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ESPN has just released its initial MLB power rankings for 2012. No real surprises at the top -- Yankees, Rangers, Angels and Tigers are the top four. The highest-ranked NL team is the D-Backs at #7, with the Phillies, Cardinals, Giants and Marlins following directly behind, all just a noodge ahead of your #12 Blue Jays.  The Rays are #5 and the Red Sox are #6, so 12th in MLB translates here to fourth in the AL East. Bringing up the rear at #30 are your (dreadful?) Houston Astros. Let's go 'stros!

Who looks, to you, to be ranked too high or too low?

My take ...

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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.

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In case you missed it in today's Star...
 
 
Seems like an eminently reasonable remark for a team leader to make publicly, hey?

 

When the Blue Jays came a purler in the 2009 season, turning in a disappointing year where a strong one was expected, it basically destroyed all of my long-term hope for the Jays.
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It's that time again! The results for last year's contest were just posted a couple weeks ago, so go check them out if you haven't seen them, then come back here and make your predictions for this year!

Edit: removed my predictions so as not to influence others... a little late, but whatever.
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It's time for the annual survey, and I'm hoping you guys work your magic once more.

http://www.tangotiger.net/survey/

As you've hopefully noticed we've started running our 2012 previews - the other divisions last week, the AL East this week, with the Jays to follow next week. I used this as an opportunity to look back at some of the predictions we made at the start of the 2011 season, and thought that this would be a good opportunity for self mockery. We here at the Box are nothing if not humble.

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So, Orioles... how've you been this year? Haven't checked in with you since the preview I wrote last year. People were expecting a lot from you, maybe even a fourth-place finish in the East, ahead of those overrated Blue Jays.
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But they most likely won't.

A few day ago at Fangraphs, Paul Swydan made a convincing case why they should both stay over Ben Francisco. I'm going to add my support here.
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The baseball season is just a couple of weeks away. And you know what that means... it's fantasy baseball season! The gang was joined by some fantasy friends (I mean real friends we play fantasy with, not friends we pretend to have, I swear) to discuss how playing fantasy sports changes us as fans. In part two, the long-awaited NL East Preview, recorded last week with Alex Obal in New York.

Subscribe here. Listen here.
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A very special "Live from New York" (it's Saturday night! (it actually was Saturday night (well, Saturday afternoon))) episode of the Boxcast this week featuring Da Box's Big Apple correspondent Alex Obal. Given the circumstances, Alex and I decided to chat about New York fandom and how it differs from being a fan in Toronto. In part 2 we took a cue from Matthew Elmsley and gave our predictions for who will get the playing time at left field and who will get the starts in 2012. Listen here.

The discussion was fruitful and free-flowing, so I'm going to save part 3 (NL East Preview) for next Monday so as not to burden listeners with a huge commitment. Also, we plan on going to a weekly schedule once the season starts so this is a good transition to that. Look for the Boxcast every Monday from now on!

Update: We're in the iTunes Store!
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With the new playoff slot we're all dreaming big here. However, how bad is the playoff situation in Toronto with the Leafs & Raptors looking inept and the Jays being in the toughest division there is? Is this something that should be expected or is it a once in a generation thing?
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A very special episode of the Boxcast this week. Episode 4: For a Few Boxes More. We open with the debut of the Boxcast's original theme song. Next, Anders and Thomas join me for an analysis of the second wildcard and how it affects the Jays in 2012 and the future. In our second segment, special guest Gerry McDonald joins us via Skype to talk prospects (around 22:00). Finally, a round-up of Jays spring training news and other news around the majors (around 43:00.)

Listen here.
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There are real live baseball games being played today.

This of course makes it is a good day. The Jays are up against the Pirates at 1:05, and there is coverage on the radio. If you have mlb.tv, they start their spring training coverage today with the Yanks-Phillies at 1:05 and the Red Sox against Boston College at 7:05.

Also here's a hilarious JPA story over at The Classical.

One of my two favourite books arrived at my door this week in the form of the 2012 edition of the Baseball America Prospect HandbookThis year's handbook has added a couple of new wrinkles in evaluating each team's top 30 minor league prospects.
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