With Spring Training just around the corner, we're going to be hit with a barrage of season previews, predicting the course of how the regular season and playoffs will unfold. Naturally, these spoiler-happy reporters totally ruin the next 6 months, making actually watching the games completely superfluous.
I move to outlaw these predictions, or at least re-brand them to what they are: Expectations. We all expect the Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees to take a step back, we all expect the St. Louis Cardinals to be a model of consistency, we all expect the Miami Marlins to overhaul their roster every three years, we all expect the Washington Nationals to be a World Series Contender, etc. With the exception of the Marlins, we can't say with 100% certainty that these predictions will come true.
Now onto An Overly Pessimistic Blue Jays Season Preview:
In the course of about 30 days, Alex Anthopoulos overhauled the Jays roster, bringing in Melky Cabrera, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, R.A. Dickey, Jose Rey--OK fuck this, I'm too lazy to write down ALL the names that AA acquired. Long story short, he got a lot of dudes who can play baseball good, so indeed, expectations have been raised.
But let's be realistic, if you count the Orioles, there are 4 other teams in the AL East, who all play 162 games with the goal of winning the division. They're not just going to throw up their arms and hand Toronto the division. In fact you could argue that the Rays are the favourite to win the division. They still have solid starting pitching and Evan Longoria, plus they have about five or six years worth of experience that have translated into actual results on the field. They've made the AL East a legitimate three horse race.
Don't discount the Yankees. They probably have the best starting rotation in the East, plus they'll be getting a full year from Mariano Rivera. Derek Jeter had a solid year last year AND A-Rod will only play half the season at best.
And you never know, maybe John Farrell will bore his roster to death with his minutia and ramblings about pressuring the pitching staff by stealing bases and they'll actually concentrate on baseball. GM Ben Cherington seems to be taking a page out of the Dodgers handbook*, signing replacement level players, seemingly believing they possess magical powers that will enable them to become good at baseball again.
Also, do discount the Orioles.
* Note: Which GM's strategy will he plagiarize next year? I'm crossing my fingers for Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers.
PECOTA is Bullshit, Trust PHONI
So, I've calibrated my spreadsheets to ensure that my PHONI forecasting system is operating on maximum efficiency. Let's get on with pessimistic player previews:
Mark "Pit" Buehrle - He will live up to his billing as an average, middle of the rotation pitcher. Naturally, casual Jays fans will demand that he be traded for Vernon Wells, citing Wells' intangibles and leadership, hoping that he'll convince his best buddy and perennial MVP candidate Michael Young to join him in T.O.
R.A. Dickey - Last week John Gibbons announced that Dickey will be the opening day pitcher. Too bad he doesn't realize that AL batters will figure out that R.A. doesn't actually throw a formidable knuckleball. It turns out that he was just a pitcher facing terrible players in the National League.
Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison - They will discover that their Tommy John surgeries were unsuccessful and decide to surgically combine their pitching arms together into one powerful bionic arm. This will raise debates on the ethics of performance-enhancing-bionic-arms.
Josh Johnson - Johnson will suffer the fate of "The Curse of the Johnson"*, playing great in April and May, only to fade into irrelevance during the gruelling climate controlled summer months in the Rogers Centre.
*It's a proven fact - anyone on the Jays roster with the last name "Johnson" has been affected by the curse. Look at the track record: Kelly Johnson.
Brandon Morrow - In a fit of jealous rage over his success, Ricky Romero will recreate the denouement of the classic film "Celtic Pride" and kidnap Brandon Morrow, in the hopes that this will help his beloved Boston Celtics win the NBA Championship.
Ricky Romero - Will create a scandal when Brandon Morrow and Damon Wayons are discovered bound and gagged in his basement. His subsequent arrest will eventually lead to a baseball themed remake of "The Longest Yard".
Brett Cecil - Three years from now, we realize that we unknowingly witnessed the beginning of the "wearing athletic prescription glasses" trend, popularized by future hipsters. Horace Grant will become an uber-prophet to said hipsters.
Steve Delabar - Will have an OK season. Future prediction: following his retirement, Delabar will open a chain of restaurants called "DeLaBar" - a "De La Soul" themed bar and grill. The house specialty will be the "Steaks is High" - a porterhouse steak brushed with weed butter.
Casey Janssen - Breathes a sigh of relief and has a solid season, narrowly avoiding "The Curse of the Johnson" by only a few letters.
Brad Lincoln - Will do something good in a game, newspapers will compare him to other Lincoln, using clever pun.
Darren Oliver - Something something, Jeff Frye.
Esmil Rogers - Will add another "S" to his name to make it Essmil, so as not to confuse Buck Martinez while calling play by play.
Sergio Santos - Will discover the truth of the "Closer Myth", and promptly vanish into thin air.
J.P. Arencibia - J.P.'s season split will be 500/20/480 - as in 500 at bats, 20 homeruns and 480 strikeouts. Old school reporters will praise his power numbers.
Jose Bautista - Will pen an autobiography entitled "All 'Bout-ista".
Emilio Bonifacio - Will change his name to "Charlie Sheen".
Melky Cabrera - Reporters will discover that Melky Cabrera is actually 53 years old. In unrelated news, Albert Pujols refuses to play Sunday night games as it interferes with Murder, She Wrote reruns.
Rajai Davis - Will get buried in freak sunflower seed shell avalanche.
Mark DeRosa - Has odd clause in contract - to be paid only in masticated sunflower seeds.
Edwin Encarnacion - will raise his other elbow and make "vroom! whoosh!" noises while running the bases, pretending to be an airplane.
Maicer Izturis - Hopefully will be the backup 2nd basemen, so I don't have to worry about correctly spelling his name on a regular basis.
Brett Lawrie - Doctors will discover that Brett Lawrie is colour blind, explaining the reason why he runs through so many red lights on the base path.
Adam Lind - Will have decent power and batting numbers and put together a solid offensive* season.
*Oops sorry, typo! I meant to say that Lind will have an offensive season, as in it's offensive that he's regularly put on the field in the first place.
Colby Rasmus - Rasmus' Dad will notice a hole in his swing, but sit tight and not interfere with his son's career at all.
Jose Reyes - Will miss the first half of the season due to horrific smiling injury.
Jays fans will boo Yunel Escobar, but cheer for mayor Rob Ford when he throws the ceremonial first pitch. The Baltimore Orioles will offer Ford a professional tryout.
Damian Cox will find a way to compare baseball to hockey.
The Boston Celtics will win the NBA Championship
Reporters will overlook the rising number of performance-enhancing-bionic-arms, preferring to revel in the timeless glory of the great game of baseball.
World Series Prediction: Houston Astros vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, with the DB's emerging* as champions
*NOTE: No homefield advantage was awarded due to the All-Star game resulting in irrelevance.