Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays' Most Underrated Acquisitions This Offseason
The 2012/2013 offseason has seen the Toronto Blue Jays completely overhaul their roster.
Hidden amongst the big names like Dickey, Johnson, Reyes and Buehrle are a few additions that fans and critics have glossed over. Mark Buehrle is still massively underrated in at least one blogger's opinion, but you can only say "guaranteed 200+ innings" so many times.
The Jays signing of Melky Cabrera came two days after the Marlins deal. In comparison to the shocking 12-player trade, the Cabrera signing seemed minor, but it has been severely overshadowed.
Detractors of Cabrera point to his suspension last season after testing positive and admitting to using a performance-enhancing substance. If Cabrera's numbers were inflated because of high levels of testosterone, then the Jays will likely be disappointed with their new left fielder.
However, Cabrera had already emerged as a productive hitter before 2012. With the Royals in 2011, Cabrera hit .305 with an .809 OPS while picking up 201 hits. Clearly Cabrera is a productive hitter as shown by his career .284 average.
That's not mentioning his 2012 campaign.
As of August 15, 2012, Cabrera led the major league in hits and was second the the NL in batting average. Even if Cabrera's numbers drop slightly, he'll be the Jays best pure hitter. Having a player near the top of the order who can hit consistently is something the Blue Jays have needed for the better part of the decade. All too often have the Jays had powerful batters in the middle of the order who lost run production due to a lack of support in front of them. His 7.8 runs created per game in 2012 shows how effective he can be at the front of a batting order.
Despite his suspension, Cabrera has proven that he's one of the most talented hitters in the sport and being a free-agent signing, he costs the Jays organization nothing but money. He's a massive upgrade over the Jays' unsteady left field spot last season and he'll be surrounded by Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista in the lineup.
Cabrera may well end up being the Jays most productive hitter.
Another argument could be made for two players who weren't themselves last season.
Both Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero—arguably the Jays two most valuable players heading into 2012—fought through injury last season.
The Jays marquee slugger got off to a slow start, hit 14 home runs in June and missed the majority of the season after tweaking his wrist on July 17. Including Bautista's horrendous April, the Jays were without their most productive and dangerous offensive player for four months.
It's difficult to recover from that big of a loss and it will be that much more helpful to have Bautista back and healthy. Compounded with Bautista's return, he'll fit into a Jays lineup with much more depth and protection.
Hitting either in front of or behind the reinvented Edwin Encarnacion can only mean that Bautista will see more fastballs. Any easily-obtained youtube video will tell you that more fastballs in the strike zone means Jose Bautista will have a great opportunity return to the top of the MLB home run rankings. He'll also have the chance to generate more runs than ever before with Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera—a combined OBP of .369 in 2012—at the top of the Jays order.
Ricky Romero had a season to forget in 2012. He posted career highs in ERA, walks and WHIP while losing seven-straight decisions in June and July.
However, it came out after the season that Romero required elbow surgery which may have contributed to his loss of control. While the surgery was described as a "cleanup", if it relieves Romero of pitching through pain, he may regain his control and his top of the rotation stuff.
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