2009 MLB Team Preview – Toronto Blue Jays
What a difference a season can make. A year ago, the Jays were on everyone’s sleeper list in the MLB odds. They had, arguably, the best pitching in the AL, featuring a one-two punch of Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett, good young arms in Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum and the league’s stingiest bullpen.They also were perceived to have a solid if unspectacular hitting lineup with plenty of pop. In many ways, online betting fans expected the Jays to do what the Rays did last year.
Pretty amazing how quickly those hopes have evaporated at the sportsbook. Forget Toronto’s disappointing 2008; 86 wins wasn’t really a “bust.” It’s 2009 that looks like a nightmare for Canada’s team. Not only did the mercenary Burnett bolt for the Yankees, but McGowan (shoulder) and Marcum (Tommy John) were both lost to surgery. McGowan will return in May at the absolute earliest while Marcum won’t play in 2009. Thus, a strength is suddenly a weakness for Toronto.
The Jays’ hitting could really go either way; it grossly underachieved for two seasons before Cito Gaston, the man who managed Toronto to World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, returned and got the hitters swinging freely again. Sure, there’s upside – Vernon Wells and Alex Rios are talented and youngsters Adam Lind and Travis Snider appear ready to become viable major league sluggers – but, as usual, a lot has to go right for the Jays to compete in MLB odds this year.
The bullpen should remain a strength, with B.J. Ryan healthy for now and the likes of Brandon League and Jesse Carlson forming a capable supporting unit. But will it matter if the Jays have no leads to protect in the ninth inning?
No matter how optimistic an online sports betting fan could be about the Jays, Toronto has little to no hope in the 2009 MLB odds. Even if they absurdly overachieved and somehow won, say, 90 games, that could still put them fourth in their division. In fact, three other teams in AL East alone – the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays – are, arguably, among the top five World Series betting candidates for ’09.
Yep, it’ll be a long year for Blue Jay fans. I’m not saying you can never pick them in MLB lines this season, but make sure you only pick them in favorable matchups.