Riding With the Wind, ’14: Ready to Go

It’s been interesting since the end of the 2013 season, with fewer moves than expected, rampant speculation, rumours, intrigue, disappointment, and, finally, resigned acceptance.  Without further ado, here’s the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays’ Opening Day 25-man roster with some brief comments:

Starters

RA Dickey; Mark Buehrle; Brandon Morrow; Drew Hutchison; Dustin McGowan

  • There are 2 surprises in Hutch and McG, but they’re good surprises–they both have significant injury concerns but they both pitched very well in Spring Training;
  • Brandon Morrow will once again be a key to the success/failure of the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

Relievers

Casey Janssen; Sergio Santos; Steve Delabar; Brett Cecil; Aaron Loup; Jeremy Jeffress; Todd Redmond; Esmil Rogers

  • This is the strength of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays, just as it was in 2013;
  • Redmond and Rogers competed for the 5th spot in the rotation, but pitched poorly enough in ST to be relegated to the ‘pen as long relievers/spot starters;
  • this, while somewhat disappointing, gives the Jays admirable depth behind Morrow/Hutch/McG;
  • JA Happ was perhaps the biggest disappointment of ST as he was virtually handed the 4th spot in the rotation;
  • Happ’s back flare-up saved the Jays from having to cut a player who was out of options (Redmond; McG; Rogers; Jeffress), or service time issues (Happ);
  • with the speight of recent pitching-related injuries in MLB, the Jays didn’t need another Ervin Santana type of fiasco by losing a quality arm.

Catchers

Dioner Navarro; Josh Thole

  • Dioner Navarro is a significant upgrade over JP Arencibia in every facet of the game;
  • Thole beating out Erik Kratz was a surprise, as Kratz commended himself with a good ST, however, Thole does have years of experience catching RA Dickey;

Outfielders

Jose Bautista; Colby Rasmus; Melky Cabrera; Moises Sierra

  • Anthony Gose played his way to AAA Buffalo–he may never hit at the big league level;
  • Sierra isn’t ideal as a 4th OF, but he has improved and he’s out of options;
  • Sierra will also see time at DH and possibly 1B against LHP;
  • There are several questions here, and most of them relate to health: if these guys can stay healthy, they can be formidable and productive;
  • the one question that isn’t directly related to health is this: who is the back up CF?  Can a tumour-free Melky spell Rasmus every now and then…?

Infielders

Edwin Encarnacion; Ryan Goins; Jose Reyes; Brett Lawrie; Maicer Izturis

  • Ryan Goins may not hit his weight, and he only weighs 185 lbs.–his defense will need to be Wizard-esque to carry his bat if he doesn’t figure it out pretty soon (Mazeroski-esque is better since he was a 2B, but you get it, right?);
  • Adam Lind will slot in at 1B as well, as might Moises Sierra;
  • Edwin, Reyes and Lawrie NEED to stay healthy: Reyes has a slight hamstring issue and Edwin was plunked by the Yankees (no Granderson payback, I’m sure), but all reports indicate that they’re both okay;

Designated Hitter

Adam Lind

  • chronic back issues and an inability to hit LHP are the questions here;
  • however, both of those issues, while disconcerting, are answerable with the roster as constructed: Sierra and Encarnacion figure to see time at DH, plus possibilities like DH-ing Bautista and getting Sierra to patrol RF are also reasonable game-to-game scenarios.

The Bench will be comprised of Josh Thole, Moises Sierra, and Maicer Izturis and, as you can see, it’s a weakness.  Bounce-back years from Thole and Izturis will help considerably, as would one more player (such as uber-versatile-recent-pick-up-but-more-recently-cut Matt Tuiasosopo).  The problem is that the rotation has health concerns (Morrow; Hutch; McGowan), so the ‘pen needs to be fortified.  The ‘pen has guys who fill the role of swingman or long man, but several of them are out of options (Redmond; Rogers; Jeffress).  This stars ‘n’ scrubs roster was constructed with the related factors of health, depth and options playing vital roles.

This season won’t be like 2013.  Not only does it lack the hype and correspondingly high expectations; it lacks answers to some significant questions leftover from 2013.  The only way we’ll get those answers is by letting them play out over time.  The first several weeks of the season will be very telling for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Opening Day is exciting enough, as the season still has yet to unfold.  This one will be very special as Dustin McGowan is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays against Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Jays play well this year, and we can sit back in November and say ‘that game set the tone for the whole season’?  Here’s to hoping…

Don’t let the lunatic fringe get you down if the Jays stumble out of the gate.  It could be worse: you could be watching darts.  Enjoy it for what it is.  Go Jays go!

Wes Kepstro

 

 

 

 

 

 

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