I’ve got a few predictions and thoughts as we get ourselves prepped for the season and hopefully some meaningful baseball in September.
The 6 Players Who Matter Most This Season!
Jose Bautista: There’s no doubt that Jose is the face of the franchise, the best home run hitter in the big leagues right now, a bargain at twice the price of his current contract and the most important player on the team.
If the Blue Jays are going to have a good year they need Mr. Bautista to keep his On Base up, his power numbers consistent and his cannon of an arm on target.
Note: I would not be surprised by another top 3 MVP voting type season.
Brett Lawrie: This kid is the biggest star on the team… well he could be. And he probably will be. After a short, but wicked, rookie season all signs point to Lawrie continuing to attack the ball with conviction and play the game with a passion that we wish all professionals showed.
I made a prediction that Brett Lawrie would be voted into the All-Star game, so that campaign should probably start now. Let’s use a #Vote4Brett hashtag every time he has a great game or gives a high five that looks like it could have broken someone’s hand.
Colby Rasmus: This guy is a huge wildcard. Ask around, everyone that isn’t in the Blue Jays organization will tell you that. He’s got 5 tools and a ton of potential but the worry is that he’s kinda like Nuke LaLoosh with his “million dollar arm and a 5-cent head”.
If it’s true that he feels more comfortable in Toronto and is ready to achieve his all-star potential than he can be a HUGE part of this season. I’m looking for 28 home runs, 87 rbi and 20+ stolen bases.
Ricky Romero: The former 1st round pick is the current ace of the staff. He will start opening day and he will go head-to-head with the best pitchers in the American League. His focus should be sharper and his command should be better and his numbers should be even better than the 225 inning, 15 win, 2011 season.
I’m looking for Ricky to continue to be a leader of the young starting staff, but also to listen and learn from veteran guys like Darren Oliver. It’s a lot of responsibility to put on a dude in this 4th season, but he’s gotta take it on.
Brandon Morrow: I know that I just said Ricky Romero was the ace of the starting staff. But Brandon Morrow is arguably much more important. Without a powerful and potent 1-2 punch in the rotation there isn’t a chance in hell that the Blue Jays do anything worth talking about in the AL East.
The first need is for Morrow to hit the 200 inning mark. He needs to stay healthy and consistent on the mound and help Ricky lead this young rotation to the next level of results. If he can, good things can and will happen.
Sergio Santos: Dude was once a minor league shortstop in the Blue Jays system and now it will be his job to close games out from the back end of the bullpen. Last year the Jays were awful when it came to saves. I know that injuries were a big part of that… but it doesn’t matter. They need to be better now and Santos is the man who has been brought in to make that happen.
Last year Sergio saved 30 of his 36 chances which is pretty alright. Last year the Blue Jays bullpen blew 43 percent of their save opportunities, that was an AL worst stat… one that the team can not afford to repeat. Not winning 25 games that you had a chance to win is not going to cut it and Santos has been brought in to make sure that doesn’t happen again in 2012!
Potential Trade Bait!
Eric Thames/ Travis Snider: One of them has to go. It makes sense. In fact, it is probably the only way to avoid some really complicated shit. Thames will be starting the year with the big club and Snider will be starting his in Las Vegas which could mean one of two things. 1) Travis is getting moved and will get his shot at a fresh start and a great career. 2) Thames is being showcased early and could be on the go.
Personally, I think it’s time to see Travis moved. His ceiling is higher which means his value is higher and the risk of him becoming disillusioned with the franchise and the head office.
Kyle Drabek: Kyle has a chance to make an impact this season. He can turn things around and show that he deserved all the hype before the Doc trade. And if he does than I would trade him. He’s young and talented but maybe a little flakey and if we can get an experienced starter to add to the front-end of the rotation and make us more of a contender in the stacked AL East than I say do it.
I think a package of Drabek and Snider is probably the best chance to AA to swing an impact deal. I’ve heard that Joe Blanton could be available.
JP Arencibia: Please don’t send too much hate mail. I’m saying this for the good of the team. For the good of the future and such. His 23 home runs last year were awesome. His catching has improved. And his smile is worth a million dollars. But all signs point to Travis D’Arnaud being the real diamond in the catching system and he could be ready as early as this summer. So if JP can be moved for a purpose, it may be right to do it.
I know that it wouldn’t be a popular decision and I know that the ladies of Toronto would cry. A lot. And the boys at Lou Dawgs would miss his business. But it might actually be for the best.
I already predicted that the Blue Jays would finish the season with 87 wins and 75 losses. And I also predicted that it will be 3 fewer wins than they need to snag the 2nd wildcard spot in the AL.
I think that we’re going to see more consistency from the back-end of the bullpen and the front end of the rotation but I don’t know about the 3-5 starters or middle relief. I think that the offense will continue to score a lot of runs and people will be talking about the Blue Jays when baseball matters in the fall…
And maybe in 2013 we’ll be talking about the play-offs in Toronto.
I’m gonna enjoy the heck out of this season, here’s hoping that you do too!