The Positives For The Jays Heading Into ’09

travis_sniderTotal Pro Sports – As Blue Jay fans and baseball fans in general watched the free agency of this year, one could see that most teams were hugely impacted by the economic downturn. Players who signed early such as Ryan Dempster and Edgar Rentaria were the smart ones. Players such as Adam Dunn, Jason Varitek and Bobby Abreu gambled and it cost them huge amounts of money that they most likely will never make back in their careers.

Renteria, an above average middle infielder was able to snag a deal of over $9 Million per from the Giants, while Adam Dunn, who was said to be looking for a $100 Million deal going into free agency, settled for 2 years and $20 million from a non contender in the Washington Nationals. For a 40 home run hitter to make only 2 million more than Renteria over the course of each contract is downright laughable.

One team who didn’t seem to be affected by the recession was the New York Yankees. By signing CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira, they added over $400 million to their payroll over the lifetime of those contracts.

The Jays on the other hand have signed Kevin Millar, Mike Maroth and Matt Clement to minor league deals. One thing to point out, Maroth is already injured and isn’t expected to make the team. As bad as it seems for the Jays, there are some positives heading into 2009, here they are.

The Young guns will get a chance

Already it has been announced that former Maryland Terrapin standout Brett Cecil, will get the start on Wednesday against the Yankees. Only 22, Cecil is a southpaw with a lot of potential. Having closed at Maryland, the Jays decided to convert him to a starter and he posted great numbers for his first year in pro ball last year. If he does make the team out of Dunedin, expect him to be limited to a 130 innings this year. Of course we remember what Travis Snider did in September last year and everybody is hoping he can add to those numbers. As long as he doesn’t struggle in Spring Training, expect him to be the opening day D.H.

Also looking to improve on his early success is Adam Lind. After being called up once Cito Gaston took over in Mid-June, Lind looked good, and the Jays are hoping he can improve and supplant himself as a Jays starting outfielder for years to come. Ideally the Jays want to have Lind, Rios and Wells in the outfield for the next few years.

Other young guys to keep your eye on are David Purcey, who performed admirably last year; he’s another lefty who should crack the rotation out of camp. Ricky Romero is hopefully going to finally put it all together and if he does well in spring training he should be given a chance. Another Young guy to keep your eye on later on in the year is JP Arencibia. Many people believe he could be the catcher for years to come for the Jays, and will most likely be given a chance as a September call up. This year the Jays can really see what they have in their young guys and that should be the focus. The pressure will be minimal on these guys as making the playoffs is unrealistic this year. Cito Gaston did wonders for Adam Lind’s confidence last year, and here’s hoping he can do the same for the new guys coming up this year.

Finding out the Value of Roy Halladay

As much as you hate seeing Doc traded, it’s getting to the point where you have to think for him instead of us. I love Roy Halladay and I think he is the most valuable pitcher in the Major Leagues at the moment. He loves playing in Toronto, but he also wants to win, and this team clearly isn’t winning this year. I think unless the young guys show that by 2010 they can make a serious contribution to this team, you have to trade Roy Halladay. He’s given the best years of his career to this organization and has always been loyal, but it comes a time where even I want to see him in the playoffs, and if that can only happen with another organization, I am perfectly fine with that. His value after this year goes down considerably considering he is a free agent after 2010, so look for the Jays to see what his value is at the trade deadline and expect, if it does happen, that the Jays get a treasure chest full of top prospects for him.

Kevin Millar is on the team

Kevin Millar is known as one of the best all round guys in the Major Leagues and the Jays are lucky to have him. He will keep things loose in the clubhouse as well as give Lyle Overbay time off, if not take over for him at first base. It’s really a win-win situation at first. Either Overbay gets his act together and finally recovers from that hand injury two years ago, or Kevin Millar and his 20 plus home runs from last year takes over.

Paul Beeston is in town

He brought the first championships north of the border 17 years ago but don’t expect him to bring more. It’s looking more and more like the organization has been successful in getting him to stay longer than the interim tag he wanted when he came back to the Jays. Beeston is respected all through baseball and that can only be a positive. It’s obvious he loves the Jays and that means that even when he does leave, he will choose a President who will be capable of taking this team to the next level.

Aaron Hill is back and healthy

Aaron Hill missed most of last season with a concussion. He’s been down in Dunedin the past 3 months working on his game, so you know he hates sitting out, and that’s the type of guy you want on your team. Hopefully it doesn’t take him long to get back into the swing of things, and hopefully he can contribute in the 2-spot, which is where I think he will bat.

Finally for all baseball fans I strongly recommend reading Bases Loaded, which was written by Kurt Radomski, who was the man baseball players went to for steroids. I read the 243 page book in less than a day. If you’re a baseball fan it is impossible to put down and his opinions on future steroid and HGH use are very intriguing.

Tags: Adam Lind, Brett Cecil, Cito Gaston, David Purcey, JP Arencibia, Kevin Millar, Lyle Overbay, MLB, Paul Beeston, Ricky Romero, Roy Halladay, toronto blue jays, Travis Snider,