Bright Spot - The Bullpen
A shaky bullpen cost the Mets a playoff spot last year. This proves that it’s crucial to have relievers that can hold the lead. The Blue Jays had the best bullpen in baseball this past season, and things look to be on par for 2009 with the return of Jeremy Accardo and Casey Janssen. The combination of relievers led by B.J. Ryan were all lights out.
Bright Spot - The Doc
Regardless of the state of the rest of the starting rotation, Halladay is as dependable as a starting pitcher can be. When Roy is healthy, he is deadly. Opposing players should start practicing their “walk of shame” back to the dugout.
Bright Spot - A Full Year of Cito
I wouldn't completely credit Cito Gaston with the midseason turnaround of the 2008 Blue Jays, but he certainly had a lot to do with it. Since Cito will be there start to finish, maybe the consistency will add to even more success this year.
Low Light - Starting Rotation
Losing three of your five starting pitchers would be a huge blow to any team, so obviously it will be difficult to find suitable replacements. It looks like Hallday, Litsch and Purcey will be starters, but the final two rotation spots are up for debate. Matt Clement has a lot of promise, as do young pitchers like Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero.
Low Light - Who’s the DH?
As it currently sits, it looks like Adam Lind and Travis Snider will platoon to become the Jays’ designated hitter this season. They’re not exactly feared batters, but more so placeholders until a “Plan B” is constructed.
Low Light - Lack of Cash
Blame the economy, blame the passing of Ted Rogers - whatever the reason, the Blue Jays do not have money bags to spend this year. That means in order to land any big free agents, J.P. Ricciardi will have to get creative with trades or bartering with other teams.
Overall, there are a lot of things to look forward to this year, but there are also a lot of things to keep in mind. The American League East is the toughest division in baseball, but loading up on the most talented free agents does not always guarantee success. As we saw with the Tampa Bay Rays last year, almost anything is possible. And we are certainly putting a lot of hope that the same is also possible also for the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays.