Posted by: Asher Roth | February 19, 2010

Predictions Schmefictions

Ah, February in Toronto. I’m on a “vacation” of sorts, as this is our esteemed “Reading Week”. Of course, the parentheses deal with the sheer lack of reading that I’ve done this week, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one. Most people even seen with a book remotely close to them is giggled at. That’s right, casual reading included. After all, at this age, something as trivial as a book should never interfere with your budding alcoholism.

So, you’re probably all wondering, what’s the weather like in Toronto? Freezing, since it’s February? No. Ground covered with snow? No. One degree Celcius, barely any snow to be found. Ideal winter. A sweatshirt is sufficient to stay warm… laugh at Al Gore all you want, but the seasons are fo-jaxed right now. Just saying.

Anyway, it being the third week of the year’s shortest month, this is the time that players start arriving in Florida for spring training. The anticipation is overwhelming! The smell of cheap Aramark hot dogs and Pizza Pizza, along with that authentic plasticy smell of the new Astroturf at the Dome is hanging in the air.

Of course, this is also right around the time of year that we baseball writers/bloggers really don’t have much to say, since we can’t say much beyond blatant speculation. It also doesn’t help that this year’s edition of the Blue Jays Spring Training cast, as we’ve spent the past few months explaining, has more uncertainties than the amount of games the New Jersey Nets have lost this season.

The problem is that I am a blogger, not a magician, thus to say that I know exactly who is going to make the team would be like saying I’m going to pull a rabbit out of my hat.

So, on that note, allow me to make some predictions for the Jays 2010 roster on opening day. Perhaps not based on likeliness, so much as I’m checking out the 40 man roster and the non-roster invitees and seeing who catches my eye. Today, I’ll discuss position players, as it’s slightly more predictable than the pitching staff is at this point.

Who knows, you might even learn something (like WHAT?? We signed Jarrett Hoffpauir??)

At catcher, the obvious choice would be John Buck, but he has a .235 career batting average. On the other hand, anyone remember Jason Phillips? The lovable four-eyed catching failure of a couple years back? Well, we don’t have him, but we DO have KYLE Phillips. If one Phillips didn’t work out, what are the chances that both will stink? Besides, he’d surely be a better choice than J.P. Arencibia – not so much for the fact that he’s been “waiting in the wings” for ages now and has yet to impress, but for his name. Now that A.J., B.J. and that other guy with the name J.P. are gone, I think this city’s had just about enough of these abbreviations. If they want success in that area, they need to go with the guys who have two of the same letter in their abbreviated first name (like C.C. Sabathia and J.J. Putz).

At first base, we’ve got names like Brian Dopirak, Brett Wallace, and even Adam Lind who could play this position. Not particularly well in a defensive sense, per se, but wouldn’t you rather have any of those three guys in the lineup than Lyle Overbay? Well too bad, cuz Lyle is still under contract, and barring some team desperate enough to seek out  a defensive-minded first baseman who couldn’t consistently hit a 60 MPH grapefruit, he’s not going anywhere unless he has a mammoth first half of the season. Of course, I could be wrong. The Sox did pick up Doug Mientkiewicz before they won the ‘ship in ’04, and say what you will about Lyle, he’s a far better hitter than Doug ever was.

Hill’s at second.

Shortstop provides quite the entertaining battle. Alex Gonzalez or Johnny Mac? Both are being paid “peanuts” (by today’s standards), neither hits very well, and both are known for their defence. I say shock everyone and hand Mike McCoy the job. Who’s Mike McCoy? Who cares? Whoever it is, they’ll be hitting ninth.

At third base, we have the unfortunate job of choosing between Edwin Encarnacion and an oversized pylon. I know who I would choose – I’ll give you a clue, it’s large, orange, and isn’t alive. But I bet it would strike out less.

