2014 AL East Preview And Predictions
Mar 9, 2014; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in a spring training exhibition game at Osceola County Stadium. Bautista had a ground rule-double to lead off the sixth. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
4) Toronto Blue Jays: 80-82
1- Why will this team exceed expectations?
Shaun Doyle from Jay’s Journal: The simple answer is that the expectations are very low for this team. Being that they have not done much (save for replace JP Arencibia with Dioner Navarro) to improve the team, the Blue Jays are expected to finish last in the AL East.
We must remember that this team IS mostly unchanged and last season, they were the favorites to not only make the playoffs, but to challenge for a championship. Yes, everyone is a year older, but they are also healthy…for now. Injuries caused the Blue Jays to lose key players for extended periods of time. These losses translated to losses on the field.
With a healthy season form players like Brandon Morrow, Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Cobly Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie, this team is primed to exceed expectations.
2- Why will this team fall short of expectations?
It is hard to imagine the Toronto Blue Jays falling below expectations. What is below last? But, where they will fall is in the rotation. There are too many question marks for fans to be comfortable. After R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, there are A LOT of “ifs”.
Firstly, there is the health of Brandon Morrow. Morrow is an ace in waiting. But, they need him to stay on the field for a whole season. That is asking a lot. After that Jays fans have no idea what to expect. J.A. Happ will serve as the 4th starter. Then we have an open competition designed by The Riddler- question marks everywhere you look.
Can Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison come back from Tommy John surgery? Can Todd Redmond handle more than spot starts? Can Esmil Rogers? Do we rush Marcus Stroman based on they hype surrounding him?
3- Look for the team to make (this trade)
If the Blue Jays are out of the hunt by the trade deadline, look for them to try and unload. Buerhle’s is a large contract that they may wish to unload and he would be a good option for a contending team. However, what may be even more likely is Colby Rasmus being on the block with him being ready to hit free agency this coming fall. The Jays will look to upgrade in several areas.
They may look for a full time, young controllable second baseman, a young catcher who is capable of handling the everyday role. The Jays have Anthony Gose, Moises Sierra, Kevin Pillar that could step in to round out the outfield if the season is lost at the end of July.
4- Watch out for the emergence of (prospect)
The obvious answer to this question would be Marcus Stroman. With the lack of pitching moves, a lot of faith has been put into this kid. Depending on injuries, we could also get a look at Aaron Sanchez. Last offseason, Sanchez was “off limits” in trade discussions. This summer, Jays fans may get to see why.