But at this point of the season, well before anything worthy of note2 actually happens, I find myself picking out a handful of guys for whom I start to root and get overly attached. It happens most years: A couple of years back, I began touting a pre-Garfoose, pre-publishing empire, still-tolerable Dirk Hayhurst as my springtime mancrush , and I'd like to think that the positive vibes that I sent out into the universe precipitated his brief Major League tour with the Jays.3
This year, as others devote blog entries and tweets of praise and worship towards Darin Mastroianni or Eric Thames or Scott Richmond or Zach Stewart,
Jo-Jo Reyes: Yes, Jo-Jo has been shelled as a Major Leaguer. But we're (fuck it) of the opinion that he was tossed into situations that he was too inexperienced to step into by the Braves. A look back through his minor league numbers shows a guy who may well have some merit as a long reliever (even though newly tweeting Wilner says Farrell sees no use in long men). Reyes posted a 3.11 ERA in AAA and a 3.40 in AA, and had better-than-decent K/9 rates of 7.6 and 8.3 respectively.4
Reyes just turned 26 this year, and he's out of options, so we'd at least like to see him get a kick at a healthy few weeks at the big league level to show what he can do.
Josh Roenicke: Lost amongst the cascade of potential closer acquisitions this off-season, Roenicke's is unlikely to start the season with the Jays this April. With Camp, Dotel, Francisco, Frasor, Janssen, Purcey, Rauch and Villaneuva slotting in as the top eight relievers, Roenicke is likely to find himself in Vegas or elsewhere when the curtain rises. Still, there is something about those minor league K/9 rates above 10.0 that make us think that he could be a legitimate back of the rotation option.
On the other hand, he'll be 29 this August, so the future for Roenicke is right about now.
Edwin Encarnacion: We'll never be able to quit Edwin. Even when he was gone (for a week or so), we still figured that 2011 was going to be a year filled with monster homers and huge production for the Jays putative DH.
And are we wrong in thinking that Edwin, shorn of any responsibility for playing in the field, has the capacity to turn the corner like David Ortiz5 did in his 27th year and becomes a premium power hitter? Because that's not beyond the realm of possibility.
At least not in my, er, our, er, my mind.
----------1. Trying out this "I" thing over the "we" for a day. Just to see how it feels.
2. No, three runs in three FAKE games is not notable. Stop noting it. You're not even allowed to make a mental note.
3. Really. I'd like to think I have that power.
4. His AA numbers stack up pretty well against Zach Stewart's, for whatever that's worth.
5. The distinction, of course, is that Ortiz had always had a good eye at the plate which only improved with age, whereas EE's OBP has declined throughout his career. Edwin posted a .359 OBP in 2006 versus a .305 last season, and this is part of a pretty consistent trend line downwards.