Tuesday, 4 March 2008

We Got Yahoo'd

Yahoo's Jeff Passan kind of looks like Ben Affleck, no? No one else sees it? Wait, I meant to say that he's come out with his take on the 2008 Blue Jays.

The crux of the piece is, shock horror!, it's going to take a full, healthy season from both of JP's two vaunted signings of the 2005-2006 offseason: AJ Burnett and BJ Ryan for things to work out. He writes, "the A.J. and B.J. Show never has played for a full season, and until it does, the Blue Jays will be more garter snake than python." Ok, I follow. But I do think this team is better prepared, psychologically and to a lesser extent depth-wise, to sustain the loss of one or both than it was a year ago.

Passan rebukes those who first ranted that JP was reckless for dropping over $100 million on these two and then felt vindicated by their subsequent injuries. The ever-escalating cost of pitching makes those two respective contracts now look reasonable; BJ's was the richest ever for a closer at the time but has been eclipsed by Cincy's recent deal that pays Francisco Cordero $46 million over four years plus a club option for a fifth. Guess they weren't scared off by his 6+ ERA on the road last year...

He notes that there's a "guarded optimism" in the Jays camp this year, and takes a similar tone to Buster Olney. IF key players are healthy and IF underperformers from '07 return to career norms (that's kind of tied to the first part, but still), this is a team that could give Boston and New York some serious competition. Even if all goes to plan, the offense won't be on the same level as those two, but it might not matter since the Jays might well have the best staff in the AL. Or it could all go pear-shaped and we could finish behind the Rays. Not bloody likely in my mind.

We sometimes forget what a fierce competitor the Beej is since he was absent for most of last year. This is exactly the sort of thing you'd like to hear everyone on the roster repeat for good measure:

“When I signed here, I didn’t do it with the idea that we’d finish in third every season,” Ryan said. “I don’t ever think about things like, ‘What if we were in another division?’ I want to win this one.”

Right on, brother.

-- Johnny Was

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