By Patrick Flynn
(ISN) – After Thursday’s State of the Franchise Q & A session, I got the idea that the Jays aren’t going to do much more this off-season. If that is correct, there are big question marks in four areas of the Jays roster. The four areas I’m worried about are starting pitching, the bullpen, second base, and center field.
With most of these areas having young guys playing in them, the Jays need to hope that these young players will live up to expectations or else this could be a long year. I’m fine with Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey in the starting rotation because we know what they can do and they show their consistency season after season. We know that Stroman and Hutchison will be in the rotation for sure and the fifth guy will be either Norris or Sanchez. This is a big problem because more than half of the starting rotation is 24 or under and is either in their first or second season in the MLB. Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos seem to think that Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez will be outstanding like they were last year. But I don’t think Beeston and Anthopoulos understand that opposing teams make adjustments and had a hard time facing these guys last year because they had little or no video. Teams have seen a lot more of Sanchez, Stroman and Hutchison and now know how to beat them. Three starting pitchers getting ripped apart during the season is already a recipe for disaster and we still have three more problem areas to talk about.
The bullpen is probably the least of my concerns because anyone that follows baseball knows that relief pitchers can go from very good to very bad or vice versa in a short period of time. Kind of like Steve Delabar going from the All Star game in 2013 to Triple-A in 2014. The Jays still have a lot of good arms in the bullpen that can turn it around from last year. I think that Todd Redmond, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar, and Aaron Loup just had rough years last season and will help make this bullpen become the bullpen it was in 2013.
Four players will battle for the starting job at second base during spring training in Dunedin. Those players include Steve Tolleson, Ryan Goins, Maicer Izturis, and Devon Travis. I think that Tolleson and Izturis sharing the position would be the best scenario. Tolleson would be great because he destroys lefties. Izturis I’m not one hundred percent sure about, but if he plays like he did before he got hurt last season it would all workout. If the Jays decide to go with a young guy, they will have the same problem that they have with the three other positions. Goins has never shown that he can hit in the majors and he has had many opportunities. He played 67 games for the Blue Jays last season and hit only .188. As for Devon Travis, he is still very young (23) and needs time to develop. I am excited to watch him, but I can wait a little while. Start him in Buffalo and call him up later in the season.
I am very concerned with Dalton Pompey at center field. Pompey got so many people excited last September, but no body understood that it was September baseball. He wasn’t always facing Major Leaguers. I don’t think it is realistic to believe that he could start one year in Single-A and then the next year be a successful starter in the Majors. I know a lot of players do it, but scouts say that Pompey will become a very good fourth outfielder. Therefore, it’s not really necessary to start him in center field a year after he was in Single-A. He’s an exciting player and will sell tickets, but winning sells more tickets and he’s not going to help the Blue Jays do that. With that being said, I think Pillar should start in center. Pillar is fast and and plays great defense. He will help pump up the team and the fans. I think Pillar will fill Lawrie’s roll in 2015. The perfect center field depth chart on opening day will be Pillar one and Pompey two.
If the Blue Jays can make one more acquisition before the end of the off-season and bring in a veteran player to one of these positions they will be all right. If not, Jays fans will have to just wait and hold their breath.