I was optimistic heading into 2008, believing that the Toronto Blue Jays had a chance to compete for a play-off spot. Inconsistent hitting and a few untimely injuries squashed those hopes and now 2009 looks like its just going to keep getting worse for this franchise.
At first, it appeared that the Jays were actually going to go after a big name pitcher, either re-signing AJ Burnett or going after one of Ben Sheets or Derrick Lowe. Their were even rumours of them adding slugger Pat Burrell to their arsenal of power-hitting outfielders.
Now just one-and-a-half months removed from the World Series, it is clear that the Jays have no intentions of adding any big name players, or even mid-range stars. News broke out today that they are now out of the running for short stop Rafael Furcal after the Oakland Athletics upped their four year offer.
This is all due to the economy, as the Jays have been hit the hardest, being the only Canadian team in the league. The Blue Jays have decided to lower its payroll to around $84 million after operating under a $97 million budget in 2008.
Here is a breakdown by positions, after looking at this you will see why the Jays are in for another long year.
For pitchers, you could say it's Roy Halladay and then everyone else. Last years number two, AJ Burnett, has followed CC Sabathia into Yankee lore and their is nobody to replace him.
Also, Dustin McGowan, last years number three starter, is likely out for at least the first month with a shoulder problem and last years number four, Shaun Marcum, is gone for the whole season after his Tommy John Surgery.
This puts the Jays in a interesting spot. Jesse Litsch is now the number two starter. No, that is not a misprint. Injuries and being cheap have forced the Jays to keep on with the little they have.
All things considered, not only will the Jays have a pretty brutal starting rotation, but it will also likely be the youngest in the entire MLB. After Litsch comes David Purcey, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Casey Janssen and all are under the age of 27. This could mean that there will definitely be some major growing pains in this upcoming season.
The bullpen should be amazing again, but does it really matter when they are coming in down by scores of 6-1 and 7-2?
Of course, with the money problem, the Jays are once again going with what they had last year for the most part, meaning more offensive inconsistencies. Scott Rolen will once again show to everyone that JP Riccardi is an idiot while John McDonald will hit his regular .220 from the short stop position.
Perhaps the only good thing about this infield is the return of Aaron Hill, but only if he comes back and hits up to his potential. Lyle Overbay will once again be manning first base, still trying to re-gain his gap hitting power after breaking his hand two years ago.
Pudgy catcher Rod Barajas will be the main man behind the plate this year as youngster Curtis Thigpen appears to be the front runner to back him up.
Perhaps the best part of the Jays is the outfield, that is, when they are healthy and hitting up to their full potential.
Vernon Wells will look to build upon his good, but injury plagued 2008 with a healthy and productive 2009. The Jays also have two young promising sluggers in Travis Snider and Adam Lind. Both will be looking to make a name for themselves in Toronto once the season begins.
That leaves us to perhaps the biggest enigma on the team, Alex Rios. Can he hit for power consistently, or is he gonna remain a .290, 20 HR, 80 RBI type of player? This season may be a make or break one for Rios.
Going through the roster has lead me to one conclusion, this year is definitely going to be brutal. The offense should be a little better, but that will not offset the huge losses that the pitching staff will suffer from.
Look for a lot of growing pains from many players as they try to get accustomed to the big leagues and expect a lot of inconsistency from this young pitching staff. The Jays will likely end the year in fourth or fifth place in the American League East.
Can you say good-bye Riccardi?