Here's the last section, everyone. I hope you enjoy it.
Marc Normandin from BeyondTheBoxscore.com:
Toronto was arguably the busiest team of the entire winter. Which pickups will benefit the team the most in 2006, and which moves (or non-moves) hurt them the most?
John Amato from PinstripeAlley.com:
No moves hurt them in my mind outside of [Orlando] Hudson going. BJ Ryan is an awesome pitcher, but look at the infield now Bengie Molina, Troy Glaus, Eric Hinske, Lyle Overbay. This team is going to give the league fits in my mind. Their starting pitchers hold the key to their overall fate and it's pretty damn good -- even if they overpaid for Burnett. They doled out a ton of money for Burnett and Ryan, neither of whom I think will prove to have been worth that much, even if they're good (and Ryan will be, less sure about Burnett). I like the addition of Overbay, good glove and a solid bat. But my favorite thing they did was picking up Glaus, who gives them the thunder they needed in the middle of the lineup. I'm not sure just how good they're going to be, but they're contenders.
Randy Booth from OverTheMonster.com:
The move that will benefit them the most in 2006 is Troy Glaus. Glaus is a serious power threat, and as long as he stays healthy, he'll hit at least 35 home runs. That's been conservative, also. If the guys in front of him can get on base, Glaus will be getting some votes for American League MVP.
Jacob Larsen from DRaysBay.com:
BJ Ryan is their best move. A good closer is hard to find and he pitched effectively in a very hitter friendly Camden Yards. Toronto has too many damn corner infielders and not enough middle-infielders with the loss of O-Dawg. If they believe that they're contenders this year, they'll hate me for saying this...but I think that they're way in over their heads. They have power numbers and power pitchers, but they don't have any great fielders playing anymore (outside of Rios). Plus...Burnett is vastly overrated out of Pro Player Stadium. Look at his home/road splits from the previous 3 years...both Beckett and Burnett look mortal at home.
Mark Willis-O'Connor from BluebirdBanter.com:
I'm not particularly ecstatic with any one move they made this offseason, as each one comes with various risks. However, if forced to choose one of them, I'd pick the acquisition of Lyle Overbay. The combination of Overbay and Hillenbrand should be substantially better than the duo of Hillenbrand and Hinske. Additionally, I'm comfortable with the players the Jays gave up, because I feel they're interchangeable commodities. I don't think they made any awful moves this offseason, but I wish the $5 million spent on Molina was used to acquire an outfielder earlier in the offseason.
Molina was as clutch a hitter as there was last year with men on base and two outs plus an exceptional glove---Maybe I like them better than the rest of you guys. I saw a lot of him with the Angels living in LA . I just love Vernon Wells too.
Beyond the Boxscore:
What do you do with Toronto's lineup in 2006? They lack a serious leadoff candidate, and the lineup is not exactly deep. Reed Johnson, Frank Catalanotto, Vernon Wells, Alexis Rios, Troy Glaus, Russ Adams, Aaron Hill, John McDonald, Lyle Overbay, Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske, Gregg Zaun, Bengie Molina are the position players to work with in your lineup.
Scott Christ from CamdenChat.com:
I guess I'd hit Catalanotto/Johnson leadoff, followed by Wells, Overbay and Glaus. Then you have Molina or whichever of the Hillenbrand/Hinske duo is in that day. Then there's the rest, and with Hill, Adams and Rios you have three guys that could emerge, maybe.
It seems as though Adams will be the leadoff man for the Blue Jays in '06. He could one day blossom into a fine leadoff man, but as of now he'd be a severe liability in that spot (.651 OPS in '05). He's much more suited for the bottom of the order, as last season's totals attest (.856 OPS in #9 spot). I would bat Catalanotto first against righties and Johnson first against lefties. (Editor's Note: Johnson has hit .301/.350/.458 against lefties in his major league career. Catalanotto has hit .310/.368/.465 against righties over the past three seasons.)
Over the Monster:
I think the lineup is solid, and the young guys are going to continue to contribute. Like I said about Glaus, if the guys ahead of him can get on base and Glaus hits like he always has, the lineup will be strong. It may be a little weak near the end of the lineup, but that's true with most teams.
Toronto's batting order will be very top-heavy. They might as well give Russ Adams or Rios the lead-off spot, seeing that it'd effect Wells' numbers and noone else has great OBP skills on the Jays. I think that they'd be better to put Rios at lead-off, Adams at #2, Wells at #3, Glaus at #4, Overbay at #5, Hillenbrand at #6; the rest of the line-up can be mish-mashed.
They should go adventurous and hit Zaun leadoff.
What do you guys think of using Zaun as the DH and trading Hillenbrand if the right offer were to come along?
I'd rather keep Hillenbrand than Hinske but Zaun as the DH could work, and I'm no big Hillenbrand fan.
Neither am I, although he wasn't that bad last season.
Is Zaun really that good of a hitter?
Zaun can handle the bat. One of my clearest memories of last season was Zaun launching one off of Cabrera at the Yards, sadly
Reminds me of John Wathan a little, he has good speed right?
His age concerns me somewhat, but he hasn't played all that much throughout his career, so I wouldn't necessarily expect a rapid decline.
I figured his age was the reason to pick up Molina in the first place since Zaun could fall off a cliff any time now.
His speed's not very good, but it's much, much better than Molina's. They should make a good platoon. It's certainly not a bad move, just not a very efficient one.
Molina is attempting the impossible feat of becoming wider than he is tall.
I had hoped as crazy as it sounds that the Yanks would have dumped Posada for Molina, but I know that was wishful thinking on my part. I think Verducci had some charts on it. The Yanks could have done it, but Jeter would have freaked.
Beyond the Boxscore:
What will Dustin McGowan's eventual role with the club be, and will he ever turn into the frontline starter he appeared to be capable of becoming?
McGowan's K-rate in his stint with the Jays and the fact that his WHIP wasn't terribly awful makes me think he should pan out. I figure he'll be in the rotation, even if it's just to cover for Burnett, Lilly or Halladay, and he'll stick.
For now, he'll probably start the season in AAA. With the rotation set and long relievers like Pete Walker and Scott Downs on the roster, he won't have much opportunity to play. I'm excited about his future, as most probably are; he has exceptional stuff and his K/BB rates in the minors aren't bad. He still has some pitching issues to sort out, but remember, Roy Halladay struggled mightily before becoming as great as he is.
Over the Monster:
I've personally seen Dustin McGowan pitch before. That was last year in New Hampshire when he made his first start since coming off of Tommy John surgery. If my memory serves me correct, he went seven very strong innings and kept the Portland lineup at bay throughout those innings. His fastball was hitting the low-90s (92, I believe) and he was fooling batters left and right. So if he can do that in his first start after major surgery, then that really says something. I don't think McGowan will turn into Roy Halladay himself, but he should be a very capable starter.
Closer, with the bank-roll of Rogers coming in...Dustin won't go in the rotation unless they know for sure that he can be as dominant as any Free Agent they sign. Ricky Romero is more suited to be a front-line starter, but McGowan's past injuries have hindered him a lot.
It's nice to have top prospects ready to go. We've seen how fast pitchers recover from Tommy John surgery nowadays. Look at how well John Lieber pitched for the Yanks when he returned.