Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jays Lineup is Set, Like it or Not

Manny Ramirez grew up a Jays fan watching his idols George Bell, Tony Fernandez and other Dominicans playing for his countries adopted team in Canada.  He came close to signing with Toronto a few years ago but ownership wouldn't give JP Ricciardi the money he asked for, now the price tag has dropped and his desire to play for Toronto hasn't change.  Wouldn't it be fun to see Manny Ramirez in a Toronto uniform this season, unfortunately it's not going to happen, Jim Thome isn't coming here either because like it or not the Blue Jays will most likely start the season with a lineup made up of players already under the teams control.

Let's start with the obvious suspects, Vernon Wells will be in center field, Yunel Escobar will be manning SS, Travis Snider will finally be playing everyday in one of the corner outfield spots, the Catcher position will be filled by JP Arencibia with Jose Molina backing him up, and despite what you hear about a possible move to 3B Aaron Hill will be back at 2b.  This leaves 1B, 3B, DH and the other corner outfield spot as the frequently debated positions that offer hope to some fans that the missing piece is out there ready to sign and make 2011 a glorious season.  In reality, those spots will be filled as follows:

1st Base

Here is a recent quote from Alex Anthopoulos:

“We have Adam under control for six years, if we can get Adam acclimated enough to be able to become an everyday first baseman — and that is a big, big if — [there is] roster flexibility that we’re going to have going forward to have that DH spot open and available for years to come.”

Sounds to me like they are going to give Adam Lind every chance to play 1B this season.  What if he fails you ask?  Well that brings me to the DH.

Designated Hitter

Alex Anthopolous had this to say:

“A DH that doesn’t have the ability to play first base, knowing where our thought process is with the construction of the club, I think people can draw their own conclusions and put the pieces of the puzzle together,”

A few days after making this comment the Jays signed Edwin Encarnacion to a 1 year $2.5 million contract plus $3.5 million option.  This folks is your Toronto Blue Jays 2011 designated hitter and back up 1st baseman if Adam Lind can't handle the position.  The good news is that if you take Encarnacion's production last year and expand it over a full season, you get a 36 home run hitter.  Could he be this years Jose Bautista?  Probably not, but at the very least as Getting Blanked pointed out he should be as productive as Adam LaRoche who the Nationals signed for a lot more.

3rd Base

This one may be the most straight forward as Alex Anthopoulos indicated last week that Jose Bautista is likely to play 3rd base for the Jays this season

The other Corner OF Spot

We've already determined that Travis Snider will play one of the corner outfield spots, most likely LF.  So who plays the other?  Well, one of Anthopoulos' first moves this off season was dealing for Oakland's Rajai Davis who is arbitration eligible and due a raise on the $1.35 million he made last year, an amount that indicates the Jays didn't pick him up to be the back-up guy. That position will most likely go to recently acquired Corey Patterson.

So there you have it, your Toronto Blue Jays 2011 starting line-up:

Catcher - JP Arencibia
1st Base - Adam Lind
2nd Base - Aaron Hill
Short Stop - Yunel Escobar
3rd Base - Jose Bautista
Left Field - Travis Snider
Centre Field - Vernon Wells
Right Field - Rajai Davis
Designated Hitter - Edwin Encarnacion

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