There is some talk around Toronto, that we may not actually cut payroll, but add by adding some more bats. In this blog, I will address each position for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Last year, the Jays starting catcher was Rod Barajas, who had some pop, and hit 15 out of the ball park, and added 71 rbi, which is good was good for 5th in the AL among catchers. But, he only batted .226, and had a very low .258 OBP, to go with a low .661 OPS. Barajas also only threw out .338% of baserunners, and surrendered 53 stolen bases. I feel the best option for the Toronto Blue Jays behind the plate is to give the job to JP Arencibia. Arencibia is a top Blue Jay prospect, who was drafted 21st overall in 2007 and played AAA baseball in Vegas last year. In Vegas, he hit 21 homeruns, with 75 rbi and a .728 OPS. He also threw out 25% of baserunners. He is still young at the age of 23, and he may not be an upgrade next season, but he is the future behind the plate, and he should be ready to take over. The Jays will also save $2.5 million.
Last year the Jays first baseman for 132 games was Lyle Overbay. He had an okay season, batting .265 with 16 homeruns and 64 rbi, with a .372 OBP, .838 OPS, and a 122 OPS+. Overbay will be 33 next season, and isn't the same player he once was, when he hit 92 rbi in his first year in Toronto, or when he was double champ in '04, but he is still a solid first baseman, and an excellent fielder. With that being said, I think the Jays should move him, for either a relief pitcher or mid-level prospect. I believe there is a pretty good market for Overbay, and there is plenty of fits, like the Mets. With that move, the Jays will save around $9 million, and then I say the Jays bring back in my opinion the greatest Toronto Blue Jay ever, Carlos Delgado. I believe that the Jays should offer either a one year $7 million deal, or a two year $12 million deal. Delgado only played 26 games last season, and hit 4 homeruns and 23 rbi in those 26 games. The year before, Delgado almost won MVP with his 38 homeruns and 115 rbi. I believe Delgado still has something left in the tank, and he is a fan favourite, and will be loved once again where he belongs.
This one is kinda obvious, the Jays will be bringing back Sliver Slugger, All-Star second baseman Aarron Hill. Hill has great power and an improving average. Hill is also a great fielder, with a great range, he could win a Gold Glove in the future. He should be the staple of the Blue Jays middle infield for a long time to come, as he is the greatest Blue Jay second baseman since Robbie Alomar. The Jays are hoping he can repeat his 36 homerun, 108 rbi season.
Last year the Jays had Scott Rolen, who had great year, before he was dealt to the Reds, and in return the Jays got Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion is only 26, and has had some good years behind him, but he really struggled last year. Encarnacion really struggled to make contact, and striked a ton with a low average. But, over the end of last season he started to play a little better, as in October and September he hit 7 of his 13 homeruns and 13 of his 29 rbi, while batting .274 and having an OBP well over .350. Encarnacion will be the starting 3rd baseman come next season, and the Jays hope he can return to his 25 homerun, 75+ rbi, and .275 batting average numbers.
The Blue Jays got a great year out of Marco Scutaro last season as a leadoff hitter, and anyone that comes to Toronto to play SS will have to bat leadoff. Ideally, the Jays would love to bring in someone like Figgins, or Hudson and move Hill to SS, but that isn't going to happen. The best option for the Jays is to bring back Marco Scutaro. Scutaro had a career year, with 12 homeruns, 60 rbi, and batted .282 with a terrific .379 OBP, as he drew 90 walks from the #1 hole. Scutaro is probably looking for a 3 year $15 million deal, which is a $4 million raise per year from last season, but the money will be well spent, as Scutaro plays the game the right way.
Many people played LF for the Jays last season, from Travis Snider, to Adam Lind, to Jose Bautista, but the Jays need a consistent LF, and that is where Canadian Jason Bay comes in. Jason Bay has said he would love to play in Toronto, in his native country, and he is the best option for the Jays. The Jays are going to have to cash up if they want Bay to come to Toronto, any where from 4 years $60 million to 5 years $85 million. But, every dollar will be well spent for the Trial B.C. native. Bay hit 36 homeruns and knocked in 119 runs. Bay does have some problems in his game, as he isn't the greatest fielder, and he does strikeout a lot, and he did have one of his lowest career averages last season, but sometimes you have to take the bad with the good. Bay will instantly become a fan favourite, and jersey sales will spike with his signing, I think this will be a great signing.
Really, there is only one option for the Jays here, and that is the very expensive Vernon Wells. Wells had a terrible season with only 16 homeruns and 66 rbi while batting .260, and at the Roger Centre, he only hit .214, compared to his .300 road average. His worst stat may be this, with no one on, he batted .288, with 10 homeruns of his 16 homeruns, while with runners on he only batted .230, and with runners in scoring position he batted .205! The Jays are desperately praying that he can return to his old form. Just two season ago, he only played 108 games but batted .300 with 20 homeruns and 78 rbi. The Jays are hoping he can get back to his old form and bat around .280 with 30 homeruns and 100 rbi. Vernon Wells may have a great bounce back season, or he can continue to play crap.
The Jays right field position is going to go to the very young (21 years old), yet very talented Travis Snider. He is by far Toronto's young player, and has a ton of pop in his bat. Snider has been a streaky hitter in his career, and when he is hot can hit .350, but when he is cold bats below .100, but over the span of the year, he will probably bat .250, but he may have a breakout season and bat much better. Travis Snider also has a ton of power and is a future big homerun hitter, but next season expect him to just hit around 20 homeruns, but he has a very bright future in front of him.
