Baseball Prospectus released their PECOTA projections for the coming season. They have the Blue Jays (86-76) finishing 3rd in the AL East, behind the first place Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) (who saw that coming?) and the Red Sox (88-74). The Jays would win the second wild card spot if PECOTA is right.
The interesting part, to me, is where they have their guesses for positions and playing time (for that part you need a subscription). Some of the predictions that interest me:
Catcher: They have Russell Martin playing 80% of the time, Josh Thole 15% and A.J.Jimenez 5%.
80% would mean Martin would play 130 (full) games at catcher. I'm a fan of optimism but that seems a little high. A.J. Jimenez? Well, odds are that a third catcher will be used, Jimenez is as good a guess as anyone.
First base: They have Justin Smoak at 55%, Chris Colabello at 35% and Edwin Encarnacion at 10%.
They also guess that Smoak will hit .235/.319/.410 with a 0 WAR. I hope that, if he doesn't do any better than that, he won't play more than half of our first base innings. I'll bet that Edwin will play more than 10% of the teams innings at first base.
Second base: Devon Travis 65%, Ryan Goins 25% and Darwin Barney 10%.
I know it is all guess work, but I'd guess something similar.
Left field: Michael Saunders 55%, Dalton Pompey 20%, Ezequiel Carrera 15%, Colabello 5% and Kevin Pillar 5%
I'd guess that, if Pompey plays more than 5%, he'll be well above 20. Ezequiel playing 24 games in left? Please no. And I very much doubt that Pillar plays any left field this year.
Center field: Pillar 80%, Pompey 20%.
Right field: Jose Bautista 70%, Saunders 15%, Colabello 10% and Carrera 5%.
Ok.....if Chris Colabello plays 24 games in the outfield, I'm joining the fire Gibby crowd. I mean, I hope we see the guy play a bunch of first base and DH, but I really don't want to see him in the outfield.
DH: Encarnacion 80% and Bautista 20%
I like the idea of Jose playing every 5th game at DH, but I'd be willing to bet that Colabello will play more DH than Bautista.
Starting pitchers: They have Marcus Stroman getting 31 starts, R.A. Dickey 29, Marco Estrada 29, J.A. Happ 29, Drew Hutchison 23, Gavin Floyd 5, Roberto Hernandez 3 and Aaron Sanchez 8.
I'll take the under on Hernandez, beyond that, I'd be happy if our starters were that healthy.
- Shi Davidi talks to Eric Wedge, (turn off your sound before hitting the link) about his new job with the Jays. This bit got my attention:
While the gossip in some corners of the industry is that Wedge was brought in for a non-essential role so he could be around in case the new regime wants to change manager John Gibbons at some point, there's little reason to think that's the case. Barring a season of utter calamity, Gibbons is considered safe through at least the season's end, while Wedge is fully engaged in his new duties.
And if you believe that, they have a bridge to sell you.
- And, Sportsnet tells us that Kevin Pillar is "comfortable" filling the leadoff role. He wouldn't be my first pick, but then I also think we spend too much time worrying about this stuff.
- Richard Griffin writes about the "5 key questions facing the Jays this spring".
- I'm sure that most of you have seen this, but it's kind of fun, Josh Donaldson golfing: