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On Monday we took a look at the offense; on Tuesday the defense. Today we bring it all together.

Also, this is your last chance to enter a record prediction and a playing time prediction.

Lastly/elsewhere, the Jays rank as the number nine franchise in baseball, per Fangraphs' annual offseason exercise. Our own Marc Hulet wrote the piece.

Will there be a big storyline for the club in 2012? Other than people piling on Colby Rasmus of course.

Matthew E: I suspect the very good play of Brett Lawrie will be the big attraction.
John Northey: Thames becoming a really good everyday player or Alvarez becoming an ace level pitcher.  Negatives will likely be Snider moving from super-prospect to backup status but my mind could change next week.

Thomas: Missed opportunities. The Jays will finish within 4 games of the last wildcard, Fielder will hit 40 homers, Lind will disappoint, Yu Darvish will do reasonably well and the back end of the rotation will go through several iterations. Towards the end of the season, the fans will be looking back on the signings the team didnít make and public pressure will grow on AA to make a splash in the coming offseason.

Obal: Attendance. I think itíll trend upward noticeably this year in the official accounting.

Gerry: The big story will be the teamís record.  The city is desperate for a playoff team.  If the team starts slowly the wailing and gnashing of teeth will begin.  A fast start will lead to playoff expectations.  On the field I see the starting pitching as the big story of 2012.

Anders: I think that weíll have buzz for the Jays at the trading deadline for the first time in a while (at least in a positive way). Of course, knowing AA, it will all be wrong and heíll pull some other rabbit out of his hat that, somehow, improbably, 20% of online fans will still hate.


Is there a player you think could surprise us in 2012 (either for good or for bad)?

Gerry: I think JPA could surprise to the upside creating a challenge for AA.  Expectations for JPA are low and I think he will do better.

Obal: It was suggested at one point that thereís too much optimism in these previews, so Iíll jump in here and speak the unspeakable. On July 26, 2011, Jake Arrieta rang Jose Bautistaís bell. Bautista hit .257/.417/.487 from July 27 onward, and subjectively, it looked to me like Bautista wasnít quite the same guy over the last two months.  and we should know by now not to underestimate the effect head injuries can have. A healthy Bautista is probably the best hitter in baseball, but in assessing the Jaysí prospects for this year and beyond it seems weíre coming dangerously close to taking his contributions for granted.

Thomas: Iíll say Rasmus, as he could do either. He might surprise the naysayers and put up numbers like he did in 2010 (although Richard Griffin doesnít recognize that as a good offensive season) or disappoint those who have been looking at the larger picture and encouraging patience by putting up numbers like he did in 2011. One other name is Drabek. Perhaps not as likely, but expectations are quite low after 2011 and the pedigree is still there. If the changes to his delivery work and he is able to maintain his cool in difficult situations, thereís a lot of upside there still.

Anders: I think when all is said and done that Edwin Encarnacion will have had a sneaky good year. Not elite territory, but ZiPS has him at .261/.331/.457, and I think he could end up closer to .275/.345/.480. I would have picked Cecil to disappoint but itís unlikely heíll get the chance. I think Francisco Cordero will be largely ineffectual.

Matthew E: Iím going to put all my chips on Rasmus for this question. For one thing it ticks me off when people criticize ballplayers for being quiet guys. As a quiet guy myself Iíd like to assure the world that it doesnít make one a bad teammate or a loser or anything.

John Northey: Thames for me - few see him as anything special but I think heíll establish himself solidly in LF this year.


Alright, time to put up or shut up - how many games do the Jays win in 2012, where does that put them in the AL East, and do they make the playoffs?

Thomas: To be consistent, 86 and fourth in the East.

John Northey: 93 games - one of these years they have to crack 90 donít they?  Crowds come back as the Jays get into the playoffs but lose the one game playoff leading many to complain about how unfair the new system is.

Gerry: 85, tied for third and out of the playoffs.

Matthew E: I will guess, and I canít support this with any reasoning, that theyíll win 89 games, finish 4th in the East, and not make the playoffs.

Anders: I think Iíve predicted a couple of different things, but Iíll say 85 wins, which puts them 4 games out, 1-2 behind the Red Sox.

