Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just how good are the new Blue Jays?

Half the story about gauging the Red Sox chances of competing in 2013 lie with moves the team makes, then you must measure up the competition.  Unfortunately for the Sox, the other half of the story has begun with an ugly chapter.

Thanks, Toronto.  Fucking Canada.

Before the new Blue Jays have their 1-9 batting order and bullpen set in stone, we can't fully gauge their strength.  But here's how they look right now, starting with their 1-4 hitters:

1. Jose Reyes, SS
2011 stats: .337 BA / .384 OBP, 31 2B, 16 3B, 39 SB, 101 R
2012 stats: .287 BA / .347 OBP, 37 2B, 12 3B, 40 SB, 86 R

Reyes's stats returned to normal after he had a career year in 2011, and "normal" for Reyes means he gets on base 35% of the time and he's a threat to run once on base, so he'll fuck with opposing pitchers head.  I wonder how that will improve the Jays' #2 hitter...

2. Melky Cabrera, OF
2011 stats: .305 BA / .339 OBP, 18 HR, 87 RBI, 44 2B, 20 SB, 102 R
2012 stats: .346 BA / .390 OBP, 11 HR, 60 RBI, 25 2B, 13 SB, 84 R

Before his PED suspension, Melky was on his way to duplicating his power and stolen base stats while adding 40 points to his batting average and 60 points to his OBP.  Assuming that Melky's stats will fall in 2013, he'll still get in base 33-34% of the time, be a threat to steal, and be a doubles machine that provides some pop.  Why the Red Sox didn't pursue him is beyond me. 

3. Jose Bautista, OF
2011 stats: .302 BA / .447 OBP, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 24 2B, 105 R
2012 stats: .241 BA / .358 OBP, 27 HR, 65 RBI, 14 2B, 64 R (399 plate appearances) 

The drop off in Bautista's batting average could be due to pitchers throwing him less strikes.  Even factoring in the pitcher's change in strategy, projecting a 35-40 HR season for him is hardly a stretch -- but when you take into account that having Reyes or Cabrera at first, itching to steal second, this will force pitchers to throw more strikes to Bautista.  I don't expect another 50 homer season from him, but don't be surprised to see a .300 BA, 45 HR, 130 RBI campaign in 2013.  All the pieces are in place for Bautista to have another monster year. . 

4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
2011 stats: .272 BA / .334 OBP, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 36 2B, 70 R
2012 stats: .280 BA / .384 OBP, 42 HR, 110 RBI, 24 2B, 93 R

Edwin took quite the leap from 2011 to 2012.  With merely a 8 point batting average increase, and 12 less doubles which could account for increased power and more homers, he hit 25 more homers in 2012.  Since his batting average staying roughly the same indicates that he wasn't seeing the ball better, and his doubles drop off would only account for 12 more homers from 2011, I'm wondering if he's been 'roiding up.  I wouldn't be surprised (nor, for the matter, would I be surprised if Bautista was juicing).  Regardless, we can either assume that Edwin had a career year in 2012 in he's just getting warmed up.  So, will he hit 30 homers.. 35.. 40..?  I'm interested in seeing what happens with him. 

So, previewing the potential fireworks display that's coming to Fenway Park next year, Toronto has two hitters at the top of their order who will get on base and get to second by either smacking  double or stealing the base; and these hitters will cause a 3-4 slugging tandem to see more strikes.  Since Reyes and Cabrera will be on base when Bautista and Encarnacion homer, expect the latter's RBI totals to increase.  And, oh yeah, Bautista will see more strikes because of Encarnacion hitting behind him, too. 

That's scary.  Toronto's 1-4 hitters could score a combined 380 runs next season, with over 100 homers 350 RBI.  For Toronto, that's money well spent. 

I won't dwell on the Jays starting rotation because I don't want the depression I've already induced in Red Sox fans to increase and cause some unintended causalities.  But if Ricky Romero has a bounce back year and continues down the path of becoming a staff ace in 2013, then the Jays will have 4 starters who can eat innings and post sub-3.80 ERAs  But fucking hell, with the offense that the Jays have, all of those starters could have ERAs in the lower 4.00s and they'll still win fucking games in bunches. 

The Blue Jays got all this in exchange for a couple of unproven, single A pitching prospects, an infield prospect with some MLB time under his belt, and they got rid of the "IMMA GONNA CALL PLAYERS FAGGOTS" bad influence that was Yunel Escobar.  And then, just a standard free agent signing with Melky Cabrera. 

Personally, I think Bud Selig should have vetoed the trade for three reasons: 1) It wasn't a fair swap of talent, 2) The Marlins demanded a lot more from the Red Sox for a lot less than they sent to Toronto, and 3) Miami and Dade County invested over half a billion in the Marlins new stadium, and that money is not just supposed to build a competitive major league team, but it was meant to build and strengthen their local economy and surrounding businesses.  By trading away all of their talent that made over $1 million a year, the Marlins have abrogated their civic duty to Miami -- and the fact that Bud Selig allowed the Marlins to do this without penalty is a black eye for Major League Baseball.  This trade is disgraceful. 

But the trade is also finalized.  I don't blame the Blue Jays for this mess, either, since any team would have done this trade if the Marlins presented the swap to them.  Personally, I think the Jays' front office staff got shitfaced drunk one night, proposed the most ridiculous trades ever as a joke, left a couple 2:30AM voicemails to other teams and the Marlins responded with, "Hey, fuck it."

Regardless, these are the Blue Jays that the Red Sox now must face.  The next season just became more difficult. 

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