Saturday, 26 February 2011

Prospect Rankings: Compare and Contrast

Here's a steaming pile of ultimately useless info for your Friday night as we look forward to the first official fake game of the year. What follows is something akin to the surveys used to rank college sports team during the season. I took four Jays-fan made lists and awarded points in the traditional manner (high to low) to come up with a consensus ranking, and separately I took for "unbiased" professional lists and did the same thing. the latter list produces a shorter consensus list because at least one of them didn't go beyond 10 names, still, I thought it was at least somewhat interesting to see how the two compare.

For comparison sake, I'll start with the pros. The four lists used here are Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, John Sickels, and Kieth Law (who only gives me 10 names to work with). I'd be happy to calculate in any others, if you direct me to them, in a future update - but these are the four most widely available team-specific lists. A total of 12 players were mentioned as Top 10 players between the four lists - here's how they ranked (using a 10 point high-to-low scale):

1. Drabek - 40
2. Lawrie - 35
3. Stewart - 23
4. McGuire - 22
4. d'Arnaud - 22
6. Arencibia - 21
7. Perez - 14
8. Gose - 13
9. Sanchez - 10
9. Wojciechowski - 10
11. Hechevarria - 9
12. Alvarez - 1

Ranking the fan-made lists was a bit more complex. The ones I used were my own (I know I'm not a go-to source but this is my damned project!), Jays Journal Top 50 (I'm guessing at their last three spots but the rankings won't change if I'm wrong), Batter's Box (written before Lawrie arrived and three others departed, for a total of 28 available names), and Bluebird Banters' Top 40. To control for the discrepancy in the number of players listed, I went with a 50 point scale which didn't create a major complication until I got to #25 - I'll explain later when things get hairy.
I'll say again here that I used what seems to me to be the three most well constructed and/or prominent fan-made lists I'm aware of. if you'd like to recommend others, I'd be happy to consider them (and of course glad to feed the beast by consuming yet another list!).

It's a bit useless to say this but 28 players made all four lists because everyone on the shortest list (BB) made all three other lists, albeit not always in the top 28. The Consensus List reaches 21 names before we have to start making adjustments for players who didn't make one list or another. By the time you get to 30 the adjustments get too complex for the list to be meaningful thereafter.

Here are the results:

1. Drabek - 200
2. Lawrie - 196
3. Stewart - 191
4. Arencibia - 187
5. Perez - 176
6. Hechevarria - 175
7. Gose - 174
8. McGuire - 170
9. d'Arnaud - 169
10. Sanchez - 164
11. Alvarez - 162
12. Marisnick - 159
13. Thames - 152
13. Wojciechowski - 152
15. Jimenez - 141
16. Syndergaard - 134
17. Jenkins - 130
17. Hutchinson - 130
19. Thon - 123
20. Sierra - 118
21. Mastroianni - 117
22. Cardona - 116*
23. Carreno - 103
24. Murphy - 102
25. Sweeney - 102**
26. Pierre - 97
27. Kenect - 96
28. Hawkins - 92***
29. McDade - 89
30. Cooper - 87****

(If you don't know who these people are, you probably need to read up some)

The guys with stars are the players who didn't make the Batter's Box list. Each of them are ranked according to the number of points they'd have had if they were #29 on that list, which obviously all of them couldn't have been. Notes to follow:

* Cardona had a 13 point cushion before he would have fallen below Carreno so this is a safe ranking.
** Sweeney beats out Pierre with five points to spare, so if he would have been at least #32 on that list then his place is secure here.
***Hawkins is in a much more tenuous position, just 3 points ahead of McDade - but I've know way of knowing where his rank would have been if the crew there had gone to, say, 40 names.
****This is the highest Cooper could have ranked, but no other player was close enough to make it questionable to include him.

