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“In Lou Of” The Blue Jays Are The New AL East Power

The Toronto Blue Jays have not played a post season game since Joe Carters famous walk off home run in the 1993 World Series. Even with the addition of the wild card in 1995, the Blue Jays really never came close to qualifying for the playoffs. Many people attribute this to the Yankees and the Red Sox domination, but truthfully the Jays just never put together a complete team. During this past offseason, the Jays made drastic improvements to their roster via the trade market and free agency. While their divisional foes did little to improve and keep pace with them. The Jays are poised to have one of their best seasons in franchise history, and they should restore some balance to the AL East.

The Acquisitions: The Jays made two major trades this off-season with NL East teams looking to rebuild. The first was with the Miami Marlins. The Jays received starting pitchers Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle along with utility man Emilio Bonifacio, and superstar shortstop Jose Reyes. The second was with the New York Mets who sent 2012 NL CY Young award winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto. The Jays were also active in free agency, signing utility man Maicer Izturis, and 2012 All-star game MVP outfielder Melky Cabrera. With these acquisitions, it has allowed the Blue Jays to move their number 1 and 2 starters from 2012 (Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero) to their number 4 and 5 spots in the rotation. This has given the Jays the deepest pitching staff in the AL and possibly all of Major League Baseball. Their lineup is also much improved. They have added a much-needed lead off man in Reyes as well as a very talented number 2 hitter in Cabrera. Izturis and Bonifacio will compete for AB’s at 2nd base, and hit 9th in the lineup. They provide the Jays with a lead off type hitter in a spot that in many lineups does not typically produce much offence. The Jays lineup is also much more versatile by adding these 4 players because they are all switch hitters. Last years team did not feature one switch hitter in the lineup. All 4 players possess great speed along with base running abilities, and should provide sluggers Jose Bautista & Edwin Encarnacion with plenty of RBI chances. With a loaded pitching staff and batting order, the Jays have extremely high expectations and they are certainly justified.

The Division: The Jays may have picked the perfect time to, “go for it”. They are much improved while the rest of their division stayed put, and watched as they reloaded their roster. They all made acquisitions, however, none of them are good enough to put them over the top. Every team has their issues, and I am going to discuss them below.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays seem to always have a great rotation, yet they struggle to score runs with any consistency. They are probably the second best team in the AL East, but I personally think they are a worse team than the 2012 squad. They lost their big game pitcher in James Shields when they traded him to the Royals, which immediately makes their pitching staff weaker. They also lost 2 of their best power bats, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena to free agency. The Rays always seem to find a way to compensate for losing players, yet this time they may have to take a long-term approach.

Baltimore Orioles: They were the surprise team last season, winning a wild card spot and then taking the Yankees to 5 games in the ALDS. They have a great young offensive ball club that is led by the big bat of Adam Jones, however, they have a big question mark when it comes to their starting pitching. Their bullpen was one of the best in baseball last season and heading into the 2013 season they look to repeat that success with the help of Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson. Unfortunately, the Orioles do not have a true ace in their rotation and none of their projected starters are proven commodities. None of them have multiple years of success in the MLB, and there is no way of knowing how they will fair this season. The Orioles chances of making the post season will come down to whether or not their starters can get the ball to the bullpen with a lead.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox have been in turmoil since their late season collapse in 2011. They traded away some of their best players last season, and although they made acquisitions this offseason, they weren’t good enough to have an impact in 2013. Their bullpen has some solid arms with the acquisition of Joel Hanrahan and returning set up man Andrew Bailey, yet it still ranks 4th or 5th in the division. Their rotation features 4 players whose best seasons are behind them and their lineup is filled with declining players and guys who are injury prone. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Sox made another trade this season that sends star players like Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz away for a handful of prospects. It’s time to rebuild in Boston. They need a miracle to occur for them to make the post season.

New York Yankees: For the first time since 1997, the Yankees are not a favourite to make the postseason. Their long time superstars are getting up there in age and 2 of their best power hitters (Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson) are set to become free agents at the end of the 2013 season. Their starting rotation is above average but still ranks 3rd in the division and their lineup is heavily depleted. The Yankees will be without A-Rod, Granderson and Teixeira to start the season and are hoping that Derek Jeter can return to form after suffering a season ending ankle injury last October. The Yankees are destined to finish towards the bottom of the AL East this season unless they can find a way to play .500 baseball until their offensive stars return.

With all that being said, this is how I see the final standings in the AL East:
Toronto Blue Jays: 97-65
Tampa Bay Rays: 90-72
Baltimore Orioles: 88-74
New York Yankees: 83-79
Boston Red Sox: 73-89

The Jays Projected Lineup:

  1. 1. Jose Reyes-SS
  2. 2. Melky Cabrera-LF
  3. 3. Jose Bautista-RF
  4. 4. Edwin Encarnacion-1B
  5. 5. Colby Rasmus-CF
  6. 6. Brett Lawrie-3B
  7. 7. Adam Lind-DH
  8. 8. J.P. Arencibia-C
  9. 9. Emilio Bonifacio-2B

Starting Rotoation:

  1. R.A. Dickey
  2. Josh Johnson
  3. Mark Buehrle
  4. Brandon Morrow
  5. Ricky Romero

The Blue Jays are in a great position not only because of the strength of their roster, but also because of the deficiencies of the rest of their division. Many people around Major League Baseball have named them as one of the favorites to win the World Series and I have to agree. Apparently, Las Vegas also agrees with me. They have made the Jays the favorite to win the World Series with 15/2 odds. They also have 8/5 odds to win the AL East division. The Jays will have to deal with teams like the Angels & Tigers in the post season, but their deep starting rotation will give them a chance to play deep into October. 2013 should be a great year for Baseball in Canada, and should be the first time since 1998 that one of the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays don’t win the division. To those of you who are fans of the Rays, Orioles, Sox & Yankees, I’m sorry but this just isn’t going to be your year.



