It's hard to be excited for Toronto Blue Jays baseball right now and it's not just because they play in Canada.
And it's not because the mascot looks like a ninja turtle.
After watching the Tampa Bay Rays overcome daunting odds to win the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays must feel like anyone can do it now.
The Blue Jays are quite certainly in a messy situation playing in the toughest division in baseball and they that won't make a surprise playoff appearance likely.
By all means 86 wins in 2008 was a success but in this division it only gets you a distance fourth place finish and that doesn't change this season.
Overall, Toronto is a well-rounded team that would likely be in contention for an AL Central or AL West title if they played in either division. But in the star studded AL East, there simply aren't enough bullets in the chamber to make a legit run toward the playoffs despite having manager Cito Gaston, he of two World Series rings with the Blue Jays.
For the most part last season, it was the pitching that carried Toronto, from the bullpen to the rotation.
The bad news is that three of those five starters are gone.
Young guns Dustin McGowan and Shawn Marcum are expected to miss most, if not all of the 2009 season with injury while A.J. Burnett took the big bucks from the New York Yankees.
The good news is that All-World ace Roy Halladay is still there and brings a rubber arm and 16-plus wins to the table each season.
Behind Halladay are a couple of up and coming pitchers headlined by Jesse Litsch who went 13-9 with an ERA of 3.58.
Most of the rotation features relative unknowns but Casey Janssen's shift from the bullpen should help matters after he put up a 2.35 ERA setting up for closer B.J. Ryan.
While there is some hope in Toronto there simply isn't enough proven talent anywhere to think they can topple the big three this season.
The lineup is defensive oriented and outside of the two near-rookies (Adam Lind and Travis Snider) no one seems capable of driving in 100-plus runs. As a matter of fact even the known quantities, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells came up short in terms of duplicating their regular season standard production.
Honestly, what probably makes the most sense is trading Halladay at the deadline for a beavy of prospects.
He's on the wrong side of 30-years-old and the Blue Jays need to add more young talent at just about every position if they are going to overtake any of the top-tier AL East teams in years to come.
It seems quite likely that the best and worst care scenario for Toronto is the same.
- Tuesday, February 24, 2009
- Posted by M.J. Hartwig at 11:54 AM