Looking in detail at the latter list, and the lists which contributed to it, a few things jump out. The JJ list was very heavily skewed to younger prospects. For instance, Brad Mills ranked as high as #19 on one list, but didn't make the Top 50 for JJ. The BB list suffered a bit from changes in the system after it was published (I should note here that I arbitrarily assumed Lawrie would have been #2 on that list though he'd have had to miss the top five entirely to change the aggregate ranking). Also, the Southpaw list I used was the latest version, modified somewhat as information came in over the winter, which I intend to publish in the coming weeks - not the list i published last fall.
Exactly half the 30 names on the list have Joined the organization since Alex Anthopoulos took over. Which, by the way, is not crazy unusual. Prospect lists tend to look for the "next big thing" and new draftees/signing/acquisitions tend to get more attention. On a personal note, i thought I was being radical in my praise for Aaron Sanchez when i put out my original list, but over the winter there was a steady stream of plaudits for the young right hander.

The other interesting aspect of this exercise is the comparison between the pro list and the amateur list. Obviiously, one can't overlook that the views represented by the latter list are highly informed by the expressed views of the professionals (even when your list came out before the pro put out his list, you've still likely heard a lot about his views).

Nine of the top ten on each list also appeared in the top 10 of the other list. The pros rated 2010 draftees McGuire and Wojciechowski marginally higher than the fans, and the fans rate Adeiny and to a lesser extent Arencibia somewhat higher. The degree of consensus though, is pretty high.

And of course, as you compare any one contributing list to the consensus, one must remember that the further you get down the list the more the rankings are intuitive and less critical. The difference between the #21 guy and the number #29 guy are not usually nearly as great as the difference in the #1 and the #9.

In any case, submitted for your consideration.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

On Bautista

Rather than wax at my usual length on my opinion of the Thursday announcement of a five year extension for Jose Buatista, I'm going to largely defer to the excellent work posted at Jays Journal on the subject.

There are a few points that I've mentioned in other places that I'd like to add in a supplementary fashion, and a few points in the linked article I'd like to repeat for emphasis.

On the former:

My completely wild guess is that on the overall value of the deal, the most likely outcome is that the Jays lose value, mildly, in terms of pure statistics. That is, to pull a random number out of the air, they are paying $65 mil for about $55 mil in statistical value. But even that is such a fuzzy conclusion it's like nailing jello to pin it down. I'll mention more about this in a bit.

I'm certainly open to the possibility of a less-likely but not remotely impossible better or worse extreme.

However, I think there's something else at work here that's been alluded to in some places but not expressly stated that I've seen.

Alex has very strong beliefs about team building and not all of them are statistical. Whether he's right or wrong, he clearly believes in things like chemistry and leadership and mentoring. Bautista clearly, in HIS (Alex's) estimation, brings value to the team beyond the stat sheet.

So, in the context of what Alex was shopping for - what HE was in the market for, he did not in fact overpay. Because even if Bautista reverts to (to use a comparison that one commentator invoked) say, Casey McGeehee, who's not a bad hitter in his own right, , those "intangible" qualities Alex looks for do not go away - it's a "skill set" that doesn't fade with age.

Consider this - the Jays have a talented Latin shortstop who has a reputation for, possibly, not always having his head on straight . . . and they have a top prospect from Cuba who they quickly learned needed a Latin influence on the coaching staff. How much value, in a dollar figure, is it worth to the Jays if Escobar and Adeiny each preform half a WAR better on average because of JB's influence? What kind of value does Anthopoulos place (and should WE place) on Bautista working right beside Escobar for a whole season?

You or I might not place much value in those calculations but I'm betting Alex does.

Additionally, and this is also part of the way Alex seems to think, there's a psychological impact on the other, younger players on the team if the Jays appear unwilling to reward a great season (and I'm betting few players think "bet he can't do it again" the way fans do).

