Alex Anthopoulos made some bold moves this off season. Clearly they are planning on winning through the next 3 years. They made some significant impactful changes to their roster this off season with the acquisitions of Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and R.A. Dickey. The Jays have played it safe the last three years and going into this off season the pickings were ripe enough so that Anthopoulos could go all in with a very well put together master plan.
Over the years Anthopoulos has been gathering together high ranking prospects and cheap cost controlled players. His efforts were to develop a farm system bank, so that when the time came, he could cash in his chips and gets a number of outstanding players. This is a very similar team to the Dodgers. A few home grown players mixed with players who were traded for to complete a roster. Lets compare the starting 12. Regular season stats will be a nice guide here, but lets remember that the only time these two juggernauts will face each other in a meaningful game is the World Series.
Starting pitcher #1: Kershaw vs. Dickey
Kershaw is coming off another Cy Young worthy season, while Dickey is coming off an actual Cy Young season. That doesn’t necessarily mean Dickey will flourish in Toronto. Dickey has never been in the playoffs, he is now 38 years old, and pitching in arguably the most difficult division to pitch in. His confidence will be shaken a bit and his nerves will undermine his abilities.
Starting pitcher #2: Grienke vs Morrow
Morrow has apparently figured things out. Again we are talking about a guy who has never pitched in a playoff atmosphere. Would you really tell me that in a one game match-up of Grienke vs Morrow, you would actually take Morrow?
Starting Pitcher #3: Beckett vs Buehrle
Mark Buehrle is still a nice pitcher. But, according to reports, Beckett has redefined his abilities and that change was witnessed last year in LA. Josh Beckett has proven that the playoffs is his time to shine.
Starting Pitcher #4: Ryu vs. Johnson
Josh Johnson struggled last year and Ryu is mostly an unknown. Ryu’s best comp might just be Mark Buehrle. Though I think Ryu can get it up there a bit more. In this situation I would say that the teams “push”.
Catcher: Advantage Dodgers. Really there isn’t much more to be said of this. J.P. Arencibia is the default catcher for the Jays since they traded away everyone else. They might have to make an in-season upgrade if they really want a lineup without any holes.
1B: Advantage Dodgers. Not many people are going to debate the talents of Adrian Gonzalez. Edwin Encarnacion had a fine season last year. No one thinks that type of production is sustainable from him next year.
3B: This is the first time that the Jays have a distinct advantage. Brett Lawrie is a unique talent. Luis Cruz still has question marks. My hopes remain high for Cruz and his defense should keep his value high, even if his bat declines somewhat.
SS: Jose Reyes is the better player. At one point in time is his career, Hanley Ramirez was the best hitting shortstop in baseball. He’s still a very good hitter, but his defense is one part lazy mixed with one part bad. He’s just no match for Reyes… if Reyes is healthy.
LF: In an ideal world Carl Crawford would be manning left field for the Dodgers 150 games next year and providing 4-5 WAR. I just can’t see it happening. Nor can I see Melky Cabrera living up to his contract without PED’s. push.
RF: Advantage Jays… I just wish, either, Ethier leaned how to hit lefties or they platooned him. ugh.
Top to bottom the Jays have a really nice set up. This is a team that can win the AL East next year. They made some necessary improvements and if everyone can stay healthy, this team could go a long way. The bull pen is nice, but its not nearly as dominant as the Dodgers. When it comes down to it, there aren’t many teams better than the Jays. It would definitely be a disappointing season if they didn’t make the playoffs.