We kick off our three-part Jays preview with a look at a couple of offense-related questions.
Feel free to chime in with your own opinions in the comments.
Lind will break camp as the first baseman and cleanup hitter. How long
do both of these arrangements last. If you were the manager, what would
your plan for 1B/Lind be?
Update: A minor injury late in camp has derailed this slightly, and it looks like thereís a chance Lind could hit fifth behind Encarnacion.
Anders: Lind has put up a wRC+ of over 100 once in five major league seasons; there have been lingering injury concerns, but that is, as they say, not good. If the Jays would platoon Lind with Encarnacion that would alleviate some of my concerns, but that pretty much makes Ben Francisco the DH so itís not a huge win. Lind should really be hitting below Brett Lawrie, Encarnacion and probably Eric Thames at this point.
John Northey: I think the two go together pretty much. If Lind can hit like he did in the first part of last year then he is a great cleanup hitter. If he canít hit well enough to hit cleanup then he shouldnít be in the lineup anyways (1B who canít hit well enough for the middle of the order really donít belong as regulars). Plus, of course, lineup effects are minimal compared to playing the right guys in the first place. So if I was GM Lind would hit, and probably in the cleanup to start but Iíd evaluate at the end of April (gotta give a guy a shot).
Matthew E: I donít mind giving Lind the whole season, unless heís obviously terrible, in which case Iíd cut bait on him by the All-Star break. I might move Bautista to first and put Snider in right, if I had to replace Lind.
Alex Obal: Lind gets the first-base job until (a) he has a six-week stretch with an OPS below .700, or (b) someone forcibly removes him. And that Ďsomeoneí could be the general manager.
Gerry: I think Lindís recent back injury helps the team here. Lind will get a day per week off in April and EE will cover first giving Davis or Francisco a chance to play. I assume Lind will ďrestĒ against a lefty pitcher. Once April is done the plan depends on how well Lind is hitting. I assume he will hit OK against right handed pitchers and if he is not hitting lefties I would start a platoon with EE with Davis/Francisco/Vizquel covering DH. I do think Lind will hit well against right handed pitchers. Even though the Jays havenít questioned his performance Lind knows it was a problem. He even admitted he had to work out this winter. The big issue is his hitting versus lefties. That is the plan B I have in my pocket.
Thomas: An interesting decision will arise if the Jays are hanging around the AL East and/or wildcard leaders at the end of May and Lind has been poor, but not awful. How long is Lindís leash and does its length depend on how well Snider is doing in Vegas? For the record, I think this scenario is very plausible. And, in response to Matthew, if Lind is moved or benched, I shift EE to first and Thames to DH. His solution is probably the long-term one, but I donít move Bautista mid-season.
Eric Thames has won the starting Left Field job. Weíve discussed this ad nauseum, but is it the right choice? Should the Jays trade Snider as a result?
Obal: Thames might be my favorite non-pitcher on the team, so Iím thrilled to see him get a chance to play every day.
John Northey: Thames has done enough to keep it for now I think. Snider has too many holes (shown by his strikeouts) at this point in my opinion. Iíd be ready to bring him in, but Thames is the better choice for now.
Matthew E: Itís not the obviously wrong choice. I wouldnít trade Snider unless it improved the teamís talent configuration... but then, thatís true of anybody. As for Thames, I donít expect him to be quite as successful as last year, which may open the door for Snider if the Jays think heís playing well enough. And then weíll see.
Gerry: I am on the record as saying it is the best move. I do think Thames will hit well in 2012. I believe Snider needs time in AAA to be successful for an extended period and to make sure his new swing is fully embedded.
Anders: I donít know, truthfully. I donít want to give up on Snider, and heís still just 24, but where is he ever going to play for the Blue Jays? Anthony Gose is going to be the Jays starting CF by the middle of 2013. I think Bautista eventually moves to first base, but even if he does Rasmus and Thames will still be in the picture, not to mention Jake Marisnick and Moises Sierra. And what happens if Sniderís mashing in AAA in June and Thames is an average player? This is a right shmozzle, and the only way out may be to trader Snider for 50 cents on the dollar.
Brett Lawrie over/under: .875 OPS/27.5 HR/25.5 SB
Matthew E: Under. This year.
Anders: I love Lawrie, but lets say .850/25/20.
Thomas: Over, Under, Under.
Gerry: I have to go with the under. Anders numbers look good.
Obal: I will cop out. Iím guessing consolidation year, and if thatís what we get, Iím content. However, I wonít be shocked at all if he goes ballistic.
John Northey: Iíll go with .900/30/20 - so over/over/under (have I said Iím an optimist?)
The Blue Jays 5 best hitters in 2012 will be (in order):
Thomas: Relative to position it will be Bautista, Lawrie, Yunel, Rasmus and Johnson.
Anders: Joey Bats, Lawrie, Yunel, Kelly Johnson and E5.
Obal: Ö each individually better than the Marinersí best hitter.
John Northey: Iíll go with Bautista, Lawrie, Encarnacion, Thames, Rasmus
Gerry: Bautista; Lawrie; Thames, EE and Lind
Matthew E: Going out on a bit of a limb here. Bautista, Rasmus, Lawrie, Encarnacion, Johnson. Iíd like to get Escobar in there but I suspect the others will be ahead of him.
The Blue Jays scored 743 runs in 2011, the sixth best in baseball (5th in the AL). How does this number change? (Either total runs or relative to league).
John Northey: More runs! More, more, more!!! Iíll go with 800 for 4th in the league.
Gerry: Better but not amazing, 782 runs.
Matthew E: The total number goes up slightly, to 750, 760, but they slip to 6th in the league.
Obal: I want to take bets on whether total offense goes down yet again this year.
Anders: I agree with Alex. Offense in 2010 was the lowest in 15 years, and 2011 was significantly below it. I think the Jays position relative to the league stays about the same, but Iím going to predict a slight bump overall, and say that lands the Jays at 775.