Another alternative, less likely but also consistent with what we know of Alex, he may simply have concluded that in a couple of years, if Bautista DOES maintain a 5 or 6 WAR level of production, he could put him on the trade market say after the 2012 season as a consistent top shelf hitter signed to a sweet deal (assuming the state of the franchise at the time made it a better idea to move him than to keep him) - the risk being that you have a 4-5 mil guy making 14 and you have 9-10 mil a year in sunk costs. As others have pointed out, the team has been wiling to write off such money before.

Ultimately, this is a deal not dissimilar to the Rios deal, and I had then and have now no complaints about the Rios deal. If Kenny Williams were to offer him back to us today, I'd be more than happy to drop him Rios CF and pay the contract he has remaining.

One of the things I've noted is that people LOVE to dial up the snark factor in situations like this and think they are making clever points when really, they aren't. One respondent to Christina Karhl's article (as it was linked on Facebook) was to invoke the name of Brady Anderson.

It is true that Anderson had one tremendous outlier year in which he had 50 HR, but people neglect to look closer at the rest of his career. Anderson didn't get regular playing time until age 27 and didn't play a full season until the following year. He had his monster year at age 32 and he brought a career 101 OPS+ into that season (his OPS was .742). For comparison, Joey Bats got his first regular playing time in the majors at 25 but never played a full season until last year at age 29. Coming into 2010 his OPS on his career was .729 and his OPS+ was 91, similar to but slightly less than Anderson's.

Bautista's 2010, his age 29 season, rated a 166 OPS+ and 32 year old Anderson's peak year was a 156. But here's the part a lot of people forget: over the next 4 seasons, Anderson's OPS+ was 117 an he posted an .832 OPS. He didn't decline from being an entirely productive and valuable hitter until his age 37 season. If Anderson is a model for Bautista - If JB puts up a 120ish OPS+ over the next 5 years (through his age 34 season) then the Jays will have received fair market value for a fair market salary.

What's the market value of a 117 OPS+? Well, Alex Anthpoulos specified one named specifically as a player who was a model for the Bautista deal - Dan Uggla. Anyone want to venture a guess as to what Uggla's career OPS+ is?

In referance to points made in the Jays Journal article, here are my take-away points there:

1. The manner in which Bautista refined his swing is not a fleeting thing, it's such a complete change that it's not the sort of thing you can just drift back into old habits on. The article links an feature with Jerry Hairston demonstrating the change on Baseball Tonight.

2. The Jays are not paying for a 40-50 home run guy. Hopefully they do that next winter by chasing Albert Pujols. The rhetoric about a huge amount of money that you hear from people on the radio and so forth is just silly. Too casually people invoke "you just got rid of Wells' deal and..." (it was asked at the press conference) but this is not comparable at all to the Wells deal.

3. The Jays didn't back off the idea of Brett Lawrie at 3B in the wake of this deal so while Bautista will be at 3B this year, as soon as they think Lawrie is ready (as early as mid-season but not necessarily) JB is going back to RF for years to come. This makes a lot of sense, if Lawrie holds up his part of the equation because the Jays better OF prospects (who can play RF) are some years away. My personal pick is Jake Marisnick who could advance one level a year and not arrive until 2015.

All in all, while first impressions might provoke some head scratching, I think that the closer one examines the Bautista deal, the more one can support the rational. The Jays might yet find they have overpaid, as measured by statistics, but my bet is that if they have it's such a marginal amount that it's incidental.

One other thing on an unrelated note I want to call your attention to - that's the stories of the two injury plagued pitchers working hard to contribute to the Jays in 2011. The first, and the one closer to contributing, is one-time All-Star closer Chad Cordero. Cordero has always been one of my favorite guys and every winter when he was looking for a place to hook on as he traveled the recovery road, I hoped it might be the Jays who gave him a chance and this year it was. There's a great piece by Shi Davidi (is it redundant to say "great piece" by "Shi Davidi"? is there any other sort?) about Cordero's continued attempts to make it back to the majors and his special motivation for doing so on the Canadian press that's well worth a read.
The other is erstwhile Blue Jay starter Dustin McGowan. Gregor Chisholm writes for the Jays official site about McGowan's hopeful spring and his realization that this is his last practical chance to stay healthy.

