Scouts on AL East: Like Jays lineup, not pen

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jose bautista

* Scouts, evaluators, general managers and farm directors were asked to rate the best and worst in the American League East when it came to starting rotation, bullpen and every day lineup. They loved the Jays lineup, but not the bullpen — which is still without a closer.

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2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College
2015 Canadian draft list …. Canadians in College
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Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

SAN DIEGO _ This is the Toronto Blue Jays … take your choice:

A) So good that they didn’t need any help in Thursday’s rule V draft at the winter meetings.

B) So bad that other team wanted any of their unprotected players in the draft.

C) Or both.

So, what to do in a room of 400 general managers, scouting directors, farm directors and evaluators as the draft concluded the winter meetings

Why not take a poll … on the revamped, reshaped American League East?

True, there is a long way to go, but this small sample size gives you a chance to see how many teams have made strides … and which teams have a long ways to go after 12 trades including eight all-stars were completed (compared to five a year ago and only three in 2012) at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

“You have questions about the division that is losing talent and that is not as good as the National League East any more?” asked a scout from the NL Central team, who covers both East divisions. “The improvements the Miami Marlins have made … if they were in here I might answer that I like them best.

“This is not my father’s AL East.”

We asked 15 evaluators which AL East team — the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox or Your Blue Jays — had the best and worst rotation, bullpen and lineup in December, two months before pitchers and catchers report to Florida.

Projected Rotations
Orioles:Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34), Bud Norris (15-8, 3.65), Miguel Gonzalez (10-9, 3.23), Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.57) and Wei-Yin Chen (16-6, 3.54).

Yankees:CC Sabathia (3-4, 5.28), Masahiro Tanaka (13-5, 2.77), Michael Pineda (5-5, 1.89), David Phelps (5-5, 4.38), Adam Warren (3-6, 2.97).

Blue Jays:R.A. Dickey (14-13, 3.71), Mark Buehrle (13-10, 3.39), Drew Hutchison (11-13, 4.48), Marcus Stroman (11-6, 3.65), Aaron Sanchez (2-2, 1.09).

Rays:Alex Cobb (10-9, 2.87), Chris Archer (10-9, 3.33), Drew Smyly (9-10, 3.24), Jake Odorizzi (11-13, 4.13) and Alex Colome (2-0, 2.66) until Matt Moore (0-2, 2.70) returns in June.

Red Sox:Clay Buchholz (8-11, 5.34), Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34 with the Diamondbacks), Rick Porcello (15-13, 4.63 with the Tigers), Joe Kelly (6-4, 4.20), Justin Masterson (7-9, 5.88 with the Indians and Cards).

Scouts comments: “The Orioles won last year, why are they still not the best now?

“You try not to fall in love with teams that made additions, but Boston bounced back from losing Jon Lester by getting three durable starters.”

“Baltimore doesn’t have any stars, but they can pitch and they probably have the best manager in the division.”

“Tampa Bay can pitch. They’ll be in some close games.”

“The Rays are the deepest for me right now.”

“I see the Yankees as the worst only because of health concerns. They could be good with a healthy Tanaka, CC and Pineda, but all have injury concerns.”

“Boston added three guys who have pitched 200 innings and are all under 30, but they’re still shy of an ace.”

The best: Rays 5, Red Sox 5, Orioles 3, Jays 2.

The worst: Yankees 5, Orioles 3, Red Sox 3, Jays 3, Rays 1.

Projected Closers

Orioles:Zach Britton (3-2, 1.65, 37-for-41 in save opportunities 90%).

Yankees:Dellin Betances (5-0, 1.40, 1-for-5 20%) or Andrew Miller (5-2, 2.02, 1-for-3, 33%).

Blue Jays:Brett Cecil (2-3, 2.70, 5-for-7, 71%).

Rays: Jake McGee (5-2, 1.89, 19-for-23, 84%).

Red Sox: Koji Uehara (6-5, 2.52, 26-for-31, 84%).

Scouts comments: “Obviously Toronto isn’t finished yet, but they need help not only on the back end but depth throughout the bullpen.”

“The Yankees signed some big arms, but overpowering people in the seventh and the eighth is one thing … getting those final three outs is different. I thought they should have signed David Robertson too.”

“If you’re going to beat the Yankees you better not wait to take the lead late against Miller and Betances.”

