Monday, February 25, 2013

Can the Toronto Blue Jays win the AL East?

           Could this be the year that the Toronto Blue Jays finally win the AL East? The last time the Blue Jays won the AL East, I wasn’t even born yet. It was 1993, also their second straight World Series title. But with numerous acquisitions and the New York Yankees without key players, the Blue Jays have the team to contend for a division title.
            Last year was a disappointment for the Blue Jays as they finished 22 games behind the division winning Yankees with a 73-89 record on the season. Injuries to OF Jose Bautista and lack of a key #1 starter were a big part of their struggles last year.
            This offseason has brought in many new faces for the Blue Jays but also a coach who his making his second stint with the team. With John Farrell taking the job as coach of the Red Sox, the Blue Jays hired John Gibbons, who coached the team from 2004-2008.
            The Blue Jays ranked right around the league average in all batting numerical categories last year. In order to contend, they saw that they needed to go out and make a trade this year because they couldn’t win off of just Bautista and 1B Edwin Encarnacion. The Blue Jays were the recipients of the Miami Marlins dumping their whole team as they acquired four-time All-Star SS Jose Reyes, P Mark Buehrle, P Josh Johnson, C John Buck, and CF Emilio Bonifacio on November 20th. Johnson struggled last year as he went 8-14 but if Johnson can get back to how he pitched in 2010 when he led the NL in ERA, he will be the Blue Jays ace. Reyes is one of the league’s best shortstops when healthy as last year was the first time since 2008 that he was healthy. The Jays also acquired OF Melky Cabrera who batted .346 and was named the All-Star Game MVP last year before testing positive for HGH. Cabrera was suspended for the last 50 games of the 2012 season. But perhaps the biggest acquisition of all is P R.A. Dickey. Dickey came out of nowhere last year and won the CY Young award as he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts. Can Dickey keep performing like he did last year now that he is in the AL, or will batters figure him out early and dominate him?
            The Blue Jays have lots of questions entering this season but will have Bautista healthy and Encarnacion coming off of his best season where he was 4th in the AL in home runs with 42 and 3rd in RBIs with 110. But watching Bautista and Gibbons being interviewed, the Jays are ready to challenge for the division title.
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