When all is said and done, the Jays 2012 season will be described as a ____________?

Anders: The last stepping stone before the Jays really become a club that threatens year in, year out to win the division.

John Northey: Success because it will break the 4 year playoff slump for Torontoís big 3 (Leafs/Jays/Raptors) - yes, I am an optimist.  Plus normally when a team shifts from pretender to contender it is a sudden shift, not just a gradual (see Tampa Bay)

Matthew E: It will be described as a failure because they will not make the playoffs.

Thomas: A natural progression forward. There will be recognition that the development into a (hopefully sustained) contender takes longer in the AL East than in other divisions. I think the front office will use 2012 to get a final read on players like Lind, Snider, JP, Cecil and Drabek so they can be integrated into long-term plans or disposed of.

Gerry: The final step, the team will know how will be a key player in the playoff push for 2013 and on.  Players like JPA, Lind, Johnson, Thames, Rasmus, Cecil, Drabek and McGowan need to show whether they are playoff caliber.
2012 Blue Jays Preview: Overall | 28 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Ryan Day - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#253863) #
Bautista hit .257/.417/.487 from July 27 onward...

But for the most part, his slump only really happened in September. From July 27 - August 31, he hit 255/407/538.Then in September, he "only" hit 259/429/424. (He had a pretty similar June, too)
sam - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#253865) #
Who do people think will be this year's Rasmus or Escobar or Lawrie for the Jays. I was thinking about this today. For me it's Ike Davis. Here's why:

Hurt most of last year, but has undeniable power and on-base ability. Apparently he had Valley Fever. I had no idea what this was, so I did some wikipedia research and apparently it's quite a common affliction for people living California. Ah the injustice of living in California. Anyways, he plays a fairly solid first base and here's the AA kicker, he has five years of control! I'm a big fan of what he brings to the table. The power and OBP. are impressive for such a young player and if he can get over some of the injury concerns he's destined for big things. I'm operating under the assumption here that he comes back and performs well. I'd imagine the Mets won't want to part with such a young promising player, but then again they are the Mets and JP Riccardi is an AGM there so who knows. I think the Jays match up well with the Mets. The Jays have some minor league pitching depth and they have some catching depth. The cathcing depth probably appeals most to the Mets. I think the Jays could pitch Adam Lind as having some value above replacement for them. The Mets might look at it as a process of accruing long term assets.
Mike Green - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#253867) #
I think JPA could surprise to the upside creating a challenge for AA.  Expectations for JPA are low and I think he will do better.

He might very well, but it sure would help if he accepted that "swinging at strikes and not swinging at balls" is part of the game and not a sabermetric joke (there is a quote to this effect from him in the Globe about 10 days ago).  He swings at balls outside the zone twice as often as Carlos Santana does, for instance.  It always bugs me when catchers do this, because if anyone should know the zone, it is a catcher.  Buck and Barajas were the same, and if JPA is going to deliver more than they did, he is going to have accept in fact that controlling the strike zone is a big part of hitting. 

Thomas - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 04:34 PM EDT (#253868) #
This a bit of separate train of thought, but I took an easy shot at Griffin in my comments, which was also a point at how I think many overestimate the expected offensive production at centre field. However, to be fair to him, I think Griffin made an accurate point in a column at some point in the last couple of days. It came up with the Fielder speculation and occasionally with talk of a possible Lawrie extension, but AA's self-imposed 5-year policy on contracts is simply untenable if the Jays ever want to sign a marquee bat in the prime of his career.

Names like Justin Upton, Robinson Cano, Matt Wieters and Eric Hosmer, for example, are not going to sign 4 or 5 year deals. They're going to sign 7 or 8 year contracts. This trend will be exacerbated by the fact that more teams appear to be buying players out of their first couple of free agent years in exchange for guaranteed money during arbitration years. However, if the Jays ever want to sign a bat to put them over the top, they'll be limited to going after players like Carlos Beltran or other short-term fixes.

Now, you might agree with this considering the potential risk of such a contract and the likely lack of productive at the end. However, Griffin also points out that you're not going to be able sign your team's own stars with such a policy either. We're looking far into the future here, but the Jays will never meaningfully prevent Lawrie from reaching free agency with such a policy. At best they'll delay it for a year or two.