Adam Lind is most likely going to bat DH next year, but he may play some LF. There has been rumors about the Jays moving Lind to first base, but that rumor has been denied by the Jays severall times. At the age of 26, Adam Lind batted .305 with a .370 OBP, with 35 homeruns, and 114 rbi. Lind with Snider and Hill make up the young core of this team moving forward, and it is a bright future.
#1- Roy "Doc" Halladay, I'm 100% against trading the Doc, as he is the best pitcher in baseball and you wont be able to get another Halladay if you trade him.
#2- I believe the Blue Jays should target one of two Canadian stud starting pitchers, that have had a ton of injury problems in their career, either Rich Harden or Erik Bedard. But, I believe the Jays should get the lefty of the two, Erik Bedard. Bedard had a 2.85 ERA last season in 15 games, before getting injured, again. He has a career 3.71 ERA, and has great stuff, especially his curveball, if he stays healthy, a Halladay-Bedard one-two punch may be the best in baseball.
#3- This spot is going to Shaun Marcum. Marcum missed all of this past season. Marcum is still young at the age of 27, and in 2008 he had a 3.39 ERA in 25 starts, while going 9-7. But like I said, he missed all of last year because of Tommy John surgery. But, he is now healthy, and has been working out since November, and should be more than 100% coming spring training.
#4- Ricky Romero, last season was a ROY candidate for most of last season before falling apart near the end of last season. He finished 13-9 last season with a 4.30 ERA. Ricky should be able to pace himself this upcoming season, knowing what it takes to play a full season, and he should put together a solid year from start to finish. Also a southpaw.
#5- Marc Rzepczynski, the number 5 spot is wide open, with many young pitchers hoping to earn the #5 spot to start this year, including Scott Richmond, Brett Cecil, David Purcey, Robert Ray and Brad Mills. I like Rzepczynski for the #5 spot, even though he only started 11 games last season, and finished 2-4, but he did post a solid 3.67 ERA, and showed he had some good stuff, against some good teams, including the Yankees, Red Soxs, Rays, Rangers, and Angels. He too is still young, and is only 24. Another lefty too.
The Jays also have two young stud pitchers that would crack the top 5 if not for injuries. First is Dustin McGowan who has great stuff, and is 27. McGowan missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery, and will be out until at least the All-Star break, but rumors say his career may be over. In 2008, McGowan had a 4.37 ERA, and went 6-7, but boy does he ever have good stuff. Another stud young pitcher is Jesse Litsch, who will be 25 years old in May. Litsch who had Tommy John surgery last season year around the half way point, and will be out until the half way point of this season. Litsch got injured in his second start last season, but didn't have surgery until the half way point. In 2008, Litsch posted a 3.58 ERA and went 13-9. Once these two come back, the Jays will have a really good rotation, and it will be crowded, but these two were part of the starting rotation two seasons ago, when the Blue Jays had the league best ERA, and the most quality starts.
The Jays have a solid bullpen, and here will be the main guys.
RHP- Jeremey Accardo
LHP- Jesse Carlson
LHP- Scott Downs (Closer)
RHP- Jason Frasor
LHP- Brain Tallet
RHP- Josh Roenicke
RHP- Brandon League
Jose Bautista- Bautista has a great arm, and a solid bat. Bautista can play LF, RF, CF, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st. He bats right.
Joe Inglett- Nothing great here, can come in to pinch run, and can bat for a solid average. He can play 2B, LF, CF, RF, SS, and 3rd. He bats left.
Randy Ruiz- Basically a big man, that can backup Lind as DH, but can also play 1B.. He has been a career minor league all-star and has many minor league records. When he was called up late last season, he played great, in 33 games had 10 homeruns, and 17 rbi, with a .313 batting average and a 1.019 OPS. He is a righty.
Eric Hinske- Currently a free agent, and can play any of the corner positions. Hinske has solid power, and can bat for an okay average, and better speed than most think.
Opening Day Lineup
SS- Marco Scutaro
2B- Aaron Hill
DH- Adam Lind
LF- Jason Bay
1B- Carlos Delgado
CF- Vernon Wells
3B- Edwin Encarnacion
RF- Travis Snider
C- JP Arencibia
This lineup is a solid lineup, from top to bottom, with a good mix of young kids, and veteran leaders. If everyone lives up to expections, this team could compete in the very tough AL East. Most people believe the Aaron Hill will bat 3rd or 4th, but I have him batting 2nd because the Jays really don't have anyone else to bat in that position, while they would have Bay, Lind and others to bat in the cleanup spot.
The Jays payroll is heading into next season with this lineup would be a similar payroll as it was heading into last season, as you are just simply replacing Rios' big deal with Bay, and Overbay with Delgado. Plus you save extra cash with no Rolen and Barajas. Besides, if you want to make money and get fans, you need to win, and to win you got to cash up. This city loves baseball, but we like to watch good baseball. From 1977-1995 you couldn't find an empty seat at a Jay game, whether it be in the middle of the snow storm at old Exhibition Stadium in the late 70's to early 80's or at the Sky Dome, when every single game had 55,000 people, sold out from the time of its creation to the mid-late 90's. The city of Toronto just wants a good team, just look at the World Baseball classic this past year in Toronto, every game was sold out. For the Jays to get back to those great 55,000 crowds, they have to be good, and cash up. This wouldn't even be much more of a higher payroll, in fact it is lower than it was to start the season last season. So if I was GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, this is what the team would look like.