Jays “Expectations” for 2010…Thus Far


I received a comment from a reader recently that has urged me to start looking at expectations for the Blue Jays in 2010, at least based on what information and players we have. Thanks to Scotty D for his comments and well included info. His message is at the bottom of this post and although I rarely agree with averaging performances to get a prediction for an upcoming season, his comment did bring up a couple of really important points I thought needed to be considered when looking at Jays predictions:

  1. The key players for the Jays in 2010 are the guys who don’t have more than 1 year’s worth of experience. Snider, Cecil, Rzepczynski, Romero, and I’d add Morrow as a starter, all lack enough information to accurately gauge how well they can be expected to do. The same holds true for possible impact acquisitions in Wallace, Stewart, and Roenicke. All 3 could make the Jays a whole lot better come July if called upon. Also, take a look at expectations of Lind and Hill‘s performances prior to the ’09 season and compare them to their actual performances, and you’ll see exactly what I mean when I say that expectations are for nought. Sure, it’s nice to try to get a semi-accurate figure, but the process of improved performance in MLB (one hopes players get better as they mature – but it’s not always the case) is a long one that can take up to 4-5 years;
  2. Veterans can resurrect their careers. This is a very important point when trying to gauge what to expect from Vernon Wells, who has played injured the last couple of seasons. You need to look no farther than Scott Rolen to see what I mean. Before the ’09 season, the Jays couldn’t have received a gift basket for the aging and injury prone 3B. He was instrumental to getting a quick start for the Jays and created a market for himself. Once the trade deadline came around, the Jays were able to get 3 good to great players for him and he got himself an extension this off season. I’m not saying that I expect Vernon to do the same, I’m just saying it’s possible and he has the talent to do it. I also would add Edwin Encarnacion to that category, as he has the pop and talent to belt 25-30 HRs per season.
  3. The Jays are not done dealing. They want to trade Lyle Overbay if possible (and I presume he wants out so long as Cito is still around), and both Scott Downs and Jason Frasor may be gone as well since their contracts expire after the 2010 season. The returns they get for these players, and when they are traded, as well as how well their replacements do, will go a long way to settling how well the Jays perform in 2010.

I’d also add the following personal thoughts on the 2010 lineup. If Lyle Overbay is traded, the Jays may be using a combination of Randy Ruiz, Brian Dopirak, and eventually Bret Wallace at 1B. All 3 of these players can hit HRs at a torrent pace, and Ruiz proved it after getting the call in ’09. Changing a 1B from 15 to 25 HRs makes quite an impact on the team. When you add the hope that Snider will be better offensively, and that they Jays added a Gold-Glove SS to help out their pitching, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2010. They also added some nice depth and speed in SS/2B/1B/3B/OF Mike McCoy and 2B/SS Jarrett Hoffpauir, as well as SP Zach Jackson and RP Zech Zinicola, and RP Sean Henn on the pitching side. We also forget that SP Shaun Marcum, SP Dustin McGowan, and SP Jesse Litsch could return from injury and steady the rotation.

But, to me, those are not the biggest impacts for 2010.

The real impact: competition at important positions and a sense of direction for the entire franchise. The Jays will have a ton of competition at SP, RP, and 1B, making players earn their starts or appearances instead of feeling entitled to them. This will bring out some gems and will weed out the lazy guys, something the Jays have had issues with. Even Snider was told he’d have to earn the spot to get playing time ahead of Bautista. All this equals motivation to perform. Those who do well will play, those who don’t will not. That was Accardo‘s beef last season. He performed as well as Frasor and Downs, but spent the majority of the year in AAA, it just didn’t make sense. As for the direction, the Jays know they’re young, that there will be struggles, and that they’re building something. More importantly, they now get the feeling that they’re building something great and that the GM has a grip on what it’s going to take for them to win. Players don’t want to play for an endless losing team, season after season. they want to build and become an important part of a winning squad. That’s what Alex Anthopoulos has brought to the clubhouse, a sense of direction that was dearly lacking under JP Ricciardi.

Knowing that the Jays are young and talented, and that the players will be playing with zero pressure, I’d place the Jays wins somewhere between 74 to 81 in 2010. That’s my opinion based on the information we currently have. Having said that, it will still put the Jays last in the AL East, but not for long, as I expect the core of Snider-Hill-Lind-Wallace to terrorize opposing pitchers in 2011 and beyond!!

From Scotty D

“Hi Mat,

Unrelated to Aroldis, but I was looking at next year’s Jays:

With the doom-and-gloom that lies over the 2010 season, I thought I’d take a look at what we can honestly expect from the 2010 Blue Jays. Using each players’ best WAR from the last 3 seasons (Because it’s available, and fairly encompassing) here’s what your 2010 Blue Jays should look like:

Player WAR (Year)
Bautista 1.9 (09)
Gonzalez 2.4 (07)
Lind 3.7 (09)
Hill 4.2 (09)
Snider 1 (CHONE Projection)
Wells 1.3 (08)
Encarnacion 2 (08)
Overbay 2 (09)
Buck 0.9 (09)

McDonald 0 (09)
McCoy 0.9 (CHONE)
Chavez 0.2 (09)
Gathright 1.1 (07)

Marcum 2 (08)
Romero 2.7 (09)
Rzepczynski 1.1 (09)
Morrow 0.2 (09)-CHONE projects 1.6
Cecil 0.4 (09)

Frasor 1.4 (09)
Downs 1 (09)
Richmond 0.8 (09)
Carlson 0.7 (08)
Accardo 1.5 (07)
Tallett 1.7 (09)
Camp 0.7 (09)

Overall, based on recently achieved stats, the 2010 Blue Jays project 35.8 wins (American League AVG is 33.6). This precludes any improvement from the young pitching staff. It is reasonable to assume with this collection of players that we could finish at or around .500.