Our outfield is another question mark. Centre field is set in stone, whether you call it Vernon Wells or a gold-plated statue of the former Gold Glover. Either way, they are both expensive substitutes for what the Jays paid for in the first place – a run-producing, defensive magician. They have neither, but they still have Vernon’s smug smile, shiny head, and inflated contract. If he hits twenty homers this year and drives in 70, it’s an improvement over last season. At the end of the day, if he doesn’t resurrect his career, there is going to be an awful lot of booing at the Dome over the next few years when #10 comes to bat.

Left field is either going to be Travis Snider or Adam Lind. Either way, they’re both pretty promising. Lind is likely going to DH, but Snider is going to provide plenty of entertainment soon enough. And let’s not forget – HE’S ONLY TWENTY-TWO!! Even if he’s no good for another couple of years, the future is still bright.

Right field is where tears begin to form. Cito has been talking not only of starting Jose Bautista in right field, but he wants him to lead off. Ouch. Jose showed flashes last year – not of brilliance, but of mediocrity at best. Okay, so he hit a bunch of home runs at the end of last season when the season was long over. If there’s one thing I’ll give him, he has a half-decent eye for the strike zone, but that doesn’t translate well when he comes up in the ninth, two out, bases loaded, and takes strike three. I can’t express the sheer number of headaches Cito gave me last year when he would keep Jose in the lineup in the most crucial times of the game. Why? Because he doesn’t believe in pinch-hitting? *Sigh*.

Regardless, there are many names I’d rather have out there. Joey Gathright is realistically the guy I’d like to see start in right. He’s arguably one of the fastest guys in the league, he plays solid D, and most importantly, he’s NOT Jose Bautista. He also bats left, and I like my leadoff men to be lefties. Let Jose start against left-handed pitching – that’s all the playing time a guy like him should be getting.

If Gathright doesn’t perform, why not give Adam Loewen a chance? I mean how long did it take Rick Ankiel to make that switchover? Plus Loewen’s a Canuck, so he could totally be the media bitch that the Jays have been looking for to wrap the Canadian flag around ever since Matt Stairs skipped town (Scott Richmond blew his chance when he was spotted with that Red Sox cap). Besides, there have been far worse guys in the mix for the unlikely-Canadian-who-would-never-make-any-team-but-the-Jays award (see Simon Pond).

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think, because at this point, it’s all strictly hypothetical. You can laugh at me all you want, but what if Adam Loewen has a good camp? And hey, you can even prove me wrong, Jose, Vernon, and Edwin, and all of you can have monster seasons. I’d encourage this, as we could then trade you for some depth, or something of the sort – after all, who suspected that Marco Scutaro would be a type-A free agent when the Jays signed him as a utility man a couple years ago?

Either way, I’m stoked to see training camp get under way, as we can then officially get out of this BS speculative stage, and make some predictions with solid evidence to boot.

Till then, Adam Loewen for the lead-off spot. First one to start a Facebook group of that name gets a free pint from me.

UPDATE!!

The Jays signed JOSE MOLINA to a very cheap contract today. The Messiah has arrived!! Yes, he’s spent the last few years with the Yankees, so that should count for something. He’s also got a great arm. But like most middle children, he’s the over-looked one. Bengie’s got power, Yadier is good in the clutch. Jose is good at striking out, and has the exact same .235 career batting average as John Buck. Let the battle for the back-up spot begin!!

Of course, with such prestigious names as John Buck, Jose Molina, and Raul Chavez in the mix, it’s easy to get carried away and say “CHAMPIONSHIP HERE WE COME!!” And this is supposed to be where I get practical and say, come on folks, they’re just position plugs for when the young guys come up… but a few years ago, that young guy we were waiting on was Kevin Cash… then Guillermo Quiroz. Like all of you out there, I’m pretty impatient too.

All I can say is in 3-4 years, Travis D’Arnaud better be able to turn water into wine…

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Responses

  1. […] week, Asher posted a link to his roster prediction (from the original Jays Balk!) ahead of the 2010 season, and some of them are hilariously bad, […]


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