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.