AL East Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

This sign was missing one key addition:
"Blue Jays - Farrell = Boston Red Sox World Series Champions 2013"
Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Red Sox Life will take a look at each of Boston’s AL East opponents over the course of the next few days. We will break down their 2014 roster (to this point), project where they will finish in the standings and also how the Sox stack up against them.

Today, we begin with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Jays finished last in the AL East in 2013, stumbling to a 74-88 record after high expectations were thrust on the team after a flurry of events the previous offseason. The Sox went 11-8 against the Jays in John Farrell’s first season against his former squad.

GM Alex Anthopoulos is still looking to “upgrade” his squad after minimal moves and missing out on Masahiro Tanaka this Hot Stove. The biggest move so far was signing free agent catcher Dioner Navaro while letting J.P. Arencibia walk.

Here’s a look at the projected starters for the Jays heading into Spring Training:

C – Dioner Navaro
1B – Adam Lind
2B – Maicer Izturis
3B – Brett Lawrie
SS – Jose Reyes
LF – Melky Cabrera
CF – Colby Rasmus
RF – Jose Bautista
DH – Edwin Encarnacion

And the starting rotation (in no particular order):
Mark Buehrle
R.A. Dickey
J.A. Happ
Brandon Morrow
Esmil Rogers

The starting rotation could use one more arm for depth, and Anthopoulos has noted he may fill it from within. Although, free agents Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez are on the radar.

The question remains, however, can the eight position starters remain healthy and play to their potential. Many thought 2013 was going to be a breakout year for the Pride of Canada, but underperformances and injuries quickly derailed any World Series hopes.

The guess here is the Blue Jays improve, but the AL East is not an easy division in which to play. Toronto should have a much better season and we’re giving a sneak peak of how we feel the rest of the AL East will shake out by saying this: The AL East will be muddled by its own parity. Teams will beat each other up all season and we don’t feel there is going to be one dominant or two elite teams that separate themselves. In fact, I’m predicting both Wild Card teams will hail from the East for the first time under the new playoff structure.

The Red Sox are better, no question about it. But it’s hard to argue with a team that has Reyes, Bautista, Encarnacion and Lawrie in the lineup. When they’re on, they can be extremely dangerous.

With all that said, Toronto finishes with an 82-80 record. Boston edges the season series 10-9.

Tomorrow, we take a look at the Baltimore Orioles and begin piecing together the AL East picture.

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