The Jays had a rough 2012 season, even with the emergence of 1B Edwin Encarnacion (.288, 42, 110). Ricky Romero had an atrocious 2012 season, going 9-14, 5.77 with 116 ER and 105 BB, and will be starting the season in the minors. Injuries to Brandon Morrow (10-7, 2.96, 21 starts, 3 shutouts) and Jose Bautista (.241, 27, 65 in 92 games) held the team back and projected closer Sergio Santos pitched in just 6 games.
The team returns Bautista (54 HR in 2010 and 43 in 2011) and Encarnacion are joined by Jose Reyes (.287, 11, 57, 40 SB) and Melky Cabrera (.346, 11, 60 in 113 games). 3B Brett Lawrie (.273, 11, 48) will start the season on the disabled list. Macier Izturis and Mark DeRosa will fill in temporarily. DH Adam Lind (.255, 11, 45) and catcher JP Arencibia (.233, 18, 56) are expected to perform better this season. Colby Rasmus (.223, 23, 75) will patrol CF with veteran Rajai Davis (.277, 8, 43, 46 SB) as as good a forth OF as their is around. Emilio Bonifacio (.258, 1, 11, 30 SB) will play 2B and gives the lineup a fair balance of power and speed. My line up would look like this: Reyes SS, Rasmus CF, Bautista RF, Encarnacion 1B, Cabrera LF, Lind DH, Lawrie 3B, Arencbia C, Bonifacio 2B. DeRosa, Izturis, Davis and Henry Blanco give the team a veteran bench.
The acquisition of RA Dickey was the biggest move the team made this off season. The NL Cy Young Winner went 20-6, 2.73 with 230 Ks and 3 shutouts last season and anchors a staff that also has Morrow and Josh Johnson (8-14, 3.81). Mark Buehrle (13-13, 3.74) and JA Happ (10-11, 4.79) gives the team potentially the top rotation in the AL East. If Romero works out his kicks, it becomes a bonus. Top pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez, intelligently held back in the deals with Miami and New York, is at least another full season away, but should be the real deal.
The bullpen should be better than it was last season, led by closer Casey Janssen (1-1, 2.54, 22 saves) and a healthy Santos. Darren Oliver (3-4, 2.06 in 62 games) had his best MLB season as he enters age 42. Esmil Rogers comes over to add depth and former top prospects Brett Cecil and Jeremy Jeffress have made the team.
I can see how their is some doubt over whether the Jays are as good as it seems on paper. I think their starting pitching will stand out and they will score more runs than they did last season. Vegas was high on them too, putting their over/ under higher (86 1/2) than it has been in years. I take the over, but I am going with 91-71. While it is good enough to win the AL East, it may not be as much as those who are believing the hype will say. As I have said before, the parity in the AL East will affect all the teams in the division. By getting the Jays into the playoffs, manager John Gibbons will do something that has not been done since the last Jays manager to serve two terms, Cito Gaston did.