The Toronto Blue Jays have a lot to build off of after an 81-81 season in 2011. They have a star in Jose Bautista and some very promising young players in JP Arencibia, Brett Lawrie, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar and Colby Rasmus. I like what they did with the bullpen, adding Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero, Darren Oliver and bringing back Jason Frasor from the White Sox. John Farrell seems like the right guy for the job here.
Perhaps a little more was expected as far as player addition this offseason. They Blue Jays were, at some point, interested in pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Yu Darvish, Edwin Jackson and perhaps even Roy Oswalt. They did not add anyone to their rotation. Apparently they even kicked the tires on Carlos Beltran. It has to be one of the most difficult tasks in baseball to compete in the American League East where the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays continue to be the favorites. I think they needed to make one more big move, particularly for a pitcher.
The top of the rotation is good with Ricky Romero (15-11, 2.92) and Brandon Morrow (11-11, 4.72, 203 K). They are hoping Brett Cecil can pitch more like the 2010 version (15-5, 4.22 ERA in 28 starts) than the 2011 version (4-11, 4.73 in 20 starts). Henderson Alvarez is looking to make an impact in the rotation as a rookie and Dustin McGowan is trying to complete his comeback by landing the 5th spot in the rotation. Former phenom Kyle Drabek is fighting for a spot in the rotation.
Like I said, the bullpen should be much improved. I'd take Santos, Frasor, Oliver and Cordero anyday over Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Shawn Camp. Santos (4-5, 3.55, 30 saves) should be a more reliable closer than Francisco. They add the experience of Cordero (5-3, 2.45, 37 saves) from Cincinnati and Oliver from Texas. They should be able to hold games late.
Offensively, I like the mix of young talent with the couple of veterans. Ben Francisco will turn out to be a useful addition for the Jays. For the first time in a couple of years, it seems like the Blue Jays are set for their opening day lineup. Adam Lind (.252, 26, 87) is at 1B. Kelly Johnson, obtained in a trade with Arizona hit a combined .222, 21, 58 in 2011. SS Yunel Escobar (.290, 11, 48) and CF Colby Rasmus (.225, 14, 53 with SL and Tor) have big time talent and at one point were considered among the top prospects in the game. Brett Lawrie should have a big year at 3B, as should Travis Snider in LF. Both players had some impact in their limited time last season and fans should be excited to see what they can bring for a full season. JP Arencibia (.219, 23, 78) should be among the best hitting catchers in the game and Edwin Encarnacion should get the bulk of the time at DH. Omar Vizquel continues his train ride through another big league stop in what he has said will be his last season.
It has been unbelievable how good Jose Bautista has been. After posting .260, 54, 124 in 2010, he backed it up with a .302, 43, 103 season in 2011. If he can keep that up, the Jays can easily be a better team.
I would have liked to see them add another starting pitcher, but there is a lot to be excited if you are a Jays fan. Vegas gave them an O/U of 80, one game less than they won in 2011. I predict they will finish two games below that, 78-84, forth place in the AL East. If all works out right, they could have one of the top offenses in the league. I think the starting rotation seems a little too thin which is why I have them ranked as I do.