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On Friday and yesterday the Jays offense, pitching and defense went under the readers microscopes. Now it is time to draw a line in the sand. How many games will the Jays win in 2006?

In part 1 and part 2 of this preview you were asked to forecast if the Jays runs scored and allowed will be better or worse than 2005. Based on those numbers predict a win total for 2006. Try to be consistent with your runs predictions, if you predicted runs scoring to go down and runs allowed to up, then you probably shouldn't predict more wins.

Finally what is your biggest worry, or the biggest risk to your win forecast?

Rob - Well, my predicted runs scored and allowed figure to be about 89-90 wins. Subjectively, I think the Jays will do better than that, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a total in the mid-80s. Let's go with 92 wins and second place in the East. Take that, New York!

My biggest worry, though, is the starting pitching. If Burnett is healthy all year, and if Lilly puts it together and if Towers and Chacin can repeat 2005 and if Kevin Mench doesn't hit another line drive...I haven't seen that many if statements in a while, and I'm a math student.

Mike G- Let's see, I've said 800 runs scored and 750 runs allowed. That's anywhere between 80 and 90 wins depending on how they fare vs. Pythagoras. Ryan should help them win their fair share of close games this time, so 85 wins.

Dave Till: I'm too lazy to calculate runs scored and runs allowed.

I think that the Jays are a year away. Both the Yankees and Sox are likely to collapse soon, but I don't see both of them crashing and burning this year. I predict that the Jays will finish second with 89 wins (with the Yanks third, due to sudden aging), but won't make the wild card. They'll be close, though, and it'll be an entertaining season. I'm glad I have a Season's Pass.

My biggest worry, by the way: the Jays are counting on Aaron Hill for a lot. (Actually, with the Burnett tweak in spring training, I think I've already had my biggest worry.)

Matthew E: Let me put it this way. I thought at the time that, going into the season, the 2004 Jays looked better than I now think this year's bunch does. And we know how that turned out.

Not that I'm not optimistic. I am. It's just that my optimism doesn't make me feel any better.

To look at the big picture... It seems like this was Ricciardi's plan upon being hired:

1. Since the team wasn't going to win, reduce the payroll and start investing in the future.

2. Hold the line for a few years, competing as much as possible while saving money and building a core of players.

3. Once the core of players is set up as desired, then and only then spend money to put the team over the top.

4. Win.

From the Jays' actions this off-season, we can say that they believe themselves to be at step 3. Which leads us to a couple of questions.

First question. Are Halladay, Wells, Lilly, Towers, Speier, Frasor, Catalanotto, Hillenbrand, Adams, Hill, Hinske and Rios really the core of a championship team?

Second question. Are Glaus, Overbay, Molina, Ryan and Burnett enough to put a team over the top?

I'd think long and hard before answering 'yes' to either of those questions.

And yet, the Jays are better than last year. Boston and New York are on the way down, at least a little. And, in baseball, change can happen suddenly, drastically and unexpectedly. We could be sitting here in October wondering why we ever doubted that the Jays would finish first. It is all, as they used to say, onsartin.

Oh, yeah. A win total. I don't know. Somewhere between 20 and 142. Let me offer this guess, not as a prediction, but as something I want to be right about if it happens: 95 wins and first place in the East.

And what am I worried about? I am worried about everything.

Magpie - We're all sitting here, waiting patiently for the Beasts of the East to come back to earth. While either could crash and burn at any time, it seems too much to ask it of both of them. I think Boston will fall first (but the Yankees will fall further, when they do!), and I think Toronto can slip into second place. They probably won't win enough games to play in October, though. I have the 89-91 range in my mind, so I'll say 90-72, second place. And they will make the Evil Empire pay attention...

Pistol: - Based on my runs scored and runs allowed I came up with 90 wins.

Other than a Halladay injury I really don't have too many concerns about the team. As I mentioned in the offense preview last week the team has a lot of depth. Losing Glaus and Wells would hurt a little, but it wouldn't hurt the Jays all that much in the short term. Hillenbrand could slide into third and Rios could slide into center. It'd take a lot of injuries to put a dent into this team.

Also, depending on how you view greenies and the available current alternatives, the depth of teams could come into play more this season. The Jays seem to be a little bit deeper and younger than their rivals.

Jonny: With runs scored going up by a bigger margin than runs allowed, I'm looking for these Blue Jays to win 90 games.

I wouldn't call this a safe prediction - It doesn't require anybody to explode, but it does require that nobody implode, or at least that the bad surprises be balanced by good surprises. It's guaranteed that every baseball team will have some players underperform reasonable expectations. Even the reigning World Champs, heralded by many for having had everything go right for them, saw their incumbent closer pitch so badly he was demoted to the minors and then released outright. But I think the Jays have enough upside potential to balance the downsides.

