For Toronto Blue Jays fans
This Roster Looks Solid Now!
The Toronto Blue Jays are facing a tough season ahead. They must improve on their perennial third or fourth place finish. To do that, they need to build from their own system and rely on their home-grown talent.
What happens when that doesn’t go as quickly as you would like? Alex Anthopoulos has shown he is not averse to trading today’s talent and gamble with the tomorrow’s prospect. That is why he pulled the trigger on today’s deal: RHP Sergio Santos, 28, from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for 22-year-old RHP Nestor Molina.
This is a good move for the Jays. Everyone noticed the number of games the relief staff could not convert after the 8th or 9th innings. Had Toronto held on to half of those losses the Jays would have put the team into a playoff position or at least a chance to challenge. Instead, the Jays were out of contention before August.
Anthopoulos seems to like this day to trade. Do you remember who the Jays got last year on this day? Here is a hint: they traded away their number one starter for him.
Canadian Baseball Talent
Ironically enough it was for Canadian (then-second baseman) Brett Lawrie. That was last year, and yet there is still a need this year to fill the void at second AND starting pitching.
With Lawrie at third, and Adam Lind at first the only thing that Alex Anthopoulos really needs in the infield is a second baseman. This might seem too early to some but Yunel Escobar could move to second base and bring in Adeiny Hechavarria to play shortstop. No one is expecting the Blue Jays to contend this season and so why not move him into the role now instead of August?
I know – he isn’t ready. So the Jays will have to be content with newly acquired Luis Valbuena, Kelly Johnson or Mike McCoy playing second. Anyone see a trade coming here?
The outfield looks great with Jose Bautista in right and Colby Rasmus patrolling centre. Should the Jays acquire a new man at first base (this seems unlikely), Lind could move to left. Left field seems to be an open spot for anyone who wants in. Last year, Travis Snider seemed to have an edge on everyone but his plate appearances lacked the maturity the managers and office staff expect. However, if Lawrie embodied the “heart” of the Jays, Eric Thames embodied the “hustle”. If he doesn’t start in left field he is certainly the one to move in as the fourth outfielder.
DH Edwin Encarnacion gets the most improved player award for his performance in the second half of the 2011 season. He will likely fill in at third and first bases throughout the season.
It is a shame that Frank Francisco will probably not be returning this year. The Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees have expressed an interest in the reliever.
The Jays starters are almost a lock with Ricky Romero, Henderson Alvarez, and Brandon Morrow securing three of the five positions. Kyle Drabek will have to show something in Spring Training or it could be another long season for the young pitcher. Brett Cecil had better stay away from blenders or he could get mixed up in the bullpen. The starter (slash) reliever cut a finger on his pitching hand working with a kitchen device during the season. He needs to be careful with his career or else people are going to question his heart. John Farrell addressed the young man in the dugout one game and the young pitcher responded with some quality innings after that.
The rest of the relievers seem to exist during a trial by fire. If Jays manager Farrell likes what he sees from a player, they are in. However, now that Farrell has seen most everyone pitch this past season, he will have a role for each of them.
Casey Janssen is a fan favorite and deserves another shot at relief and maybe even a start. Jesse Litsch and Dustin McGowan were equally brilliant throughout the 2011 season. It will be interesting to see if there are any younger Jays who can crack this roster. Canadian Scott Richmond has impressed. Carlos Villanueva also responded when called and it will be interesting to see if Toronto could use him in the setup role ahead of the newly acquired Santos.
This list may be premature and some of the names may disappear by March 2012 but the season looks as entertaining as it was in 2011.