2009 Record: 75-87 (.463), 4th AL East
Key Losses: Roy Halladay-SP (trade); Marco Scutaro-SS (free agent)
Key Additions: Shaun Marcum-SP (injury); John Buck-C (free agent); Jose Molina-C (free agent); Alex Gonzalez-SS (free agent)
Like every team this time of year, the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays are excited about their chances, but this is a team destined for the bottom of the division.
The Blue Jays traded away one of the best pitchers in the league, Roy Halladay, for a group of prospects, none of whom will be in the opening day lineup. This is clearly a team in transition and rebuilding.
The 2009 version of the team started strong and even lead the division in wins for some time. Slowly, the team broke down and rumors of a mid-season trade of Halladay distracted the team and led them to a 75-87 finish. After Halladay was traded to the Phillies, the team didn’t add any big free agent names and even cut payroll. It’s clear the front office doesn’t expect much this year.
Fortunately, their farm system is a little stronger.
The starting rotation is weak, and the opening day starter is Shaun Marcom, who missed the entire 2009 season with an elbow injury. Marcom has a promising career record at 24-17, but he hasn’t pitched more than 159 innings in a season, more than 12 wins in a season or 123 strikeouts in a season. He does not represent the ace a team needs and will have a lot of pressure due to high expectations. Still, he has potential and will have a lot of opportunity as the Jays’ number one starter.
After Marcum are second year pitchers Ricky Romero and Marc Rzepczynski and two former relievers, Brandon Morrow and Brian Tallet. The closer is Jason Frasor, who had 11 saves and 57 2/3 innings pitched. The bullpen is unproven and not intimidating to opposing hitters.
At the plate, the Jays have….no one. Well it’s not that bad, the team did score 798 runs last season but no one really scares an opposing pitcher and last season’s team was lucky at the plate. Vernon Wells used to hit 100 RBI a season…used to. His last decent season was 2006 and he has not played a full season without injury since 2003. Left fielder Travis Snider is their most promising young player and has the potential to hit 20+ homers and 75+ RBI.
With a below average pitching staff, the Blue Jays will find themselves down early and often in games and require a team that surprisingly hit 798 runs last season and added no amazing bats in the off-season to find a way to increase that offense to make up for bad pitching.
Couple that with the fact that the Jays live and work in the AL East amongst three of the best five teams in the American League (54 games against Rays, Yankees and Red Sox) and this team is headed for the basement of the division.
2010 Prediction: 66-96, 5th in AL East