“Robertson had the toughest job in the game last year — replacing Mariano Rivera. What they did by signing Miller is that they could both probably take turns working two innings one game, closing the next. They’re multiple innings guys. Now the question is can they replace the man who replaced Rivera?”

The best: Yankees 9, Orioles 4, Red Sox 2.

The worst: Blue Jays 9, Rays 2, Orioles 2, Yankees 1, Red Sox 1.

Projected Lineups

Orioles: C Matt Wieters (5 homers, 18 RBIs, .308 average, .839 OPS in 2014), 1B Steve Pearce (21, 49, .293, .930), 2B
Jonathan Schoop (16, 45, .209, .598), 3B Manny Machado (12, 32, .278, .755), SS J.J. Hardy (9, 52, .268, .682), LF Alejandro De Aza (3, 10, .293, .877), CF Adam Jones (29, 96, .281, .780), RF David Lough (4, 16, .247, .694), DH Chris Davis (26, 72, .196, .704).

Yankees: C Brian McCann (23, 75, .232, .692), 1B Mark Teixeira (22, 62, .216, .711), 2B Rob Refsnyder (8, 33, .300, .389, .845 OPS at triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), 3B Martin Prado (12, 58, .282, .733), SS Didi Gregorius (6, 27, .226, .718 with Diamondbacks), LF Brett Gardner (17, 58, .256, .749), CF Jacoby Ellsbury (16, 70, .271, .747), RF Carlos Beltran (15, 49, .233, .703), DH Alex Rodriguez (did not play).

Blue Jays: C Russell Martin (11, 67, .290, .832 with the Pirates), 1B Justin Smoak (7, 30, .202, .614 with the Mariners), 2B Macier Izturis (0, 1, .286, .639), 3B Josh Donaldson (29, 98, .255, .798 with the A’s), SS Jose Reyes (nine, 51, .287 .726), LF Michaael Saunders (8, 34, .273, .791 with Mariners), CF Dalton Pompey (1, 2, .231, .738), RF Jose Bauista (35, 103, .28, .928), DH Edwin Encarnacion (34, 98, .268, .901).

Rays: C Ryan Hanigan (5, 34, .218, .642), 1B James Loney (9, 69, .290, .716), 2B Ben Zobrist (10, 52, .272, .749), 3B Evan Longoria (22, 91, .253, .724), SS Yunel Escobar (7, 39, .258, .664), LF Matthew Joyce (9, 52, .254, .732), CF Kevin Kiermaier (10, 35, .263, .765), RF Wil Myers (6, 35, .222, .614), DH David DeJesus (6, 19, .248, .748).

Red Sox: C Christian Vazquez (1, 20, .240, .617), 1B Mike Napoli (17, 55, .248, .789), 2B Dustin Pedroia (7, 53, .278, .712), 3B Pablo Sandoval (16, 73, .279, .739 with the Giants), SS Xander Bogaerts (12, 46, .240, .660), LF Hanley Ramirez (13, 71, .283, .817), CF Rusney Castillo (6, 12, .333, .928), RF Shane Victorino (2, 12, .268, .685), DH David Ortiz (35, 104, .263, .873).

Scouts comments “I don’t like the Yankees lineup at all.”

“The Blue Jays are the best by far. I’m really impressed with what they have done. They are going to thump some of those No. 3-4-5 starters.”

“I saw a lot of Seattle last year. Toronto has done a lot but they’ve added two guys from the Mariners who didn’t play well. If they add another they’re headed in the wrong direction.”

“I’m going with the two hitters Boston added over the two Toronto added … just barely. Baltimore isn’t far behind.”

“I love Donaldson, Martin’s a threat and the interesting thing for a big guy is that Saunders can really bunt. He’ll try it once a series to get on base.”

“Comparing the Rays pitching to their lineup is like when you go to scout twin brothers. One has all the drive, work ethic of a Hall of Famer — but is short on talent. The other has God given talent but is more interested in video games. If you ever could combine the best qualities of the two you’d be in great shape. The Rays have a ton of pitching and are real short on the hitting end.”

The best: Jays 7, Red Sox 6, Orioles 2.

The worst: Rays 10, Yankees 3, Orioles 2.

Totals:

The best: Red Sox 13, Jays 9, Orioles 9, Yankees 9, Rays 5.

The worst: Rays 13, Jays 12, Yankees 9, Orioles 7, Red Sox 4.

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