Risk? It's all risk! But I guess at the top of my list is that while the Jays are otherwise a good-depth, no-glaring-flaws kind of team, I don't see them being able to fill the void which a significant injury to Roy Halladay, Troy Glaus, or B.J. Ryan would create.

Where will 90 wins leave the Jays? Right in the thick of things at the top of the East and in the wild card hunt. Both Boston and New York have enough flaws that I don't expect either to run away with the division. Across the league I see just a few pushover teams and a lot of potentially very good squads, which is why I expect the wild card team to tally fewer wins than in recent years.

Gerry: The crystal ball says 88 wins, 88-74. That should be good for second place, ahead of whichever of the Yankees or Red Sox blow up good. My worry is the most obvious one, health. Over the off-season the Jays traded Dave Bush and Zach Jackson, and converted Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan to the bullpen. There is now little high level depth in the system. After Scott Downs the next starter would be making their major league debut. Four of the five AAA starters have never pitched in AAA. If the injuries were to occur later in the year the concern would be less, but the Jays pitchers in Syracuse are raw.

2006 Toronto Blue Jays Preview - The Bottom Line | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
BallGuy - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 08:09 AM EDT (#144174) #
I agree with Dave Till. I think the Jays are still a year away (as much as it hurts to say that). They are a better team than last year  and will more than compete this year and will win 90 games but won't make the playoffs. JP will need to add a little more next off season to put the team over the top. What that addition will be this season will reveal.
GrrBear - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 08:45 AM EDT (#144175) #
Dave Studeman made the point in his Hardball Times article 'Five Questions: Chicago White Sox' that "virtually every championship team is 'lucky' in some way."  I look at the White Sox roster of 2005 versus the Jays roster of 2006 and I don't see a huge gap there.  Their offense was comprised of Konerko, Dye, and let's-hope-somebody-gets-on-base.  Jon Garland came out of nowhere, and their bullpen was terrific.  Having four starters with ERAs under 4.00 helped a lot, as did a great defense.  Meanwhile, this year's Jays figure to score more runs, field a league-average defense, and are expecting good-to-excellent seasons from Halladay, Burnett, and Ryan.  If Towers and Chacin can hold on to an ERA around 4.00, then it seems to me the Jays would only need one real Garland-like breakout season from somebody to put them in the 95 win range.  It could be Rios or Hill or Hinske or Overbay or, hey, even Lilly.  If the Jays can catch a few more breaks than the other guys, they could win the division.

Hey, if a lucky schmo like Chris Moneymaker can win the World Series of Poker, anything can happen.

Mike Green - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 09:52 AM EDT (#144183) #
Gerry makes an excellent point.  You want to have at least seven viable options for starting pitching. Right now, they do not.  The decision to convert Marcum back into a relief pitcher (along with McGowan and League) is puzzling, as he had the double A and triple A experience to justify a replacement role in the event of injury. 
Oleg - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 10:59 AM EDT (#144195) #
One difference between the White Sox and the Jays is that the White Sox' D was far superior to what the Jays have this year. I'm of the opinion that the middle infield D is going to cost the Jays not an insignificant number of wins.

Of course, I think the White Sox got tremedously lucky this year and are wildly overrated this year. So I actually see the White Sox and the Jays having around the same win total - 84 to throw a number out there - this year.
Oleg - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#144212) #
I agree wholeheartedly about the farm system. It sure would be nice to have Tulowitski down there.

The approach to building the team it seems was: we'll get a bunch of good cheap role players, hopefully one or two of them will turn into stars, and then we'll spend our extra money on star FA's to fill in where filling in is needed. I can kinda see how this would be tempting. Since you have good, cheap role players, you don't need to spend on many star FAs. However, the problem is that spending on star FAs is usually inefficient and dangerous. You're paying for the downside of their career. On the other hand, getting a few role players to fill in isn't hard. Signing a couple Bill Muellers each year to shorter contracts isn't particularly difficult and it doesn't kill you long term if the player gets hurt or just sucks.

SK in NJ - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#144235) #

My biggest concern, as others have said, is the starting pitching depth. I wasn't disappointed in losing Bush or Jackson, but that was with the assumption that McGowan would be a starter. If he and Marcum are going to strictly be relievers, it really puts a choke hold on the team's immediate pitching depth. I can understand why Ricciardi is grooming a lot of the arms to be relievers (half the bullpen is likely to be turned over next year), but why McGowan? It makes very little sense. Now there is talk of calling up Janssen or Banks to replace Lilly (if Ted is going to miss action), and considering neither of the two have pitched above AA, it's a big risk.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised with anywhere from 80-95 wins. But at least the Jays have a chance, and in the East, that's all we can really ask for.

