Toronto Blue Jays Blogger Roundtable

Mopupduty.com Yearly Toronto Blue Jays Bloggers Roundtable.

Roundtable Participants:

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Team Predictions: Jays Record, Playoffs?

Callum (Mopupduty.com):

Record:  85-77

Playoffs:  No, not yet. The Blue Jays will flirt with the 2nd wild card late into the season, but I see the 2nd wild card coming out of the AL West because the Angels and Rangers are far too strong.  The 1st wildcard,  of course, belongs to either the Yankees or the non-alcoholic Red Sox.

Matthias (Mopupduty.com): 

Record: 83 – 79

Playoffs: No dice. If the Rays stay healthy they should contend with Boston & NY atop the AL East. I’m also worried about the AL West and the second wild card. The Rangers and Angels have both improved and both get to beat up on suspect M’s & A’s clubs over the course of the season. This leaves the Jays as the odd men out in a Wild Card chase.

500 Level Fan:

Record: Jays went 81-81 last year and they were able to do that despite:

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  • giving 159 games to Corey Patterson and Juan Rivera
  • terrible seasons by Hill, Snider, Drabek, and Lind
  • 25 blown saves
  • 20 starts by Jo Jo Reyes
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You’ve got to think that at least some of that calamity won’t happen this year, and with a full year of Lawrie, Rasmus, and Alvarez, the Jays will be better.  Best case would be 91-71

Worst Case – regression by young players, and players don’t rebound (Lind, Snider, Rasmus).  75 – 87

I’d put the most likely record around 85 – 77

Playoffs: Not sure if you are asking if the Jays will make it, or who I think will make it.  Will the Jays make it?  My heart says yes, but I don’t think so.  I think we’ll need at least another year.

Bluebird Banter:

Record: I’m thinking a 88-74 record would be close. An 88 win team, with a few breaks, could win 93, 94 games.

Playoffs: It’s possible, but a ton of things have to go right. I’m hoping they stay in the race to the finish.

Bluejay Hunter:

Record: 85-77

Playoffs: In short … no.

 

Jays Journal

Record: 85-77. The 2012 Jays are an improved group, but question marks still exist in the back end of the rotation, for now.

Player Predictions: Breakout, Disappointment & Comeback Player of 2012

Callum:

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  • Breakout player: Brandon Morrow.
[/styled_list] I think this is the year that he finally puts it all together.  It is well known that his stuff is electric, but with an increased focus and maturation when it comes to the utilization of his secondary stuff, Morrow will be a premier pitcher in the AL East.

 

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  • Disappointment: Brett Lawrie.
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The Blue Jays’ newly-minted third baseman Brett Lawrie is the vicitim of unreasonable expectations set by the Blue Jays fan base.  With a torrid start to his MLB career last season, coupled with a 2012 spring that sees him hitting over .500, Captain Canada is the saviour of the Blue Jays (and baseball in Canada) in many fans eyes.  I expect a season where Lawrie produces at a .270/.325/.430 clip with 20-25 HRs.  This is by no means a disappointment in a strictly baseball sense, but far below fan expectations.

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  • Comeback player: Dustin McGowan.
[/styled_list] It seems that everyone who talks about McGowan does so with trepidation, fearing that too much praise may result in the spontaneous combustion of his oft-injured right shoulder.  In spite of the disappointing results McGowan put up at the end of last season, the stuff was there – and it was filthy.

 

With his first full offseason to rest and recuperate since 2008, McGowan will be in a much better position to harness his considerable talents and be a force in the 4th or 5th spot of the rotation.
 

Matthias:

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  • Breakout player: Dustin McGowan
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From an afterthought to a rotation spot, McGowan has the makings of a breakout candidate. But here’s the thing, was he really that great to begin with? McGowan’s two best seasons have yielded WARs of 2.4 & 0.7, his highest K rate is 7.6 per 9. Even if Dustin returns to past forum, he’s going to be more Morrow-lite than straight-up Morrow. With that said, I can see 120 innings of decent production, with upside potential.

