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Toronto Blue Jays: Projecting the Stats for All of the Jays Offseason Additions

Three days.

That’s all the time that remains between now and opening day for the Toronto Blue Jays.

And with all the wheeling and dealing that was done this past offseason by GM Alex Anthopoulos, the 2013 edition of the Blue Jays barely looks anything like the 2012 team that took the field day-in, day-out.

With significant changes made to the team’s starting rotation, starting infield, starting outfield, as well as bullpen, the Jays are almost a brand new team, ready to compete.

Yet how will all the new faces fare in their first season in Toronto?


All statistics courtesy of

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Seattle Mariners: How Many Games Can the M’s Win with the Way They’re Built Now?

Whether or not you like the moves that the Seattle Mariners made this offseason, you must applaud the effort that the front office put into making the M’s a better team.

When signing Josh Hamilton didn’t happen, GM Jack Zduriencik turned to the trade market to acquire the necessary hitters to improve the Mariners lineup in Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse.

He also attempted to bring Justin Upton to Seattle, but that deal fell through when Upton refused to make the move to the Pacific Northwest, exercising his no-trade clause (instead, he ended up with his brother in Atlanta).

Zduriencik was also smart enough to realize that moves like signing Michael Bourn just weren’t worth the cost associated with making that type of move (though the M’s may still end up signing the veteran leadoff man).

But just how good is this Mariners squad?

Are Morse and Morales enough to turn this team into a playoff contender? Will some of the Mariners’ young guns break out and make this team a tough one to play against?

With the division still boasting teams like the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics, as well as what could be the best lineup in all of baseball in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, making a run at the postseason may be too lofty of a goal for the Mariners in 2013.

Yet this team is better than the 2012 version of the Seattle Mariners, especially at the plate, and we must also keep in mind that the lowly Houston Astros will be joining the AL West division this season.

Those are both reasons to believe that the M’s win total should increase from 75 last season.

Toss in the fact that the Oakland Athletics are going to have a tough time replicating their 94-win season, and there is no reason to believe that the Mariners can’t improve their win total in 2013.

While a playoff run may not be in the M’s immediate future, Mariners fans can look forward to their team improving in 2013.

Playing to a .500 record of 81-81 is not out of the realm of possibility.

It may not be what some Mariners fans want, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.


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MLB Free Agency: A Look at Potential Targets for the Seattle Mariners in 2014

What an offseason it’s been for the Seattle Mariners and their fans.

From being in hot pursuit of superstar free agent Josh Hamilton to contemplating a potential signing of leadoff man Michael Bourn, the Mariners have looked to make moves all offseason.

Eventually GM Jack Zduriencik was able to bring in a few bats via trade in Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse.

With the Mariners signing Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse for just the 2013 season, Seattle could lose one or both of its new acquisitions this offseason.

Seattle hopes at least one of them will be willing to re-sign at some point during the season. Of course, Seattle will have to fork over the necessary contract, and one or both players will have to produce.

Either way, here are a few free agents the Seattle Mariners may look to sign next offseason.


Michael Morse, OF

The most likely option for the Seattle Mariners is the newly acquired Michael Morse.

If Morse is able to continue his trend of hitting for an average of more than .285 and can knock out 20 or more home runs, Seattle would be wise to lock him up for the next four or five seasons.

The team will also have the first crack at signing Morse as it can work on a new deal with the 30-year-old throughout the 2013 season.


Curtis Granderson, CF

With the M’s current center fielder Franklin Gutierrez set to hit the open market (assuming the Mariners choose to forgo his option for 2014), Seattle will be searching for someone to man center field.

One such option is Curtis Granderson, who will be looking for a big payday next offseason and could elect to leave the New York Yankees if they decide to bring their payroll below $189 million.

While Granderson’s batting average wasn’t anything spectacular in 2012 (he registered an abysmal .232 mark), his OPS has been over .800 in each of the last two seasons. In 2011 and 2012, the 31-year-old slugger hit at least 40 home runs and 100 RBI.

If Granderson can elevate his average in 2013 and steal a few more bases (as he has shown he can do in the past), Seattle should be willing to dole out the cash to lure him to the Pacific Northwest.


Jason Vargas, SP

The other option for the Mariners next offseason is Jason Vargas.

