Comprehensive Preview: Toronto Blue Jays 2009

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Comprehensive Preview: Toronto Blue Jays 2009
(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Just four days separate us from the Toronto Blue Jays’ very first game of the season. The Jays start the year at home against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.

Now, with the Jays having finalized their roster and me being the Jays CL, it is finally time for my comprehensive preview for the upcoming 2009 season.

Line-up vs. RHP:

1. SS Marco Scutaro
2. 2B Aaron Hill
3. RF Alex Rios
4. CF Vernon Wells
5. 1B Lyle Overbay
6. 3B Scott Rolen
7. DH Adam Lind
8. C Rod Barajas
9. LF Travis Snider

Line-up vs. LHP

1. SS Marco Scutaro
2. 2B Aaron Hill
3. RF Alex Rios
4. CF Vernon Wells
5. 1B Kevin Millar
6. 3B Scott Rolen
7. DH Jose Bautista
8. C Rod Barajas
9. LF Travis Snider

Rotation:
1. Roy Halladay
2. David Purcey
3. Jesse Litsch
4. Ricky Romero
5. Scott Richmond

Bullpen:

CL- BJ Ryan/Scott Downs
SU- Brandon League
LRP- Jesse Carlson
LRP- Brian Tallet
MRP- Jason Frasor
MRP- Shawn Camp

Players to watch:

Travis Snider

One of the few things to look forward to this year if you're a Jays fan, Snider will be the franchise cornerstone in a few years if everything goes as planned. Snider's amazing spring (.421 AVG, 4 HR's) has made Jays fans even more excited to see what he does this season.

Mature beyond his years, Snider is expected to be the everyday left fielder while Adam Lind handles the DH duties

Adam Lind

Another future star in the making, Adam Lind is also expected to become a future star for the Jays. Started hitting real well once Cito Gaston was hired mid-season last year, but tailed off in the end. He must walk more so he can achieve a higher OBP.

Alex Rios

Is this the year Alex Rios finally puts it all together?

Many people believe that it is.

After a very bad first half, Rios started displaying his power stroke, and many think that a full season with hitting coach Gene Tenance will help Rios finally realize his full potential.

Aaron Hill

Less then a year removed from a very serious concussion, Hill missed most of last year due to his head injury. He also had a very good spring, a good sign that he is likely over the headaches he was having.

David Purcey

Purcey had an up and down season last year in a limited amount of innings during his first season of major league action

He has electric stuff and can be a good pitcher when he exhibits good control and slated to start the second game of the season.

Ricky Romero

As a former first round pick, Romero has never really gotten it all together during his time in the Minors, however, after working with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, the Jays believe that Romero is finally ready to pitch in the Majors.

Injury Concerns:

Vernon Wells

Missed a good chunk of time last year with a broken wrist and strained hamstring. Set off alarms when the hamstring kept him out for the first little while of spring training and he also missed a game due to his wrist.

If healthy the entire season last year, he is projected to hit 30 home runs and have nearly, 100 RBI's. There is no doubt that he is a great player when healthy.

Scott Rolen

Not much needs to be said here: an aging slugger with reoccurring shoulder problems is not a good thing. He has modified his swing so he can try and last the entire year without a trip to the DL, although it may affect his power numbers.

BJ Ryan

There is a bigger concern that he may pitch his way out of the MLB.

Apparently, healthy, Ryan is two years removed from Tommy John surgery and he has lost 7 MPH on his fastball. He had a decent year last year in his return, but he hasn't been able to pitch faster then 85 MPH this spring! This is why Scott Downs is also listed as a closer.

Lyle Overbay

Overbay has been in a steady decline since John Danks broke his hand with an errant pitch in 2007.

He has needed a number of operations on the hand in the months after and has not displayed the same gap-hitting prowess he showed in his first year as a Jay. Overbay missed time earlier this spring due to a Hernia injury.

Future Call-ups:

Brett Cecil

I can almost guarantee that Cecil will have a chance to pitch in the majors this year.

With the young and inexperienced pitching staff that we have heading into this season, an injury or major struggles are bound to happen and when it does, Cecil will be ready to fill in.

Brad Mills

Mills is in the same situation as Cecil—not as highly touted, but he was in the mix for a rotation spot until the bitter end and he will most certainly get his chance later on in the year.

Jeremy Accardo

Many were surprised that he was sent down, but he had trouble finding his splitter the entire spring. He will be the first guy called up once an injury to one of the bullpen pitchers happens.

Joe Inglett

He filled in admirably last year for an injured Aaron Hill, Inglett was sent down because the Jays want Millar and Bautista to fill in against left handed pitchers. Inglett will be the first guy called up once an injury happens to a position player.

Strengths:

Bullpen

Hard to argue this, as the same seven guys heading north this year lead the league with a nifty 2.94 ERA in 2008, however, do not expect as good of a season from them, as Ryan may need to be replaced and teams may start to figure out Jesse Carlson and his funky delivery.

Outfield/DH

All four guys have the potential to hit 20 homers or more this year, although struggles should be expected from the young Adam Lind and rookie Travis Snider.

If Vernon Wells remains healthy and Alex Rios hits his full potential, these guys could potentially become the best outfield in the MLB.

Weaknesses:

Rotation

The only guarantee out of this group of guys is team MVP Roy Halladay. After him, you only have a lot of youth and inexperience. Jesse Litsch, David Purcey, Ricky Romero and Scott Richmond, round out the rest of the rotation behind Halladay.

Struggles are sure to happen, so look for two other young pitchers, Brett Cecil and Brad Mills, as they are likely to each make their major league debuts this season.

Catcher

Simply put, Rod Barajas is not a quality-starting catcher.

His .294 OBP from last year is dreadful, and Barrett may be able to take the number one job from him. Fortunately, the Jays believe that they have their catcher of the future in J.P. Arencibia and he may be ready for the 2010 season.

Infield

The only good thing about the entire infield is Aaron Hill, otherwise, you have a first basemen that hits into way to many double plays, a third basemen that is always hurt, and a shortstop that is better suited for a role as a bench player.

Not one of these players is able to hit for power anymore and the Jays will be lucky if one of them hits for a .300 average or even comes close to it. SS Justin Jackson and 1B Brandon Cooper are guys to look at heading into the future.

Team MVP

Roy Halladay

The ace. Mr. MVP. The franchise.

Call him whatever you want, but without him, the Jays are a last place team. Hopefully Halladay gets his chance to pitch in the play-offs soon, whether it is with the Jays or not.

Always a contender for the Cy Young award, expect an 18 win, 2.95 ERA, 190 K season from the best pitcher in the Majors.

Halladay could get 23-25 wins with a team like the Yankees.

W-L Record Prediction: 80-82

Fourth in the AL East

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