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2010 Toronto Blue Jays

Posted By Cliff Corcoran On June 4, 2010 @ 6:07 pm In Cliff Corcoran,Series Preview | Comments Disabled

Now that the Red Sox, Braves, Dodgers, and Reds (all teams I picked to make the playoffs this year) are ascendant, there are just two teams whose performances escape my understanding. One is the San Diego Padres, who continue to have the best record in the National League thanks to a wildly overperforming starting rotation and despite almost no contribution from their offense. The other is the Toronto Blue Jays, who are tied with the Red Sox with the fourth-best record in the American League thanks to a homer-happy offense that leads the majors in dingers having tagged 20 percent more taters than the second-place Bosox. The Blue Jays also lead the majors in slugging with a remarkable .474 team mark, but are fourth-worst in on-base percentage, second only to the Diamondbacks in strikeouts, and their pitching has been merely average.

If that’s not confusing enough, here are the Jays’ top home run hitters this year:

16 – Jose Bautista
13 – Vernon Wells
11 – Alex Gonzalez

Huh? Bautista’s 16 homers lead the majors; they also tie his previous career high set in 2006. Wells averaged just 17 taters the last three years, and Alex Gonzalez averaged just 13 in his six full seasons from 2003 to 2009 (he missed 2008 due to a knee injury). Wells has hit 30 homers twice before, but while Bautista and Gonzalez are both known to have some pop, they’ve both far exceeded their previous propensity for power.

I might have understood if the Jays were winning with starting pitching. Shaun Marcum is back from a season and a half lost to Tommy John surgery and pitching like a front-of-the-rotation horse. Ricky Romero, who faces Andy Pettitte on Saturday afternoon, is building on his strong rookie performance from a year ago, and Brandon Morrow, the former Mariners prospect acquired in an offseason swap for Brandon League and right-field prospect Johermyn Chavez and who faces Javy Vazquez on Sunday, has tremendous stuff, as the Yankees saw first hand when he pitched 7 2/3 no-hit innings against them in late 2008. Yet, Morrow has been erratic, and after Marcum and Romero, the pitching staff has been largely mediocre.

I suppose the good news for the Jays is that while Bautista and Gonzalez have been going yard, their young offensive core of Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, and Travis Snider have been scuffling and/or injured. That suggests that once the early-season flukes fade (which seems to already be happening), the Jays will still have the bats to keep the offense afloat. Still, even with those that young core producing, the Jays weren’t really supposed to be good this year (as I thought I made clear in my essay on the team in Baseball Prospectus 2010 [1]).

The Jays have gotten fat on the Orioles and Indians (9-0), but then so have the Yankees (11-2). Perhaps it’s more telling that Toronto is 3-9 against the Rays and Red Sox and have yet to face the Yankees. That ends this weekend as the Yanks arrive in Toronto for a three-game set. Things kick off tonight with A.J. Burnett facing sophomore lefty Brett Cecil. Burnett had two quality starts against his old team in the Bronx last year, but lost his one start in Toronto. In his career, he’s 22-9 with a 3.83 ERA with 290 strikeouts in 270 innings pitched at the Rogers Centre, most of them with the Jays behind him rather than in front of him.

Cecil was the Jays’ top pitching prospect heading into last year, but in that organization that’s not a huge compliment. He was erratic as a rookie last year and started this year in the minors, joining the rotation at the end of April. Toss out his one big stinker against the Rangers on May 14 and he’s been solid thus far, going 5-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his other seven starts. In his last three, he has averaged roughly 7 1/3 innings while posting a 1.66 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP, winning all three games.

Marcus Thames starts in left against the lefty Cecil, giving Brett Gardner a day off. Chad Moeller catches Burnett, giving Francisco Cervelli a breather. Jorge Posada is the DH again.

Toronto Blue Jays

2010 Record: 15-36 (.294)
2010 Pythagorean Record: 17-34 (.333)

2009 Record: 75-87 (.463)
2009 Pythagorean Record: 84-78 (.519)

Manager: Cito Gaston
General Manager: Alex Anthopoulos

Home Ballpark: Rogers Centre

Bill James Park Indexes (2007-2009):
LH Avg-104, LH HR-115
RH Avg-107, RH HR-129

Who’s Replaces Whom:

  • Alex Gonzalez replaces Marco Scutaro
  • Edwin Encarnacion takes over Scott Rolen’s playing time
  • Fred Lewis replaces Alex Rios
  • John Buck replaces Rod Barajas
  • Jose Molina replaces Raul Chavez
  • Jeremy Reed replaces Kevin Millar
  • Mike McCoy replaces Randy Ruiz and Joe Inglett
  • Shawn Marcum (DL) replaces Roy Halladay
  • Brandon Morrow replaces Scott Richmond (DL)
  • Kevin Gregg replaces Brandon League
  • Rommie Lewis (minors) replaces Jesse Carlson (minors)

25-man roster:

1B – Lyle Overbay (L)
2B – Aaron Hill (R)
SS – Alex Gonzalez (R)
3B – Edwin Encarnacion (R)
C – John Buck (R)
RF – Jose Bautista (R)
CF – Vernon Wells (R)
LF – Fred Lewis (L)
DH – Adam Lind (L)

Bench:

R – Jose Molina (C)
R – John McDonald (IF)
L – Jeremy Reed (OF)
R – Mike McCoy (IF)

Rotation:

R – Shaun Marcum
L – Brett Cecil
L – Ricky Romero
R – Brandon Morrow
L – Brian Tallet

Bullpen:

R – Kevin Gregg
R – Jason Frasor
L – Scott Downs
R – Shawn Camp
R – Casey Janssen
L – Rommie Lewis
L – David Purcey

15-day DL:

OF – Travis Snider (sore right wrist)

60-day DL:

RHP – Dustin McGowan (setbacks after labrum surgery)
RHP – Jesse Litsch (Tommy John surgery)
RHP – Scott Richmond (shoulder impingement)
RHP – Dirk Hayhurst (frayed right labrum)

Typical Lineup:

L – Fred Lewis (LF)
R – Aaron Hill (2B)
L – Adam Lind (DH)
R – Vernon Wells (CF)
R – Jose Bautista (RF)
R – Alex Gonzalez (SS)
L – Lyle Overbay (1B)
R – John Buck (C)
R – Edwin Encarnacion (3B)


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[1] Baseball Prospectus 2010: http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Prospectus-2010/dp/0470558407/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275689124&sr=8-1

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