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Roy Halladay looked sharp. Schoeneweis, Ligtenberg, Speier, and Frasor were near-perfect. Frankie the Cat didn't just drive in 5 runs. He had a couple of hits against a left-hander. The Jays beat the NL East champs, they look just great, they're going all the way, man. All the way! YEAHH!!

It's spring time, we're allowed to dream. In fact, we should be dreaming.

You see, the spring will be over soon. We will be bumping our heads against Reality. Not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of the year. It might hurt. Let us dream while we still can...

So. If the Jays were to go all the way, what would need to happen?

Two things, obviously.

One: they would need to give up fewer runs than they allowed last year.

Two: They would need to score more runs than they scored last year. Many, many more.


The Jays gave up 823 runs last year. That's actually not so bad. Only six teams in the league gave up fewer. The New York Yankees, who won 101 games, gave up 808 runs.

Blue Jays starting pitchers whose first names begin with "H" allowed 133 runs in 213 IP last year. Yuck. But - Pat Hentgen allowed half of those runs in 80 innings; this year, Roy Halladay gets all of those innings.

I absolutely guarantee that Halladay will not allow 133 runs in 2005.

See? The pitching staff has already improved! We've already shaved 45-50 runs off last year's total.

More can be achieved. There are all kinds of reasons to think a full year of Dave Bush should be better than half a year of Justin Miller and half a year of Dave Bush. I think so, anyway.

In fact, if everything breaks right, the Jays can cut their runs allowed into the 730-750 range. An enormous IF, I grant you. A dream, perhaps. But this is what the spring is for.

And if they do that, but can only score 719 runs like they did last year... well, they're looking at about a 79-83 season. Maybe 82-80 if they get lucky. In order to actually contend - and this is our dream, this is our quest - they have to find at least another 100 runs of offense. At least. I think they need to score about 850 and allow about 740, myself.

And of course, their best hitter ever is now the Big Fish in Miami.

How can it be done?

How about if every spot in the lineup, plus the bench, is 10 runs better than last year. Is that feasible?

Catcher? Sure. Kevin Cash gets no at bats this year. Mission accomplished! Wow, that was easy.

First Base? Let's just compare Hinske to Hinske. Can he be ten runs better than last year? Of course, he can.

Second Base? Can Hudson continue to improve? Why not?

Shortstop? Can Russ Adams kick in 10 more runs than Gomez/Woodward? Well, why else is he in the major leagues?

Third Base? Can Koskie be 10 runs better than Delgado? Oops. Its very unlikely, but he has a chance to at least battle the 2004 Delgado to a draw.

Right Field? Can Rios take a step forward? Of course he can.

Centre Field? Can Wells play like he did in 2003? Of course he can.

Left Field? Between Sparky, Cat, and the Babe can this position be 10 runs better? Sure.

DH? I'm not a Hillenbrand fan, but he will be significantly better than the 2004 DHs.

Bench? Its hard to tell what constitutes a modern bench. On this team, it looks like a backup catcher and two backup infielders. Assuming that there's a platoon happening in LF. The Jays had seven players with more than 100 AB last year who weren't a "regular" starter last year - all were between 115 and 249 AB. Four of them were really bad - Cash, Woodward, Gross, and Clark. Two were kind of ordinary - Catalanotto and Berg (for a backup infielder, he was pretty good; for a starting LF, not so much). One of them was fabulous, and that would be the same guy who's been one of their two best hitters this spring: Mighty-Mini-Me-Mouse Menechino. OK, its hard to see where they get much better here. OK, never mind.

Anyway. Everything - and I mean everything - has to break the right way. But nothing really ridiculous and outlandish is required. Two still young and developing players - Wells and Hinske - are asked to play at a level they have already played at. Some other young players - Rios, Hudson - are asked for just modest improvement. Etc etc.

But more to the point - has a team like the Blue Jays ever won anything? A team with two big-time bonafide stars - a pitcher and an outfielder - and a bunch of - let's be frank - kids and journeymen of varying degrees of skill and promise.

