Bold Predictions for Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson After Blockbuster
And Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is a genius.
Those are just some of the sentiments being shared in the wake of the mega-trade between the Blue Jays and Miami Marlins.
In one fell swoop, Anthopoulos took on approximately $167.75 million in salary in obtaining starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck.
However, he also took on players who filled some huge holes as well.
It's clear that Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle were the three key pieces that made this deal so worthwhile to Anthopoulos. With that particular triumvirate of players, he filled his need to upgrade his starting rotation and put a difference-maker at the top of his batting order.
Throw in Bonifacio, who could be the replacement for Kelly Johnson at second base, and Anthopoulos' wish list for the offseason is almost completely taken care of.
Yet, there are still some holes to fill. Anthopoulos still needs to figure out some bullpen needs and some other tweaks, but this deal without question puts the Blue Jays in the conversation for the 2013 postseason.
So, what kind of an impact can Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle have for the Blue Jays in 2013?
Let's take a look.
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Shortstop Jose Reyes has shown throughout his career how much of a difference-maker he can be at the top of the batting order.
In 2012, the Toronto Blue Jays put up a slash line of .237/.294/.355/.650 from the leadoff spot in the batting order.
Without question, Reyes instantly boosts production at the top of the order, and he'll likely do so again in his new league.
Prediction: .295/.365/.425/.790, 100-plus runs scored, 35-plus stolen bases, 12 HR, 65 RBI, 75 K.
Reyes could see an elevated strikeout percentage as he adjusts to pitching in the American League. But I also see him having little trouble adapting otherwise.
Reyes played in 160 games last season, showing no ill effects from the hamstring injuries that somewhat hampered him in 2011. As long as he remains healthy, he can be the type of leadoff hitter the Blue Jays have been seeking for quite some time.
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Much like Jose Reyes, starting pitcher Josh Johnson also remained healthy throughout the 2012 season for the Miami Marlins.
The knock on Johnson has always been the potential for injury, more specifically his right shoulder. However, Johnson has always been regarded as an elite pitcher despite the injury history.
Johnson now incorporates a complete set of manual resistance exercises to keep his shoulder strong throughout the season. While the results may not have looked pretty last year (8-14 record, 3.83 ERA in 31 starts), no one is now saying Johnson has lost his mojo.
Prediction: 32 starts, 205 IP, 17-9 record, 2.97 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, 185 K.
Johnson is a classic power pitcher, throwing his fastball 55.1 percent of the time, but he also incorporates a solid curve, a biting slider and a changeup in his repertoire, which gives him the ability to strike batters out with four different pitches (via fangraphs.com).
For some pitchers, the transition to a new league can come with a period of adjustment. In Johnson's case, his stuff plays well when he's on no matter where he plays.
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If I had to pick the perfect pitcher for the middle of my starting rotation, there is no question that southpaw Mark Buehrle is the guy.
In 2012, Buehrle once again pitched over 200 innings, the 12th consecutive time he has achieved that feat. In today's day and age, that is truly remarkable.
Consistency is the key for any good starter, and Buehrle delivers that in spades.
Prediction: 32 starts, 205 IP, 15-10 record, 3.79 ERA, 1.205 WHIP, 119 K.
Buehrle isn't going to blow anyone away with his stuff. However, the very definition of crafty clearly applies in Buehrle's case. He'll have no issues whatsoever transitioning back to the American League, and Buehrle's experience will be a huge factor for the Blue Jays in the competitive AL East Division.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.