Friday, April 5, 2013

The 2013 Season - first thoughts

Prediction: It will be the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I know, it's early. The Jays have opened up the much anticipated 2013 season with a disappointing 1-3 start, an anemic offence for a couple of games, some brilliant defence and equally brilliant blunders. And the starting pitching have had moments of brilliance but have not impressed.

The fans of course expect 162-0, or at least cleaning the clocks of the Indians with its fantastic starting rotation and outstanding offence. And to lose against John Farrell and the Boston Red Sox feels awful, but shouldn't be unexpected given that the opponent knows your weaknesses.

So, here's my thoughts thus far and some trends that you should expect to continue to see as a team.

The starting pitching will improve: guaranteed.

RA Dickey kuckles under (Fred Thornhill / CP)

Johnson, Buehrle and Dickey have a long history of good pitching and you can't expect that trend to end. Dickey's start was not helped by Arencibia with his three passed ball and a wild pitch that Arencibia should have blocked. Johnson's start was not helped by Bonifacio's terrible defence, and Buehrle just got rocked by a team who had the scouting book on him. I know it's excuses, but these pitchers have a history of being better than they were this week. It's one start, folks. Lots more to come, and look for brilliant outings from the three newcomers. And expect Morrow to continue to shine. You gotta love R.A. Dickey and his absolute passion for the game.

The defence will continue to suck for a while but will not be good.

Emilio Bonifacio: Not Kelly Johnson (Getty Images)

Defensively, Reyes is not close to Escobar. Defensively, Bonifacio is not close to Johnson or Hill. Defensively, Izturis or DeRosa is not close to Lawrie. Look for lots more errors and lots of more balls going through the infield as the fielders get used to the turf (which moves much faster than grass). Perhaps Bonifacio will get better with regular play. And it will get better when Lawrie comes back and Izturis and Bonifacio platoon at 2B. And Arencibia will probably not catch a Dickey knuckleball for a while. And everyone will get used to the turf.

The offence will improve, really it will.

It's early. Obviously, Lind has hit the ball hard but with no results. But the long ball trend will continue. The team is still forming and gelling together. They're gettting used to Rogers Centre. They were just outpitched by a couple of Cleveland pitchers who were really on their game. That will happen from time to time. The great news is the top of the line up (save Cabrera) is there and Bautista, Arencibia, and Edwin are still hitting true to form. Bonifacio and Davis can still run. And man oh man, if you haven't got some kind of crush (or mancrush) on Jose Reyes, you gotta be crazy. He's just infectuous.

The Bullpen just ain't that great, but will sort itself out

Sergio Santos hasn't pitched in a year. Jeffress shouldn't be on the roster. Esmail Rogers is just okay. The good news is that Delabar, Oliver, Loup, and Janssen are solid.

It had been hoped that the bullpen would not be really taxed upon early in the season and the starters so far have each pitched six innings each.

There is additional depth in AAA for depth.

Injuries will continue to daunt the team

With the injury to Lawrie and now Bautista, we have to remember that the depth of the team will be affected by injury. My prediction is that the injury bug that plagued the starting lineup mid year will continue this year, and that will result in frustration. Lawrie's passion for the game will result in lingering injuries. I also think that Reyes, Cabrera, Rasmus and Arencibia will continue with the injury bug.

Fans will be disappointed

It's a long season, folks. The Jays did not spend $200 million to have a New York Yankees team. They spent $120 million to buy a better than average team. Anthopoulos and Rogers spent way more than expected in the offseason to get some genuine talent in three fantastic new starters, a great starting shortstop, and somewhat of a risk with plenty of upside in Cabrera. What does that $40 million get you? Well it gets you about a run of ERA, and it beefs up 2 positions in that they will get on base 17% more... a definite improvement but not anything that guarantees a World Series.

Consider that the Jays traded for all that talent from Miami, who just did awfully last year with Jose Reyes, Johnson, and Buehrle in the lineup.

This team is not a 100 win team. At best, it's a 96 win team and only if everything goes well. I expect only 90 wins and the team will miss the playoffs.

Of course, I hope for more. And despite all of this analysis, it's still very very early in a season where truly, anything can happen.

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