  1. Corey D Roberts

    March 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I have the Rays 3rd, Toronto 2nd, Baltimore 1st. Dickey is going to get his name sake.

  2. Ben W

    March 13, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Nice piece there Lou, and I like how you gave a brief overview of the rest of the AL East teams to make your point about why the Jays should be favored in the division. Just a couple things, I honestly think the Yankees are going to make some moves right before the season, if not very early in the season to either A) get more consistency in the lineup while Granderson and Teix are out, or B) Go nab another SP to solidify their rotation as I’m skeptical of the back-end of the Yankees rotation.
    Now to the Orioles. I think they are a sleeper team to make the postseason this year. Dylan Bundy should be in the rotation before too long, and will be their ace starting 2014, if not late this season. Kevin Gausman, the best college arm drafted last season has electric stuff and could be a late season call up. Combined with Bundy, Gausman and Bundy could make a solid 1-2 punch going forward. Not to mention the O’s have an emerging superstar in Machado and a solid 2B of the future in Schoop.
    The ONLY thing that could prevent the Jays from winning the division would be injuries to the rotation/hitters. JJ is injury prone, but if healthy is a flat out ace. Bautista looks healthy, but was injured last season. The Jays should win the division though.

  3. andy peoplez singleton

    March 13, 2013 at 11:48 am

    As much as it pains me as a Yankee fan, I agree they do not make the playoffs. It will be the O-Jays who come out of the East with the wild card and division. At least you made me smile with the predicted Sox record.

    Ben, the Yanks have nothing to offer in a trade and this is the worst time to trade. Their Minor leagues are horrid right now, and there is no one to really be excited about. The Derek Lee option came out of nowhere for me, but it is very intriguing. Outside of adding him, or maybe Rolen, it’s pretty slim pickings. Their biggest blunder was not resigning Swisher. Not only was he a fan favorite and beloved teammate, but he offered versatility (1B/OF) and consistency. You could pencil in .275 / 25 / 90 blindfolded.

  4. Corey D Roberts

    March 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Agreed on the Swisher comment Andy. I am here right now telling everyone that while the Blue Jays will be improved that the Os are the class of the East this season. Lou, I would look a little closer at what the Os have to offer for a SP rotation. Very under rated and we all know the bullpen is beast.

  5. Joe Iannone

    March 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I realize the Bee Jays are the consensus favorites to win the East if not the ALCS and WS, and they very well may do it. They certainly brought in a lot of talent and fire power to add to some talented pieces they had already. But, I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate and point out some things that may help them fall short.
    1. Half of these players the Jays brought in were part of the same group that celebrated Spring Break in Miami Beach last season. The Marlins are the most recent proof that throwing a ton of money and trade bait prospects at the wall does not always result in a championship. The Dodgers and Red Sox found this out as well, and to some extent so did the Angels. The Yankees have been proving for 20 years that that model may give you a better chance at a title but far from guarantees it. The Yanks in fact have only 1 World Championship in the last 12 years. The best teams are developed from within and then pieces added when it is time to make a run. That is the only way to build team chemistry and unity. Anyone who has played sports at any level knows the importance of Team. Romero, Lind and Janssen are the only players I see that came up through the Jays system, and even that may not be correct. Even the Yanks recent great run was mostly fueled by the “core four” who set the tone for the new additions.
    2. Who is the team leader? Seriously. Who is it?
    3. Going down your list of 9 batters and 5 pitchers I see 6 players coming off recent injuries, 1 coming off a PED suspension, 2 coming off ridiculous career years, 3 coming off ridiculously horrendous years, 5 severely Batting Average challenged, 4 mostly unproven, including one SP who could lead the league in both K’s and Walks’s and a wholly unproven bullpen with a closer that has less then one season closing experience. That leaves Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Darren Oliver who may be as old as I am.

    I’m not saying that they can’t quickly come together as a team and that a leader will not emerge, or that that group of players can’t rebound all at once to join the guys who have to repeat their newfound success. I’m not saying that neither Jose Reyes nor Josie Bats will win the MVP or that Dickey won’t repeat as Cy Young. But it seems to me that a lot of things have to break right for them to win. And, ask the Yanks how hard it is to win this thing.

  6. Ben W

    March 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    All nice points there Joe. Call me crazy, but I actually think the Yankees will be in contention for the playoffs…but as a wildcard. Not making the playoffs is not in the Yankees DNA and it’s only a matter of time before Cashamn starts blowing money to buy wins again. Can the Yankees beat out teams like the A’s, Jays, Rays, Rangers for a playoff berth? Who knows. Depends on their health. In an ideal world though, the Yanks could cut ARod.
    The Orioles will win the division, and the wildcard teams will be:
    Yankees (only because JJ will get hurt again, and I doubt Dickey will repeat. The AL East is way different than the NL East).

  7. Joe Iannone

    March 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    As a Yankee fan I will call you NOT Crazy Ben.

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