A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE BLUE JAYS
This organization is on the right track. They're adding as many prospects as they can, and there's a ton of top talent there. But they may need to take a step back before they contend.... I always thought Brandon Morrow was more of a setup man, but he's showing he can be one of the top 10 starters in the league. He's cleaned up his mechanics, and his delivery is more smooth.... Kyle Drabek is a huge difference maker on this staff. He's got no fear. He had a really strong spring, and if Drabek matures and develops you're talking about a 1-2-3—with him, Morrow and Ricky Romero—that's playoff-ready.... Jose Bautista's 2010 season wasn't a total mirage, but I think he'll hit closer to .250 with 25 home runs. Pitchers are going to force him to expand the strike zone more, but anything that's a mistake, he'll crush.... Brett Lawrie, a second baseman they got from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum, needs to refine his skills defensively now that they're moving him to third. He's going back to the minors, but he has 30-home-run potential.... J.P. Arencibia looked totally out of sync this spring. His plate discipline isn't good. He's got raw power, but he's trying to do too much.... The defense will be a serious problem. Adam Lind's footwork at first base is a work in progress. His lower half is thicker, and his range is declining.... This is definitely a below-average outfield. Travis Snider hasn't shown he can hit lefthanded pitching either.... The bench is thin, and that really hurts you playing in the AL East. The Jays are a .500 team, but they have a lot of promise.
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER JOHN FARRELL
1ST SEASON WITH BLUE JAYS
Walks drawn by Jose Bautista in 2010 after he fell behind 0 and 2. That's three more 0-and-2 bases on balls than anyone else last year and one more than the old high of 14 (by Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman in 1994 and Tim Salmon in 2001) since the stat was first regularly tracked in '88.
John Farrell's first bullpen as a major league manager is a strange collection that includes four righthanded relievers who have combined for nine seasons of double-digit saves and who have all been closers at some point in the last two years. No one, however, is clearly better than the others, which gives Farrell the freedom to use them interchangeably based on what he needs, rather than by inning. Jason Frasor gets the most ground balls (59.4% of balls in play off him last season), making him the choice for double play situations. Frank Francisco is the most effective against lefties (.549 OPS allowed in 2010), which is important in a pen that may have only one southpaw. Francisco and Octavio Dotel, 37, are the best options when you need a strikeout—both whiffed 27% of the hitters they saw last year. Jon Rauch pounds the strike zone better than the other three do (walking just 5.7% of batters faced a year ago). There's no need for Farrell to be a slave to the save rule—he can win more games matching up skill sets than worrying about consigning his relievers to predetermined roles.
FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS (BAUTISTA)
DAVID BUTLER II-US PRESSWIRE (FRASOR)