That’s it, I am jumping on the bandwagon. I am buying in to the new look Blue Jays…. I think. Just one thing is holding me back, really.
Offseason Additions: SS Jose Reyes, 2B Emilio Bonifacio, SP Josh Johnson, SP Mark Buehrle, SP RA Dickey, OF Melky Cabrera, INF Maicier Izturis, UTIL Mark Derosa, RP Michael Schwimer, RP Esmil Rogers, and RP Jeremy Jeffress.
Departures: 2B Kelly Johnson, SS Yunel Escobar, C John Buck, RP Jason Frasor, RP Carlos Villanueva, RP Brandon Lyon, and SP Henderson Alvarez.
The Blue Jays biggest weakness last year has morphed into possibly their biggest strength. After ranking 22nd or worse in practically every single pitching category (ERA, WHIP, Quality starts, BAA, etc) last year, the Blue Jays decided to address the problem to an extreme extent. The Blue Jays traded for NL CY Young award winner R.A. Dickey, workhorse Mark Buehrle (200 Innings every year since 2001), and—when healthy—an extremely talented Josh Johnson.
Just to show the improvement over last year’s staff, Ricky Romero, who started opening day on 2012, is #5 on the depth chart. If this staff stays healthy and lives up to expectations, the Blue will be plenty to celebrate this year.
I know Casey Janssen had a solid year last year in his first season as a closer, but it was a small sample size comparatively speaking. With the Blue Jays much improved starting pitching, the save opportunities should be much higher than the 25 chances Janssen had in 2012. I need to see that Janssen can handle a full season workload before I can buy him as a playoff caliber closer. Also, no one knows what the Jays will get from Sergio Santos, and while Steve Delabar was decent last year, he is also unproven.
Another weakness—although much smaller—is last year the Blue Jays ranked 23rd and 25th respectively in Batting Average and OBP. The addition of Jose Reyes at the top should help though.
Pitching wins championships and on paper the Blue Jays have the best starting pitching in the AL East. As long as the bullpen can be serviceable, the offense will be able to score in bunches and the starting rotation has the potential to be something special. However, the question marks with the bullpen are keeping me from picking them to win the division just yet. I want to though… Get back to me in a few weeks after I talk myself into it.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson