2006 Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Preview



Toronto management seems tired of playing third fiddle to New York and Boston; this winter they opened their pocketbooks, bringing in some more quality pitching and hitting. A.J. Burnett, Troy Glaus, Lyle Overbay and B.J. Ryan are all new and potential difference makers.


Toronto has three quality starters on their staff—Roy Hallady, A.J. Burnett, and Ted Lilly. Wow! If Hallady, who won the Cy Young in 2003 (22-7), can stay healthy and Burnett, who has three strong pitches, can reach his potential, and Lilly can adjust to his physical limitations, this triumvirate of hurlers could have 55 wins!

B.J. Ryan became Baltimore’s closer last year and on a not-so-hot team earned 36 saves, while holding batters to a .208 BA. He should have more opportunity this season and has the potential to notch more than 40 saves for the Jays.

In his rookie season, lefty starter Gustavo Chacin earned 13 wins, more than any first-time Toronto pitcher, and finished with a 3.72 ERA. What a great start! Can he do even better this year?


Troy Glaus is the real thing—a cleanup hitter who can knock them out of the park. Last year, he popped 37 balls over the fence and knocked in 97 runs.

Lyle Overbay, the team’s new first baseman, hit 19 round trippers with Milwaukee, and former first baseman and now DH, Shea Hillenbrand knocked out 18 while batting at a .291 clip. Eric Hinske (15 HRs) will probably platoon with Hillenbrand at the designated position.

Outfielder Vernon Wells gives the Blue jays yet another viable homerun (28) and RBI (97) threat. In his first Major League season, shortstop Russ Adams was third in runs scored, multi-hit games, and RBI for rookies. He’s the probably this year’s lead off hitter.

The one through five hitters—Adams, Hillenbrand, Overbay, Glaus, and Wells—look quite formidable.


The Jays infield is overall average or perhaps even a bit below. The best fielder is probably second baseman Aaron Hill, who possesses good hands, solid footwork, and an ability to throw accurately on the run. He can also play third and shortstop.

Lyle Overbay, at first, handles bad throws well, while making good throws himself. He's a big improvement over Hillenbrand.

The left side of the Toronto infield, Glaus and Adams, lacks range and agility.

In the outfield, two-time Gold Glove winner Vernon Wells is a highlight film. He’s Johnny Damon with an arm. Alex Rios and Reed Johnson are also excellent fielders with good range and strong, accurate arms. Their major contributions will be in the field and not at the plate. Wells and Rios combined for 19 assists last season.


• General Manager J.P. Ricciardi has made the moves and spent the money to challenge for the division title.
• Manager John Gibbons is a strong manager with an excellent sense of how to utilize his bullpen.
• It was a whirlwind winter for the GM, expect the same around the All Star break if this team is in contention.


• Ricciardi and Gibbons go back a long way and work well together.
• The position of catcher is a problem for this team—an upgrade sometime during the season would be helpful.
• Hallady, Burnett, and Lilly injury free could be devastating to opposing hitters; but can they stay healthy?


J.P. Ricciardi has shown them the money, now will this team show him the wins? The Blue Jays have strong vets such as Glaus, Overbay, Hillenbrand and Wells, some good young guys with Adams and Hill and a potential lights out starting staff and closer. Health may be this team’s greatest concern, especially in the pitching ranks. If these players remain off the DL, they’re going to win a lot of games.

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