Cone crowns Jays division favorites

Apparently we’re moving from hot stove season to prematurely bullish prediction season in record time this year. Speaking to reporters at a charity event yesterday, YES broadcaster David Cone reacted to the big trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays by declaring the Blue Jays the division favorites already. “I would think they’d have to be the favorite, right now, in the American League East,” Cone said. It may seem a touch early to be crowning presumptive favorites, but then, if the 2012 Marlins taught us anything it’s that making a big splash to acquire Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle instantly makes you the best team in your division.

Alright, I’m mostly just kidding here, but I can’t help but chuckle that this trend is still with us. It seems that every year someone makes a big, unexpected move in the offseason, and everyone immediately proceeds to the knee jerk reaction of declaring them a massively improved team who have to be favored to win something. Sometimes (2009 Yankees, 2011 Brewers) it plays out that way while other times (2010 Mariners, 2011 Red Sox, 2012 Marlins and Angels) it decidedly does not, to varying degrees.

The fact is, a relatively small number of new players generally do not 20 more wins make, and there are a lot of baseline factors that don’t get taken into account in the exuberance. In the case of the Red Sox, for example, everyone seemed to forget that the production gains they’d get from Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford would be offset by the loss of Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez. With these Blue Jays, it seems that everyone is forgetting that they were a 90 loss team with a lot of issues, and that the players they’re acquiring formed the core of another 93 loss team in the National League. Don’t get me wrong, the Blue Jays are definitely better and have to be considered serious contenders for the playoffs, but they’ve got three 90 win teams and the Red Sox to overcome in the division, and while the trade makes their roster better, they’ve got a lot of other things that have to go right for them as well before they can start printing up ugly commemorative t-shirts.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

13 thoughts on “Cone crowns Jays division favorites

  1. I generally agree that people react too quickly to trades and deals in the offseason, especially ones that involve stars and superstars, but this trade is probably a lot more important than you are giving credit for. JJ is an absolutely amazing Ace and Buehrle is a solid 3. These were what the Jays were missing last season. They lost how many starting pitchers in one week? Three? I don't care what team you are, I don't care what era you are from, if you lose you 1, 2, and 3 starter in the same week, your season is over.

    JJ has always been under appreciated playing for the Marlins down there in Florida, especially in the past two years. In 2011 JJ, a starting pitcher, was the reason his team was making an impressive, nearly unpredictable run for first place. Then he got hurt and the team lost like 20 out of 30. That is the sort of player JJ is. He isn't only one of the top aces in the game, he is the type of player and leader that can throw a team on his back and carry them. Not many starting pitchers can say that.

    Jose Reyes I don't think will be a big factor, I think he is going to be injured constantly. Artificial turf and Jose Reyes do not mix. His legs are too fragile.

    • Yeah, but there's also a 50-50 chance that Johnson doesn't even pitch a regular season game with the Jays. To say nothing of the fact that he's coming off the worst season of his career.

      • I think that is more wishful thinking on your part. In 2012 JJ was recovering from injury. By all reports he was back to full health by the end of the season, and he will be healthy for 2012. I know there are rumors he may be traded to another team, and I can't predict if and when injuries may or may not happen, but I have no doubt that he will be a very good starting pitcher whenever healthy, and I have no reason to believe he isn't healthy right now.

        • Okay, so then we shouldn't expect top notch performances from Jose Bautista, Brandon Morrow, or Kyle Drabek either, which will hurt the Jays' record.

          • The difference here is that pitchers have always followed a pattern of being weak the first season they come back from major arm injury, and often go back to normal the following season. It is a recovery trajectory that many, if not most, pitchers take. I don't see any reason to believe JJ is any different. He finished the 2012 season without major incident, he is having a normal off season (as opposed to rehabbing from major injury), and he will, unless something unpredictable happens, have a normal spring training and likely a normal season. I don't see any reason to believe he won't follow the trajectory that so many other pitchers follow every year.

          • Is 'injury prone' an inherent trait or a summary of past events? He has had TJ (at this point, who hasn't?), shoulder inflammation, and a very minor back injury (he missed September in a lost season, it really wasn't a big deal). Does that make him 'injury prone?' Maybe. I don't think the term 'injury prone' really tells you much about a player, it has always felt like an oversimplification, honestly.

  2. Brien, I agree with you about the Jays getting better because of this trade. Like you said there were three 90 win teams ahead of them last year in the AL. Also I think their is a big difference between Johnson pitching in the NL East division with No DH and generally bigger ballparks then pitching in the AL East. The same applies to Buehrle and his time with the White Sox and again generally speaking the weaker Indians, Royals and Twins. Just my opinion but I would expect the Jays to be much closer to a .500 club or slightly better then a 90 plus winning club.

  3. I agree with you Brien. The players coming in are supposed to help with the problem. Not a magical fix to make them a winning team. Makes them a contender but to a favorite. The offseason isn't even done. It's a lil premature to declare someone a favorite.

  4. Brien, it's now being reported that the Blue Jays have agreed to sign Melky Cabrera for 2 years/$16MM. The Blue Jays look like they are on a wild and crazy spending spree.

  5. As the saying goes, and has been stated here, nothing is won in November. Let's take a look at what the Jays have acquired. An injury prone, although brilliant, shortstop who will play 81 games on turf. A lefty pitcher, who can beat Tampa Bay in the AL East, and if you take away that success, he's 14-21 against the rest of the division. Josh Johnson, a talented pitcher whose arm is hanging by a thread, John Buck, who would be a fine backup catcher wherever he ended up and Melky Cabrera, who's going to be under tremendous scrutiny. Add to that Jose Bautista's balky wrist, a likely regression for Edwin Encarnacion and a bullpen that brings new meaning to arson, and we have the 2014 Blue Jays. Always liked David Cone as a pitcher and he seems like a reasonably intelligent guy most of the time, but as an analyst…well let's just say he was a damn good pitcher.

  6. How did that work out a couple of years ago, for the Boston "Greatest Team Evah" Red Sox, or, the Phillies, or, LAST YEARS Florida Marlins, don't these guys ever learn?