We interrupt your regularly scheduled postings from Chris to bring you a post from me, Cole, formerly a member of the yearly roundtable, now a contributing member of the blog.
Throughout the time that Infield Fly has been around, Chris has periodically asked me if I would write for it. After all, I have been called by many people the biggest Jays’ fan they know, and considering Chris and I met at journalism school, he knows I’m a writer.
I’ve always thought there was nothing I could really add to the blogosphere that isn’t already out there in other Jays blogs I love.
However, at about this same time last year I recall trying to motivate myself to write a blog post and the idea I came up with was to make a prediction/observation that the Jays squad was going to hit a lot of home runs in the 2010 season. Of course we all know that in fact turned out to the truth, but it’s also a fact that the aforementioned blog post never made it out of my brain and into words.
Too bad, I could have been a prognosticating genius (just like seemingly every major media outlet last year that predicted the Jays would be in the cellar and likely lose 100 games, *ahem*)
At any rate, I figured this year, I won’t let my predictions go undocumented. I will put them here and when October rolls around and the Jays are getting ready for their ALDS matchup (Let’s hear it for optimism???) I can look back and see how accurate I was.
I should also note that I’m by nature an optimist when it comes to the Jays, especially in the spring. Not all of my predictions are cheery and rosy, but for the most part you’ll notice I’m not hoping for the train to fall off the tracks here.
1. The Jays will once again exceed expectations and win more games than last year
As I had mentioned, last year the Jays were predicted for the basement, with some prognosticators going as far as to put them amongst the American League’s lowliest teams. Of course, they impressed with an 85-win season and I think the stage is set again for exceeding expectations (which are again low, as any baseball magazine I’ve looked at has once again predicted a basement finish).
I am going to go ahead and predict the Jays will finish with 88 wins.
2. Jose Bautista will regress towards the mean
Oh wow, really? So he won’t continue to hit 54 home runs each year from here until the end of his career, replacing Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds as the greatest home run hitter of all time? What a brilliant proclamation! Slow down there, gentle reader.
Fortunately, the other part of my prediction is that I think the mean for Bautista is still a very productive, above-average major leaguer. I don’t think his fall to grace will be too drastic, and I’m hopeful he won’t become the next Jays scapegoat who idiot fans take their booing frustrations out on because they only make $9 an hour serving up chicken balls at Manchu Wok and don’t realize that sometimes a hitter will go 0-for-4.
At any rate, I am going to go ahead and predict around 35 home runs for JoBau, coupled with that foolishly good eye of his that will excuse his lower batting average, because he will still be getting on base at a tremendous clip.
3. Travis Snider will be the team’s MVP
This prediction is made slightly more lame due to the fact that one of the Sportsnet TV guys (I forget which) was already all over the spring broadcast ranting and raving about how he thinks Travis Snider will “arrive” this season. Well, I have to agree. For many years before he arrived in the show, I was familiar with the name Travis Snider as our biggest blue chip prospect, a sure-fire bet to be a scary bat in the middle of the lineup for years to come. I remember the giddy anticipation I had before his first game and how exciting it has been when he has shown flashes of batting dominance.
Truth be told, everyone talks like it’s a make or break season for him this year, while not really considering that most players his age are usually still toiling in the minors and waiting for their call-up at this point. Snider has got an early taste of the big leagues, and under John Farrell with a chance to play everyday, I think he will flourish.
But, but, but… You said Bautista will hit 35 home runs but Snider will be the team MVP? Huh?
Yes. I’m shooting for the moon here kids, I’m going to go ahead and predict a .270/.345/.490 triple slash line for Snider, and let’s say 40 home runs.
4. Toronto’s bullpen will return to being one of the AL’s best
I had made this prediction before the Jays were hurt a bit with injuries in their pen, but I’m sticking to it. Alex Anthopoulos did a great job in the offseason of taking what was likely to be a weakness of the team and turn it into a likely strength. Not that Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are Mariano Rivera reincarnated, but it should be a decent group (more so Rauch and Francisco). The new blood, coupled with the existing perennial overachievers like Shawn Camp (seriously, Tampa Bay didn’t even want this guy back when they still sucked) and a couple of guys who will hopefully shine given the opportunity (R-Zep) and I think it should be a decent group and hopefully less rage inducing than last year’s crew, now that Kevin Gregg has taken his talents to Baltimore.
I’m not going to pretend to be familiar with some awesome advanced metric (if one does in fact exist) that can determine the value/worth of an entire bullpen, so I’ll just take the easy way out and go ahead and predict that the team’s bullpen ERA will be in the top 5 in the A.L.
