Monday, 13 February 2017

My Outlook for the Blue Jays 2017 Season

My Outlook for the Blue Jays 2017 Season

The off-season was less thrilling than I was hoping for but probably not as bad as some may think.  Here are some of my concerns and hopes for the Blue Jays in 2017:

1st Base
No Edwin is the first thought that comes to mind.  But we have Justin Smoak!  OK, I will try to be a bit more positive here.  The signing of Steve Pearce may help out, providing he is healthier this year than last.  Pearce hits very well off lefty pitching, but I believe he will get a lot more playing time than that.  Possibly sometimes in left field, but likely more often at first base to keep Smoak’s whiffs on the bench.  It’s also possible that newly acquired DH Kendrys Morales gets some playing time at first base, although that would be a couple of notches down defensively. 

Left Field
This is a position that I wanted the Jays to address in the off-season, but they didn’t.  Right now we have Carrera, Upton, and Pompey as left fielder options.   Pearce may also fill in here.  If Pompey doesn’t win the job, he will end up in Buffalo.  They don’t want him sitting on the bench as a 4th outfielder.  Likely we see some kind of platoon, but even that is not ideal.  Upton is much better vs lefhanded pitching so many have been talking about a Carrera/Upton platoon.  But the thing is that Carrera’s stats vs right handed hitting are not great.   In fact, neither of them are great at lefties or righties.  If Pompey can have a good spring and win a job on the team, they wouldn’t have room to keep both Carrera and Upton on the roster.  I think Upton would be the one to go.  Also, if the Jays make a trade, I’d think it would be for someone to play this position….. probably the Jays weakest.

Centre Field
Pillar of course.  He has earned it with his defensive magic.  But man I wish someone would change his approach at the plate.  I’ve listened carefully to how he describes his hitting approach, and patience is not part of it.  He prides himself on being able to get the bat on the ball no matter where it is pitched.  In the Wild Card game, he hit a key double off a high pitch he had no business swinging at.  It was a key hit in a close game so sometimes his odd approach can have an advantage.  But how many times did we watch him swing away at balls 3 feet out of the zone and sabotage his own at bat?  If he took those pitches, he wouldn’t get as many of them.

Right Field
Bautista would be the plan here, but not every day.  Having Pearce fill in at times is an option.  Otherwise, we are looking at Carrera/Upton to fill in.  I’ve heard that Bautista has improved his shoulder health this off season.  Hope so.

Second Base
Travis’ health will be key.  It is his job of course provided he is healthy.  I’m hoping Travis puts together his first full season so people can see just how good he is.  As he matures, I’m expecting that some of the rough edges of his defence will get better too.

Tulo is the coolest guy on Earth.  That’s saying a lot given who plays next to him.

Third Base
Will Donaldson have another awesome season?  I think so!  His hip issues really cut his performance at the end of last season.   I’m hearing that is resolved.

Health was an issue for Martin last year too.  If you recall, he fainted in the sauna and hurt his knee.  He had minor knee surgery in the off season and reports to be 100% now.  He posted a short video on twitter showing him jumping around like Gumby, so I think he feels pretty good now.  I think he will have a better year in 2017 than he did in 2016.

Backup Infielder
I have sad news everyone.  Goins will likely be Goins Goins Gone.  They have Barney and there won’t be room on the roster for Goins, who is out of options.

Starting Pitching
Biggest strength for Jays is that they have good starters 1 through 5.  Look for Sanchez to be a Cy candidate again.  Happ and Estrada I’d expect to be solid again.  Hopefully Estrada’s back woes are behind him.  Stroman is a bit of a tossup.  The smaller strike zone everyone is talking about may affect him the most.  But I’ve learned something about Sto……never underestimate him.  #HDMH.  Having Liriano as the 5th starter may turn out to be just awesome, if he pitches like he did at the end of 2016.

Relief Pitching
Some new faces have made this area probably pretty ok.  So hard to predict how bullpens will be, so let’s watch and see.

2nd Place AL East and 1st Wild Card spot

Sorry everyone, but Boston scares me.  They are the team to beat in the AL East.  Of course, health factors are huge, but I still see the Jays making the playoffs as the Wild Card.  They are a solid team with great talent.  It would be nice if they get off to a good start.  The Jays have been a slow starter in recent history.  

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