Toronto Blue Jays Preview “Building a Strong Nest”

The Toronto Blue Jays are coming off a disappointing 2012 campaign. Their season diminished rather quickly when Jose Bautista broke his wrist and the pitching staff suffered several Key injuries. This off season,General Manager Alex Anthopolous decided to go for it and try and win now. He had accumulated several high end prospects that weren’t going to be ready for the majors in 2013, and acted swiftly with the 2 National League East teams in the Miami Marlins and turned some of those prospects into major league ready players. They were able to acquire Jose Reyes, RA Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Josh Thole, along with some others. They improved their team enormously without losing much big League talent off their current roster. Now, the Blue Jays look like one of the best teams in the American League, a position they haven’t been in for 20 years. Not since the Championship teams of the early 90/s have Blue Jay fans had the reason to be this optimistic.

Emerging Rookies
Anthony Gose flew through his rookie eligibility last season, but could be a solid fourth outfielder for Toronto in 2013 if something happens to Rajai Davis. Marcus Stroman, Toronto’s first round pick in the 2012 draft, is fresh off his 50 game PED Ban and could be a factor later in the year if he continues to progress. Aside from those two guys we don’t expect to see a new young stud on the block in Toronto for 2013.

Injury Bug?
None of Toronto’s Tommy John trio, Kyle Drabek, Luis Perez, and Drew Hutchison, will likely be ready to pitch in 2013. Dustin McGowan is likely out of the picture for this season after yet another big shoulder surgery. David Cooper had back surgery and could be out long term. Focusing on the major league roster as it currently stands, Santos was no factor last year, but appears to ready to roll this season after shoulder surgery last summer. Josh Johnson always has a nagging injury that prohibits him from making 35 to 40 starts, so his health is something that definitely bears watching. Many have also have concern on Jose Reyes’ health while playing on turf in the Rogers Centre, and how well his Knees will hold up on this non forgiving surface, which could put a big question mark on the left side of what appears to be a strong infield. There also needs to be some focus on Bautista’s wrist, which curtailed the whole season and at a juncture where the Slugging super star was putting it all together.

64 million $$ Question:
What makes the 2013 Blue Jays different from the 2012 Marlins? This one doesn’t seem to be as tough to answer as it appears. The Blue Jays are building to win now but also have a general manager that wont consider a fire sale, should his team fall 10 games below .500. Toronto doesn’t not have the attendance issues from year to year that a Miami team has. Toronto, while acting swiftly didn’t just throw a whole bunch of money around. They acquired solid pieces and have what appears to be a very astute plan. After Making the deal with the Mets and getting Knuckle ball specialist R.A. Dickey, Toronto immediately imagined some of the success that one of their solid hard throwing left handers, Ricky Romero, might have while pitching after opposing hitters have seen the knuckler from Dickey the day before. Perhaps the same Success Mets manager Terry Collins saw Johan Santana have while starting after Dickey. Santana had vastly improved numbers in that situation. Toronto Lefty Mark Buehrle, also acquired from the Marlins also may also benefit from this situation. Toronto top to bottom has one of the deepest starting rotations in the Majors with Johnson, Dickey, Buehrle, Romero and an improving Morrow. While their bullpen may not be the deepest they should not be overworked like other rivals Pens may be. The Toronto starters are built strong enough to go well into the later parts of the game and could preserve the Bullpen causing them to become more effective. Toronto will also be very good defensively with the bat and glove of Melky Cabrera. The Jays should be just as potent on offense as they were last season and perhaps even better,

Position Wars:
Most of the Blue Jays position battles are in the bench and bullpen. Veteran Henry Blanco has the edge on Thole for the backup catcher job. Mark DeRosa appears to be winning a job on the bench, though it may be too early to tell if he will be with the club the whole season. Moises Sierra or Lars Anderson could add some power to Toronto’s bench. A strong spring from Gose could push the Blue Jays to trade Davis and open a spot up for the youngster, but they may feel its wiser for him play every day in AAA Buffalo. It appears they have three bullpen spots are that locked up right now: Casey Janssen, Steve Delabar, and Darren Oliver. If Sergio Santos can stay injury free, he would also obtain a spot. The other spots will be up for grabs between Brett Cecil, JA Happ, Rogers, Jeffress, Schwimer, Aaron Loup, and Brad Lincoln, though Lincoln and Happ are excellent candidates to be stretched out to start in case of an injury in the rotation.

Glass Half Full:
A World Championship. Toronto has all of the right pieces on their roster to not only contend, but to win this year. The American League East is perhaps the deepest in the Major Leagues this season. However this is the first year in a long while where The Yankees do not appear to be a shoe in for the playoffs and other teams have appeared to bridge the talent gap. Toronto will have challenges from a Solid Tampa team, A Yankees team that may not put their best foot forward until later in the Year, a Baltimore team that won over 90 games last season and a Boston team that has better Pitching than they get credit for. In the End though Toronto should have a Big say in this division this year, and could go all the way should they make a smart acquisition or two at the trade deadline.

Glass Half Empty:
2012 Marlins all over again. We all saw what happened in Miami last season. Heightened expectations, and a precipitous drop into the basement of the NL East. Imagine that happening all over again in Toronto. While the General consensus is that it wont happen, should the Jays get the dreaded injury bug and fall out of contention it will have many general managers leery of these type of big moves and roster overhauls.

Realistic Expectation:
This Blue Jays team is much different from the Marlins last year. The Blue Jays already had a decent core in place, and the players they added will build upon that core. Compare that to the Marlins, who essentially tried to rebuild their team around their new players, and fell flat on their faces. The Blue Jays should be a solid team through out and should be right there in the thick of things the entire season.

In Closing I hope you enjoyed the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays Team preview and wish all of you the best this upcoming Season.

Be sure Check out my home page for free daily picks as well as the Monday night sports talk radio show at 7:05 eastern. Listen Online at 88.9 wsia.fm at the aforementioned time, for additional free selections. In 2012 we finished the #1 MLB service at many of the other Popular sports networks using our Cutting Edge MLB Diamond cutter systems which have produced winning results in 4 of the last 5 seasons overall

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