The man who was just dealt by the Mariners to the Los Angeles Angels for Kendrys Morales could choose to return to Seattle as early as next offseason.

While other teams will be focusing on names like Matt Garza, Dan Haren and Tim Lincecum (if he proves he can rebound and return to being a dominant top-of-the-rotation starter), Seattle could turn its attention to bringing the southpaw back to Safeco Field.

Considering that prospects like Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton could be ready for major league action in 2014, Seattle doesn’t need a big name like Garza or Haren. It would also be wise to use the cash it would take to sign them to work on re-inking Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.

Bringing back Vargas would give the M’s a middle-of-the-rotation kind of arm with experience to go with the infusion of young talent that may crack the rotation next season.


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Toronto Blue Jays: Does R.A. Dickey Give the Jays the Best Rotation in the AL?

What a long way the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation has come this offseason.

Three fifths of the projected rotation for 2013 has been acquired via trade.

Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle were brought to Toronto along with Jose Reyes back in mid-November, while reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was acquired from the New York Mets a few weeks ago.

Combined, the three starters bring seven All-Star appearances, four gold gloves and a Cy Young award to Toronto.

Throw in starters Brandon Morrow, who posted an impressive ERA of 2.96 and WHIP of 1.12 in 21 starts this past season, and Ricky Romero, who before a disastrous 2012 campaign had thrown for at least 200 innings in the previous two seasons, and you’ve got a pretty formidable five-man rotation.

The team also has a few more starters ready to step in should one of their starting five sustain an injury.

Guys like J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek (when he returns from rehab) and Drew Hutchison are all capable of filling that fifth spot in the rotation.

Question is, does Toronto now have the imposing starting rotation in the American League?

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MLB Trade Rumors: Would a Justin Smoak for Brian Matusz Swap Work for Seattle?

With fewer than 100 days remaining until opening day 2013, the Seattle Mariners still seem to be looking for ways to improve their team.

After trading for Kendrys Morales just before Christmas, rumors began swirling about whether the Mariners would deal their young first baseman Justin Smoak.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe mentions the Balitmore Orioles as one team interested in Smoak‘s services, while Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun opines that a Smoak-for-Brian Matusz swap could work out well for both teams.

Would it be worth it for Seattle, though?

On a positive note, Matusz would fill one of the open spots in the starting rotation, and he is a southpaw, which would help replace the void left by trading Jason Vargas.

Matusz, however, has struggled his entire career at the major league level and hasn’t really shown any signs of turning the corner.

Only once has Matusz managed to pitch 100 innings in the last three years and has never posted an ERA below 4.30 in his career.

Last season saw the 25-year-old register an ERA of 4.87 and WHIP of 1.56 in just 98 innings pitched in what was his fourth year playing major league baaseball.

Smoak has been disappointing up to this point as well, but after being sent down to work on his swing, Smoak was able to return and hit more effectively for the M’s.

Furthermore, the premise that he is expendable thanks to the acquisition of Kendrys Morales is a risky notion.

Morales, after all, will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2013 season and could walk, which would leave the Mariners without either player.

Consider the fact that Smoak still has minor league options left as well. It would be a wise move for the Mariners to send him down for the season and use one of his options, as opposed to trading him away as an insurance policy to Morales’ potential departure.

Trading Smoak before he has a chance to prove that his bounce back at the end of last year wasn’t a fluke could really come back to haunt the Mariners.

At this point, trading Smoak for Matusz straight up seems to present more risk to Seattle than reward.


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MLB Free Agents 2013: Why the Chicago Cubs Should Try to Sign Shaun Marcum

The 2013 offseason has been relatively busy for the Chicago Cubs.

Despite the fact that the Cubs are still in a rebuilding phase, they went out and signed starting pitchers Scott Baker (h/t ESPN Chicago) and Edwin Jackson (h/t ESPN Chicago).

Scott Baker will be looking to bounce back in Chicago after missing some of 2011 and all of 2012 with an injury.

Edwin Jackson was brought in to help round out Chicago’s rotation and eat up some innings for the next four years.

Now, general manager Jed Hoyer would be smart to go out and sign Shaun Marcum.

But why?

They’ve already signed two starting pitchers this offseason and Marcum probably won’t help carry them to the postseason this year.

He would, however, provide another stable arm to help improve Chicago’s starting rotation.