Cordero, apparently, has a legitimate shot at forcing his way onto the opening day roster. McGowan, naturally, is further behind and has no practical shot at opening day, though manager John Farrell is optimistic he'll get to see game-action in the Spring. Hopefully he'll be ready for major league action by mid-season (that's a wishful thinking time frame on my part, NOT a citation from any team source).

I'm rooting for both men to reclaim a bit of their former luster this year.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A Moment for Scotty Pods

Alex is certainly on his own schedule today as always. I've been holding back remarks about the Podsednick signing thinking I'd tag it onto a larger piece about the reported Bautista deal. But as that story grows, it becomes more and more unlikely that there's any place in such a post to discuss such an ultimately minor transaction as this one. Plus, the jays are taking their own sweet time to even announce what the did with Bautista, and I refuse to comment without knowing the details. So let me take just a brief moment here to tell you how unimportant the Scotty Pods deal is.

John Morosi tweeted, when the deal was made, that the Jays need a lead off hitter and perhaps Pods was that guy. The problem with that is that as a hitter, the Jays already have a guy who can do, at a minimum, what pods does in Raji Davis – and Davis is a much better defender. The only guys who have to worry about Pods are Corey Patterson and Mike McCoy. Don't be terribly surprised if all three of these guys fall before another player or two added later in the spring who're not even with the team yet. These are all marginal guys and if you are the sort of fan who puts a little money on the outcome of a game or a season on a site like MLB betting at BetUS this deal should have essentially zero effect on how you put your money down.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Projected rosters: First Look

I hesitate to start this because the idea shares somewhat in common with the latest series of threads at Batter's Box. But I'd intended to do this as ST was commencing and my format is a bit different.

What we're going to do is take a look at how the players in the Blue Jays' system will shake out in terms of minor league assignments. This is, of necessity, a preliminary analysis and injuries, trades, and ST performance will affect these decisions. It's also worth noting that the further from the majors you get, the more uncertainty exists - particularly in the short-season leagues.

There are a few places where I go with an alignment which makes things easier to sort out (i.e., Zep in the majors and Drabek at AAA to start the season, or Scott Campbell at 2B) and there are places where I have to assign players as I would (with my incomplete info) in the absence of knowledge of what the Jays are thinking. With the exception of known existing injuries (Dustin McGowan and Sam Dyson) I assume health for all players. This will not, of course, actually happen. Let's begin.

I will do it team-by-team, and within each team separate starters, relievers, and hitters for separate commentary. Also, I've bolded those I consider the top 60 farm system players to watch (not necessarily the top 60 prospects)


Rotation: Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Litsch, Rzepczyinski

I'm going with the assumption that Litsch will enjoy the veterans "benefit of the doubt" but I'd guess he's the one here most likely to lose his job to Drabek, and the one featuring the least "stuff." I went with Zep over Drabek because (a) the team needs to know what his value is (b) there's no longer room for him in the 'pen and (c) there's some player control issues that work in their favor if Drabek starts the year in Vegas.

Bullpen: Francisco, Rauch, Frasor, Purcey, Dotel, Camp, Janssen

I'm not a believer in Villianueva and I am a fan of Janssen. The rest here seem quite obvious and I'm quite convinced Francisco is the closer on April 1.

C - Arencibia, Molina
1B - Lind, Encarncion (DH)
2B - Hill
SS - Escobar
3B - Bautista
RF - Snider
CF - Davis
LF - Rivera
Bench - McDonald, Patterson, McCoy

I've a strong feeling at least one player will be added who will push McCoy off the roster. Patterson isn't real safe either. I realize most projections have Snider in LF but I'm thinking that the Jays have so little commitment to Rivera that they'd like to know once and for all if Snider can handle RF, much as they are attempting to make Lind work at 1B. for now, I'm going to project that they start the year with him there (absent a trade).

