Projections and Paces – Blue Jays

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The article below is meant to provide a quick look at how my
preseason projections match up with the paces of select major league
hitters.

Alex Rios
2008: .291/.337/.461, 15 HR, 91 R, 79 RBI, 32 SB in 635 AB
Proj..: .299/.355/.502, 25 HR, 96 R, 89 RBI, 21 SB in 613 AB
Pace: .278/.336/.454, 22 HR, 82 R, 80 RBI, 27 SB in 660 AB

Vernon Wells
2008: .300/.343/.496, 20 HR, 63 R, 78 RBI, 4 SB in 427 AB
Proj..: .285/.340/.489, 25 HR, 86 R, 92 RBI, 9 SB in 571 AB
Pace: .241/.299/.367, 12 HR, 99 R, 68 RBI, 27 SB in 653 AB

We know which one of the Jays’ two “superstars” has Cito Gaston on his
side. Rios was recently moved down third to sixth in the lineup despite
an OPS right around 850 since the beginning of May. Wells was moved up
to third despite one of the worst showings of any regular in the
majors. He’s hit .214/.271/.310 in 171 at-bats since May 1.

Aaron Hill
2008: .263/.324/.361, 2 HR, 19 R, 20 RBI, 4 SB in 205 AB
Proj..: .281/.345/.428, 14 HR, 80 R, 71 RBI, 7 SB in 594 AB
Pace: .315/.352/.503, 36 HR, 94 R, 114 RBI, 5 SB in 692 AB

Hill entered this year with 114 doubles and 28 homers in his career. He currently has nine doubles and 15 homers.

Marco Scutaro
2008: .267/.341/.356, 7 HR, 76 R, 60 RBI, 7 SB in 517 AB
Proj..: .262/.338/.374, 8 HR, 63 R, 46 RBI, 5 SB in 439 AB
Pace: .298/.396/.434, 12 HR, 121 R, 70 RBI, 15 SB in 641 AB

All five of Scutaro’s homers came in April, so it seems unlikely
that he’ll really finish with 12 this year. However, he shows no signs
of losing his hold on the leadoff spot in Toronto’s lineup. The century
mark in runs is well with reach.

Adam Lind
2008: .282/.316/.439, 9 HR, 48 R, 40 RBI, 2 SB in 326 AB
Proj..: .277/.324/.460, 19 HR, 64 R, 74 RBI, 2 SB in 494 AB
Pace: .301/.367/.539, 31 HR, 94 R, 111 RBI, 2 SB in 619 AB

Lind was a tough projection after the Jays kept going back and forth
with him during his first three partial seasons, especially in light of
the fact that he finished poorly this year. He’s likely a legitimate
25-homer guy. I don’t think it’s all that likely that he keeps hitting
.300.

Scott Rolen
2008: .262/.349/.431, 11 HR, 58 R, 50 RBI, 5 SB in 408 AB
Proj..: .259/.341/.429, 13 HR, 60 R, 64 RBI, 4 SB in 413 AB
Pace: .325/.394/.471, 10 HR, 82 R, 53 RBI, 7 SB in 498 AB

Rolen knows his limitations now and has adapted his game. The power
probably isn’t coming back, but it no longer looks like he’ll be out of
the league by age 36 or 37.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.