I have nothing but respect for Jordan Bastian. The former Blue Jays turned Clevelands beat writer for MLB.com is very good at his job. When he was writing about the Blue Jays, I probably read him more than any other writer on the internet. I still find time to check out his excellent blog, MLBastian, where he writes intelligently about the Clevelands.

But this past week, Bastian did his 2012 predictions, complete with awards predictions and there were a few things that make me wonder what sort of wonderful drugs Mr. Bastian has in his possession. Now, it should be acknowledged that predictions are a funny thing. First of all, they’re never right; it’s a huge exercise in futility. I should know, I’ve clumsily tried to predict the outcome of MLB seasons for years.

Bastian made two predictions regarding our Toronto Blue Jays that are head-scratchers to say the least. First, he predicted the team to finish second to the Yankees in the AL East, beating out both the Rays and Red Sox and then later on predicted Ricky Romero to win the AL Cy Young Award.

To be honest, in order for Bastian’s prediction to come true, Romero would need to put up a Cy Young-calibre season, but the likelihood of such a thing happening is less-than-slim.

It’s not that Romero is a bad pitcher, but his 2.92 ERA in 2011, although impressive, is hardly sustainable. Romero has settled in as a pitcher who will strike out between seven and seven-and-a-half per nine innings, but will also walk between three and four per nine leading to middling K/BB ratios. A depressed home run rate in 2010 led to a 4.1 fWAR season, but that mark normalized last year and brought him down to 2.9; a mark that tied him for 57th in baseball with Bartolo Colon and Carl Pavano. He posts consistently excellent groundball rates which could allow him to continually outpitch his peripherals, but he simply doesn’t have the ceiling of a David Price, Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia. If anything, Brandon Morrow, just based on pure talent, has a better chance at contending for a Cy Young than Romero.

Not to get all Dustin Parkes on you here, but I just don’t see the Blue Jays being true contenders in 2012. Yes, they are better than last year’s team and the second wild card helps, but there are too many question marks, especially in the rotation, for them to compete with the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox in the East. Predicting them to finish ahead of both the Rays and the Red Sox seems highly unlikely.

Having said all that, please follow Jordan Bastian on Twitter and support his work, because he is one of the best beat writers around and everyone makes questionable predictions. For the sake of us Jays’ fans, I really hope it comes true.

And the Rest:

Red Sox President Larry Lucchino says that his team would be willing to add payroll to improve the pitching staff [Peter Abraham, Boston Globe]. The Red Sox have some serious questions with their pitching what with Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront rounding out the back half of their rotation. The injury to closer Andrew Bailey has also placed their bullpen depth under the microscope. Although, I’m not as worried about the Red Sox pitching as most seem to be, adding someone like Roy Oswalt or possibly a Matt Garza through a trade would go a long way to them getting back to the playoffs.

Injured Pirates starter A.J. Burnett made a minor-league start yesterday and allowed two hits and one run over 4.2 innings [Tom Singer, MLB.com]. Burnett is battling back from a broken orbital bone after being struck in the face by a ball during a bunting drill this spring.

Today starter for the Clevelands, Ubaldo Jimenez, plans to drop his appeal and serve his five game suspension after today’s start [Dennis Manoloff, Cleveland Plain Dealer]. Jimenez was suspended for hitting former teammate Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch during a Spring Training game last week. The suspension sounds like a bigger deal than it is considering it will merely push Jimenez’s second start of the year back by one day.

The Kansas City Royals tried to sell the naming rights of Kaufmann Stadium to U.S. Bank, but whiffed [Paul Koepp and Steve Vockrodt, Kansas City Business Journal]. Stadium naming rights are the most visible example of the corporate takeover of sports. This should represent nothing but a win for the Royals and their fans. Unfortunately, it’s probably not the last time Royals ownership will attempt such a move for a little extra cash.

Speaking of the corporatization of baseball, the Padres are close to having their $1.2-billion TV deal finalized by Major League Baseball [U-T San Diego]. Such a deal should immediately improve the financial ability of the Padres to keep their emerging impressive young core.

The Braves provided a blueprint yesterday on how to potentially reign in Mets’ first baseman Ike Davis who has the talent for a breakout season in 2012 [Bill Petti, FanGraphs].

Bradley Ankrom writes his first prospect post for Crashburn Alley from Clearwater, FL. He’ll be doing something similar in the very near future for our very own DJF.

After their loss last night to the defending NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants are on pace for their worst season in franchise history [Grant Brisbee, McCovey Chronicles].

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