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And We Note Our Place With Bookmarkers: Toronto Blue Jays 2011 Dangling Conversation, Part VIII

Eric Thames is one of several Jays minor leaguers who could potentially make an impact at the major league level this season. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Eric Thames is one of several Jays minor leaguers who could potentially make an impact at the major league level this season. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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In  Part I, we introduced ourselves and generally discuss the offseason.  In Part 2, we discussed the Marcum for Lawrie trade.  In Part 3 we discussed the 2011 pitching staff, while in Part 4 we discussed the catching situation.  In Part 5 we discussed the Jays' farm system, and in Part 6 we took a look at breakout and fallback candidates.  Most recently, in Part 7 we talked about rebound candidates, and whether the Jays are short one position player.  

Hugo: With Marcum gone, is there any doubt that Ricky Romero is the Jays 2011 opening day starter?  How do you think he’ll handle the transition to leader of the Jays’ pitching staff?  

Jesse: With Marcum gone, it would default to the starter for game two of the 2010 season, but Brian Tallet is also gone.  All joking aside, I think Romero has to start opening day.  Coming off two very good seasons, Romero has shown the ability to dominate the occasional game but also hangs in well when he is not dominating.  Given his work ethic and demeanor, I think his transition to ace for the Jays will be seamless.

JohnnyG: Romero is opening day starter, Provided no unforeseen circumstances he is our number 1 this year. As for the question on whether or not he can be an effective leader. I think the way the Jays staff is built he will do fine. They seem to act more as a unit rather then  a leader with followers that we had with Doc. So again any actual "transition" will be minimal in my opinion.

masterkembo: No doubt, it’s Romero.  Quite frankly, I was surprised Romero wasn’t the number 1 last year.  Morrow might have the better numbers by the end of the year, but Romero has shown some decent consistency the past two years and I think he can be the guy the Jays depend on to put an end to ‘cold’ streaks.  You usually know what you’re going to get with Romero and I think that’s important for the ace of a pitching staff.

Tom: Romero might be the leader although I think Morrow might turn out to be the best starter, but he might be shut down before the end of the season.

masterkembo: Bonus question!  Which of the minor leaguers do you see making a significant impact on this team in 2011?  JPA doesn’t count.  Who makes the team out of spring training, and who do you think is in the starting lineup by the end of the year?

Tom: I guess Kyle Drabek is the obvious answer. Beyond him, Zach Stewart could come up if there is an injury or two in the pitching staff. Brett Lawrie could also get a call up if any of the corner guys get hurt of flame out.

Hugo:   I don’t think Stewart will make the team out of the spring, but I do think he’ll provide a nice spark when he does make his appearance.  Lawrie would be fun to see, and I think Mills could surprise some people as a short-term option if he gets a chance.  Eric Thames is another guy who might play his way onto the big league roster sometime during the course of the season, particularly if Rivera is dealt. And just to throw something crazy at the wall in case it sticks, your starting DH by the end of 2011 - David Cooper!

Jesse: I think Darin Mastroianni could get a shot if we see an injury to Rajai Davis.  If he does get a shot, I think he’ll hold his own

Tom: You might have a point on Mastroianni. Is there any real reason to think Davis would be better than him, other than Davis already has his Major Leaguer Union card?

JohnnyG: Well it is a shiny card.

Hugo:   Well, I don’t think Mastroianni can keep up the nearly .360 BABIP he had in 2010 at AA (where he was, let’s not forget, 25 by the end of the season as well as repeating the level).  In 2009 when his BABIP was more normal (.327) his numbers didn’t jump out so much - .271/.372/.340 (also at AA).  That’s a great OBP anyway, but I’m also not convinced that the walk rate of a guy with no power at AA will translate to the majors.  Mastroianni might be a better defensive player, but I’d rather have Davis myself.  

Tom: How about Adam Loewen, is there any chance that he has found the stroke and could jump in and help as a extra bat/outfielder before the season is over?

JohnnyG: Perhaps, going into his 3rd year as a professional hitter and he has made decent steps so far. Time is working against him though