With all the hype and hope the Blue Jays injected into their fans with their play of last year, there is one thing everyone is forgetting when looking forward to this year. The simple way of putting it: they are going to fail this year.
Generally, I'm one to stick to the team and players and project big years from all involved. However, it seems like the doom and gloom media and fans have all either had a change of heart with Anthopoulos' steady hand at the helm, or they have all finally given up.
I have given myself the task of dampening your spirits and predicting craziness again after having been called nuts by friends for saying before last season started the Jays would have a winning record.
It is easy enough for anyone to say or predict Bautista won't be able to match last year's offensive output. Few players are able to match those stats the very next year or ever in their career. Bautista should get a minimum of 30 home runs and I wouldn't even be shocked if he might crack the 40 again this year. Nonetheless, he and the Jays are in for a rude wake-up call.
With all the talk of the Yankees and Rays losing valuable players and taking steps back this offseason, we have somehow been blinded into thinking that we will perform better than we did last year. I agree with everyone in saying the gap has been shortened between us and the Yanks and Rays.
The fact of the matter remains that we have lost significant key players this past offseason. In offense alone we have seen 70 HR walk out of our clubhouse in Wells, Overbay and Buck. Even with improved seasons by both Hill and Lind we will still have lost close to 50 longballs.
Offense aside, we have lost steady reliable pitchers—Marcum from the starting rotation and Tallet and Downs from the bullpen. I purposely leave out Gregg, who himself was effective for us last year with his 30-plus saves.
Marcum was a very steady arm who had even impressed Halladay when he was around. Downs was as good as any late-inning left-handed reliever around. Tallet was a very solid, proven long-inning relief pitcher. Three veteran arms all gone.
The Blue Jays have amazing upside and have a very good chance of meeting last year's wins. To say they can challenge for a playoff spot this year is going a long way.
The Red Sox had pretty well every starter they had out with an injury at some point during the season, and most of them for more than a week. They had more man games lost last year than some divisions had! Okay, that might be stretching it a bit, but you get the idea.
Boston, you must remember, despite all those injuries was still able to finish four games ahead of a very healthy Blue Jays squad. A repeat of the hurt the Red Sox experienced last year is unlikely; a safe bet would be Red Sox division champs by a landslide.
The Yanks and Rays, although they have taken steps back with their overall starters, are probably only as bad as the injured Red Sox of last year! I would find it hard to believe they have slipped any lower than 90 wins in a year.
The Jays have a very bright future. This year will be a big year for everyone involved, but with growing comes growing pains. This team will find that with taking a step forward toward having a sustainable playoff team for years to come they have given sacrificed this year to being no more than mediocre.
The Jays will finish where they were last year—in fourth with about 85 wins.