In what I consider to be an absolutely perfect move, the Jays llived up to the implication that they would move quickly this winter by adding what might be the last major piece to their 2013 lineup by landing switch hitter Melky Cabrera. Which you know of course. So let me hit up some of the major talking points floating around from the past weeks activities.
1. Don't worry about the steroid thing. Has no one noticed that Cabrera's home run total last year, pro-rated for a full season, comes to sixteen? Have we not been indoctrinated to believe that steroids boosts power, not average? Also, we have to assume he was using in 2011 to if we are saying he's not much of a hitter without the drugs. I, personally, am on record as saying I'm REAL skeptical just how much PEDs actually E - that said, i'm a hundred times MORE skeptical that they will kick up a player's batting average. if he only gives you something like his 2011 numbers he's a massive upgrade in LF. Plus, that's a lot of glove for LF.
2. Josh Johnson's agent did NOT imply he wanted his client traded. He was expressing the same skepticism over the Jays being big spenders that many Toronto fans and media types bring to the table every day. you have to be looking for it to see a "demand" there. Buehrle, on the other hand, is an open question. He will surely be a god soldier and do his job BUT he's also a guy who's always been vocal about wanting to be near his home, and there was a time it was assumed he would eventually play for the Cardinals. Probably the team will talk with him about how comfortable he is being a Blue Jay and whether or not anythign other than geography will play a part in where he would like to play. for instance, if geography is more important than winning, then the Blue jays might very well find an eager trade partner in Kansas City if the return justifies sending some money along in the deal. Probably ideally you'd like to deal with the Rangers. imagine, for instance, Buehrle and JPA for Kinsler and Ogando.
3. Watch to see if the Jays go to an all dirt-path infield this year, in respect of Reyes' hamstrings. If they are not thinking about that they are not paying attention. Not to dismiss, of course, the reality that pretty much everyone wants grass in there!
4. A lot of talk about AA still wanting another SP, but before your speculation runs wild remember - we are talking the 5,6,7 spots so the acquired guys, should there be some, will either be young enough or fringy enough that they can be stashed in AAA or at least in the bullpen (which is itself full). And probably by trade rather than free agency. But if you look at the free agent list, you'd be looking at guys like, frankly, Carlos Villianueva (if he wasn't obsessed with having a clean shot at a full time starting slot). or you might pick up a couple of fragile guys like Rich harden who might be willing to work their way back in Buffalo. If you want something better than that, then you are gonna have to make a trade for a pitcher with options.
5. There's something of an interesting question about the lineup now. Mainly turning on the fact that Cabrera's OBP is BA driven, rather than walks.In all other respects, he profiles nicely in the #3 spot. His BABiP last season was ridiculously high in 2012 and that's normally considered unsustainable. so you ask yourself whether or not he really is a guy who's going to hit consistently well over .300 and how you answer that dictates how you put the lineup together.. So, asuming that he does hit that well (or projects too)
1. Reyes - SS
2. Bonafacio (or Izturus) - 2b
3. Cabrera - LF
4. Bautisa - RF
5. Encarnacion - 1B
6. Lind/ (ideally Davis v LHP and hitting 9th)
Cabrera not all that and you believe in Lawrie? Flip those two and give Lawrie the benefit of a ton of "protection"
Of course if you are more conservative, stick with Bautista 3rh and EE 4th if you can live with Lind (for the LHB) hitting 5th. That would in theory regulate Cabrera to 6th.
6. "The next manager must speak Spanish" - no not really but he needs a god guy on staff to deal with that if he doesn't. The stat heads would love Manny Acta though he had some issues in Cleveland. I love the idea of having him on staff, but the smarter play might be to hire Acta as the bench or s a 3B coach then as the actual manager.
7. Now, here's the fun part. Trusting my math here might be shaky but we'll have to roll with it. The 2012 NY Yankees collectively added up to a WAR total of approx. 52 There are some variables). The most likely 2013 roster for the Blue Jays, if they broke camp tomorrow(includes Gose to make 13 hitters but one presumes it will be an infielder instead) produced a total war last season of 58.1 - how ya like them apples?
Yes, there will be fluctuations of course but consider - you have EE and Cabrera who have some decent potential to regress, BUT you also have Bautista having missed almost half a season, Laswrie having missed significant time, Morrow having missed significant time, Santos having missed virtually the whole season, Johnson with some room between last year and his peak, and a pretty good potential that Romero will bounce back to his 3 or so WAR level. If I may be so bold as to assume, rather than dig into the totals for each team, that the yakees were as good as any team in the AL last year, then i will say with boldness that the jays are as good as that team right now.
If - and it's a huge if - everyone on this team stays healthy and no one has an inexplicable lost year like Romero had last year, this team is good enough to win 95+ games and go to the World series. Albeit no one can tell how good an "on paper" powerhouse will jell into a winning TEAM.