Toronto Blue Jays Season Preview: Break Down of Roster
Breaking Down the Blue Jays 2013 Roster
The Toronto Blue Jays enter the 2013 season with more hope and anticipation than any they've had in recent memory. You would have to go back to 1993 to have the same atmosphere around a team going into April.
Of course with that much anticipation comes expectation. The Blue Jays, for the first time in 20 years, are the odds on favorite to win the American League's East division. The Yankees and Red Sox are shells of their former selves and the Jays have been the most active team in baseball in the off-season.
They made a huge splash in acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonafacio from the Miami Marlins, giving up up little in terms of 2013 impact in the process. Alex Anthopoulus then made another big splash in getting reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and then signing him to a two year extension. He did give up top catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud, but such is the cost of doing business in getting an ace. He also went one step further and signed 2012 All-star MVP, but disgraced, Melky Cabrera to play left field.
With the rotation shored up and a very deep lineup behind it, there are very few holes in their lineup. There are of course no guarantees and that doesn't mean there aren't question marks, but for the first time in a long time those question marks aren't the make or break areas of the team. Jose Bautista will be looking to return to his 2010 and 2011 form after an injured plagues 2012, and can Edwin Encarnacion come close to a 2012 repeat? If those two can drive in runs in the middle of the lineup it will be dangerous indeed.
Here's a look at what the Jays have at each position and what the lineup might look like.
1. R.A. Dickey
2. Brendan Morrow
3. Mark Buehrle
4. Josh Johnson
5. J.A. Happ
- Ricky Romero
With all the additions in the offseason, it is the best Jays rotation in a long time. There's a balance of age and youth, of hard throwers and control type and well as left-handers vs right-handers. It is so improved that last year's Opening Day starter Ricky Romero went from No.1 to No.5 to starting in Dunedin. J.A. Happ earned the fifth starter spot and will start with the big club. There is every expectation that we will also see Romero back at some point.
The key could be Johnson, a former ERA champ, he throws hard and is coming off a down year. If he rounds into form in the middle of the rotation it will be dangerous
Casey Janssen, RHP (closer)
Sergio Santos, RHP
Darren Oliver, LHP
Esmil Rogers, RHP
Steve Delabar, RHP
Aaron Loup, LHP
Jeremy Jeffress, LHP
Brett Cecil, LHP
The bullpen is also much stronger this year, if only because of a healthy Sergio Santos. Santos could be the key to the pen and may end up as the closer. The job will belong to Janssen to start and he earned it based on last season. The team also returns the ageless Oliver who was lights out vs lefties last season. Delabar was a revalation last year and will fit into middle relief as will Loup and Rogers another power arm acquired in the offseason. Both Cecil and Jeffress made the Opening Day roster in the final two spots.
Starter: J.P. Arencibia
Back-up: Henry Blanco
3rd: Josh Thole (AAA)
J.P. Arencibia is the man behind the plate for the Blue Jays for the present and foreseeable future. Amid speculation last season about whether top catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud would be ready or not for 2013, there was just as much speculation as to whether Arencibia would be dealt or not. Fast forward to 2013 and it's D'Arnaud that's no longer with the club and Arencibia the unquestioned No.1. He improved his defence dramatically last year and if he can continue that and bring his average up this season to a respectable number he will be one of the most productive backstops in the American League. He will likely catch 130-140 games this season.
Blanco made the club out of camp over Thole for his leadership and defence. However, he is well past his prime and won't be able to handle No.1 duties. If Arencibia should go down, look for Thole to come up and handle top spot.
Starter: Edwin Encarnacion
Back-Up: Adam Lind
Encarnacion and Lind will split time at first with EE getting most of the starts there. He earned the spot last year, playing much better defensively than anticipated. It seems as though when throwing isn't involved he is a much better defender. Encarnacion will also occupy the clean-up spot in the order coming off a 42 HR and 110 RBI season.
1a. Emilio Bonafacio
1b. Macier Izturis
Back-up: Mark DeRosa
The one position that hasn't been fully decided is that of 2B. Both Bonafacio and Izturis put forth strong cases for themselves. The Jays like Bonafacio's speed and skill set that he brings to the linuep, but aren't sold on his defence. Izturis is the better defender and based on that as well as the fact Bonafacio can play multiple positions will see increased playing time.
With Brett Lawrie out to start the year both will likely be in the Opening Day lineup.
Starter: Brett Lawrie
Back-up: Macier Izturis, Mark DeRosa
Lawrie comes in as the unquestioned starter, although will start the year on the DL for a week with a rib injury. The Blue Jays are hoping he takes a step forward in his development and resembles the player from 2011, not 2012. He has all the tools to be an all-star and the drive to work at it.
Izturis will take his spot on Opening Day with DeRosa providing a capable option from the bench.
Starter: Jose Reyes
Back-Up: Macier Izturis
One of the keys to the Marlins deal, Reyes gives the Jays an elite shortstop for the first time in a long time. He also gives them a legitimate lead-off hitter which is something they have been lacking. Reyes could be in a position to put up big numbers hitting in front of Bautista and Encarnacion. If he can get on base he should score a lot of runs.
He will also bring excellent defence with him, something the improved pitching staff will no doubt appreciate.
Starter: Melky Cabrera
Back-Up: Rajai Davis
Perhaps the forgotten member of the Jays off-season wheeling and dealing, Cabrera is looking for a chance to prove the numbers he put up last year weren't solely chemically based. If he can put up anywhere close to those numbers it will be a good signing for the Jays. He will be put in a prime position to succeed, hitting 2nd behind Reyes and in front of Bautista.
Davis slides into the role of 4th outfielder and will give Cabrera a few days rest.
Starter: Colby Rasmus
Back-Up: Rajai Davis, Emilio Bonafacio, Anthony Gose (AAA)
The job is Rasmus' — for now. He held off a hard charging Gose in Spring Training and will have the opportunity to prove he belongs in CF every day. A player with all the tools, the Jays hope this is the year Rasmus takes off and puts together a consistent season at the plate. He has the potential to hit for average and power but is extremely streaky and has yet to put it together for a whole season.
Davis and Bonafacio will spell him off during the year, but if there is a prolonged slump or injury situation look for Gose to get the call from Buffalo.
Starter: Jose Bautista
Back-Up: Rajai Davis
The unquestioned leader on the team, Bautista is the lineup's kingpin. Putting up MVP calibre numbers in 2010 and 2011, Bautista looks to be healthy in 2013 and ready to regain his form. With Reyes and Cabrera in front of him and Encarnacion behind, there's no reason to think he won't do it either. If the Jays can stay in contention, Bautista could be primed for an MVP year.
Starter: Adam Lind
Back-Up: Edwin Encarnacion, Rajai Davis, Emilio Bonafacio
Lind will serve as the primary DH with Encarnacion filling the spot when Lind plays first. Lind is hoping to regain his form of a few years ago when he was an American League Silver Slugger. If he can bring back some of that magic, his left-handed power bat following Encarnacion in the lineup could be huge for the Jays.
Look for Gibbons to put Davis or Bonafacio in that spot occasionally and go with a speed lineup to give opponents a different look, or giving Lind a night off against a tough lefty.
Macier Izturis/Emilio Bonafacio
The Blue Jays have a bench that provides many options. The main one being speed. Especially in a game where Bonafacio doesn't start, they have two of the best base-stealers in baseball in he and Davis. Blanco and DeRosa bring good defense but more importantly leadership and a locker room presence. If the Jays are in contention this season, they may look to add another bat with some pop to the bench.