Over at Grantland, Jonah Keri has written a Offseason Stock Report, ranking all 30 Major League teams (with a lot of words).
The Jays? Number 22, lowest ranked team in the AL East, the Orioles are 18th. Here is the money quote:
....as constructed, the Jays still look like a last-place team, maybe fourth-place at best. And given both Santana's tendency to serve up long balls and the strength of the division's top teams, dishing out $50 million to cap a suspiciously quiet offseason might not make much of a difference.
I really wanted to argue this, but, well, I can see the possibility of everything going right and them maybe being on the edge of contending, but, more likely, we'll be battling for fourth.
I mean, our offense is coming back basically as the same group as last year, sub in Navarro for Arencibia (an improvement) and Goins for Bonifacio, Sierra and Gose or Pillar for Davis and DeRosa. Last year we were about league average offensively, and that's with a pretty offensive friendly ballpark. Now we can hope for better health, but all the players are a year older and older rarely means healthier.
Our starting rotation was the worst in the division last year, the big change is Josh Johnson is gone and no one has been added (sigh). Our rotational looks to be:
R.A. Dickey: He was a bit of a disappointment last year, maybe caused by neck and back soreness, but then how many pitchers (even knuckleball pitchers) improve at age 39.
Mark Buehrle: He was pretty good, if you ignore the first month and a half of the season. He'll be 35 now, I think we know what we have, someone that will give us a lot of league average innings.
Brandon Morrow: I like Morrow a lot, but he's pitched more than 150 innings only once in his career and he's 29 now. I think he could have a very good season, or he could get injured again. It might not be fair, but I think any chance of coming close to contending rests on Morrow.
J.A. Happ: The Jays have made it clear that, barring injury, Happ is our 4th starter. I've never been a fan, so my opinion might be biased, but in the guy's best season, he posted a 1.7 WAR. He's 31.
Number 5 will be Esmil Rogers or Todd Redmond, neither has any options left. I think I'll cheer for Redmond, the strikeouts were fun,
Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek wait in the minors for the inevitable injuries. Maybe Dustin McGowan have a good spring.
Anyway, what do you think, are the Jays a last place team?