5. The Jays will actually be sellers at the trade deadline
Now, I did predict the Jays will win 88 games, but unfortunately in the beastly AL East I am also predicting that will be a good 8 to 10 games off the pace for playoff contention. Now, in years past the Jays, for some reason, under J.P. — despite never really being in contention around July 31 — never really made much use of flipping their veteran assets to prepare for the future.
A.A. on the other hand is a future-loving boy genius who I really believe won’t true to mislead the fan base into thinking the team is contending by holding onto guys they can get value for in trades. So, no actual concrete prediction here except to say that guys like Juan Rivera (if he isn’t already gone by then), Jose Molina (if he can hit over .225 this year), Corey Patterson, Scott Podsednik (if healthy/not cut by then) or some of the bullpen guys shouldn’t get too comfortable come the deadline.
6. Roy Halladay will return to pitch at the SkyDome, will flirt with a no hitter. Thankfully won’t get treated like garbage, I hope
With any luck this will be the year the Doctor returns to Toronto. I would like to think the Jays fans won’t botch this and hopefully treat him with the standing ovation he deserves, as opposed to the rounds of boos that some other former Jays inexplicably get when they return to the Dome (really, you are booing Gregg Zaun? Really?).
As for the flirting with no hitter, that’s just how he rolls. Heck, he’ll probably even actually throw one. Why not? He’s good for two a year or so.
As a sidenote to this prediction I will say that Vernon Wells’ return to Toronto won’t be quite so pretty and it will be a damn shame. Again I believe wholeheartedly this is a player that deserves nothing but standing ovations upon his return. Sadly though, the knuckle-dragging fans who would see him go 3-for-4 in a game and then boo him when he pops up, will likely come out in full force when Wells returns for a chance to show how savvy they are that they can boo someone who was nothing but class while with the organization.
7. J.P. Arencibia’s transition to the major league starter won’t be seamless
OK, we are entering the realm of the not-so-positive here, but I think expectations need to be tempered a little bit if people think Arencibia is going to step into a full-time role in the majors and just start raking 30+ home runs like this is the Pacific Coast League. Now, I don’t think he’s going to be too bad, but there also seems to be a lot of talk about how they want his main focus to the defensive side of the game – almost as if they are willing to give him a pass if he puts up Jose Molina-esque offensive numbers (gosh, why am I so hard on old Jose today?)
At any rate, I will predict that Arencibia will stick with the big club for the season, but he won’t be near the offensive force he was last season in AAA.
Let’s predict about a .230 batting average and 12 homeruns.
8. Brett Lawrie is not nearly as good as you think he is. Calm down
Have we seen this scenario before? A kid has a good spring and all of a sudden he’s the next big thing. I’m not trying to rain on everyone’s parade here, but some of the expectations are already building sky high on Lawrie, just based on one spring training of games. Some parts of the fan base seem to think he should be called up immediately and is a seeming shoo-in to win ROY, while perhaps also threatening a triple crown, playing gold glove defence and stealing all the Jays’ wives with his cool tattoos. OK, I may be exaggerating slightly, except for the cool tattoo part (winning!) but everyone needs to calm down. Yes, Lawrie is a good prospect. Yes he will likely become an above-average major leaguer. No, chances are great he will not become a Hall of Famer and chances are also great he will not be a huge impact player in the major leagues in 2011.
I hate to be a wet blanket again (really not like me when it comes to the Jays), but that is my prediction for this one. It’s not that Lawrie will fail, but if he does make it to the show there will be a learning curve, and he won’t just start raking like a landscaper with kids to feed.
9. One of Ricky Romero/Brett Cecil and/or Kyle Drabek will put up a serious Cy Young-esque or ROY (Drabek) season
I’ll keep this one brief, I am really looking forward to seeing what types of years these three guys put up. I won’t put any numbers on it, but I am just thinking that even though Halladay is long gone, this year will be the one where Toronto pitchers start once again being in consideration for top pitching awards. I realize this is kind of a broad prediction by just naming a trio of pitchers and saying they will do good things, but man I’ll look smart if it happens.
10. Adam Lind/Aaron Hill return to being good major leaguers
No need for further explanation here and I also won’t try to pigeonhole with specific numbers, but I believe Aaron Hill and Adam Lind will bounce back. I think obviously the entire fan base is collectively hoping for this, so I’m not together too novel with this one. But, seeing as how the offense greatly depends on these two guys producing, I am going to take the optimistic approach.
That’s it folks, 10 predictions. Thoughts? Your own predictions?