Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Boy Vernon

It has been well-established that the Jays were hit with a rash of injuries last season to key personnel, as B.J. Ryan, Lyle Overbay, Reed Johnson and Gustavo Chacin all missed extended periods of time. Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Troy Glaus had shorter stints on the DL while Vernon Wells played hurt much of the year. Even recent addition Scott Rolen arrives with some questions, coming off a season that saw him play only 112 games. While these injuries opened the door for young arms to develop and blossom, it wasn't until (too?) late in the season that Jays saw their lineup at full strength.

So, can Toronto contend with the Sox and the Yankees this season? Obviously this depends on many players bouncing back from injury and performing. The most essential cog in the machine is Vernon Wells. Hampered by a shoulder cyst for a substantial chunk of the season, Wells' production was down in all offensive categories. His OPS was down from .899 to .706, SLG dropped from .542 to .402, HR down from 32 to 16 and RBI down from 106 to 80. His numbers were worse across the board, but I'm an optimist so I will chalk it up to playing hurt.

The Jays have a better team in 2008, and in my opinion a better chance of giving the Red Sox and Yankees a serious run, but without a healthy and performing Wells, those chances are greatly diminished. If we get a 2006 performance out of Wells, a 2004 performance out of Rolen and the rotation does it's thing as I know it will, it could be a fun October in Toronto.

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