Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How Baltimore Can Win The East '09: The Case Against The Blue Jays

Hope springs eternal during this part of the season. To combat some of the terminal moping in Baltimore after 11 straight losing seasons, I have endeavored to inject a little bravado, a little hope for Oriole fans the past two seasons and I see no reason to stop now. Yes, the Baltimore Orioles can win the AL East...put much would have to go right for Baltimore and much would have to go wrong with the other clubs. If you put any of these clubs in the NL West (even the Orioles) and they would have a very good chance to compete, so I'm not running any of them down. But the Orioles are a bit better than people give them credit for. Especially when compared to the Toronto Blue Jays.

1. A Rotation in Shambles

Perhaps an overstatement but perhaps not. There's Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch but none of the other projected starters has a career ERA under 4.50. One of the best rotations in baseball will teeter on the verge of being mediocre. The health of Halladay and Litsch is essential for the pitching staff to be at least average.

2. Where are the Sluggers?

The Jays only had two players(Alex Rios and Vernon Wells) slug over .450 last season (the Orioles had 5 by comparison) and don't look like they will have any more than two players do it this season. Sure, Travis Snider might do it in a full-time role this year but Rios' slugging has declined for three straight years and Wells has already injured his hamstring...again. No one else is likely to provide consistent power to drive in runs for the Jays this season.

3. Scott Rolen

Before the 2008 season, the Jays traded Troy Glaus to the Cardinals for Scott Rolen. Not only was Rolen two years older than Glaus, he was more expensive and under contract for a year longer than Glaus.

The Jays owe him $11 million per for the next two seasons. He has only played in more than 115 games and only posted an OPS+ greater than 120 once in the last four seasons. He is still a good fielder but no longer among the elite.

So why am I focusing so much on Scott Rolen? Because he is the highest paid Blue Jay, takes up more than 10% of the total payroll and he is a mediocrity at this point in his career.

For a team with a tight budget, the Rolen contract is an albatross.

4. The Infield Offense

It's kind of sad that Kevin Millar has a legitimate shot at leading all Blue Jay infielders in OPS in 2009.

Look at the names...Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay, Marco Scuturo, Aaron Hill, Rod Barajas, John McDonald, Michael Barrett...ancient Kevin Millar's bat doesn't look so bad when looking at the rest of the motley crew.

5. A Talented but Mecurial Outfield

Lots of talent in the outfield (and DH for whoever's not playing the field) but it's the production that's suspect.

We've already covered Alex Rios' declining power and Vernon Wells' injury issues (which won't get any better as he passes 30 this season). Adam Lind is talented but has yet to provide even a glimpse of the promise he did in the minors. Todd Snider looks like the real deal but is only 21 this year; it would be foolish to expect him to carry Toronto in his rookie season.


The bullpen has been consistently good for years and they have a couple good arms at the top of the rotation. IF every one stays healthy, the Blue Jays will flirt with .500 all season. But they will be thin and unable to absorb a critical injury or setback to one of their starters. There is a fair chance that Baltimore finishes above them in the standings even if things go fairly well...

1 comment:

the wayward o said...

jays are heading for cellar
yanks are heading for season on brink
rays are reverting to form
Os are wildcard

who am i forgetting??????