Monday, March 31, 2008

2008 Toronto Blue Jays Preview

2007 Record: 83-79, 3rd in AL East

Key Losses: 3B Troy Glaus

Key Additions: SS David Eckstein, 3B Scott Rolen, OF Shannon Stewart

Projected Lineup:

1. David Eckstein SS
2. Alex Rios RF
3. Vernon Wells CF
4. Frank Thomas DH
5. Matt Stairs/Shannon Stewart LF
6. Lyle Overbay 1B
7. Aaron Hill 2B
8. Marco Scutaro 3B
9. Gregg Zaun C
*3B Scott Rolen will return in late May, hitting in the 5 hole and bumping everyone else down one spot.

Lineup Grade: C When Rolen returns, you can maybe tack a + on the end of that, but otherwise there isn't anything special with this lineup, especially when compared to divisional foes Boston and New York, or maybe even Tampa Bay. If Rolen comes back healthy and doesn't look like he has over the past three years (with the exception of October 2006), there may be some pop in the middle of the order, but there are still too many bad players weighing them down.

Projected Rotation:
1. Roy Halladay
2. A.J. Burnett
3. Dustin McGowan
4. Shaun Marcum
5. Jesse Litsch
CL: Jeremy Accardo/B.J. Ryan

Pitching Grade: B Hallady is a certified stud, and Burnett's amazing stuff usually help him overcome what can only be considered a lack of mental focus. The 3-5 guys are young and showed plenty of promise when called up to the majors last year. B.J. Ryan, the 40 Million Dollar Man, still hasn't been a factor for the Jays, despite being under contract for about a year and a half. He is quickly turning into the Mike Hampton of the AL. On the bright side, Accardo was solid as a closer last year so even if Ryan falls off the face of the earth they know who to give the ball to in the 9th inning.

2008 Prediction: The Blue Jays have been shelling out big time bucks but don't have much to show for it. Despite huge contracts for Burnett and Ryan, and picking up the Cardinal's discarded junk, getting Frank Thomas from Oakland is probably the smartest thing the Blue Jays have done recently. For this and many other reasons (see: Yankee and Red Sox payrolls) the Jays are almost sure to miss the playoffs yet again this year. And to add insult to injury, they are still located in Canada.

Projected Record: 80-82

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