Toronto Blue Jays
2009: Fourth place, 75-87
Key additions: C John Buck, RHP Brandon Morrow, SS Alex Gonzalez, RHP Merkin Valdez, 3B/1B Brett Wallace
Key losses: RHP Roy Halladay, SS Marco Scutaro, RHP Brandon League, C Rod Barajas
• The additions and losses pretty much speak for themselves. The players acquired in the Halladay trade will probably open the season in the minors, but I did include Wallace in this list because he spent most of last season in Triple-A. I’ve always (perhaps foolishly) liked League, but the Blue Jays swapped him for another hard-thrower in Morrow, who could work out of the rotation (something League could not have done).
Youth on the way: The two keys to the Halladay deal are Wallace and right-hander Kyle Drabeck. If they don’t open in Toronto, those two will open in Triple-A and could push for big league spots by the end of the year. The Blue Jays also have right-handers Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke (both from last year’s Scott Rolen trade) knocking on the door, with Roenicke likely to open in the big league bullpen. Catcher JP Arencibia hit 21 home runs in Triple-A last year.
Experience on the slide: Lyle Overbay is entering his mid-30s, but he seems to be holding steady as a solid offensive first baseman. He’s not leading the league in doubles any more, but he’s still productive. For the most part, the Blue Jays have shed most of their veterans in favor of a youth movement.
Possible upgrades: Getting Dustin McGowan healthy might be a good start toward helping the Toronto rotation. The Blue Jays are also reported to be one of the teams that watched Ben Sheets throw this week. I don’t remember Toronto being linked to any specific outfielders, but there is certainly room to upgrade there, and there are plenty of options on the market.
• The term “rebulding” seems a bit misleading in this case. The Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993 and haven’t finished higher than third place since. Let’s just say they’re building, and they’ve been building for the better part of two decades.
Better than the Yankees: LF Travis Snider and DH Adam Lind absolutely crushed minor league pitching. Lind had his breakout big league season last year, and Snider’s could be coming this year. 2B Aaron Hill deserved the Silver Slugger last season, but I don’t think you’d take him over Robinson Cano. They do have the Garfoose, which has to count for something.
Worse than the Yankees: In almost every way. Without Halladay, the Blue Jays might not even be as good as they were last year. And that wasn’t especially good.
Yankees connections: Quick! Which team currently has LHP Sean Henn on its roster? You guessed it, the Blue Jays.
• I’m sure the Yankees would love to have Lind, there’s a lot of upside to Snider/Wallace/Drabeck and Ricky Romero won 13 games as a rookie. Ultimately, though, there’s no way you’d swap organizations.
Prediction: Fifth place. The Orioles seem to have more talent right now. Hard to imagine any way the Blue Jays contend this season.