This is the third and final in a series of three blogs looking at the current state of the Blue Jays as they head into the 2010 season. Today, we look at the batting order.
The strength of the Blue Jays can be found in the heart of the order, as both Aaron Hill and Adam Lind are coming off career seasons and look primed to build on them moving forward.
The rest of the line-up, however, is a combination of young guys trying to break through and veterans trying to keep their spot amidst a rebuilding effort. Let’s break down the projected line-up and see who the Jays can count on moving forward.
Jose Bautista (RF)
Bautista is an interesting, non-traditional option as a lead-off hitter. While he doesn’t possess blazing speed, he has shown a penchant for getting on base (.349 OBP) and should offer the team’s 3-4-5 hitters some RBI opportunities.
Aaron Hill (2B)
With Roy Halladay gone, Aaron Hill becomes not only the face of the franchise, but also the heart and soul of the young club. Not only will Hill be relied upon for offensive and defensive contributions, but he will be looked upon as a clubhouse leader going forward.
Adam Lind (DH)
Outside of the Halladay trade, GM Alex Anthopoulos’ biggest contribution to the team to date has been locking Adam Lind up to a reasonable four-year / $18 million contract. While he is unquestionably the most dangerous hitter on the team, a bit of fade can be expected this season considering he’ll be seeing more and more junk pitches now that he has established himself league-wide.
Vernon Wells (CF)
Vernon Wells is the owner of arguably the worst contract – seven years, $126 million – in major league baseball, and it will be hard for him to ever live up to those kind of dollars. All Wells can do is to focus on improving his hitting and get back to the defensive play that saw him win three Gold Gloves between 2004 and 2006.
Lyle Overbay (1B)
The writing seems to be on the wall regarding Lyle Overbay’s exit, as his name was mentioned in ultimately unsuccessful trade talks with Arizona in the off-season. He will start the year at his familiar first base spot, but it’s no secret that the team would like Lind there before long.
Edwin Encarnacion (3B)
Edwin Encarnacion will now get an opportunity to be the full-time third baseman for the Blue Jays, but needs to show he can hit consistently. He didn`t exactly put up eye-opening numbers in his late season stint with the team after being acquired from Cincinnati in the Scott Rolen deal, and Brett Wallace could be major league-ready soon.
John Buck (C)
John Buck is going to be a key member of the club for his stewardship of a young, inexperienced rotation, and anything he can provide offensively will simply be bonus. If the starters do not gel with him early on, Jose Molina could get a look behind the plate
Travis Snider (LF)
Probably the biggest key to the 2010 Jays` line-up, Travis Snider will get every chance to stick with the club and show that he can hit for power and consistently get on base. The team would love to see him work his way up into the heart of the order as the season progresses.
Alex Gonzalez (SS)
Like Buck (and his namesake who played short for the Jays, for that matter), defence is the priority for Alex Gonzalez. For a rotation lacking a real shutdown, strikeout pitcher, a strong middle infield is critical and the double play combo of Hill and Gonzalez should help.
The Other Guys
Things could change between now and September in terms of who occupies the line-up`s nine slots. More trades can be expected, with veterans like Overbay and Buck potentially being dangled to bring back young talent and make room for prospects trying to make the jump. Some of the young guys who could get the call-up include Wallace, C J.P. Arrencibia, 1B David Cooper, SS Justin Jackson and C Travis D`Arnaud.
Meanwhile, fan favourite and defensive whiz John MacDonald is back after signing a two-year deal. Joining him among the back-ups are 1B Randy Ruiz and utility infielder Mike McCoy, who both made the team on the strength of impressive springs. Speedy Jeremy Reed should soon get the call-up as a fourth outfielder.
About the Author
Written by Ben Fisher