The Cleveland Indians’ 2013 season kicks off tonight, and while most Tribe fans are primarily concerned with the team’s new-look roster, there’s another team who will be waiting at Rogers Centre: the Toronto Blue Jays. We’ll be seeing a lot of the Boo Birds over the next three days, so I talked to Jays Journal Editor Kyle Franzoni about Toronto’s 2013 outlook, the Blue Jays’ busy offseason, and what we should expect from our first opponents of the season.
Wahoo’s on First: The Blue Jays were arguably the most aggressive team in baseball at upgrading their roster this winter. Has Toronto improved enough to win a playoff berth in 2013?
Kyle Franzoni: I believe so. The important thing to remember is that this wasn’t just a talent addition, this was an addition of all the right pieces to couple with the solid ones the Blue Jays already had. You’ve seen the club add two solid top-of-the-order hitters in Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to hit in front of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. They’ve added three solid rotation pieces. And they’ve also added two solid role players. These are not just moves to placate fans, these are moves to win championships.
Wahoo’s on First: R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle—these are just a few of the marquee players the Blue Jays dealt for this winter. Did you like the trades that brought them to Toronto?
Kyle Franzoni: The Blue Jays gave up an awful lot in prospect talent to make these deals happen, but they did not do so for one-year rental either (Johnson excluded). We’ve become accustomed to hearing about these prospects for years, but I don’t think you’ll find too many fans out there willing to give up the chance to win in exchange for a gamble on the future.
Wahoo’s on First: Bringing in all those big names cost Toronto a lot of young talent. Are you at all worried about the Blue Jays’ ability to contend in the future?
Kyle Franzoni: As I said, I you have most of these guys on multi-year deals. Plus, while the prospects lost may be solid talents in the future, they are still prospects. Toronto still has a decent amount of depth in the minors and they’ve shown enough aptitude that I have faith that they can restock the cupboards.
Wahoo’s on First: Obviously the biggest trade Toronto made this offseason was sending Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes to Cleveland for Esmil Rogers. What did you think of that trade for the Jays and how will they use Rogers this year?
Kyle Franzoni: At one point this winter, it looked like that would be the team’s big move. Still, it will likely pay off for the team. Rogers had a solid second half in 2012 after moving to Cleveland from Colorado, and the Blue Jays are hoping that he’ll be able to continue that trend. He certainly has more to offer this team than Aviles would have, especially considering the later acquisitions by the team.
Wahoo’s on First: Who’s pitching for Toronto this series and what should Tribe fans look for from them?
Kyle Franzoni: John Gibbons made the decision early this spring to have Dickey pitch Opening Day, followed by Brandon Morrow and then Mark Buehrle. It’s actually a great set-up, as you have the junk pitching Dickey followed by the hard and heavy throwing Morrow and then slowed back down by the quick-working control pitcher Buehrle. Having the three of them start on back-to-back-to-back days should keep the Indians off balance a bit. All three looked solid in their final outings this spring, so I expect them all to be dialed in for this first start of the season.
Wahoo’s on First: What’s your prediction for the series?
Kyle Franzoni: Personally, I think I’ll go modest and say the Jays take the first two of the series, with game three going to the Tribe. Buehrle tends to be stronger in May than in April, so he may take a bit more to get going than the other guys. I like the Blue Jays matching up against Ubaldo Jimenez in game two and I’d like to think our ace gets us started on the right foot in the opener.