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  • Disappointment: Colby Rasmus.
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There’s no one on the roster that screams disappointment. With that said, expectations may be running a tad too high on a few players. Most predict Lawrie to post a .900+ OPS for the season, EE to mash 25 – 30 HR over a full season, so on and so forth. My pick to not live up to expectations is Colby Rasmus. Most see Rasmus settling in returning to near 2010 levels, a season in which he posted a .277/.362/.498 triple slash with 23 HR. Colby’s MLB track record has been hit & miss, he’s going to play a full season in AL East and many scouts continue to question his make-up. He won’t stink the joint up but he’ll continue to be a frustrating player, one with a full ‘toolbox’ that doesn’t translate to bottom line statistical output.

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  • Comeback player: Dustin McGowan.
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I’ll take the safe road and go with McGowan. I’ve already discussed Dustin, so I’ll briefly go into my dark horse candidate, Adam Lind. There are some interesting splits to Lind’s 2011 season. His second half including a .230-ish BABIP, a very low number considering his 21% linedrive rate. If Adam can maintain a HR/FB rate of 14%+ he should still hit around 25 HR, with upside to 30.

 
 

500 Level Fan:

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  • Breakout player: Brandon Morrow.
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I think he finally puts it all together and has a solid, consistent year.

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  • Disappointment: Adam Lind
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I’ve lost all faith in him.  Yes he might have been hurt last year, but I can’t see him doing anything but disappointing again in 2012.

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  • Comeback player: Colby Rasmus.
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Not sure if he really counts, but I think he’ll return to the level he was at in his first few years in St. Louis.  Or better.

 

Bluebird Banter:

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  • Breakout player: Morrow, Lawrie
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Breakout player? I guess picking Brett Lawrie would be a copout wouldn’t it? He’s the guy though. How about Brandon Morrow as well? I think he’ll have a good year, or maybe it is that I like him so much that I’m hoping great things for the guy.

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  • Disappointment: …..
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Disappointment? I hate picking someone to disappoint. I like to think I’m not superstitious (for one thing I can’t spell it), but I hate putting those things out into the universe. It makes me feel like I’m cheering against one of my guys. I’d say Mathis but I think our expectations are so low that if he manages to remember to bring a bat with him to the plate, we’d consider it a success.

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  • Comeback player: Dustin McGowan.
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Comeback player? I guess, by definition, it should be Dustin McGowan. I’m thinking he’ll have a pretty good year. It would be nice if he could get us about 200 innings with an ERA not too much higher than 4.

 

Bluejay Hunter:

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  • Breakout player: Brett Lawrie.
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  • Disappointment:  J.P. Arencibia
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  • Comeback player: Travis Snider
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Jays Journal
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  • Breakout player: Edwin Encarnacion.
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While Brett Lawrie is the obvious choice for this one, I’m going to go with Edwin Encarnacion. When Encarnacion didn’t have to worry about fielding a position in 2011, he absolutely raked. The numbers back it up as well, especially in the second half of the season when he hit .302 with a .919 OPS from July 14 to September 16, starting 39 of those 56 games at DH. Assuming he’ll actually be the Jays’ everyday DH this season, Encarnacion should pick up where he left off last season and it wouldn’t surprise me if he takes over the cleanup spot from Adam Lind at some point.

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  • Disappointment: Adam Lind
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While Lind did put together a decent first half prior to his injury last season, there are many red flags with him heading into this season. His well-advertised .291 OBP from 2010-11 is a concern, not to mention his escalating O-swing% to a career-high 37.1 in 2011 and his inability to have quality at-bats in clutch situations.

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  • Comeback player: Colby Rasmus
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No other player on the Jays roster is a better fit for this category. While I do have some doubts about Rasmus performing as much or better in 2012 than he did in 2010 while he was with St. Louis, I do feel that he’ll be better than his initial 35 games with the Jays. Regardless, he’s an offensive and defensive upgrade over Rajai Davis.

 

What do the Jays need to do to win the division? Additions/subtractions.

