The Jays are a rebuilding franchise with no hope of competing in 2010.Â What they can hope to do is avoid finishing in last place and play some competitive games while waiting for some of their minor league talent to grow up to compliment Adam Lind and Aaron Hill.
2009 Regular Season Record: 75-87
Rank: Third AL East, last in the AL - 19.0 Games Back
Home Park: Rogers Centre
Getting Some Northern Exposure:
Vernon Wells is still owned $98.5 million until 2014.
C- John Buck (Free Agent from Royals)
2B - Jarrett Hoffpauir (Waiver claim from Cardinals)
SS - Alex Gonzalez (Free Agent from Red Sox)
SS - Mike McCoy (Waiver claim from Rockies)
OF - Joey Gathright (Free Agent from Red Sox)
OF - Jorge Padilla (Free Agent from Nationals)
OF - Jeremy Reed (Free Agent from Mets)
LHP - Willie Collazo (Free Agent from Marlins)
LHP - Dana Eveland (Trade with Athletics)
LHP - Sean Henn (Waiver claim from Orioles)
RHP - Kevin Gregg (Free Agent from Cubs)
RHP - Brandon Morrow (Trade with Mariners)
RHP - Zech Zinicola (Rule V draft pick from Cubs)
RHP - Merkin Valdez (Trade with Giants)
C - Rod Barajas (Free Agent signed with Mets)
C- Michael Barrett (Free Agent unsigned)
IF - Kevin Millar* (Free Agent signed with Cubs)
IF - Joe Inglett (Waiver Claim by Athletics)
SS - Marco Scutaro (Free Agent signed with Red Sox)
RHP - Brandon League (Traded to Seattle)
RHP - Brian Wolfe (Free Agent signed in Japan)
RHP - Roy Halladay (Traded to Phillies)
*Signed minor league contract.
Strengths:Â Some very talented young offensive players, decent bullpen.
It's hard to identify any real strength with this Blue Jays team.Â What they have are two excellent hitters in Aaron Hill and Aaron Lind who combined last year for 71 home runs, 122 RBIs and 196 runs scored along with an average just a hair under .300.Â After those two there are no sure things although the team possesses several other talented players who've seemingly fallen off cliffs in recent years (Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay).Â Any one of those, or even both of them have the potential to step up and give a solid boost to the offense.Â But even if they fire on all cylinders this team is a long way from contending.Â On a positive note the Jays finished fifth in home runs in the AL last season.
The bullpen for this team looks to be fairly decent -- and it will have to be, since they are going to have to bear a heavy burden this year.Â The core of the pen will include Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, Brian Tallet, Jesse Carlson and Kevin Gregg.Â That looks to be a fairly solid core, but some of those players, especially Frasor, may be traded as the season progresses.
Weaknesses: Starting pitching
You'd have to be very charitable to claim that the Jays have even a middling staff.Â Â The best pitcher on their staff would probably rank as a No. 3 starter on any other team in this division.Â There is little that is a sure thing in the team's rotation at this point.Â Shaun Marcum, Rickey Romero and Dustin McGowan are probably the only ones assured of rotation spots and McGowan is coming off shoulder surgery and might not be ready to pitch for several more months.Â Other pitchers in the mix include Scott Richmond, the erratic Brandon Morrow and maybe even Brian Tallet.Â Whoever they decide on, don't expect it to be pretty.
RF Jose Bautista
CF Vernon Wells
2B Aaron Hill
DH Adam Lind
3B Edwin Encarnacion
1B Lyle Overbay
LF Travis Snider
C John Buck
SS Alex Gonzalez
Marc Rzepczynski/Brett Cecil
One question that need answering:
Will the Jays find enough pitching to avoid being a last place team this year?Â The Orioles improved considerably in the off-season, but the Jays took a step back when they dealt ace Roy Halladay.Â They got prospects in return, including an elite pitching prospect in Kyle Drabek, but he won't be ready until late 2010 at the earliest.
The reality is that the Jays are going to have a tough season.Â Finishing anywhere near .500 would be nothing short of miraculous, but losing 100 would hardly be a surprise.Â They've got a bit of offensive firepower, but no real leadoff or No. 2 hitter, they don't know what they are going to get out of Alex Rios, and the pitching has no real strengths.Â They probably will finish last in the division, but Baltimore isn't that great either, so that's far from a sure thing.