To jump off of the Joe Pawlikowski and Eric Seidman pieces ran on ESPN's TMI Blog today, which alternately discuss the hopes for the Toronto Blue Jays next season, I thought that I would add another note to the discussion. While Seidman determined that there was "no hope in Toronto", Pawlikowski argued that there "might be hope in Toronto."
Seidman was talking primarily about what's likely to be an anemic offense, and Pawlikowski offered hope that Toronto's pitching staff could be better than you would think after losing such a force in Doc Halladay.
Something else that could give Jays fans hope? They actually have a position player core to point to. In the past, that core consisted of Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Eric Hinske, Orlando Hudson and Frank Catalanotto, among others. Now, Wells is still around, and I think that the consensus is that's not particularly a good thing, considering his declining skills and obscene contract. But at the same time, looking at that core, it's not particularly surprising that the team's lineup was often what held them back during the past decade.
But I would argue that Toronto's actually building up a pretty nice stable of positional talent, and it starts with the guys already in place: Wells, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and Travis Snider. Not too shabby, even if you desperately wish that Wells wasn't a necessary inclusion. Throw in a couple of high-upside catching prospects in Travis d'Arnaud and J.P. Arencibia, one of the better young shortstops in the game in Adeinis Hechevarria, and first baseman of the future Brett Wallace, and it would seem to me that Toronto could have a pretty interesting offense pretty soon.
Yeah, we don't really know what kind of hitter Hechevarria will be in the U.S., Arencibia's plate discipline issues are well documented, and it remains to be seen how the rest of the prospects transition to the majors. But if we're focusing on how bad Toronto's offense will be this season, it's worth noting the silver lining, and that's that the team is at least building towards something.
Now, it's not clear if it'll be able to keep up with the juggernauts being developed in that division, but pretty soon, it's going to be time to stop acting like Toronto's position players are holding them back, as was long perceived during Halladay's hay day in Toronto. Yeah, they'll still need a new center fielder (please don't tell me that Wells actually belongs there. Because at this point, he just doesn't) and probably a third baseman, too. But as Dave Cameron previously noted, the Blue Jays are projected to have big time payroll room after 2010, too. So filling holes with stopgap veterans shouldn't be the most difficult thing to do, considering the flexbility they'll have.
So basically, it occurred to me that a lineup that includes Lind, Snider, Wells, Hill, Wallace, d'Arnaud and Hechevarria, along with some potential outside additions, could end up being pretty good, pretty soon. So maybe, just maybe, Toronto's lineup isn't in such bad shape going forward after all. What do you guys think? Can the Blue Jays have an offense in the upper half othe AL by 2011 or 2012? Would that be enough for them to contend, with the pitching they have?