I wouldn't be surprised if the team eventually tries to lock up Lawrie and then explains the rule is for existing free agents only or the 5 years does not count years of existing team control, but it's dancing around the rule.
92-93 - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#253870) #
I see Lawrie as the type of kid who is confident enough in his own abilities not to sign away his FA years for anything less than they're worth, like Tim Lincecum.
Mike Green - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#253871) #
I'll go further than that.  A five year limit on a contract for a player of Lawrie's calibre and age would be insane.  It all depends on the terms.  If you can get get Lawrie's name on something like the Longoria or Pujols (the first one) contracts, you take it.  Signing a great 22 or 23 year old position player for 7 or 8 years or more can make a franchise. 



CeeBee - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 05:25 PM EDT (#253872) #
"I'll go further than that. A five year limit on a contract for a player of Lawrie's calibre and age would be insane. It all depends on the terms. If you can get get Lawrie's name on something like the Longoria or Pujols (the first one) contracts, you take it. Signing a great 22 or 23 year old position player for 7 or 8 years or more can make a franchise. "


Totally agree!!!

Ryan C - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#253873) #
The "5 year limit" rule is not unbreakable.  I don't remember now where I read it, but AA said essentially that in a piece from a week or so ago.  They will make exceptions for exceptional cases.  In fact, he said they already broke their "3 year limit" rule for pitchers when they signed Romero.  So the precedence is there.


Thomas - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 06:14 PM EDT (#253875) #
Ryan, I didn't read that. If he did, then it's not a rule. It's a guideline. And it's hardly noteworthy to only hand those out to exceptional players. Nobody's advocating handing out 7-year deals to Kelly Johnson.

And I think Lawrie is less likely to sign a long-term deal than some players, but a guaranteed $60 million and the chance to hit free agency before you turn 30 can be a pretty tempting scenario.
Dave Till - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 06:44 PM EDT (#253878) #
I want to believe. I really do. But I can't help but think that they introduced the new uniforms one year too soon - the starting pitching just isn't there yet. 85-77, third place, just shy of the wild cards. (I'm predicting third rather than fourth because one of the big three AL East teams is going to slip, but I'm not sure which one. However, the Angels or Rangers will collect the wild card that doesn't come from the East.)

Long-term, I am much more optimistic. The Jays have oodles and scads of minor league pitching prospects. They have three genuine star-quality hitting prospects (d'Arnaud, Gose and Marisnick), which is a lot. The core talent on the major league roster is either young or in their prime. Their biggest weakness - a serious need for a slugging first baseman - is something that the market can supply if needed.

The blueprint that the Jays are using is identical to their approach in the 1980s - which is not surprising, since Beeston was in charge then and is in charge now. The M.O. is the same: don't spend money on free agents, but spend to keep your players, and spend like crazy on scouts, international signings, and the amateur draft. It just might work.

uglyone - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#253883) #
"Will there be a big storyline for the club in 2012? Other than people piling on Colby Rasmus of course. "

I think the storyline will be the "inexplicable" good play of the weird disliked/disrespected trio of Rasmus, Johnson, and Thames.


"Is there a player you think could surprise us in 2012 (either for good or for bad)? "

Hard to pin this down. I could see all of Rasmus, Thames, Johnson, Lind, and JPA "surprising" depending on your expections. I could see Alvarez and the other pitching prospects "surprising" too.

As for surprising in a bad way, I would guess one of Cordero or Oliver is a dissappointment, while there's always the risk of a regression from Bautista and Romero.



"Alright, time to put up or shut up - how many games do the Jays win in 2012, where does that put them in the AL East, and do they make the playoffs?"

I'll put them at 87 wins, but wouldn't be surprised at more. Not enough to make the playoffs, but enough to keep them in a race down the stretch.


"When all is said and done, the Jays 2012 season will be described as a ____________?"

THE PENULTIMATE STEP
BlueJayWay - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 07:36 PM EDT (#253884) #
I think the storyline will be the "inexplicable" good play of the weird disliked/disrespected trio of Rasmus, Johnson, and Thames.

Haha, yeah.  Actually I don't know if Thames is all that disliked, but KJ and especially Rasmus are.  If I didn't know better I'd think Rasmus was the antichrist.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 08:23 PM EDT (#253886) #

Toronto's start to the season will determine many things this season.  

