I’ve heard a lot of people complain this offseason that the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t do enough to improve their team for 2012. Of course, these people tend to be those who believe the Jays should have thrown $300M at Pujols, $250M at Fielder, and $100M at Buerhle, but do they have a point that, on the whole, the Jays have stagnated to a detrimental degree?

The imrpovements, if any, have surely been of the smaller and more incremental variety. Primarily, the bullpen is almost completely overhauled, and it was done on the cheap. While you may think $4.5M for Francisco Cordero or Darren Oliver was too much, or that giving up prospect Nestor Molina’s potential for Sergio Santos was too hefty a price, the Jays have still revamped their bullpen to be a budget-conscious $14M unit heavy on experience. Baseball betting offers thrilling opportunities for sports enthusiasts to engage with the game on a deeper level. Echtgeld online Casinos 2024 provide numerous betting options, from predicting game outcomes to specific player performances. These platforms enhance the excitement, allowing fans to potentially profit from their knowledge of the sport. It’s also one that runs pretty deep, with some of Luis Perez, Carlos Villaneuva, Jesse Litsch, Joel Carreno, and more likely ticketed for Triple-A. $14M, I’ll remind you, is roughly what Jonathan Papelbon alone will make in the Phillies’ bullpen this year. While I find the “closer role” to be overvalued, the 2011 bullpen as a whole blew 25 saves, an area that appears set to improve with the back-end of Santos, Oliver, Cordero, Casey Jansse, Jason Frasor, and whoever fills it out.

The starting rotation, meanwhile, will look familiar. Ricky Romero and freshly-signed Brandon Morrow will anchor the group, and we’ll hope Morrow finally brings his ERA (4.72) closer in line with his FIP (3.64). Henderson Alvarez looked promising last year (3.53 ERA, 3.97 FIP) and will look to build on that, followed by a hopefully-healthy Dustin McGowan, who is likely to be on strict innings and pitch limits. The fifth and final spot appears to be an open competition between Kyle Drabek (2011′s biggest prospect fall-off), Brett Cecil (still trying to find out which Brett Cecil he wants to be), or long-shot prospect Drew Hutchinson, who has been fellated all winter long by the organization. Will this group improve on 2011′s numbers? It’s debatable, but with room for improvement in results from Morrow and Cecil, skills in Alvarez and Drabek, and opportunity in McGowan and Hutchinson, it’s certainly not a hard argument to make.

In all though, it’s difficult to surmise exactly how improved the Jays’ rotation and bullpen may be. We’ll have a better idea when spring training opens and we can see if the standard offseason tales (Cecil’s weight management, Hutchinson’s magic, Morrow’s cutter, etc) are truth or fiction.

What we can estimate with a slightly better microscope, though, is the improvement to the lineup. Hitting wasn’t exactly an issue in 2011, with the Jays finishing 6th in the MLB in runs and 11th in OPS. An issue, though, is that the Red Sox and Yankees finished ahead of them in both categories, putting the pressure on the Jays to take aim as the top offensive unit in the AL East. Is this too tall a task for a lineup with little-to-no turnover? ZIPS doesn’t think so.
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1-17 when I cover. This is getting ridiculous. I should have been betting against the Raptors every time I was assigned coverage, I’d be a rich man.

Anyway, the Raptors battled back from down 18 to force overtime, only to end up losing anyway. My post-game analysis is long-winded.

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The count is now at 1-16. The Raptors are 1-and-fricken-16 when I cover their games for RR. They lost by 36 to the Celtics even though Rondo sat out and The Big Three combined for just 66 minutes. Shoot me.

But still….check it out.

The Raptors got hammered in an ugly one against the Hawks, but Milos Raonic was in attendance with his plastic girlfriend!

Not much to discuss in terms of actual basketball, though Ed Davis is looking better.

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As is becoming semi-regular of late, Trev Smith and I went back and forth on some NBA items via email, and I’ve tidied it up to pass off as an actual piece of writing! We touch on the Raptors in the face of the Andrea Bargnani injury, how to build the team from here through the draft, the potential future of the D-League, a potential break-up of The Big Three in Boston, and, of course, Kobe and Trev’s Lakers.
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Doing pre-game for a change, to see if we can maybe avoid the Raptors terrible 1-14 record in games I do post-game coverage for. Still, I’m thinking the frontcourt dominance of the Jazz is too much for the Raptors to handle, even with Bargnani back.

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The Raptors are now 1-14 when I’m covering games for Raptors Republic. If they ever get competitive, I should probably quit, in the best interest of the team. Anyway, the post-game report is there.

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I got a puppy, named José. He is awesome but frustrating. Much to the chagrin of commenter John, I used his training as an analogy for this young, inexperienced, and frustrating Raptors team following an embarrassing loss to the Nets.

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Lengthy Email Discussion on the NBA, Part 2

Posted: 3rd December 2011 by Blake Murphy in Blake Murphy, NBA Ball, Trev Smith

So Trev and I got talking when the NBA announced that an agreement had been reached on a tentative deal. It started to get detailed, so we formalized it a bit and decided to turn it into a piece for the site. 7500 words later, we thought it was time to split it into two pieces and post it. Check it out below, and click here to jump back to Part 1.

Blake: Sorry for the delay in response brotherman…got caught in the Leafs game last night and a busy morning at work today. Such is life, when you can’t bring yourself to pull the trigger on a commitment to writing full-time (take the leap, Blake). Allow me to quickly hit on a few of your points before I send the discussion back your way for some on-court back-and-forth.

*Salient points on Stern/Hunter, and I definitely see the need to qualify the impact on their legacies. My dismissal of it was probably more about being tired of that narrative and wanting to focus on the good stuff, so to speak. To summate quickly, I see no way Hunter sticks around long enough to see a verdict rendered on his third CBA, either due to exhaustion or a push for a change from the membership. I’m curious as to where all of this has left D-Fish, too, as he’s come off well to me personally, but I wonder if the media ploys calling him, in nicer terms, an Uncle Tom, convinced the players it was true. Thoughts on D-Fish’s future?
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Lengthy Email Discussion on the NBA

Posted: 3rd December 2011 by Blake Murphy in Blake Murphy, NBA Ball, Trev Smith
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So Trev and I got talking when the NBA announced that an agreement had been reached on a tentative deal. It started to get detailed, so we formalized it a bit and decided to turn it into a piece for the site. 7500 words later, we thought it was time to split it into two pieces and post it. Check it out below, and click here to jump to Part 2.

Blake: So, the NBA’s nuclear winter ended up being more bar fight than Cold War. We can get into the finer points of the deal and the 2011-12 (2012?) season repercussions shortly, but the thing that has been on my mind foremost has been the reaction to the end of the lockout. It seems the die-hards have completely forgiven the NBA immediately, and just recalibrated their internal basketball calendars to begin on Christmas Day, while there seems to be no reaction whatsoever from the casual fan base.

My question to you is this - is this a reaction the NBA should be concerned about, or is this how the NBA always operates? That is, are we among a group of die-hard loyalists and merely flanked by observers once their attention has turned from the NFL and college football? Or has this short but highly-publicized (read: annoying) lockout driven away some of the more casual fans, similar to the NHL’s lockout from 2004-05?
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