With over a week until Spring Training, it's never too early to take a sneak peek at the 2008 Toronto Blue Jays' Season.
This series will provide some insight and information on each position. The first edition features the Jays' rotation, bullpen, and catchers.
The starting rotation for the Jays is pretty much set, with only the final spot in the rotation to be decided in spring training.
1. Roy Halladay
Doc finished last season with a 16-7 record and an ERA of 3.71. The 2003 Cy Young winner compiled a league-leading seven complete games. He is the team's uncontested ace and will look to have another strong year on the hill.
2. A.J. Burnett
A.J. was held to 25 starts last year due to another injury-stinted season. He went 10-8 with a 3.75 ERA. Burnett led all Jays' pitchers with 175 strikeouts and left the year feeling he had something to prove. He'll be a very strong No. 2 man if he can stay out of injury trouble.
3. Dustin McGowan
Dustin had a record of 12-10 with an ERA of 4.08. On June 24, he was three outs away from a no-hitter against the Rockies. He will most likely be the third man in the rotation for the Jays and could be very good in the next few years.
4. Shaun Marcum
Shaun finished the '07 season with a record of 12-6 and an ERA of 4.13. His season was cut short on Sept. 22 when he had to undergo surgery for a meniscal tear in his right knee. He is expected to be solid for the '08 season as the fourth man in the rotation.
5. Gustavo Chacin, Jesse Litsch, Casey Janssen
Chacin made only five starts in April before calling it a year. He eventually underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder, but will probably compete for the final spot in the rotation this spring. Litsch posted a record of 7-9 in 20 starts with a 3.81 ERA. Casey Janssen spent last season as the Jays' setup man, posting a 2.75 ERA in 70 games.
The Jays' bullpen was plagued with the injury of their closer B.J. Ryan last year and is hoping for an injury-free season from the whole group.
B.J. Ryan will be looking to have a strong year after only appearing in five games last year. Ryan went 0-2 with three saves and an ERA of 12.46 before going down to injury. He underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in May of last year and is hoping to be ready for Spring Training. The Jays, however, will go into the season anticipating his absence in bullpen and expect Jeremy Accardo to start the year off as the closer.
Jeremy Accardo came over in a trade for Shea Hillenbrand near the end of the 2006 campaign and played a big role in the Jays' bullpen last season. When B.J. Ryan went down with an injury, Accardo filled in at the closer position, posting 30 saves in 35 opportunities. He appeared in 64 games for the Jays with a 4-4 record and a 2.14 ERA.
Jason Frasor appeared in 51 games for the Jays last year, earning a 1-5 record with an ERA of 4.58. He posted three saves in six opportunities, as well.
Scott Downs went 4-2 in 81 games last year for the Jays in 58 innings of work. Downs had an ERA of 2.17 and one save in four opportunities.
The hard-throwing League posted a 6.17 ERA in 12.1 innings of work last year for the Jays. He looks to be much more effective in 2008.
Tallet appeared in 48 games for the Jays last year and earned a record of 2-4 with and 3.47 ERA in 62.1 innings of work.
Last season, Wolfe posted an ERA of 2.98 with a 1-3 record in 45.1 innings of work.
Once again, Toronto will rely on wily veterans at the catcher spot while they wait for their catching prospects to develop.
1. Gregg Zaun
Gregg Zaun will enter the 2008 season as the No. 1 catcher. Last year, Zaun hit .242 with 10 homers and 52 RBI in 110 games. He brings a solid offensive game to the table (for a catcher) and has a good relationship with the Jays' pitchers.
2. Rod Barajas
Rod Barajas has seen time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies since 1999. He batted .230 with four homers and 10 RBI in 48 games for the Phillies last year. This season, he will be Toronto's backup catcher.
3. Sal Fasano
In 2007, Fasano hit .178, had one homerun, and four RBI in 16 games with the Jays. He brings veteran leadership to the clubhouse and will most likely be the tutor for the young Jays' prospects, Robinson Diaz and Curtis Thigpen.
4. Robinson Diaz
During his stints with New Hampshire AA and Syracuse AAA, Diaz hit .320 with four homers and 40 RBI in 93 games. J.P. Riccardi expects the 24-year-old to be ready for the Bigs in June or July.
5. Curtis Thigpen
Thigpen, at 24 years old, played 47 games for the Jays last year and batted .238 with 11 RBI. While playing for AAA Syracuse, Thigpen hit .285 with three homers and 20 RBI.