (FA), #3 Shaun Marcum (injury), #4 Dustin McGowan (injury)
In: Matt Clement, Mike Maroth (both cut this spring)
The Jays will be strong as ever at the top with Halladay and can match aces with anyone. Even with the potential of Litsch and Purcey, it’s hard to bank of either as the #2 and #3 pitchers in your rotation at this point in their careers. They could easily be attractive options as a #4/#5 tail end. But a division with experienced and talented lineups across the board, I wouldn’t expect the Jays rotation to carry the team as they did a year ago.
WHO HAS THE EDGE: When you take away your #2, #3, #4 starters from the season prior, you are automatically behind the eight ball. Outside of the horse at the top, the Jays don’t match up well against the Red Sox at any slot in the rotation.
RP SCOTT DOWNS | BRIAN TALLET | JESSE CARLSON | JASON FRASOR | BRANDON LEAGUE | JEREMY ACCARDO
Stacked with left handed pitching, the Blue Jays bullpen is always tough to break. With much of the cast of characters from last season returning this season, it’s reasonable to expect the same result. How good were Jays relievers last year? Best in baseball sound good enough? The Jays bullpen was the only in baseball to post a collective ERA under 3.00 (2.94) and held batters to a .226 batting average. Of course, when you are relied on for less innings than any other bullpen in baseball, it does tend to mask any potential holes. But this pen is both deep and talented.
WHO HAS THE EDGE: Push. The Jays pen is deep, talented, and proven. This might be the strongest part of their team this season. While the Red Sox have the consensus best pen in baseball heading into the season, don’t sleep on this deep group of Jays relievers.
CL BJ RYAN
While Ryan is finally back to full strength after Tommy John surgery knocked out his 2007 campaign, he has struggled to find consistency in his delivery this spring. His struggles have progressed to the point that Cito Gaston has openly discussed turning to Scott Downs in the regular season should Ryan’s struggles continue into April. If Ryan can right the ship, he can be one of the best closers in baseball. But this situation bears watching as the Jays can’t afford to give any games back this season if they are to compete.
WHO HAS THE EDGE: Papelbon. Even when healthy and at the top of their game, who would you have rather had on the mound in the ninth?
CONCLUSION: League average or below across the board at nearly every position, too much reliance on youth, high turnover in the rotation, health question marks from your closer. This doesn’t look like it will be the Jays’ year to compete in the toughest division in baseball.