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A Brief Look at the Blue Jays Off-Season Thus Far

These aren't the Blue Jays of old. Which is too bad really. Their squads over the last few years have consisted of a great deal of talent, more than you would be lead to believe. A confluence of bad breaks, silly extensions, and poor drafting has lead Toronto to a barren state of existence, one that could lead to a last place divisional finish.

This is all foreign and strange-sounding though. Never have I wished ill-will upon the Jays. Not even when they had the groundball-devouring middle infield combination of John McDonald and Aaron Hill while the Rays suffered through Brendan Harris and Ty Wigginton. They are what they are; a team trying to compete with two mega-teams much in the same way the Rays have and will. To see this team do a complete 180 in terms of competitive ability is just odd.

Regardless, gone are Marco Scutaro, Brandon League, and that guy Roy Halladay. In their place are Alex Gonzalez, Brandon Morrow, and Kyle Drabek along with a slew of mostly non-impact prospects. Gonzalez is rather unimportant in the scheme of things. He's not someone to concern yourself with much at all.

Morrow is like 2006 Edwin Jackson, only with less success. His career FIP to date is 4.56 (xFIP is 4.73) despite the fact that of his career 131 appearances, only 15 have been starts. Fire? He throws it; his average fastball velocity is 95 on the tee and he does miss some bats. Consider this: 43% of Morrow's 867 batters faced have ended their plate appearance with either a walk or fly ball. Scott Kazmir had the worst season of his pro career in 2009 and 43% of his plate appearances also ended in a fly ball or walk.

Marc Hulet did a nice job covering Drabek here and here, which leaves little for me to add.

There's also the Brett Wallace addition. He's a big guy with a potentially strong bat. The questions around him are conditioning, position, and defense. Frankly, I'm not sure dealing Michael Taylor for him was worth it quite yet. We'll see.

Of course they are returning some players too, which is the way I get to link to this THT piece, illustrating how odd Aaron Hill is. Scott Downs is still great and Jason Frasor is nifty. Starters Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan should be fully recovered from injuries as well, which eases the load Morrow, Drabek, and a ragtag of lesser-known starters will have to carry in light of Halladay's absence.

Long story made short, the Jays will need some breakout performances to top 81 wins this season. Unfortunately for them, New York, Boston, Tampa, and Baltimore have gone the other way this off-season.