Marcum has posted an ERA of 3.70 or lower in each of his past four seasons (spanning from 2008-2012, as Marcum did not play in 2009).

His WHIP has been below 1.20 in three of those four years, and his record comes in at 42-26 over that span.

The 31-year-old would also add another veteran presence to the Chicago Cubs, and could remain an effective pitcher for the next several years—especially if the Cubs are able to compete by 2015 or 2016.

With his statistics, Marcum would also jump Edwin Jackson (whose ERA and WHIP have both been higher than Marcum‘s) for the second spot on the Cubs’ depth chart.

If Chicago thinks it’s wise to bolster their rotation this offseason, signing Shaun Marcum would be just as good of a move as the signings of Baker or Jackson as it seemingly shows no downside whatsoever.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Toronto Blue Jays Should Not Trade Emilio Bonifacio

With an offseason that has already rocketed the Toronto Blue Jays to the top of the baseball world, would anyone really be surprised if general manager Alex Anthopoulos was to pull off another move?

According to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Braves are interested in recently-acquired Blue Jays second baseman/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio:



While this news broke before the acquisition of Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, that trade should not really impact the moving of Bonifacio is both the Braves and Jays are still interested in striking a deal.

But would moving the 27-year-old speedster be the right move for Toronto?

Absolutely not.

Despite the fact that some believe he is only a bench player, with Maicer Izturis being the lead candidate to start at second base, I am not so sure.

In fact, other than his injury-plagued 2012 season, Bonifacio had been a player improving year-to-year in south Florida.

From 2007, when he made his debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks, right up to 2011, Bonifacio had never seen his batting average decrease.

In 2011, the native of the Dominican Republic  hit .293, with an OBP of .360, and proceeded to swipe 40 bases.

While he may not hit for power, plugging him into the two-hole behind Jose Reyes could give opposing pitchers major headaches.

In 2012, Bonifacio actually stole 30 bases in just 64 games, a stat, that extrapolated over 162 games, would come out to a mind-blowing 76 stolen bases.

What’s even more impressive is that Bonifacio was only caught three times.

Yet because of his season-ending injury and his lack-luster performance in 2012, many Jays fans seem ambivalent towards his arrival.

Make no mistake, Emilio Bonifacio is a very talented player who had one down year. All other evidence over the course of his five full seasons (from 2008 to 2012) points to him being a player who is still getting better and just hitting his prime.

Considering him an expendable piece for the Toronto Blue Jays would be a big mistake.

At the very least, he’s a better player than Maicer Izturis, who has not done anything that has stood out over the last three years.

Since it was reported that the Braves have interest in Bonifacio, nothing has come to fruition. Jays fans should hope it stays that way.


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MLB Free Agents 2013: Why Shane Victorino Is Likely to Land in the AL East

It’s Day 2 of the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. and rumors continue to swirl, all while free agents are scooped up off the market (see Dan Haren to Washington via USA Today).

One of this winter’s top targets is outfielder Shane Victorino, who has as many as seven suitors according to Jon Heyman of

Of those seven teams, almost half of them reside in the AL East division (those being the Tampa Bay Rays, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees).

All three of these teams are either contenders or a few pieces from being contenders, and the Yankees and Red Sox have the money to spend (though both teams are saying they’re going to be slightly more conservative than they have been in years past).

With the Rays recently losing B.J. Upton to the Braves, the Red Sox having major holes in their outfield and the Yankees having lost Nick Swisher to the free-agent market, one can see why Shane Victorino should be heavily favored to land somewhere amongst those three AL East teams.

Victorino may be a center fielder, but he is willing to play corner outfield positions as he has done so in the past.

As a switch-hitter he’d fit in well at Yankee Stadium and Fenway hitting from the left side, as both of those parks have short right field fences.

In Tampa he’d be able to play the position he prefers and would still be joining a competitive team, with one of the best sluggers hitting behind him and one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball.

The Red Sox reportedly talking to Nick Swisher, according to this tweet from Jon Heyman:



We could see the Yankees and Tampa Bay turn the heat up on their efforts to sign an outfielder of their own to match Boston’s move.

Should the Nick Swisher talks prove to be unsuccessful, Shane Victorino would be the next logical choice for the Sox, seeing as Michael Bourn would probably only play center field, a position the Sox already have filled with youngster Jacoby Ellsbury.

