This is the last kick at the can for the current Jays management. AA and Gibbons will not be around if this team does not at least compete till the last week of the regular season. One thing that I really like about their team this year is giving the kids a chance to contribute. They could have brought in the mediocre old reliable bullpen arms instead of rolling with Castro and Osuna. They could have given the job to Izturis instead of giving Travis a shot. These moves will payoff in the end. These kids don’t understand the pressure that is on this team. When you look at nearly every playoff team they have the same sprinkle of youth with veterans. Gone are the days of loading up on veterans and riding them to the playoffs.
The moves that were made in the off season were all moves that made sense. The Josh Donaldson trade is a risky one. Giving up a young talented player in Lawrie, a number 4 starter in Graveman, and a big time prospect as well. Donaldson has been an all star for a couple of years now. He plays an above average defense, and is one of the best offensive third basemen in the MLB. The trade needed to be made by AA. It will pay off in the end. Donaldson should be even more dangerous playing in Toronto instead of Oakland. That Marlins trade has not worked out as they hoped it would. Would you do that deal again? I don’t think you would. What did he need to do that hadn’t already been done? Bring in a player with veteran leadership with the knack of making it to the post season. Throw in that he’s also a Canadian boy. Russell Martin to the rescue. Coming off of a career year in Pittsburgh. When I first read about this deal, I thought too much money. Too many years. Both of those things are true, but AA needed to do something. Martin knows how to win. He’s been to playoffs the majority of the seasons that he has been catching. Including a couple in Pittsburgh where they hadn’t had a winning season in a couple of decades let alone a playoff birth.
AA made another smart move of keeping Gibby. I can’t stand Gibby, but if the Jays get off to a slow start. Who can they blame? Gibby will be gone. There is a certain kind of team that would thrive under Gibby. It’s a veteran group that has won and all they need is a pat on the back and a manager that has the confidence that they can win and have won before. Kind of like a poor mans Joe Torre. Well these Blue Jays are not that team. Bautista, Encarnacion, Dickey, and Reyes haven’t had much success when it comes to being on winning teams. This was the wrong choice of manager from day 1. The worst thing that could happen to the Jays is getting off to an extremely hot start and then slowly allowing the losses to build up. If the Jays have a repeat of 2014 they will be in big trouble.
The American League East is an extremely easy division to play in this year. The division is one of the worst in the MLB. It’s very rare that you can say that about the American League East. All teams have question marks. The Red Sox have a terrible starting staff, but a deep lineup. The Yanks have too many question marks with age and injuries. The Rays have a great staff with zero offense And the O’s lost two of their best players from last year in Cruz and Markakis. This division is winnable. They will need very similar years from the core and the improved health of Encarnacion. Everybody talks about the bullpen, but the bullpen is going to be fine. Hutchison, Norris, and Sanchez are the key to this years team. You know what you are going to get out of Dickey and Beurhle. This team is a .500 team, but can become a 90 win team being in a weak division with a little luck.
The best thing to happen to the Jays would be a slow start. Followed by the firing of John Gibbons, and then the hiring of Ron Washington. Washington has been to the playoffs multiple years. Knows how to deal with big egos, and managed a mediocre pitching staff for years in Texas. He is the perfect fit for this job. How many more years will the Red Sox and Yanks be down? They gave Martin a bunch of money, mortgaged the farm on Donaldson, and don’t have a lot of prospects left in the system. It will be a complete blowup if they don’t compete for the wild card this year. Do I have faith in this team? I wouldn’t say that I have complete faith in the team, but I like the direction that they went with the kids. They have depth in their lineup, but zero depth in starting pitching. The Stroman injury was a huge blow. The health of Hutchison is the key to this season. He has to be the ace of this staff. This is the year that he needs to get 15-17 wins and have an ERA around 3.50. If he’s a .500 pitcher, then the Jays will be relying on two rookie pitchers to be their aces.
Final prediction, 84-78 2nd in the Division, but out of the playoffs.