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We've tried a variety of pre-season preview formats here on Batter's Box over the past few years, some with each team getting its own thread, some division-by-division, some all written by members of The Roster, others involving "guest" previews, some by invitation and other by volunteers.

This year? The answer is (Z) All of the Above.

Beginning later this week ...

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The Advance Scout also jumps back on the Blue Jays bandwagon, for the series that Alex and I are tentatively calling THE BIGGEST SERIES EVER. Not to, you know, jinx it or anything. On to... the Advance Scout!
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As usual, the good guys' first series after the all-star break is a major gut check against an AL East team. That's normal. What's weird is that the Jays get to perform the checking of someone else's guts this time. The upstart Rays have lost seven straight games as they face actual pressure for the first time in franchise history. They'll look to bounce back by sending their big three starters to the hill at home, where they're 36-14 this year.
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Fine. I admit it. I'm a bit excited about this series. Maybe it's tonight's pitching matchup, or maybe it's tomorrow's, which is pretty intriguing itself. Maybe it's the presence of Brett Gardner and Jose Molina in the Yanks' regular lineup, or maybe it's just Adam Lind walkoff fever. Whatever it is, there should be a decent atmosphere in the Dome this weekend.
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The Jays get to ease out of Interleague play against the worst team in the AL. I have no idea what's going to happen.
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Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox face off again, the Jays' pitchers get to deal with an offensive juggernaut, and their bats run into some overachieving pitchers.
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Ice... cold... beer!

They're 5-5 in their last 10, which is woefully inadequate when you're chasing a team that never loses. They're now 8.5 games off the NL Central pace, and as if that weren't bad enough they get to deal with a couple of AL East teams this week. Fortunately, they get to begin that stretch by throwing their more longball-prone pitchers at a banjo-hitting last-place team that ranks 28th in the majors in longballs, has averaged 2.5 runs a game over the last week, and gleefully insists on tormenting its fans by burying a free power fix in AAA.
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A quick primer on the Yankees, in celebration of the first career start of Joba Chamberlain in a series that features a couple of good pitching matchups.
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The Royals bring their league worst (by a hair) offense to town for a four game set having lost four straight. The Jays will seek to capitalize, and potentially crack the elusive .500 barrier.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Here to save us from the doldrums of another boring AL-style pitchers' duel, Interleague Play is back at last! The Jays will open up the NL portion of their schedule in Philly's bandbox against their 3-4-5 starters.
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Next up are the surprise leaders of the AL Central. Minnesota has a -1 run differential on the year but finds itself 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland, despite the fact that Adam Everett is tied for sixth on the team in homers. The Jays' inability to hit with runners in scoring position will meet a stiff challenge this week from a couple of starters with strand rates in the 50s.
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The Jays kick off a ten game, ten day road trip in Cleveland as they take on the scuffling Cleveland's with a few new faces in the lineup. Jorge Velandia, Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench will be joining the team to take the place of McDonald, Eckstein and Lind.

But enough about the Jays - on to the Advance Scout!

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No more excuses. If the Jays want to get back in this, they have to make a statement on this seven-game homestand against two division leaders. First on the chopping block are Ozzie's boys, led by their surprisingly competent starting rotation - and a surprising choice of leadoff hitter.
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Four game losing streak? Last place? Adam Lind trapped in purgatory? Oh yeah? You think that's bad? Remember when I auditioned to be David Hasselhoff's car?
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We're going to Disney World!
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