With the intense competition in the AL East being so stiff (especially with the Toronto Blue Jays now being legitimate contenders), each of the three clubs has an increased incentive to outbid their division rivals and pick up the Flyin’ Hawaiian.

Expect to see Victorino with one of those AL East clubs in 2013.


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MLB Free Agents 2013: Brandon McCarthy Could Help Put the Blue Jays over the Top

The blockbuster trade. The signing of Melky Cabrera. The announcement that former skipper John Gibbons was returning to manage the Toronto Blue Jays once again (anyone else excited about pulling out those old pullover rain jackets?).

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has wasted no time in crossing items off his offseason shopping list.

He shouldn’t stop just yet though.

Right now, the fifth spot in the Blue Jays rotation is a major question mark.

Who knows if Dustin McGowan will ever come back? Drew Hutchison had Tommy John this past season and J.A. Happ hasn’t had much success since his rookie campaign in Philadelphia.

Enter Brandon McCarthy.

The 29-year-old California native has just come off two incredibly successful seasons with the Oakland Athletics and is currently a free agent.

While he will spend much of the offseason recuperating from an injury he suffered in September, when he took a line drive to the head, McCarthy has recently been cleared by doctors to resume baseball activities.

For the Blue Jays, McCarthy would be a perfect fit in the starting rotation.

McCarthy’s last two seasons have seen him post ERAs of 3.32 and 3.24 respectively.

Prior to 2011, he had never thrown for more than 101.2 IP, yet he eclipsed that mark in both 2011 and 2012, despite being injured for the final month or so of the 2012 regular season.

Other than 2005, McCarthy also posted the two best WHIP marks of his career in 2011 and 2012.

If the Jays can match his price tag, the only obstacles to signing McCarthy would be the obvious skepticism over his recent head injury and convincing McCarthy to take a lesser role with the Jays in order to be part of a winning team.

The latter shouldn’t be too much of a problem, considering the fact that most teams don’t skip the fifth spot in the rotation when they have an off-day, unless it’s been a real problem spot—something that isn’t very likely should McCarthy be anchoring the rotation.

Not to mention, injuries among starters aren’t exactly rare and having as much depth in the rotation as possible would be a huge advantage heading into 2013.

With Zack Greinke a long-shot for the Jays (sorry Jays fans) and Dan Haren probably being too expensive now that the Jays have gone on a major spending spree, Brandon McCarthy should be their No. 1 target.

He’s the most realistic, affordable and talented option out there.


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MLB Free Agents 2013: Could Mike Napoli Be a Fit for the Toronto Blue Jays?

Starting pitching. A left fielder. A leadoff man.

All three of those things were of the utmost importance for the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the 2012 offseason.

All three of those needs have since been filled by Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, and not in any small way. The Jays splurged in a blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins and then proceeded to sign left fielder Melky Cabrera to a two-year $16 million contract.

With those deals alone, the Jays are set to compete in baseball’s toughest division.

Could there be something else in the works?

At the moment, there is still another position that could use a major upgrade: designated hitter.

As it stands now, the Jays, in all likelihood, would be using Adam Lind or Edwin Encarnacion as DH, with the other handling first base duties.

Could the Jays make a push to sign Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli?

The move would make sense for the team, as it would solidify their batting order and add another power bat to a lineup that already includes Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie.

A Mike Napoli signing would give the Jays a formidable starting nine, with an exceptional balance of speed and power.

Napoli‘s pretty much a lock to muscle out at least 20 home runs every year and can play catcher, first base or DH. What’s even more reassuring, is that he recently told ESPN that he’d be willing to play any position as long as he could get into the lineup.

Furthermore, Napoli is is a rare power hitter who can also get on base at a respectable clip. In fact, in every one of his major league seasons, Napoli has had an on-base percentage of over .340 (h/t baseball reference), except 2010. Napoli would also add a veteran presence to the clubhouse.

The cherry on top of a Napoli signing would be the fact that the Jays would be taking the free agent slugger away from their division rivals, the Boston Red Sox, who also have shown interest in Napoli, according to the same ESPN report.

While it may not come cheap, the Jays picking up Mike Napoli would be the last piece to the puzzle and just about lock up the team’s first playoff berth in two decades.

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