Former Brave Yunel Escobar comes to town this season during inter-league play.
Although the Toronto Blue Jays will be picked to finish fourth in the AL East this spring, they are a very strong team. In fact, this team has enough talent to potentially compete for a playoff spot if some things break right for them.
They aren't your typical fourth-place team.
The offense is led by slugger Jose Bautista, but he's hardly the only threat in the Toronto lineup. Third baseman Brett Lawrie had a huge start to his rookie year before getting hurt, and he looks like a future All-Star. Former Brave Yunel Escobar is among the best hitting shortstops in the game.
Colby Rasmus has a nice power-and-speed combo, and is looking to rebound from an off-year in 2011. Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia and Kelly Johnson don't hit for a very high average, but each have plenty of power in their bats.
Throw in leadoff hitter Rajai Davis—a speedster capable of 40-plus steals—and there are plenty of options and few weak spots.
The Jays rotation may have some questions, but not at the front of the rotation. Ricky Romero is among the better pitchers in the league, despite not getting as much attention as he deserves. Strikeout artist Brandon Morrow is a solid pitcher, although not a No. 2 guy at this point in time.
Henderson Alvarez showed some promise as a rookie last year, and the club is hoping that he can continue pitching at that level again in 2012. Both Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek struggled last year but have some potential.
Cecil was very strong in 2010, but had some issues early in 2011 before rebounding a bit in the second half. Drabek is a former top prospect who started the year strong before losing his command, and could be an x-factor for the team this season.
The Jays have gone out and worked on building a strong bullpen this winter, They brought in White Sox closer Sergio Santos and Jason Frasor and Darren Oliver as a setup men. They will be in the pen along with promising youngsters Joel Carreno, Casey Janssen and Carlos Villanueva to fill out the pen.
The Toronto team may have enough to challenge for a playoff berth, but there are simply too many pitching questions to predict them any higher than fourth in the spring. This could be a tougher series for the Braves than some project in the preseason.