The headline is a rip-off of DJF post called 'tis the season for believing in comeback's' where mentions Farrel's excitement over how McGowan has looked so far. McGowan is one piece of a lot of things that seem to be coming into place in the early goings.
1. EXPANDED WILD CARD SPOT: it looks like there will be an extra wild card spot this year which significantly improves the Jays chances of making the playoffs.
(below is quoted from DJF http://www.drunkjaysfans.com/2012/02/tis-season-for-believing-in-comeback.html)
"The right-hander, catching people’s eye with his command and stuff, dazzled teammates Adam Lind, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar with his slider and changeup, each of them taking turns walking out of the cage shaking his head," writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
"The fact that he was down in the strike zone, with the kind of power he had, with the heaviness to his fastball, the action to his secondary stuff – he was impressive today, there’s no doubt," John Farrell said, as quoted by both pieces.
(maybe Lind really was injured last year, and has spent the offseason making sure the Lind we see is the Lind of last years first half .300 BA/.349 OBP/ .865 OPS -- below is quoted from: http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120229&content_id=26922118&vkey=news_tor&c_id=tor)
"It hurt to do anything -- sit, walk, sleep, just anything," said Lind, who spent most of May out with the injury before being re-activated on June 4. "I tried to sleep on my belly, my one leg was curled up, it was just really bad for about two weeks. Then I was able to start doing things, but I still couldn't run or bend over. Finally, after about a month, it felt right again and when it did, I quickly got back up to speed."
Lind worked with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas Tolli in St. Petersburg, Fla., on a core strengthening regime that would allow him to gradually develop the strength and flexibility in his body... Lind said he does three sets of situps for a total of 180 situps almost every day and other core exercises on a daily basis, including back extensions, hip thrusts, wall squats, and planks.
4. DRABEK: Drabek has been working on tightening up his motion in order to harness his controll. From http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/2012/02/23/davidi_bluejays_kyledrabek_comeback/
"To that end, he’s spent the past two weeks focused on keeping his body within a simulated box – created by two yellow ropes on the ground framing the rubber – while throwing his bullpen sessions, a process designed to keep his head on a line to home plate and his body from falling toward first base.We found out during the season I was stepping across my body quite a bit and that didn’t allow me to reach my glove-side fastball, outside to a righty, very well,' Drabek said Wednesday. 'That was one of the things over the off-season we talked about and I worked on it a little at home by myself.'"
5. CECIL'S shape. Cecil lost 38lbs this offseason and came into camp in great shape. http://sports.nationalpost.com/2012/02/28/older-wiser-and-a-whole-lot-lighter-brett-cecil-ready-to-roll-with-blue-jays/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
6. RASMUS: Rasmus has been working on his swing and also seems to enjoy the environment in Toronto.http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/2012/02/24/davidi_colby_rasmus_bluejays_camp/
I think there's plenty to be excited about this spring.
Bullpen: significantly improved
The bullpen has been overhauled and should be significantly improved. Jon Rauch won't be closing any games.
Starting Rotation: could be significantly improved given Morrows potential Cecil's conditioning, a whole year of Alvarez, McGowan's presence and prospects coming up.
In the starting rotation even if Romero comes back to earth, Morrow is hoping to throw a curveball more in keeping hitters of balance, Cecil should be much improved given his improved conditioning, and McGowan has looked good early on and the Jays have lots of young pitchers in the minors. They don't have any stop gaps like Jo-Jo Reyes in the starting rotation.
1B: optomistically massively improved, at worst slightly improved given the presence of Cooper if Lind is unsuccessful.
Lind 1st half: .300 BA/.349 OBP/ .865 OPS
Team 1st baseman stats 2011: 1B .270/.309/.757
Linds improved conditioning plus having a similar player that is major league ready in David Cooper leaves the possibility that this position could be much improved.
2nd base: optomistically massively improved, at least slightly improved.
Even if Kelly Johnson has a down year because patience doesn't slum means that Jays should at the very least show moderate improvement in 2012.
2nd base .235/.290/.634
Johnson career .263/.343/.784
3rd base: massively improved
3rd base 2011 .236/ .322/ .773
Lawrie .293 / .373/ .953
A whole year of Lawrie is a significant improvement over all the people who were run out as 3rd Baseman, even if he does go through a sophomore slump.
LF: possibly much improved, atleast improved.
given that the position will be filled by either Snider or Thames and not by Patterson and Rivera this position can't help but be much improved even if Snider doesn't break through. If Snider does it could be another position of strength.
LF in 2011 .244/.295/.677
CF: Possibly much improved, at worst a slight improvement.
Given the amount of games given to Corey Patterson and a struggling Rajai Davis, it is hard for this position to also not show some improvement in 2012, and it also has the potential to be extremely improved.
Rasmus career .251/.322/.754
RF: should also be much improved with Bautista strictly in RF this year.
RF in 2011 .274/.390/.912
Bautista in 2011 .302/.447/1.056
DH: Possibly much improved
EE as a DH hit .296 BA, .361 OBP, and .865 OPS.
A whole year from him at DH could also leave this position much improved. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=encared01&year=2011&t=b
There is the potential for huge improvements in the Bullpen and the Starting rotation given the presence of McGowan and Alvarez, the conditioning of Cecil, and the depth in the minors. The pen is far stronger and has the depth to withstand injuries and off years. 1B, 3B, 2B, CF, LF, DH all have the potential to be significantly improved, and at worst should show slight improvements relative to last year. I feel like 81 wins is the low end of what this years team is capable of and that the wild card is a real possibility.