Ever heard of light disappearing back up a tunnel? That's what JP Ricciardi must have been experiencing this summer. Just when he had his squad make a major breakthrough and guzzump one of the lofty two in the AL East, the team he beat goes and spends a tonne of money on pitching, shores up its bull pen, becomes offensively better and generally sticks its two fingers up at the Canadians. With all due respect to Toronto, there's just no way they can overcome their two competitors for silver ware. They have money again after the shaving measures of recent years, but in a buy buy buy situation, they will lose literally every time.
Well as I see it the Blue Jays have some very good players offensively. They have the big slugger in Troy Glaus at third, the five tool centre fielder in Vernon Wells (who is probably one of the more underrated players in the league although not according to his contract haha), a solid catcher in Zaun and I really like the corner outfielders' potential. Alex Rios is a great hitter who is really developing power at a nice steady level. Could this be his breakout year? Reed Johnson is a solid if not spectacular left fielder and will contribute both with the long and shorter balls.
Lyle Overbay must also be exciting Bue Jays fans at first base as he continue his march towards being one of the better first basemen around, and he has the potential to be a he power hitter. He was truly a great pick up and he should really start to get the recognition he deserves this season.
Aaron Hill is a nice contact hitter and is the sort of guy who can make a difference either at the top or bottom of the line up. While he doesn't have fence traversing power, his speed can turn a lot of long singles into doubles with in the end is every bit as useful (although the Jays don't really tend to run). Finally at short stop Royce Clayton is slightly out of the mould of offensively minded number 6s that we normally expect from an AL side, but he is a very solid defender.
Well the rotation isn't very exciting. It contains a good one-two punch, enough to put a stop on any skid the team might find themselves on, but realistically it isn't good enough to compete. The biggest free agent farce in terms of pitching I can remember was the clubs queued up to sign Tomo Ohka. The Jays 'won' the war to vastly overpay a guy who has only ever once come even close to pitching 200 innings. Seriously I can't start to put into words how much I hated this signing for the Jays. They can't even try to ship him without eating a huge part of his contract when he goes down injured again (and while it's not something I wish on any player, it's just difficult to believe that he's healthy).
Well enough downside (until I get torn into Chacin in a minute!!), let's talk about Ray Halladay and AJ Burnett. Halladay is a true ace, stopper, go to guy, whatever you want to call him. I like his pitching a lot and I think he deserves the money that he's getting from the Jays. He should be good for 16-20 wins again as his ability merits and on a personal note for him, maybe a ticket to a contender at the deadline if the Jays are way out of the race. Burnett has yet to really prove (to me anyway) that he was worth the money the Jays invested in him. Yeah he's solid and reliable, but was he really the number free agent pitcher just one short year ago?? I'd really like to see him do well because I have a soft spot for that 2003 Marlins team, but I can't see it happening, nor can I see him sticking injury free.
Well in the pen lies BJ Ryan, a solid closer, ever reliable and a good pro. It seems a bit weird for me to be writing this piece evaluating a spate of recent FA signings for a team that isn't the Yankees, but Ryan has been worth the money. The rest of the bull pen is take it or leave it really with the only I really like being Jason Frasor. However maybe Pete can enlighten us further. I meant to keep this short because I knew Pete'd likely have a lot to say about his own team!! Oh well !!
Pete informs :
And finally :
Seems we agree about much in terms of the Jay's performance. I can't say I have much hope for this team, but one nevers knows! Respect the power of Moneyball and what JP can do with this team !!!