Almost Go Time
Spring Training has wrapped, and the cover is just about to be taken off the 2007 season. The Jays lineup has been set virtually all winter since the signings of Thomas and Clayton and the extension of Wells. The only other new faces are backups Matt Stairs (Can-con, woohoo!) and Jason Smith.
The real interest in Dunedin this spring was the much talked about pitching. A quick rundown on the 12 pitchers the Jays are taking north.Roy Halladay/A.J Burnett
- If they can combine for 64 starts, this will be a dangerous team.Gustavo Chacin
- Decent, likeable people do incredibly stupid things all the time. A DUI charge in which no one was hurt is a cheap lesson of considerable value. Hopefully Chacin learns from it. Still not sold on him as a #3 starter.Tomo Ohka -
Did everything you're supposed to in spring to win a job. Looks like he might be good for a solid, if unspectacular 6 innings every 5 days.Josh Towers
- The 18 Ks in 19.6 spring innings are encouraging. So was the ERA under 10... He'll certainly bounce back from last year, but he'll have to bounce back to about a 4.50 ERA to keep his job.B.J. Ryan -
There is much ado about his back, but keep in mind that the Blue Jays are very proactive when it comes to pitching health. They are Team "Precautionary Shutdown." Ryan should be very good, though probably not 1.37 ERA good - thank you very much law of averages.Jason Frasor -
The closest thing to a sure thing in the pen after Ryan, which is a little spooky, but he looked very good after his recall from AAA last season, and should be solid in the setup role.Jeremy Accardo
- I can see Accardo being the key to the Jays pen in the early going. Has the talent to be a strikeout/inning, allow-less-than-a-hit-per-inning guy, but that's all dependent on his command.Scott Downs -
Second lefty who can actually pitch complete and multiple innings.Shaun Marcum/Casey Janssen/Victor Zambrano -
The lost rotation candidates. Zambrano has been a very impressive story, less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery. It's probably a wise idea not to go hog wild and hand him a rotation spot just yet. Easing him into long relief is a sound plan.
Meanwhile, young pitchers Marcum and Janssen have the potential to take huge leaps forward - or crater... All three, as starters, give the Jays a tremendous amount of flexibility, as they can eat up multiple inning assignments and keep the rest of the pen intact while John Gibbons sorts out roles. Zambrano will get the first shot at a rotation spot if someone not named Roy or A.J. falters.
All in all, the Jays pitchers have acquited themselves well thus far. Maybe we won't be lamenting the loss of Ted Lilly and Gil Meche after all.
Anybody else ready for real games?
- Jim Turner