Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Preview
R.A. Dickey (Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports)
The Toronto Blue Jays were disappointing in 2013. Hopes were high and optimism was abound after the addition of Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey. Reyes had problems staying healthy, and Dickey showed his age. On paper, the Blue Jays should rebound this season, but it is dependent upon improved health and players not showing their age. This is true on both ends of the spectrum, and this is a prediction that very possibly could move by the end of Spring Training.
Prediction: 3rd place American League East
Additions & Subtractions:
This is more about getting players such as Reyes back who battled injuries last season. As far as player movement, the Blue Jays have been surprisingly quiet this off-season after being extremely active in years past. It was thought that they would add a pitcher like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, or Ervin Santana (only Santana is still available), and this could prove to hold the Blue Jays back in 2014.
Speedster Rajai Davis now calls Detroit home, and if Reyes is unable to stay in the lineup and/or Colby Rasmus fails to put together a complete season, then this loss could be an issue for the Blue Jays.
J.P Arencibia and his poor average was replaced behind the plate by Dioner Navarro. Yes, Navarro did have a very good second half of last season with the Chicago Cubs, but I think there was some element of luck in there and he is unlikely to hit .300 again.
For a team that was billed as a contender last season before having a disappointing season, the Blue Jays needed to do a lot more, or even do something, to improve for 2014 and they just did not do it. Yes there will likely be some improvement with improved health and the potential growth of Rasmus and Brett Lowrie, but I’m not sure that it will be enough.
Once again we invoke health here, but if healthy Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are one of the best power duos in all of baseball. Combine that with Adam Lind’s power, and it is very possible that Toronto has three 30-plus home run players here. The top four of the order could also be dangerous with Reyes and Melky Cabrera getting on base ahead of Encarnacion and Bautista.
The lineup should be fine without any additions, but there are glaring holes in the starting rotation. At this point, I’m not sure Dickey can be an ace and anchor a staff, and after the 39-year old, it gets pretty thin. The Blue Jays have to rely on significant contributions from J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek which could be a recipe for disaster. Top prospect Marcus Stroman figures to make an impact here at some point.
Rasmus and Lowrie formerly were top prospects and now that ship has sailed for both. They are each still young enough to right the ship, and have shown flashes of this. Their performance will go a long way towards the Blue Jays’ fortunes for 2014.