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Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays In Town For Angels Home Opener

The Angels, fresh off of a quick two game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, return home for the first time this season.  After losing 3 of four in Kansas City to open the season, it looked like it was going to be a long, sad season for the club.  However, the Halos were able to take advantage of a struggling Rays team and now look to continue their mini win streak against a Jays team who are 4-2 this young season.  

With the Toronto heading into Anaheim for the Angels' home opener, I had a chance to trade emails with Tom Dakers from SB Nation's "Bluebird Banter" about this weekend's match-up:

Halos Heaven:  Many thought the Red Sox were the team to beat heading into the season. Does their slow start and Toronto opening at 4-2 change how you feel the season will play out for the Jays?

Tom Dakers:  I'm trying not to read too much into a week's worth of games, but then every Red Sox loss makes me smile. I do think the Jays are a better team than most give them credit, we have a good, young rotation, a deep bullpen, lots of power and more team speed than anytime in recent memory. A ton of things would have to go right for us to make the playoffs, course the Red Sox being terrible would help.

HH:   Vernon Wells.  Miss him or glad to see him go?  What are your thoughts on that trade?

TD:  I love Vernon, no one works harder, hustles more or is a better person. He is a great teammate and has a great sense of humor.  All that said, I'm amazed and thrilled that someone would take his contract off our hands. Our GM, Alex Anthopoulos has got us fans thinking he is some kind of magician by making that trade, without having to send a ton of money along with Vernon. As a fan I'll miss him but there is no way he was ever going to be worth the money he will be paid over the next few years.

HH:  How good is Kyle Drabek going to be this season?  His career?

TD:  He threw a 1 hitter over 7 innings in his first start of the year. The knock against him is that he doesn't strikeout enough batters, but he struck out 7 in that start. He relied on a cut fastball that had the Twins shaking their heads, they only got two balls beyond the infield.

Kyle is only 23 and made the jump from Double-A to majors this year, so I'd expect some growing pains, I'm sure he'll have some bad starts, but I think it will be a good year for him. I'd be surprised if he wasn't in the Rookie of the Year race. I think he'll have a good career, not Roy Halladay good, there is only one those, but I'd be surprised if here
wasn't a no-hitter or two in his future.

HH:  What are the Jays biggest strengths and weaknesses?

TD:  Strengths? Power, more speed on the base paths, good young starting staff, a good new rookie manager, lots of good looking prospects and smart young GM.

Weaknesses? Impatience at the plate, we don't have many guys that will take a walk. A garden gnome in the outfield on days that Rivera plays out there but then when he plays DH he doesn't exactly have the bat that you would like in the spot. Our biggest weakness is the misfortune of playing in a division with the two richest teams in baseball and very well run Tampa Bay Rays. In most other divisions I'd would think we'd at least have a shot at the wild card. But playing a large percentage of our games against the twin Evil Empires makes life tough. Competing in a division with those teams leaves little margin for error.


Pitching match-ups for this weekend:
Friday (7:05pm):  Ervin Santana (0-0, 4.05) vs Kyle Drabek (1-0, 1.29)
Saturday (6:05pm):  Scott Kazmir (0-0, 27.00) vs  Brett Cecil (0-1, 5.40)
Sunday (12:35pm):  Jered Weaver (2-0, 0.69) vs Jo-Jo Reyes (0-0, 13.50)