Toronto Baseball Guys
Monday, April 06, 2009
  Jays 2009

I’m not sure what it is about the Jays, but somehow they seem to make me care. Year in and year out, I look forward to the start of each Jays’ season. As time moves forward I’ve found a new set of priorities that have positioned the Leafs, Argos, skiing, road-trip based movies and -sorry Mr. Vedder- grunge rock at the back end of my subconscious. With the start of the season upon us, I am once again looking forward to seeing the results with just a few reasons for trepidation.
So that I may build a tidal wave of positive thought and emotion that the Jays will be able to ride out of the chute, I’ll start with some reasons for concern and then move to things to look forward to.

Who’s on the Mound?
Seriously, after Doc, I’m going to need a program to figure out who’s pitching. This will require me sitting in front of the TV with a laptop at my side. What am I, a baseball fan, or somebody’s Phone-A-Friend on Millionaire?

Nice Change Up!
84 mph?! I thought Tommy John surgery was supposed to add zip to the fastball. Now that he’s lost a few clicks, his control has escaped him, and the umpires are calling balks on his bread and butter of catching the ball and firing it back to home before the batter, ump, catcher, mascot and girl who serves drinks to the seats right behind the plate have been able to reset, BJ will need some big leads heading into the ninth.

Pop-Gun Offense
If there is a man on third with less than two outs, score him. I’m not too concerned about respecting the career averages of aging players who have suddenly slimmed down and stopped producing in the last two years since the introduction of more stringent testing for performance enhancers. There’s a new reality: Bunt when you’re asked to, because the team comes first!

If I were a Richmond…
I’m extremely patriotic, and I really like the fact that Scott Richmond has risen from semi-pro ball to the majors, but let’s be honest, he’s not major league ready. I don’t blame him, I do however blame the GM who thought it was appropriate to call him up just in time to negate his Olympic team eligibility last summer. I heard JP had a hand in picking the opposing US Olympic team roster. Why can’t you do something like that to help the Jays? Maybe you can convince the Yankees to sit CC, Arod and Tex in games against the Jays.

The New Math
Yet another summer of JP explaining how 2009 - 2001 = 5 (or less) thus ensuring that the five-year plan is still in tact.

Now to the positives…

Youth Movement
Travis Snider and a gaggle of young pitchers are going to get the opportunity to prove that they’re ready for prime time. Even if they struggle, they’re bound to have some highlights that will have us dreaming of, what will be, in the years to come.

Low Expectations
I’ve spent each of the last twenty four Jays seasons watching the team fail to reach my expectations. Even the ‘92 Jays didn’t manage to win 162 games on their way to defeating Jupiter in the Solar System Series. I can honestly say that I have no expectations coming into this season. If the Jays manage to get a player selected to the all-star team, it will be a pleasant surprise for me.

Health
It sounds like Overbay and Rolen feel better than they did going into last season, and I’m not sure that Marco Scutaro’s elbows are nearly as pointy as David Eckstein’s which should keep Aaron Hill in the line up on a more regular basis.

Mr. September x 25
Who doesn’t love the Jays annual thrashing of the American League during the month of September. JP doesn‘t have a great eye for talent, but his ability to find players who rise to the occasion in September is undeniable. Hmmm OPS, WHIP, what would be a good acronym for the ability of a player to Perform In September Series?

Ouch, my ovaries
Faking injuries is more than a hobby, it’s a way of life for AJ Burnett. Hopefully he’ll get the festivities underway shortly…mind you, heading to the NY/NJ area, there’s a chance that he’s been able to meet with Vince Carter’s Fake Injury Doctor in an attempt to control the affliction.

Curse of the Manbino
You’ve got to like Jason Bay, but he’s just not as good as Manny Ramirez. That combined with Big Papi approaching the age of Big Grand Papi, might allow some relief for Jays pitchers trying to navigate their way through the Sox’ lineup.

Rays Hangover
Perhaps the combination of no longer being eligible for beginner’s luck, succumbing to the distractions of girls, alcohol and midterms, and potentially lengthy suspensions due to positive drug tests tripped by unknown ingredients in their over-the-counter acne medication might keep the young Rays from repeating last year’s performance.

Prediction:
78 wins + many lessons learned…can’t wait till 2010.
 
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