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Jose Reyes will lead a formidable Blue Jays lineup in 2013.
Yes, I’m jumping on the bandwagon.
For years, Toronto has tried to build a team for the long-term, drafting great prospects and trying to groom them into MLB superstars. It seems they have abandoned that old-fashioned approach to winning.
The Jays have spent the last month obliterating their reputation as a low-budget, low-profile team.
They completed one of the biggest trades in recent memory, snagging Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins in the most recent of a series of Miami fire-sales. They also made one of the biggest free-agent splashes of the offseason, signing the National League Cy Young Winner, R.A. Dickey.
Toronto did a great job addressing its glaring needs in the offseason, as its pitching was its Achilles heel. The team posted the 26th-worst ERA in the majors last season.
Buehrle won a World Series with the White Sox in 2005, and he has also pitched a no-hitter and a perfect game. His performance in big games—regular season or postseason—is nowhere close to a cause for concern.
Josh Johnson, aside from injury, has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the league since he broke into the majors in 2005, posting a career ERA of 3.15.
Toronto’s needs were not solely in the bullpen, however, and it made strides to improve its offense as well.
Jose Reyes gives the Jays an explosive veteran presence at the top of the lineup, blazing speed on the basepaths and Gold Glove-caliber fielding—something not seen in Canada since Roberto Alomar.
Emilio Bonifacio is widely regarded as one of the fastest players in the Majors, and his services as a utility player will go largely unnoticed outside of Toronto. His contributions, however, will not be minor. He is an above-average fielder in both the outfield and all infield positions excluding first base, and he will be all over the field throughout the season for the Jays.
Melky Cabrera is an underrated signing as well. He bolted San Francisco after putting up careers numbers while being aided by PEDs, but he is still a serviceable outfielder who improves Toronto’s lineup.
The Blue Jays’ revamped roster looks poised to breeze through the regular season to the playoffs, but they face a tougher task than most in Major League Baseball.
The Jays play in the toughest division in baseball. The Red Sox are struggling to return to their winning ways, but playing Boston should never be taken lightly. The Tampa Bay Rays are constantly looked over, but they feature one of baseball's best pitching staffs.
And with perennial championship contenders in the New York Yankees and the up-and-coming Baltimore Orioles lurking in their division ranks, the AL East crown is a tall mountain to climb for a Jays franchise that is not used to contending.
The talent brought across the border, however, is not young talent, and I think they can sneak out of the regular season with a single-digit division lead.
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. New York Yankees (Wild Card)
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Boston Red Sox