Everyone loves to talk and make claims about the upcoming season.
The Blue Jays roster is essentially filled with question marks. Not necessarily in terms of individual production and expectation, but more so in how the team as a whole will jell and meet expectations.
The whole MLB is very interested in the Blue Jays roster and seeing how the team fulfills such lofty expectations.
So as the season got under way last night, what better way to kick things off than to put my money where my mouth is and make one bold prediction for every player on the roster?
Here we go...
Any year where Jose Bautista is healthy, he will challenge for the home run lead. Perhaps it isn't that bold to predict that he will return to the top of the list that he held in two of the past three seasons, but to make the claim means that he will be healthy and that his wrist won't hinder his power.
Also, let us factor in who will challenge him for this title. Granderson (who finished second last season) is out for a long time, and only four other members of the AL hit over 40.
Bautista should be able to claim this award.
No one doubts Brett Lawrie's ability when he is on the field. They doubt his ability to remain on the field.
Lawrie has already endured some "interesting" injuries, and this all comes with the fire and intensity that he plays with.
Lawrie should never change the way he plays the game, but perhaps he should try and realize when to go all-out for that ball and when to gear down.
Gibbons will help Lawrie with this, and I believe he won't make another DL stint once he returns from his current stint!
Emilio Bonifacio can really fly. I believe he will hit ninth for much of the season and can easily hit this mark. With such excellent hitters in front of him, pitchers will be more worried about the skill of the player at the plate, making him an afterthought on the basepaths.
Remember, he did steal 30 in 64 games last season.
Say what you want about his suspension, Melky Cabrera learned his lesson and is ready to play ball for the Blue Jays.
I expect his average to be well above .300, and he will have a 20/20 season.
Adam Lind will bat anywhere from fifth to seventh in the Jays lineup and won't be the focal point of their offence. That being said, I think he will have a solid season and build upon his strong second half last year.
He should be able to put up some solid RBI totals, and I think that working with Chad Mottola, the Blue Jays hitting coach, all season will help improve his overall game.
And yes, this is a bold statement because he has always been a disappointment since his breakout year.
J.P. Arencibia has had an excellent spring, batting over .400 with great power.
I think he will take a next step in his pitch selection and overall development this season. Batting anywhere from fifth to eighth in the lineup, Arencibia should surpass 25 homers and drive in a decent amount of runs at the bottom of the Jays lineup.
Don't get me wrong, I think Brandon Morrow has an excellent arsenal and can be lights out sometimes. I just don't think he can be consistent enough throughout a full season to maintain such a low ERA.
Morrow will disappoint fans over the long haul but also pitch some mighty gems.
As much as everyone is heralding Morrow as a bona fide All-Star, remember his ERA was still 4.49 and 4.72 in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Look at that greybeard. Henry Blanco is around to provide veteran leadership and help Arencibia and other players in the clubhouse jell. He is not expected to contribute much on the diamond.
When you are 41 years old, you should not be catching anymore.
What does this say about Jose Thole, who lost the backup catcher's gig to Blanco this spring?
What an excellent weapon to have on your bench. Rajai Davis is an aggressive base stealer who can easily swipe second, third and home. He is a very clutch pinch hitter and can provide that spark you need at the right time.
Moreover, he is a decent outfielder to boot!
What a great asset to have in your back pocket, and I think people will undervalue him on this team.
Another great versatile veteran, Mark DeRosa has had some solid success at the MLB level. He will prove to be a great mentor for Brett Lawrie, and he also can still hit (.442 this spring).
His versatility keeps him around MLB clubhouses, and I think he will play every position at some point this season.
Coming off an excellent spring, I believe Josh Johnson will be the best pitcher on the team. He gave up one run or less in five of his six starts.
His command is back, his velocity is continually improving and he is healthy. With a strong team behind him (something he hasn't really had before), he could easily eclipse 20 wins.
Although Mark Buehrle has had an ERA in the threes every year since 2007 (save 2010), I believe he will struggle a bit to find his rhythm at the Rogers Centre.
As R.A Dickey found out with Asdrubal Cabrera's home run last night, the ball really carries here, and as a pitch-to-contact pitcher, it could cause issue.
I believe he will still be serviceable, but we will see 6 IP, 3 ER many times, especially at the hitter-friendly ballparks in the AL East.
Yes, Jose Reyes did play 160 games last season for the Marlins. However, the three seasons prior all saw him hit the DL for an extended period.
Many are concerned with the field conditions in Toronto not being favourable to Reyes, but I think that he will play a full season, as he is 100 percent healthy, and as he gets older, he will take care of his body.