Las Vegas

Rotation: Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Brad Mills, Scott Richmond, Jo-Jo Reyes

The general assumption is that Reyes will not clear waivers, but I'm not at all sure there will be team out there with an open spot in their major league rotation that they would claim him. Mills badly needs a trade if he's gonna start in the majors, the chart is too deep for him here. If Drabek is in AAA it's only for the first couple of months at most. I think the Jays will hold out for an injury or ineffectiveness from one of the five if they can. They won't be eager to replace a guy who has done nothing to lose his job, even for Drabek.

Bullpen: Chad Cordero, Josh Roenicke, Carlos Villianueva, Jesse Carlson, Rommie Lewis, Alan Farina, Luis Perez, Bobby Ray

That's one too many guys, but there are a TON of excess relief arms coming to camp, and these are the eight most notable guys of those not in the majors. If Reyes is gone, Ray or Perez will be starting and that would leave the correct total of seven relievers. Other names who will fill in if there are injuries, trades, etc (and otherwise likely be released) include: Winston Abreu, Will Ledzma, Sean Henn, Mike Hinkley, William Collazo, Brian Stokes and Jamie Vermillyea.

C - Brian Jeroloman, Ryan Budde
1B - David Cooper, Ryan Shealy (DH)
2B - Scott Campbell, Calix Crabbe
SS - Jon Diaz, Manny Mayorson
3B - Brett Lawrie
LF - Eric Thames
CF - Darin Mastroianni
RF - Adam Loewen
Bench - Danny Pearles (OF), and Leonard Davis (OF)

That's actually one too many hitters, but along the way I'll be including extra guys when there's no obvious way to distinguish and when the likelihood is that someone will be hurt and a spot will open up. Other guys on minor league deals who will nominally be candidates for the 51's include Jason Lane, Craig Stansberry (3B), and Al Quintana.
A note here about Scott Campbell - the Jays had been trying him at 3B before his hip injury. Due to the changes in organizational depth at 3B, I've an idea that should he recover he's going to back at 2B. I'm also presuming a bit by putting him at AAA, but I think if he's healthy at his age they need to go ahead and throw him out there rather than being cautious.

New Hampshire

Rotation: Randy Boone, Joel Carreno, Bobby Bell, Wes Ethridge, Steve Raburn

Those last two are minor league Free Agent signings and I frankly don't know what the team thinks of them but it beats recycling previous year filler like BJ LaMura and Mike MacDonald. Bell will at some point be a reliever but it seems to me that unless they think that health prevents, he's more likely to keep a spot in the rotation warm than some scrub filler. Especially with so many relievers in need of work.

Bullpen: Matt Daly, Frank Gailey Ron Uvideo, Ray Gonzalez, Boomer Potts,, Dumas Garcia, Vince Bongiovanni

None of these guys except MAYBE Daly are notable, Gonzalez could be a placeholder in the rotation instead of one of the imports, and any of them could be replaced by the trickle down of excess guys from AAA (and a few surely will be). I've taken the tack of listing younger guys from within the organization ahead of guys who are OBVIOUSLY journeyman filler. There are more than enough such pitchers at lower levels that pushing, for instance, Garcia back down to make room seems like a waste. Other veteran filler types available here include BJ Lamura (who likely gets the next open spot as the team seems to like his usefulness), Mike MacDonald, and Clint Everts.

C - Travis d'Arnaud, Matt Luzza
1B - Mike McDade
2B - John Tolisano, Justin McClanehan
SS - Adeiny Hechavarria, Luis Sanchez
3B - Mark Sobolewski
LF - Adam Calderone
CF - Anthony Gose
RF - Moises Sierra
Bench - Richardo Nanita, Conception Rodriguez

A note re Anthony Gose - my general rule here is that this is a projection of opening day rosters, I make an exception here regarding Gose who I think will likely spend 4-6 weeks (at most) in Dunedin to start the season. I do so in this case because anyone who keeps that CF spot warm will be a total place-holder with no reason for us to discuss his identity. there's just no way to pin down who that might be.
The rest, I think, is largely self-evident, except Sobolewski - see a note about that under the Dunedin section.


