As the NBA All-Star weekend comes to a close and the Raptors get back to the grind, I find myself thinking more about the upcoming MLB season. The time until spring training can be measured in days and before we know it opening day will be upon us.
For baseball fans in Toronto, the first pitch will begin a season-long question and answer period. Even though we have little chance to make any kind of push, I will enjoy watching to see how everything turns out.
What works what doesn’t? Who stays and who goes? Who knows what will happen. It’s all great fun.
For a better part of a decade the Blue Jays have had the pleasure of having Roy Halladay throw the opener. Beating a dead horse, I know. Halladay is gone and we got all we could for him. It's tough losing the face of your franchise but for me at least it brings at least some level of excitement. It also leads us to the first question to be answered.
Question No. 1: Who will step up?
There really isn't a clear choice for the organization. Ricky Romero seems to be the front-runner but isn't a lock. Brandon Morrow has some experience and Shawn Marcum has giving quality innings in the past. It's unclear at this point though who will step up and become the staff leader. It seems that after game one the rotation order will become irrelevant and it all becomes a matter of who performs.
Question No. 2: Who will fill out the rotation?
There are so many possibilities. It seems unlikely at this point that Romero, Marcum, or Morrow would be left out of the rotation. Assuming they are 1-2-3, who then becomes 4 and 5? Brett Cecil? Marc Rzepczynski? Both of these pitchers have had little time to prove themselves, and unproven is much better than proven bad.
Brian Tallet had been good at times and wouldn’t be the worst bottom rotation starter in the league. However, Tallet has proven to be a much better middle relief pitcher than anything else. David Purcey also has not had the time to evolve at the major league level and could still become something better than he is. Also in the running would be Eveland and Richmond (meh).
A couple of these guys might actually turn out to be high-quality pitchers. They also might become the worst rotation in history. Their potential for bad and good is exciting!
Question No. 3: What will Wells do?
Wells is bad because his contract is ridiculous. If Wells was being paid a couple of million a season to bat .260 with 20 Homers and 75 RBI while batting seventh, then all would be sunshine.
He doesn’t and let us forget about it. This is the last year I hold on to my fan status of Vernon Wells. He can pull it together this year if he wants to. The pressure is off. No one expects anything from him anymore.
Hill and Lind had monster seasons and the fans will look to them for the numbers. Wells has a chance to capitalize off the success of his teammates. With any luck Wells gets pulled from the clean-up and put into the second or sixth/seventh spot in the line-up. If that happens than all he has to worry about is getting on base, not winning the game with clutch hitting.
A new role coupled with is recent wrist surgery could be the formula needed to raise him back from the dead. He could also just be a mediocre baseball player who had a couple of big years. We’ll see!
Question No. 4: Will Hill and Lind repeat?
It is one thing to have a good year. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind had great years in 2009. It is another to repeat the feat. I am most excited about this. If Hill and Lind can be counted on to perform as they did last season then Toronto will be looking good for the future.
Hill is signed to a four year, $12 million contract with club options for 2012-15, which is peanuts if he can put up .280 with 25+ home runs while playing gold glove caliber second base. Lind is still on his first contract, which is close to minimum. Can't wait to see what these guys do in 2010.
Question No. 5: Will be see the prospects and will they perform?
Will we get a chance to see what we got for the best player I, and many others, have watched play? Drabek is young and pitchers need time to develop. When the Jays are sitting fourth in the AL east come September, I think we might see him make a few spot starts. Who knows—maybe the rotation will be so bad that we need him earlier.
J.P. Arencibia might see the majors early. Buck isn’t good and Chavez is worse. Brett Wallace is the first to reach the Jays roster (I hope). That would mean that Overbay has been traded or at least seeing less playing time. Wallace is a third basemen that will be moved to first. This will hopefully end Overbay’s reign of ugly baseball and bring some pop to the slugger position.
Needless to say the Jays are not competing for a title so it's safe to say we will see one, if not all of these guys, get some playing time this season.
Question No. 6: What will Anthopoulos Do?
We won’t see any big moves bringing in major contract to the Jays, but maybe AA has a few tricks up his sleeves. He seems committed to improving the Toronto organization as well as the team it fields. The ownership, surprisingly, seems willing to spend some money(still cutting cost but actively pursuing talent).
I’m hoping the young new GM sticks to his guns and maybe gets us some more future prospects and fill out our minor systems even more than he has. Overbay has to be worth something and if he is, we know now, unlike seasons past, there is someone to pull the trigger on the deal.
The Blue Jays do have an underdog’s chance at something this year with all this unproven talent, but it’s probably going to be a losing season. That is never fun for the fans, but it shouldn’t be the focus.
Toronto baseball fans have the opportunity to be a part of a few small victories this season. There are a lot of players to get behind. The team was at an end and it has begun again.
Now is the time to be a fan. There is no bandwagon, just us.