Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter wrote a preview of his team for us.
What's happened with the Jays this off-season? Well, I know this is going to come as a surprise to you, but the Jays traded Roy Halladay. Yeah, I know, they did it without it getting out to the media at all. That's why you have to follow us bloggers to get the real news. Trading Doc was the start of rebuilding the team. We got 3 good prospects for him: pitcher Kyle Drabek, who the Jays wanted for Roy at the trade deadline, catcher Travis d'Arnaud and right fielder Michael Taylor. Taylor they shipped off to Oakland for Brett Wallace a power hitting 1B type. None of the three are expected to make the team out of spring training.
What else have the Jays done? We shipped reliever Brandon League and an outfield prospect to Seattle for Brandon Morrow who is expected to start for the Jays. We allowed a couple of free agents to leave. The Red Sox got Marco Scutaro with we signed their shortstop from the end of last year, Alex Gonzalez. The Red Sox got the better half of that deal. We also let Rod Barajas leave, the Mets finally signed him (you think the .265 OBP has anything to do with his lack of suitors) and signed John Buck to catch, exchanging one low average, mid-range power catcher for another.
Offensively not much else has changed. Lyle Overbay is still at first, Aaron Hill at second, Edwin Encarnacion will play third, if his wrist gets better, he hasn't played yet this spring because of a sore wrist after surgery this off-season. Some combination of Adam Lind, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista (unless he ends up playing third if Encarnacion is out) and September sensation Randy Ruiz will play outfield and DH.
Pitching? We seem to be collecting as many arms as possibly. We have 27 pitchers on the 40-man roster, at the moment. The rotation? Likely Shawn Marcum (back from missing last year after Tommy John surgery), Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski and probably Brian Tallet. Waiting in the background are Dustin McGowan, Brett Cecil, Dana Eveland, and a dozen or so other guys.
The pen? For reasons that escape me we recently signed Kevin Gregg. He will battle Scott Downs and Jason Frasor for the closer role. The rest of the pen will be made up of Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson, Shawn Camp, Josh Roenicke, Merkin Valdez, Casey Janssen and Zechry Zinicola. Actually, if you can spell fastball the Jays will try you out for the bullpen staff.
Our biggest change is we fired fan punching bag, GM JP Riccardi and promoted Alex Anthopoulos to take his place. Alex is young and has a very different style to JP. He has doubled our number of scouts and wants to improve the Jays from the minors on up. We will see how successful he is over the next few years.
Most ‘experts' figure we'll be battling with the Orioles for last place in the East and they are likely right. But that doesn't mean we won't have anything to cheer about. Lind and Hill had breakout seasons last year. Travis Snider will look to show that we were right to have him at the top of our prospects list. Vernon Wells should bounce back some after having wrist surgery in the off-season. We have a lot of good young pitchers that will be fun to watch. And we have some really good looking prospects that could make the team in 2011. So the future looks good even if 2010 looks like it will be less than fun.
Unfortunately for Toronto fans, the team looks destined for last place. The loss of Halladay is huge, and the improving Orioles may finally surpass them in the standings (for the first time since 2004).