Mike D - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#144237) #

Oleg, the White Sox are "wildly overrated this year"?  I think a 99-win team which added starting pitching depth and much-needed OBP for 2006 that nevertheless is nowhere near a consensus pick to make the playoffs is hardly "wildly overrated."  If the whole world forecast the White Sox to run away with the division, you might have a point.  To the contrary, however, the Indians are the majority pick, and plenty of folks are picking the Twins.

Ryan Day - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#144238) #
 It would make sense to convert McGowan to relief if it's an issue of protecting his arm.  Otherwise it seems like a waste.

  I know he was more effective coming out of the pen last year, but that doesn't consider that he might have got better thanks to some MLB experience. I saw one of his games as a starter, and while he certainly had problems it seemed like the sort of thing that should be worked out, not abandoned.

Gerry - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 02:21 PM EDT (#144242) #
There was a McGowan story in the Syracuse paper a few days ago and in it McGowan said he preferred to pitch out of the bullpen.  So far the Jays are going along with McGowan's wishes.
Ducey - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 02:22 PM EDT (#144243) #

I don't see a big problem with McGowan in the bullpen.  They could have him work another season in AAA as a starter with the goal of having him step in later in the season or next season.  If the Jays did this he would still have a big adjustment to make to deal with major league hitters.  Realistically you would not expect him to have an ERA less than 4.50 no matter when he comes up as a starter.  He might do a lot worse.

Does this really help the team?

On the other hand, based upon what we saw last year, he could come up mid season and be a key part of the bullpen, help the team this year and build his confidence.  Over the offseason they could stretch him out with the goal of having him start next year.

Under the second senario, he helps the team this season in a meaningful way, builds his confidence and skills so he can become a starter next year.

Its not like there is not plently of precedent for young guys starting in the pen and later being converted to starters.

The Bone - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#144250) #
We Won 80 Games Last Year


Since then we've added Glaus, Overbay, Burnett, Ryan and Molina while losing only Koskie, Bush, Batista and Hudson - Net Gain about 40 Win Shares, or 14 wins

The Halladay Injury Cost us about 5 wins

Last year, we significantly underperformed our Pythagorean record - add another 9 wins

Now, we're at 108 wins


As Craig points out Hardball Times, the whole league gained about 5 wins on average from the NL - so we need to gain 5 games, just to keep pace

As significantly as we underperformed our Pythagorean record, our offense overperformed our EQA - drop another 7 wins (I seem to recall our third-order win total was 82-80)

Downs, Hinske, Rios and Zaun will all see reduced roles as a result of the moves made - drop another 4 wins for that

Other than Doc, I think we were more healthy than average (this is purely subjective), so lets drop another 2 wins


That puts us at 90 wins.

However, there is a prevailing sentiment it seems that the potential steps backwards (Burnett, Towers, Chacin, Molina, Overbay - just cause he's moving NL to AL) will outweigh the potential steps forward (Adams, Hill, Rios/Hinske, Wells, Lilly)

Since its opening day, I'm going to take the optimistic view and argue that as we are stil a young team, I believe that the steps forward will at least equal the steps backward and we will come away with at least 90 wins.

rtcaino - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#144261) #

""Last year, we significantly underperformed our Pythagorean record - add another 9 wins""

That is a bit of a misconception. Though our record based on our runs scared and allowed was unlucky. Our amount of runs scored based on our actual offensive performance was equally fortunate. 

What baseball prospectus says here in it's publicly available stats section, is that we scored 775 runs. However, given our EQA of .250 (25th out of 30 teams), we should have scored only 743. That positive run differential of 32 runs was the second highest in the major leagues last year (The Cards had 49).

That said, Iím not sure how we ended up on the pitching and defense side of the ledger (or if such a figure would be public domain at all). Furthermore, Iím not sure how these 32 runs would impact our Pythagorean record. But suffice to say, the fact that we underperformed our Pythagorean record by 9 wins should be taken with a grain of salt.  

I should add that our third order record was W 80.4 L 81.6.

I was going to submit a pinch hit regarding this issue. However, since then, the offense has already been previewed, and I am quite busy with exams. I may however, submit a short and sweet version for everyone's consideration.

Pistol - Tuesday, April 04 2006 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#144284) #

"Furthermore, Iím not sure how these 32 runs would impact our Pythagorean record"

The simple conversion is 10 runs = 1 win.

Nolan - Wednesday, April 05 2006 @ 02:37 AM EDT (#144358) #

Downs, Hinske, Rios and Zaun will all see reduced roles as a result of the moves made - drop another 4 wins for that

Why?  Their roles are reduced becuase of the extra talent the Jays imported.  The fact that Burnett takes some of Downs' playing time, Molina some of Zaun's and Glaus some of Hinske/Rios seems to be a positive and would add wins.  Added to that, the fact that Downs, Rios, Hinske and Zaun are no longer our first options and are now bench/platoon players, is that the depth of team in case of injury is greatly increased.

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