Away at Cleveland (3) April 5, 7 and 8, a team not expected to finish very well this season.  

At Home to Boston (3) April 9, 10 and 11, part of a 9-game homestand.   A team expected to do very well, but with their Closer Andrew Bailey on the 60-day DL just to name one of a few significant pieces missing.   At Home to Baltimore (3) April 13, 14 and 15, a team expected to pick in the top 3 in the 2013 draft.   At Home to Tampa Bay (3) April 17, 18 and 19, another team expected to do very well.   Sometimes Toronto rises to the challenge.  

Away at Kansas City (4) April 20, 21, 22 and 23, another team not expected to finish very well this season.   Away at Baltimore (3) April 24, 25 and 26, a team that's not much better at home.  

At Home to Seattle (3) April 27, 28 and 29, another team that will not finish very well this season.   At Home to Texas (3) April 30, May 1 and 2, a team expected to be back in the World Series this season.   Sometimes Toronto's very good and very lucky.

With 23 games played in April, 13 Wins will be considered average.   15 Wins is barely adequate.   17 wins is contending (only 75 more needed).   Anything more shows a confident team that believes in themselves.   As for May, the going gets harder, but with 28 games to be played and only 12 verses weeker teams, 14 Wins is possible, but barely adequate.   If Toronto has 32 or more wins at the end of May, it's very likely they will be in the postseason.

Rich - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 09:36 PM EDT (#253887) #
The Jays will win 84 games.

2012 will be known as the season that proved the club still doesn't yet have the rotation to contend.

Mylegacy - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 09:37 PM EDT (#253888) #
The story will have to be Carreno and Drabek.

IF - those two can pitch 500 ball - then the two Aces (Romero and Morrow - who IS NOW an Ace) along with Mini-Ace Henderson - will each win at least 16 games and viola - the Jays are right in the thick of the action!

No more September's spent wondering how the Leaf's are going to do...

Go Jays!!

Nick Holmes - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 09:55 PM EDT (#253889) #
Sixth best team in the AL, ninth best in baseball.
I have irrationally high hopes for McGowan & Drabek, few worries about Thames or Johnson, and only the slightest nagging fear that the team will make a "go-for-it" trade in July that comes back to bite them.
A few games above .500 and managed expectations please...

[...or a hot start, second place in the division, & a pennant...]
hypobole - Wednesday, April 04 2012 @ 10:55 PM EDT (#253890) #
The biggest issue I see this year is the bullpen. It's a very good bullpen on paper, but my worry is overuse. Alvarez, Drabek, Carreno and even Morrow may hold their own, but will use up a lot of pitches while doing so. The bullpen will get lots of work. Unless a couple of starters besides Romero can at least semi-regularly work deep into ball games, what was a strong bullpen might be gassed by July.
85bluejay - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 10:15 AM EDT (#253895) #

Really looking forward to both the MLB & MILB seasons - this FO has done an amazing job and exceeded my expectations going into only their 3rd season - While I was disappointed we didn't land a Pineda or Latos, the price was too high - next year with more major league ready talent/ young veterans to offer, the Jays should be in an excellent position to make those type of acquisitions - I expect the Jays to be playing meaningful games in September (within 5 games of a playoff spot come Sept. 1) for the first time in a long while - I think this is like the 1983 team - the start of a long run - While I have no problems with going for it if the team is in contention in July, I hope the team doesn't make an ill advised trade, they've worked too hard and fans have endured mediocrity for too long to way overpay in farm talent just for this season - keep an eye on the long game - I can't pick the Jays to make the playoffs ( though I won't be surprised) because that's asking much from unproven starting pitching in the toughest division in baseball - Heck, I like Tampa's #4 starter - Matt Moore - more than any of the Jays starters .

My keys for the Jays this season:

    - Morrow & Alvarez - last year the Jays had only Ricky, so if these 2 can make it a dependable 3 that would be huge especially if Morrow can become the ace - Ricky is more a #2 for me

   - LHH - the team had no dependable LH bat last year - this year we need at least 2 of the 4 regular LH bats (Lind/Rasmus/Thames/Johnson) to have very productive  years

 - BP - In a division that wears down your starting pitching, the Jays need an excellent BP to be competitive - it looks good on paper but so did last year.

whiterasta80 - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 10:19 AM EDT (#253896) #

Will there be a big storyline for the club in 2012? Other than people piling on Colby Rasmus of course.

