January 01, 2007
The 2007 Toronto Blue Jays
Some facts about the 2006 Blue Jays:
1. They finished second in the A.L. East - better than the Red Sox did in the final standings.
2. Their offense in 2006 had 31 RCAA as a team - which was 4th best in the league and better than the Red Sox.
3. Their team pitching in 2006 had 54 RSAA - which was 3rd best in the league and much, much, better than the Red Sox and the Yankees. (And, this was with A.J. Burnett and Gustavo Chacin missing about 10 starts each.)
4. According to the plus/minus system developed by Baseball Information Systems, in 2006, the Jays had the best overall fielding team in the American League - and the 2nd best team in all of baseball.
So, the Blue Jays can hit, pitch, and field better than the Red Sox (at least last year) and they can pitch and field better than the Yankees (again, at least in 2006).
Therefore, should the Toronto Blue Jays be the team that the Yankees fear the most in 2007?
Posted by Steve Lombardi at January 1, 2007 12:56 PM
LOL Steve. Since you CONVENIENTLY mentioned the injuries of Chacin and Burnett, I feel I have to inform you that the Red Sox' statistics are ALSO skewed because of the numerous injuries that they suffered. And by numerous, I mean significantly more, offensively, defensively, and pitching-wise.
Just remember, for the final month of the season, they traded away Wells, lost Schill, Wakefield, Lester, and Papelbon. In addition, they lost Varitek for a month, had Manny sit out a month, and defensively were missing Alex Gonzalez and Crisp for an extended period of time. AND that's not even mentioning that they've UPGRADED their pitching, offense, and defense.
Also, you did not even mention that they lost Speier and Lilly, and their only acquisition was Thomas.
i fear not the silly canadians. especially now that frankie cat is out of the picture.
i wish ted lilly was still around to beat the red sox and lose to the yanks 2-3 times a year. he was the ultimate double agent.
It don't matta' what players are on the Red Sox. I'll always fear the Red Sox more because of the umpires. You could take the little league team from down the street, put a Red Sox uniform on them, and I'd fear them more than the Blue Jays.
I'm plenty worried Steve. The Thomas signing was a great one. He will be a terrific guy on the field and in the clubhouse for that team.
Unlike the Red Sox, they have a legitimate no-doubt-about-it number one in Halliday. And, they also have a top-notch closer in BJ Ryan.
The key for this team in 2007, in my opinion, will be Burnett. Burnett has ridiculous stuff. He just has not been able to stay healthy enough to really put it together.
If he has a big 2007, and Halliday is Halliday, the Red Sox will finish in third again.
Steve, I have to say that I've been saying this for quite some time. I think too much of the Yankee fans' attention is centered around the Sux. I think the Blue Jays are a damn good team and they WILL compete with the Yanks and Red Sox for the AL East.
Good points, Steve. Toronto upgraded its DH position and lost Molina and Catalanotto. Hitting on the team will probably continue to improve as some of the youngsters progress.
Pitching-wise a full year of Burnett and Chacin along with an improving Marcum provides a better than decent rotation. It would be downright scary if they aquire one more good starter.
Clearly Toronto is the top competition for the Yanks next year in the AL East.
The other strong contender will likely be the vastly improved Devil Rays. If they could assemble a decent pitching staff they would be very strong.
Boston will barely contend and will likely finish 4th. Its two main strengths last season, defense and closer have both been pulled apart with AGon and Loretta shipped away as free agents and Papelbon foolishly converted to a starter.
Red Sox fans are already working on their list of excuses why they miss the playoffs in 2007. Last year they whined about injuries when in fact the only two significant injuries were to Varitek and Papelbon, the latter of which happened after they had been virtually eliminated.
Baltimore is a total enigma. There is a lot of talent there with a lunatic meglomaniacal owner who will muck up just about any plan the baseball people have for improving the team.
My early 2007 AL East prediction:
3. Tampa Bay
Paul- Are you living in a fantasy land? Did you forget about their offense? Do you think Manny and Papi are going to fall off the face of the Earth? That is the funniest thing I have ever heard, the Red Sox finishing behind the Devil Rays. It is so ridiculous, I cannot even put it into words.
Wishful thinking, Paul. The Red Sox are not finishing behind the Devil Rays. Yeah, IF the Devil Rays had some good starting pitching, they could compete for third place, but what is their rotation made up of besides Kazmir? Until they learn how to scout pitching and draft a stud (which they've been unable to do despite a high draft pick every year) or until they do the even more obvious thing and trade some offense for pitching (why they don't offer up one of their good young outfielders -- Crawford, Baldelli or Young for, say, Ervin Santana or Dontrelle Willis -- is beyond my comprehension).
The Blue Jays took a MAJOR step back this year. They lost an underrated hitter in Catalanotto and their bullpen took a hit. They also lost Lilly (who they wanted back) and have so far been unable to replace him. They want to trade Alex Rios for a pitcher, but what are they going to get back for him? Frank Thomas was a horrendous signing. There's no way he's going to stay healthy for an entire year. Last year he was playing for something (to meet incentives and show the world he could still hit). Now that he has a two-year contract, expect him to miss a few months. He's still old and can barely walk.
The Sox upgraded their pitching staff by overpaying to get Matsuzaka, but I think Drew/Nixon is more or less a wash (Drew will not be hitting for power in Fenway). And they still don't have a closer. They're talking about Tavarez closing! Yikes. Papelbon is always there to close again, but they seem to think he'll hurt himself. Until the Sox solve their closer/bullpen situation, they are a big question mark. Their rotation, after Mats, frankly stinks -- Papelbon might win 12-15 games, but I don't think Beckett will improve and Schilling is done (like RJ, he should get back to the NL).
I'll take the Sox over the Jays right now because after Halladay they have no pitching. A.J. Burnett is my second-favorite pitcher to watch (after Ben Sheets), but he can't stay healthy, and despite abundant talent, he hasn't EVER put it together. Why would he now?
I think ultimately the Yankees improved the most by getting Pettitte, retaining Moose, and trading away RJ. They have a ton of help ready for both the bullpen and starting rotation. The Yankees just need to find a decent first baseman. I think they are unquestionably the best team in the AL East (on paper right now). Then the Sox. Then the Jays. And the dogs are, once again, the O's and Rays.
They should fear neither the Sox or the Jays. I expectthe Jays to finish in 3rd place in 2007. They were only one game better than the Sox in 2006, and this is with all the injuries the Sox suffered.
Reading this post of yours and some of your other posts, I've gotta say "you really understand baseball." I am, however, going to disagree with one thing you said. Their rotation may appear to stink, and probably should stink. However, if there's anything that I've learned from watching the Red Sox, it's that Schilling and Wakefield will succeed despite their age and injuries because they are Sox and they get more batters to wave at their pitches than flies flock to sh**, and as Peter Gammons so eloquently said in September, Beckett WILL succeed because he's determined to. Obviously, it goes without saying that golden boy Pap will have no trouble winning 17-21 games, as he'll probably only need 2 runs of support, and especially with Manny & Ortiz backing him up.
Oh, and from reading your post, Paul, my only response:
Scoff all you wish. The Red Sox were 70-74 against the AL last season. Only their play against the NL teams lifted them over .500.
They MAY have improved their starting pitching but severely damaged their relief pitching in the process. And their defense took a real hit.
I do not see the team as improved so far.