#4 The BLUE JAYS
While it may not seem like it, the Toronto Blue Jays project to be a fairly good team in 2014. Fangraphs’ projected standings for 2014 have them tying with the Rays for second in the division and one of many teams firmly in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, at least when looking at their projected WAR by position. The Jays have Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus rounding out an impressive offensive core and their pitching staff is built boom-or-bust and fronted by R.A. Dickey and a hopefully-healthy Brandon Morrow. If injuries don’t fell the club this year, they figure to be competitive and currently project to be better than both the Yankees and Orioles. That isn’t to say, however, that they project to be very much of a challenger for the division title. The Red Sox project to tie for the second best record in baseball, and their five game projected lead over the next-best Rays and Jays is equaled only by the dominance expected by the Dodgers over the Giants. In order to stand much chance of challenging for the playoffs, let alone keeping their heads above the waterline of their tightly packed division-mates, the Jays need to secure an upgrade of at least a couple wins. They project for below-average offensive production at second-base, as the club appears increasingly willing to go into the year with defensive standout Ryan Goins as their everyday keystone player, and projections for newly signed catcher Dioner Navarro appear to be optimistic about his ability to catch a full season’s workload. Though their offense has holes, the aforementioned strongpoints can paper over a lot of that. The club, however, needs to upgrade it’s rotation so that it’s not relying on standout performance by unreliable pitchers if they wish to have a better-than-average chance to outshine the Yankees and Rays. The obvious best course of action would be the one that’s been most often rumored for the Jays, and that’s that GM Alex Anthopolous is waiting out the signing of Masahiro Tanaka to establish the market for top pitchers like Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez. The addition of a front-half rotation starter would not be as splashy as a trade for an ace, but one of them plus Dickey, Morrow, Mark Buerhle and a slew of youngsters and veterans competing for the fifth spot should figure to provide solid cast of performers and the ability to generate some unexpected WAR on the back end.