Rotation: Chad Jenkins, Henderson Alvarez, Andrew Liebel, Ryan Tepera, Matt Fields

I expect Jenkins to move up on roughly the same schedule that Drabek ought to reach the majors, say around the first of June. Alvarez, if he impresses, more like the first of August. Liebel is coming off injury and might get a benefit of the doubt but not too much rope as the pressure from below will likely be intense. The other two simply had the best numbers (at this level) of the pack of lesser-names crowding the lower levels. Other pitchers who will need a BP role, or a break that is not now apparent in order to stay in the organization include: Ryan Page, Ryan Shopshire, and Dave Sever.

Bullpen: Nestor Molina, Kyle Ginley, Steve Turnbull, Evan Crawford, Matt Wright, Dan Delucia, Russ Buckwalter, Chad Beck

That's too many names, and one or two at least won't make the cut. They are listed by age so the guys toward the end have less rope. Molina is a genuine prospect, Ginley was before he spent most of the last two years hurt. None of the rest really matter, and any of them might be replaced by bumped starters.

C - Antonio Jimenez, Yan Gomes, Jon Talley(1B/DH)
1B - Sean Ochinko (3B, C), Lance Durham
2B - Ryan Schimpf
SS - Justin Jackson, Ryan Goins
3B - Kevin Aherns
LF - Brad McElroy / Broan Van Kirk
CF - Kenny Wilson
RF - Brad Glenn, Chris Hopkins

A lot more uncertainty here. First, to tie up the lose end regarding the third basemen: Sobo is 2.5 years older than Aherns, and while he has fewer reps in Dunedin, he did as well or better than Aherns has done there. in my opinion, that means he gets first crack at AA but if Aherns does re-establish his prospect status, he'll be on the short list for promotion. I still think Ochinko will play mostly at 3B but he'll spend more time at 1B while Ahrens is here.
I gambled in leapfrogging Durham over KC Hobson because - again - Hobson is 2.5 years younger and didn't exactly dominate Lansing in his short trial there. Durham, at 23, has no business in Short Season ball, it's either jump him up here or write him off. and he wasn't awful last year.
I've listed Jackson as a starter as one last show of faith in him, but he could be at 2B with Goins starting or he could be working from the bench. None of these outfielders really matter.


Rotation: Deck McGuire, Ash Wojciechowski, Drew Hutchison, Daniel Webb, Egan Smith, Casey Lawrence

I listed six here because I have now real way to pick which of these doesn't deserve to be here and I'm gambling that an injury makes room or that they simply carry an extra guy to spot in for double-headers and such. Listed in order of importance.

Bullpen: Dustin Antolin, Dan Barnes, Drew Permission, Dayton Martze, Aaron Loup, Brian Slover, Scott Gracey, Casey Beck

Antolin has potential, or did before injury - he might not be ready for opening day. The next three are lower round picks from the 2010 draft, and the rest is filler. Some of which will be bumped by promotions from rookie-league teams later in the summer.

C - Carlos Perez, Karim Turkmani
1B - KC Hobson, Balbino Fuenmayor
2B - Oliver Dominguez
SS - Gus Pierre
3B - Kevin Nolan, Randy Schwartz
LF - Marcus Kenect
CF - Jake Marisnick
RF - Michael Crouse
Bench - Eric Eiland (OF)

The 3B are placeholders until Sweeney or Hawkins pushes them aside. Conceivably Sweeney could look so good in ST as to grab the job in April.