This is a bold prediction as many believe a DL stint is going to happen fo sho.
I don't know why Casey Janssen doesn't get more hype or love from the Jays faithful.
Janssen had an excellent season last year, closing out 22 of 25 ballgames and keeping his WHIP under 0.90.
He struck out more than a batter an inning and showed that he can handle the job.
Sergio Santos might have the higher ceiling, but Janssen will keep rolling all year and close out over 35 for the Blue Jays.
I have been a fan of J.A. Happ since his days with the Phillies. I remember the days when the Jays wanted Happ as part of the Halladay deal and the Phillies said no.
Happ has bounced back after a dismal time in Houston to become a solid lefty arm.
I do think that Ricky Romero will be back up with the club sooner than later and that will push Happ either to the minors or long relief.
Happ will succeed but be a casualty in the rotation, not by his own doing.
Unless he improves his plate discipline and overall production down in the middle-to-late part of the lineup, Anthony Gose will push Colby Rasmus out of centre field. Gose was thought to be the MVP of spring training, but with Rasmus under control for a couple of years, he definitely has the leg up as of now.
Don't be surprised to see Rasmus on the block after a solid month of play (if it ever happens).
As was on display Tuesday, Santos has some nasty stuff and he throws hard.
He needs Janssen to blink before he has a chance to regain the closer role. I just don't think Janssen will blink (after being a setup guy for so many seasons), and that will lead to Santos being primarily the eighth-inning guy.
A good problem to have if you are Manager Gibbons, having two capable closers on your team.
A crafty young lefty, Aaron Loup has undoubtedly earned his spot in the bullpen with nothing but results.
He pitched well Tuesday, and being capable of throwing multiple innings or being a lefty specialist, Loup will have a lot of value in the 'pen, especially considering Darren Oliver is not Benjamin Button.
At the age of 41 last year, Darren Oliver had an ERA of 2.06 and a WHIP of 1.02. He even nearly struck out a batter per inning.
I personally just can't see Oliver maintaining those numbers now in his second season in the AL East. Every team has seen him for a full season and knows exactly what he is about.
That being said, Oliver's game plan hasn't changed much over the years and he is still effective, but I just don't see Oliver maintaining that kind of success.
I still believe that this was a steal of a trade, acquiring Steve Delabar for Eric Thames (who is currently in the minors in Seattle).
Delabar struck out 46 batters in 29 innings last season. I expect this trend to continue, and he will maintain or improve his 14 K/9 from last year.
Esmil Rogers can strike out anyone, but he can also walk anyone. Rogers, now 27 years old, will walk many batters to the frustration of Blue Jays fans who want their relievers to throw strikes.
That being said, if you need two strikeouts with the bases loaded, Rogers can do that too.
It will be an up-and-down ride for Blue Jays fans in regard to Rogers, but his WHIP will be reflected in his high walk totals.
Maicer Izturis had a tough time at the hot corner filling in for Brett Lawrie in the home opener. On one of the RBI singles, Izturis, who stands 5'8", jumped but could not come up with the bloop single that scored a run. Both Lawrie or the much taller Mark DeRosa would have made that play.
Izturis should be a substitute who plays sparingly when others need a day off. He is the infield equivalent to Rajai Davis, but with less speed.
Bonifacio will take hold of the starting second baseman spot, leaving Izturis with less playing time.
Jeremy Jeffress' career K/BB is 34/30. He has some great stuff, but he has yet to harness his potential. He is too erratic to have on a top-calibre, championship-hopeful team.
Jeffress and Cecil were both battling for the final roster spot, but with Cecil's newfound velocity (he was hitting 93-94 mph on the gun last night), I believe that Jeffress will lose his spot in the bullpen really soon.
I guess when you have been as solid as R.A. Dickey has been the past two seasons, that isn't saying much, but I think Dickey will digress a bit playing at the Rogers Centre instead of Citi Field.
I believe that Dickey will still be a very good pitcher, but not the best pitcher on the team. I expect somewhere in the 3.70 ERA, 15 wins, 180 strikeouts area.
I still wonder if, given the package we gave up to get him, we could have landed a player like King Felix.
After such a fantastic season last year (42 HR, 110 RBI), I believe that pitchers would rather face Lawrie than Edwin Encarnacion. Moreover, Edwin's career high in home runs prior to last season was 26.
Although I do believe that he will have a productive season, I don't think he will get enough pitches to hit to warrant a 33-plus home run season.
Thank you for the read.
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