Let’s say you’re building a baseball team. The first thing you want is some good young starting pitching. Fine, the Blue Jays have some. Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, and Shaun Marcum are a quality top three, and Brandon Morrow is fascinating in the Jonathan Sanchez "if he ever harnesses his stuff..." tradition.
The next thing you’d want is an offense. Fine, the Blue Jays can hit a little. The team OBP is low, but they lead the majors in home runs. Vernon Wells debadded in the offseason, giving the Blue Jays a hope that their sunk cost might actually give them value, just like Barry Zito. Jose Bautista is hitting like Adam Dunn, and this new left fielder the Blue Jays picked up off Craigslist for free is doing pretty well. If two of the Blue Jays’ best hitters from last year, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind, get going, the Blue Jays will be able to score a ton of runs.
So there you have it. Good starting pitching, and a powerful offense with room for improvement. Doesn’t sound too shabby, right?
Oh, maybe they’ll catch a wave at the same time an AL East rival gets cold. They’ll fight and scrap and claw and scraw and dig in their heels, playing every game with a desperate urgency as they surge forward.
Third place. Maybe.
The Giants have been hosed by the baseball gods a couple of times -- 103 wins and no playoffs the year before the Wild Card, the cancellation of the 2002 World Series, etc... -- but every day I’m thankful they aren’t in the AL East. The Padres, Rockies, and Dodgers aren’t jokes, but it has to be especially discouraging to play the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays a disproportionate amount of times. The Blue Jays have put together some interesting teams in the past decade. Fourth place. Look at this pitching staff! Only two pitchers on the 2008 Blue Jays had an ERA over 4.50, and they combined for only 18 innings. Fourth place. Before the Rays were good, the Blue Jays had a chance. At third place.
It’s hard to feel sorry for a team that’s enjoyed back-to-back championships, but it’s hard not to feel sorry for them. I would be thrilled if they lost the next three games, though. Let’s not throw a pity party here.
Hitter to watch:
Fred Lewis ALWAYS strikes out in clutch spots. He’s not clutch! He’s always hitting singles when his team is up by six runs, and he strikes out when you need him. So if the Giants are smart, they’ll just walk the bases loaded and pitch to K-Fred, and he’ll strike out every time.
Sorry about that. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. I’m actually hoping Lewis does well in a losing effort, hitting for a couple of cycles and taking a few walks.
Pitcher to watch:
If you remember one of the permutations of the Lincecum-for-Rios rumors, Brett Cecil was supposed to be the player to be named later. As horrific as that proposed deal was, it’s worth noting that the Cecil/Rios combination has been more valuable (by WAR) than Lincecum this year. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. As is, Cecil will always stick with me as a Lincecum-for-Rios related tidbit, even if that rumor probably came from the bowels of the internet.
At no point will there be a Rance Mulliniks reference on this site.