Rotation: Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Griffin Murphy, Sean Nolin, Devy Estrada

All the best of the younger pitchers from the 2010 draft, plus intriguing Estrada. A VERY good group.

Bullpen: Travis Garrett, Juan Hernandez, Brandon Berl, Zach Outman, Shawn Griffith, Sean Shoffit

Garret is the only mildly promising guy here.

C - Pierce Rankin, Joe Bowen
1B - Yudelmis Hernandez
2B - Kelen Sweeney, Andy Fermin
SS - DJ Thon, Matt Johnson
3B - Chris Hawkins
LF - Yecio Aponte
CF - Marcus Brisker
RF - Jon Jones
OF - Steve McQuail

Only Thon, Sweeney, and Hawkins are really important here - might be too early to be moving Sweeney but this gets all three in the lineup. Again, if Sweeney makes the Lansing roster then that problem is solved.

Below this, there's a lot of filler and a lot of spots that will go to 2011 draftees. I'll only mention a few names.

Shane Opitz is a SS with some promise, likely to play at Bluefield and look for a chance to move up as others in front of him are promoted.

Adonis Cardona is expected to be in the GCL this year, along with young catcher Santiago Nessy and possibly 3B Gabriel Cenas.

A few other 2010 pitchers will be in either Bluefield or the GCL depending on how they shake out in the spring - Justin Nicolino, Mitch Taylor, Zach Adams, and Myles Jaye. Second baseman Brandon Mimms is a final name to make note of here. The rest is irrelevant other than the recently signed Jairo Labour who will probably summer in the Dominican.

[Programing note: The roster comparisons I had said i would do were fundamentally flawed. I had thought of them as a quick-and-dirty look but they were so dirty that there was little use to them. I'm working on a different concept but I want to be careful to make it more useful, so I'll take my time with it and do it in late March hopefully]

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Stacking Up: Updating the Rays

I hesitated for a while writing the review for the Yankees simply because Anthopoulos makes it hard to know when the musical chairs stop long enough to take a snapshot. But Spring Training approaches and it's time to press on. Before I get to New York, however, I most of course revise the comparison to the Rays, given that both rosters have significantly changed.

Here's is the summations on each part of the team which I drew in my previous post:

On the hitters:
Overall, so far, three which are a wash due to uncertainty, one goes to the Rays and five go to the Jays.
On the pitchers:

On the whole, I make the rotations largely a push.

In the bullpen, the Rays have a guy coming off major injury - JP Howell -as their closer, a guy who was non-tendered as their best set up reliever, and a couple of non-discript rooks they got via trade. Oh, and Sonnanstine. Whatever you think of the Jays pen, I hope I don't need to detail these guys to say that the Toronto bullpen is in FAR better shape.

And overall:

Frankly, I'm going to have to look closer before I conclude the Rays are even better than Baltimore at this point, let alone Toronto. I think so, based on the rotation, but I wouldn't say so with any confidence. I think a LOT of things would have to go wrong with the Jays for them to finish behind Tampa in 2011.
Regarding the 'pen, I don't think adding Farnsworth significantly alters the equation, especially since Francisco counters and betters that move. In terms of the offense, you now have the following alignment's which are different:

Damon v. Snider - Damon's not a BAD player but he's old and on the downward curve, you have to go with Snider.
Upton v. Davis - Contra-wise you just have to go with the young potential star here.
Zobrist v. Rivera - Largely a wash, two players with one excellent year in their past but in their most recent season a disappointment.
Ramirez v. Encarnacion - This comes down to asking yourself what Manny has left in the tank. Utimately, i'll give him the benefit of the doubt though I don't think the gap between these two will be huge.

That makes the offensive scorecard read 4 positions for the Jays three for the Rays, and two which can't be called. I'll have to consider them very similar teams at this point. Close enough that while I think the Jays have better talent overall, I wouldn't be surprised if the Rays won a few more games anyway. Both teams should be in the 80's for a win total.