|2008 Toronto Blue Jays Preview||| Print ||
Written by Nicholas Kramer (Contact & Archive) on March 18, 2008
2007 Record: 83-79, 3rd Place in AL East
Into the Blue Nest
Flew the Coop
The Skinny: In 2007 Toronto did what they are good at: just being another team in the AL East. With a winning percentage of .512 and still being a thorn in the side of the Yankees and Red Sox, Toronto took a small tumble from the '06 season. They had a team that could have been competitive, but the injury bug bit and bit hard. This year could be better, possibly a season in contention for the wild card.
Strengths: BJ Ryan appears to be healthy and is trying to cement himself back in to the closer role. David Eckstein, although getting older, is still a defensive wizard and will bring his hitting friendly bat with him. Another big strength is Scott Rolen. Rolen was picked up for Troy Glaus from St. Louis in a trade that swapped two injury prone/big contract players. Rolen looks very good this spring training and the Blue Jays will need him to stay hot through the season if they wish to be competitive in the AL East.
Alex Rios gives Toronto an outfielder that’s good on offense and defense and brings hope that he will have a terrific year and re-sign long-term. Toronto’s starting pitching will also need to be hot. Roy Halladay and AJ Burnett will need to show that they can lead the staff through the season if they wish to be in the post season. Burnett will need to be healthy and management will need to protect his arm.
Weakness: Vernon Wells. Most would think that he is not a weakness but after a lackluster 2007, what can you say about him that is positive? He looked more like Richie Sexson more than the Wells everyone seemed to know. He has to make a comeback and show that he is still able to be productive in a way that can help the Jays in 08.
1. SS David Eckstein
Keys to Success: Boston, Tampa and New York will have to severely underachieve in a way that can propel Toronto to contention. It is possible thanks to early injuries and inexperience that is plaguing Boston, Tampa and New York. Toronto has to also keep healthy with little or no injuries during the season.
Prediction: Toronto can be like the Seattle Mariners of '07. No one is expecting them to do much because of their past. Their individual players’ experience could lead to success. They have several veterans that have played in pressure situations and their young guys seem to be able to handle pressure well. It will not take career years for the Blue Jays to win the East, but a lack of production from other teams in their division.