Callum:

The rotation, to me, is the biggest weakness.  Although Ricky Romero is a fine pitcher, he isn’t a true “ace” and profiles as more of a #2 starter on most contending teams.  The spots 2-5 are a giant mess of uncertainty.  Morrow is hoping to bounce back after a lacklustre season. Cecil had a miserable 2011 campaign and his velocity issues continue to dog him this spring.  Henderson Alvarez was a pleasant surprise last year but he’s still a rookie – what happens when the scouting reports on him circulate around the league? Kyle Drabek is a nightmare and Dustin McGowan hadn’t thrown a pitch at the major-league level since 2008 before the end of last year.  A shutdown starter would do much to solidify this rotation.  If that’s not feasible, at the very least a few veterans would provide depth (I’m thinking Roy Oswalt types- not Tomo Ohko) and hedge against the uncertainty of one or more of these starters faltering.

A reliable bat would seal the deal.  If Lind proves he can’t handle the grind of a 162-game season, mortgage the farm and get Votto the Swatto.

Matthias:

To win the division the Jays need to stay healthy and have the majority of the roster play up to expectations. This includes a bounce back from Rasmus, decent seasons from 3-5 in the rotation, the bullpen carrying it’s weight and receiving production from LF, 1st Base & DH.

A legitimate 3rd starter would be a nice addition. Will anyone from within the organization step up? It’s possible, the depth chart includes McGowan, Alvarez, Drabek and Cecil. Anyone could breakout, although at the same point anyone could falter. Personally, I’m not a fan of mortgaging the future at this point, even if the Jays are close to the playoff spot in late July, August or even early September. Let the season play out and continue to make moves from a mid-term perspective, ie Santo type deals.

500 Level Fan:

I guess it depends on when.  The additions needed to win the division this year are much different than next year.  I think they have all the pieces in place but just need some time to have them come together.  But I think there is one constant that needs to be upgraded no matter when the time frame is – first base.  Compare first baseman in the AL – Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Billy Butler, Paul Konerko, and….Adam Lind.  Joey Votto would look good in a Jays uniform though that might be too much to ask.  We just need a consistent, power hitting 1B.  Anyone would work…

Bluebird Banter:

They would have to get some help from the other AL East teams. The Yankees would have to suddenly have to play like the old men they are. The Red Sox would have to, stupidly, not try to patch up their starting rotation. And the Rays? It is hard to see where they would drop off that much, but young players have ups and downs, if Longoria were to get hurt, for any length of time, their offense would be hurting.

For the Jays, Lind would have to hit like he did the first half of last year. Colby has to play like he did in 2010. Brett Lawrie has to stay healthy. And the back four of the rotation have to all pitch like we hope they can or Farrell and Alex will have to cut bait with whoever doesn’t measure up, quickly, and see if Kyle Drabek can do what we hoped he would last year. I’m starting to think the Jays would be better off with Kyle than Brett but I think Kyle will need a good month in the minors to prove himself.

Bluejay Hunter:

In order for the Blue Jays to play October baseball in 2012, a lot of things are going to have to break their way. I’m not saying every player on the roster needs to put up a career year, but many of the enigmas like Colby Rasmus, Brandon Morrow, Edwin Encarnacion and others will need to step up and deliver solid seasons if the Blue Jays want a shot at winning the division.

As it currently stands, I think their starting lineup is pretty good, but the starting rotation is an area that could use some improvement. Depending on how close they are come July, the Blue Jays could very well deal for some starting pitching at the trade deadline.

Simply put, if the Blue Jays want to compete, John Farrell can’t continue to parade Adam Lind out there in the cleanup spot. He either needs to be buried further down in the lineup, or AA needs to go out and get a bona fide first baseman.

Jays Journal

The Jays have already upgraded at centre field, second and third base, and in the bullpen without losing any significant pieces, which are all substantial accomplishments for GM Alex Anthopoulos. To win the division, though, I feel a legitimate, long-term first baseman is required, along with the addition of a No. 1-2 starter, even with a bevy of younger arms on their way to the Majors. With Encarnacion’s contract set to expire at the end of the year, I could see the Jays going with a different option at DH in 2013 as well.

