A rival scout sizes up the BLUE JAYS
When R.A. DICKEY's knuckleball is working and he's spotting his fastball, like he did when he won the Cy Young in 2012, he can still be pretty good. But last year a lot of plays weren't made behind him. The lack of defense affected MARK BUEHRLE too. He's not a power guy; he has to spot his fastball to both sides of the plate. Guys like him and Dickey pitch to contact, and if you don't have good defense behind you—not just errors but also lack of range—things can spiral. I don't think the Jays are any better there than last year.... With his wrist and hip problems, JOSE BAUTISTA wasn't able to open up on pitches last year. He looked good this spring, had quickness in his wrists and was driving the ball with good extension.... After wrist surgery EDWIN ENCARNACION looks solid. He and Bautista are as good as any 3--4 righthanded power guys in the American League.... I've seen COLBY RASMUS play since high school. He's a classic streaky hitter: He'll get pull-happy, and when he's in one of his funks, he's a little stubborn. Their new hitting coach, Kevin Seitzer, has a very fundamentally sound approach. He'll really help Rasmus.... MELKY CABRERA isn't the same player he once was and doesn't have the bat speed he had before last season. I can see him losing his job eventually.... BRETT LAWRIE is such an aggressive player—offensively, defensively, running the bases. But he has to take a better hitting approach and be more selective. I'd like to see him grind out at bats instead of always being a first-pitch-fastball guy.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
BLUE JAYS 738
AL AVERAGE 694
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
BLUE JAYS 735
AL AVERAGE 707
The Blue Jays are in a unique position, with two top 10 draft picks that are protected from being sacrificed should they sign a free agent. That makes their inactivity this off-season surprising, given their win-now roster and the holes it has. Rather than start the season with MAICER IZTURIS (.302 OBP since 2012) and RYAN GOINS (.300 career OBP above Double A) at second base, the Jays should bring in Stephen Drew to cover the position. Drew, 31, has been a shortstop his entire career, but the free agent, who would cost most teams a first-round pick to sign, hasn't found a home. Even adjusting to a new spot, he would be an upgrade on what the Jays have, while providing insurance against another JOSE REYES injury on the other side of the bag. The Jays have cashed in much of their farm system and spent a lot of money. Supporting those investments with a replacement-level second baseman doesn't make sense, not when Drew can be a three-win upgrade.