The good news for Blue Jays fans is the Orioles are in the same division. The bad news is the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays are in the division, too. Compound a few distinct injuries and it’s easy to see Toronto struggling to reach .500 this year.
In fact, I’m pretty certain they’ll be nowhere near an 81-81 record …..
The Blue Jays pitching staff has been decimated by injuries, with Shawn Marcum lost for the year and Dustin McGowan out for a considerable stretch of time. Beyond Roy Halladay, it gets extremely thin.
Granted, the Blue Jays pitching woes aren’t as far reaching as similar problems, in Baltimore. But, their staff will struggle in the 2 thru 5 slots. Mix in a “so-so” bullpen, and it’s easy to forecast a lot of runs scored at Toronto’s expense.
In truth, I think the Orioles have a better lineup than the Blue Jays. The biggest threat in Cito Gaston’s batting order is Alex Rios, and he’s probably a 15 homer guy. Vernon Wells cannot be trusted on health and Aaron Hill is still recovering from a serious head injury.
There will be some young sticks in the Blue Jays lineup, including Travis Snider (he spells his name correctly) and Adam Lind. Of the two, I would suspect Lind as being the guy most likely to “stick.” He’s had some mild success on the Major League level, and his plate discipline is impressive for a power hitter.
Still, there are glaring deficiencies in Toronto’s lineup, including catcher (Barajas), 3rd base (Rolen), shortstop (McDonald) and 1st base, where Lyle Overbay has disappointed hometown fans and fantasy gurus, alike. He’s underachieved, to say the least.
There has been some renewed interest and promise with the return of manager, Cito Gaston. But, he doesn’t have the pieces. In fact, Gaston has pretty much conceded the problem and promised to play “National League” baseball, in an effort to produce a small ball effect.
He can do what he wants ….. Gaston and the Blue Jays will not compete with the “BIG 3” in the AL-East. This is gonna get ugly – really ugly. Can you imagine the Red Sox, Yankees and Jays feasting on Orioles and Blue Jays pitching?
It’s gonna be a very long summer – “North of the Border.” My prediction is a 4th place finish and 70-92 record, for the Toronto Blue Jays. Hey it could be worse ….. right?
Tomorrow – the 2009 New York Yankees …..