You bet. Stay tuned, because in my next foray through Baseball History (and I promise it won't be 8000 words long!), I will be describing a World Championship team - a famous and celebrated team - that had two absolutely great players. But just two. By an Absolutely Amazing Coincidence, those two players were - you guessed it - a pitcher and an outfielder. They won the World Series when those guys were supported by: 1) a bunch of not-too-young journeymen who stepped up and had career years more or less out of the blue, and 2) some young players not otherwise bound for glory who also contributed fine to outstanding seasons.

I'll let you all wonder who that team might be. But yes - it can be done, folks.

Jay 7, Braves 2 - And I Have a Dream Today | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
CeeBee - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 07:41 AM EST (#107560) #
Great piece of work Magpie :) One team I can think of that didn't have too many stars at their peak, had a rather ordinary record and still won the world series would be the 59 Dodgers.
They won 88 games but based on the pythagorean method should have won 82. They had several ageing stars, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider, both whom had less than stellar seasons and the pitching was pretty much a one man show with 22 year old Don Drysdale pitching 271 innings and winning 17 games. Sany Koufax was on the team but in 59 he was hardly star material going 8-6 with an ERA well over the team average. With a little further research I bet we will have quite a few examples posted here of less than "loaded" teams pulling one out of the hat. :)
Malcolm Little - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 07:47 AM EST (#107561) #
<I> Its very unlikely, but he has a chance to at least battle the 2004 Delgado to a draw.</I>

Koskie in a full-seaon's worth of ABs could possibly match Delgado's injury shortened 2004 season's counting stats. Koskie will never match his rate stats.

I do share your optimism, and I apologize for this nitpicking in advance.

I sincerely hope that Cat gets traded out of town. Gross has to be on the big club now, doesn't he?
Magpie - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 08:28 AM EST (#107563) #
The '59 Dodgers is a good one. Not my team, but doing better than the Pythagorean is a common thread. My guys were five games better, and the second place team was two games worse.

My guys were also 5.5 games out in mid-September. They then went 13-2, while the league leaders went 5-9.

OK, no more clues.

And that's not nit-picking, Malcom. That's that whole Reality thing...

greenfrog - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 09:05 AM EST (#107564) #
Just a guess, but didn't the amazin' mets of 1969 have a pretty ordinary roster (Tom Seaver notwithstanding)?
VBF - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 10:16 AM EST (#107565) #
Damn! Had those '93 Phillies beaten those pesky Blue Jays with Curt Schilling and Lenny Dykstra, I would have guessed them!
Mylegacy - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 12:29 PM EST (#107578) #
We MIGHT do it!

The starters are improved and the pen is MUCH improved.

I believe in the old mantra, "never believe September or Spring results" SO Babe Gross should start back in AAA as per plan and if he then forces the issue...bring him up.
Magpie - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 12:43 PM EST (#107585) #
Hmm. Everybody's got the right league.

But would I pick a team from my lifetime? Or yours?

Brett - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 02:39 PM EST (#107604) #
In this dream, are we going to start calling our new DH, "Ripper" Hillenbrand? Does Roy Halladay have a younger brother in hiding somewhere?

Is Brooklyn still in the league? Oh wait... they're not.
Magpie - Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 04:22 PM EST (#107613) #
Well done Brett!
Terran - Sunday, March 27 2005 @ 04:09 AM EST (#107633) #
My little rant on the dream:

It means nothing I suppose, but when 3 Yahoo sports fantasy writers were asked to pick 5 teams they'd like to see fold or relocate, two of them picked the Blue Jays. when doing their rankings said that the Blue Jays and Devil Rays need to be moved out of the East or we'd never make the playoffs. last year was saying the Blue Jays could end up in the playoffs or at very least come close. We were 3rd in the AL East for 6 straight years (4 of those with winning records) but now it feels like we need to prove we're better then Tampa Bay which has a franchise record of under .400 and just got off their best season with a mere 70 wins.

It's amazing how one bad season can change everyone's opinions of us. But we're looking up all the same. Not every one of our prospects are turning into Vernon Wells' but at least some of them are and will. Combined with the boost in spending over the next three years and I wouldn't be surprised if we can start chasing the Red Soxs and Yankees again. Maybe not this year, but soon...
Jay 7, Braves 2 - And I Have a Dream Today | 10 comments | Create New Account
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