Pitchers and catchers are due to report in a week, so now's a good time to start dissecting the Toronto Blue Jay's roster for the upcoming 2009 season.
After a very disappointing 2007, Vernon Wells turned himself around and had a very productive 2008. Unfortunately, two major injuries (wrist and hamstring), cost him over 50 games, and may have cost the Jays a couple of wins.
Expect him to repeat his great 2008 season, and I'd be willing to bet that he puts in a better defensive effort than last year.
2008 Stats: .300 AVG, .343 OBP, 20 HR, 78 RBI, 63 R, 4 SB in 108 games
2009 Projections: .296 AVG, .340 OBP, 29 HR, 108 RBI, 84 R, 9 SB in 155 games
Everyone expected a huge power surge from Rios last year, especially after the long-term deal he signed mid-season, but the exact opposite happened. He struggled mightily early on, settling for dinky singles and stolen bases over the long ball.
But he improved as the season went on and started showing Jays fans glimpses of what he is capable of. Expect more from Rios this season.
2008 Stats: .291 AVG, .337 OBP, 15 HR, 79 RBI, 91 R, 32 SB in 155 games
2009 Projections: .303 AVG, .344 OBP, 27 HR, 96 RBI, 101 R, 25 SB in 152 games
After a very rough stretch under John Gibbons, Adam Lind was not expected to be back anytime soon for the Jays. But the hiring of Cito Gaston as new manager may be the best thing that's happened to Lind to this point in his young career.
Gaston immediately recalled Lind from AAA and the young outfielder never looked back; he went on an incredible streak and finished the season as the full-time left fielder. Lind is still a couple of years away from reaching his full potential, but expect a good season from him anyways.
2008 Stats: .282 AVG, .316 OBP, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 48 R, 2 SB in 88 games
2009 Projections: .288 AVG, .331 OBP, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 79 R, 3 SB in 148 games
Jays fans got a peek at the future when Travis Snider was called up for a brief period at the end of last season. He did not disappoint, and quite likely earned himself a roster spot for this season.
His presence at the plate and great arm in the outfield have grown on me and I cannot wait for him to reach his potential.
2008 Stats: .301 AVG, .338 OBP, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R, 0 SB in 24 games
2009 Projections: .273 AVG, .333 OBP, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 67 R, 1 SB in 108 games
Overall, the outfield should produce a much more than last year, and they will be anything but boring. Keep in mind that these projections obviously do not take injuries into account; those are hard to predict unless the player is very seriously injury-prone.