Not spending enough at the trade deadline. I think this team will be in contention in September but will fall just short of a good playoff run (either lose the wild card playoff or fall a game or two short).  Attendance will be up, excitement will be back and expectations will rise quicker than the attendance.  If you thought not spending on Yu and Prince in the offseason looked bad to the casual fan just wait until you see what happens if we are within 4 games of first and don't spend at the deadline.

This of course is predicated on talent being available at the deadline (preferably an elite starter).

Is there a player you think could surprise us in 2012 (either for good or for bad)?

Good: JP Arencibia who I still believe is a .250 hitter at a minimum, possibly .270.  David Cooper (if he gets the chance to replace Lind). On the pitching end, I think Drabek outperforms Alvarez.

Bad: Lawrie, Romero, or Bautista.  I think all will have solid years but the expectations are starting to get a little much.

Lind will be horrible too but that shouldn't surprise anyone at this point.

Alright, time to put up or shut up - how many games do the Jays win in 2012, where does that put them in the AL East, and do they make the playoffs?
91, tied for second and they lose out in the one game playoff

When all is said and done, the Jays 2012 season will be described as a ____________?

A success that could have been much more.

ramone - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#253898) #
According to rotoinfo, Lawrie is batting 3rd today and Jose is cleanup:

http://www.rotoinfo.com/lineups.php?date=4%2F5%2F2012&button=Go#
85bluejay - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 10:31 AM EDT (#253899) #

Ramone, If correct - I highly approve - this decision along with the Carreno/Cecil flip makes me think the Jays are thinking more assertively about this year

ramone - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 10:33 AM EDT (#253900) #
Well the Lawrie batting third excitement is quickly over: Blue Jays lineup from their official twitter feed:

Opening Day Lineup: Escobar-SS, Johnson-2B, Bautista-RF, Lind-1B, Encarnacion-DH, Lawrie-3B, Thames-LF, Arencibia-C, Rasmus-CF. Romero-SP

Sorry about that but rotoinfo posted it as official
ramone - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#253902) #
Sorry last update, but now multiple twitter sources are saying Lawrie is batting third including Richard Griffin and Shi Davidi, so who knows
uglyone - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#253904) #
Oh man that would be really encouraging if true. no more messing around...the guys earning the spots get the spots, regardless of experience.
sam - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#253911) #
I don't know if I necessarily like the lineup with Lawrie hitting third. Part of Lawrie's skil-set is running. Hitting in the five or six spot, he'll likely have more opportunities to run then hitting third where the fear will always be that if he's thrown out stealing with Bautista hitting behind him and the very real possibility to hit a home run. Bautista also doesn't hit that many doubles either and you always like having your best hitter come up in the first inning. I guess the counter-argument might be well Ryan Braun stole thirty odd bases last year hitting in front of Prince Fielder, so what? It's certainly not a ringing endorsement either to Adam Lind and his ability to protect Bautista.

I'm not convinced this is a good idea.
Chuck - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 12:52 PM EDT (#253921) #

It's certainly not a ringing endorsement either to Adam Lind and his ability to protect Bautista.

This mythical protection business has been flogged to death in these parts, so I will argue only that the best way to ensure that Bautista gets pitched to is to ensure there are men on base when he bats. To achieve this would be to ensure that high OBP hitters precede him in the lineup.

grjas - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 08:54 PM EDT (#253966) #
This mythical protection business has been flogged to death in these parts, so I will argue†only that the best way to ensure that Bautista gets pitched to is to ensure there are men on base when he bats. To achieve this would be to ensure that high OBP hitters precede him

Well... Not base on opening day. They'll even walk him with men on first and second
Richard S.S. - Thursday, April 05 2012 @ 10:36 PM EDT (#253983) #
Eventually walking Bautista, at anytime, will bite someone in the butt.
2012 Blue Jays Preview: Overall | 28 comments | Create New Account
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