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Are hte Toronto Blue Jays ready to make a push?(article inside)

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  • Are hte Toronto Blue Jays ready to make a push?(article inside)

    For once Perry, Fox sports, had some good things to say about the Jays and doesn't totally dismiss them.

    Blue Jays could make noise in the AL East
    by Dayn Perry

    Is it finally time to take the Toronto Blue Jays seriously?

    The recent trade that sent third baseman Scott Rolen from St. Louis to Toronto in exchange for third baseman Troy Glaus means it's time to take a fresh look at the Jays.
    It's easy, of course, to forget about the Jays since they toil in the same division as those moneyed behemoths in Boston and the Bronx. Still, this is an organization that's posted back-to-back winning campaigns and, more specifically, tallied 83 wins in 2007 despite a number of factors working against

    them. To wit ...

    Ace Roy Halladay spent time on the DL and posted his worst ERA since 2004.

    Center fielder Vernon Wells hit .245 AVG/.304 OBP/.402 SLG (compared to a pre-2007 career batting line of .288 AVG/.336 OBP/.492 SLG). More is needed




    Lyle Overbay missed more than a month with a broken hand and managed to bat just .240 on the season.

    Reed Johnson was out almost three months with a herniated disk and, when healthy, hit just .236.

    Closer B.J. Ryan was lost for almost the entire season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery.
    If you'd have known those facts going into the 2007 campaign, then you might have been tempted to predict a last-place finish for Toronto. Instead, they placed third in the division and had the fifth-best record in the AL after the break.

    They achieved such relative success by virtue of pitching and defense: last season, the Jays ranked second in the AL in ERA and second in runs allowed, and, as detailed previously in this space, they've got the best team defense in the game today. On the other hand, the Jays' offense ranked 10th in the 14-team AL in runs scored, so they certainly need better production going forward. And that brings us to 2008.

    It goes without saying that if the Jays are to pull off the stunning upset and win the AL East, or if they're to pull off the only slightly less stunning upset and claim the AL Wild Card, then it'll take a perfect storm of positive events.

    Vernon Wells returning to form could be the key to the Jays' success.

    For starters, Halladay must stay healthy and return to Cy Young form (possible). Vernon Wells must hit like, well, Vernon Wells (likely). Overbay must produce more in line with his established level of performance (likely). Johnson must rebound (likely), and Ryan, once he returns ideally at some point in May, must get back on track in a hurry (possible).

    As for that Rolen-Glaus swap, it must work out in the Jays' favor, and it probably will. Provided Rolen stays healthy (never to be assumed), he'll be a notable upgrade on defense. As well, he'll be moving from Busch Stadium, a park that's tough on right-handed power hitters, to the Rogers Centre, a park that's quite accommodating toward right-handed power hitters. Again, given health, Rolen will make the Jays a better team.

    Beyond that, Toronto must hope that A.J. Burnett stays healthy (he's been on the DL in six of the last seven seasons); that their trio of young starters — Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, and Jesse Litsch — continue to build upon their successes of 2007; that Adam Lind lives up to his press clippings; and that David Eckstein can improve upon the awful production turned in by Blue Jay shortstops last season (they combined to "hit" .237 AVG/.276 OBP/.322 SLG).

    It so happens that all of those, save sudden health for Burnett, are reasonable expectations. Still, the "ifs" abound, and it's likely that some of those essential ifs won't go Toronto's way.

    The prevailing difficulty is that the Jays have little margin for error. On the whole, this a team that would likely win any of the three NL divisions, but they have the misfortune of playing in the AL, which has the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Indians and Tigers all vying for four playoff berths.

    In the East alone, the Yankees and Red Sox have better talent and vastly deeper coffers. Elsewhere, the Angels and Indians won 94 and 96 games last season, respectively, and the Tigers have drastically upgraded this winter by adding Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Edgar Renteria to the fold.

    In other words, Toronto is a quality team and has a puncher's chance in 2008, but the towering strength of the AL means the Jays will probably be golfing in October.
    Philadelphia Eagles - One.Team.Dream.City

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  • #2
    Watch out for the Brew Crew. they are ready to dominate.

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