A young, contract controllable SP becomes available in the trade market; which of these top prospects would you deal first – Gose, d’Arnaud or Marisnick?

Callum:

d’Arnaud would be my pick to deal.  The tools package that both Marisnick and Gose possess are far too valuable and rare to give up.  The potential ceiling of both players is that of a bona-fide superstar player; the kind of player that a franchise builds around.  Think Grady Sizemore (2005-2008 before injury woes), Justin Upton, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton, Jay Bruce.

Although d’Arnaud is no slouch, he doesn’t bring the same kind of “total package” – a multi-faceted arsenal of ways to beat you with the glove, arm, bat and on the basepaths.  It’s true; d’Arnaud is closer to the big leagues and is more projectable than the other two so has less of a risk of not reaching his potential.  That said, with great risk comes great reward – and risk-taking is table stakes when it comes to competing in the big boy division.

Matthias:

Like publicly picking a favourite kid in a large family.

Legitimate two-way catching prospects don’t grow on trees. For that reason alone I’d have to hold onto d’Arnaud.

Marisnick offers a nice combo of outfield D, power, BA & speed. An obvious comp is pre-injury Grady Sizemore. Can he can hit for power in the FSL this upcoming season?

I’m starting to jump on the Gose bandwagon but if push comes to shove, I’d have to deal him in this scenario. My main issue with Gose is his extremely high strikeout rate. In this past years AFL Gose led the league in K, striking out 41 times in 133 PA.

The funny thing is, even if Gose is strikeout machine at the MLB level, he’ll have value via his outfield D and his speed. The question is will he get on base? At this point I think he projects as a .320 OBP with D, 40 SB and 10 HR. In that sense, he’s the safest of the three to have a long MLB career. To deal this type of a steady 2-3 WAR player the Jays had better acquire an upper echelon type arm.

500 Level:

I’ll admit that I’m not the most knowledgeable when it comes to prospects.  I would probably say Gose, because from what I’ve heard d’Arnaud has the tools to be a star, and Marisnick might have a bigger upside than Gose – and both play the same position.

Bluebird Banter:

You know, Buck Martinez always lobs softball questions over the plate. These are far too hard. If you want Buck’s job you ought to make the questions easier. If we trade any of these 3, we’d better be getting one heck of a pitcher. I don’t know. I like d’Arnaud a lot, but catching prospects are notoriously iffy and he has some injury concerns. So let’s go with him, but I’m going to hope that Alex is smarter than I am. He might just be, there are a few out there that are. We’d have to get someone that would push us over the top. I think all three of them could be very special players.

Bluejay Hunter:

If I’m Alex Anthopoulos I’d probably be most willing to move Anthony Gose. Most projections have Jake Marisnick ahead of Anthony Gose anyway, so I’d stick with the outfielder that has a little more upside in Marisnick and leave Gose as trade bait.

The Blue Jays would get the most in return for Travis d’Arnaud, but the likelihood of him being shopped are likely next to nil. Outfield prospects seem like they’re a dime a dozen and backstops are as coveted as ever. That’s why I’d be more inclined to hang onto d’Arnaud and let him flourish at the big league level.

Jays Journal

Tough question. As much as I have, like others, dreamed of a Rasmus-Gose-Marisnick outfield at Rogers Centre in the not-so-distant future, I’d have to go with Gose on this one for who I would deal first, even though I don’t like the thought of dealing any of the three.

Even with the Jays’ catching depth, you have to keep d’Arnaud given his All-Star potential both offensively and defensively and, while Marisnick might not steal 70 bags in a season like Gose, he has the ability to steal 40+ and his five-tool potential is too hard to ignore. Gose has louder tools, but Marisnick, to me, projects to be the more complete player. That being said, I’m interested to see how Gose does at the plate this season (especially with two strikes) after finally settling on a swing in 2011 that works for him, after countless changes.

What do you think? Share your thoughts and Predictions in the Comments Section

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has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +