Once the Blue Jays had made their mega-trades with Miami and the Mets a year ago and signed free agents Melky Cabrera and Maicer Izturis, they became the darlings of Las Vegas.
With the World Series over and Boston winning its third title since 2004, the odds are already out for next year on various gaming sites and on Vegas.com, the Blue Jays have literally gone from first to worst in the AL East. This year they are listed at 40-1.
Granted, making predictions when teams haven't really done any serious off-season retooling yet is ludicrous. Nevertheless, Boston is again favoured in the East at 12-1, followed by the Yankees at 16-1, Tampa Bay at 18-1 and Baltimore at 25-1.
Interesting that Arizona, the Phillies and the White Sox, who only won 61 games this season are also pegged at (40-1).
By the way, the Red Sox are only ranked fifth to repeat as World Series champs. The four teams listed ahead of them are the favoured Los Angeles Dodgers at 5-1, Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals at 8-1 and St. Louis Cardinals at 10-1.
The longest of longshots are Minnesota, Miami and the New York Mets at 100-1.
Bang For Their Buck
The Red Sox signed seven free agents last off-season. For somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60 million, they landed rightfielder Shane Victorino, first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli, leftfielder Jonny Gomes, shortstop Stephen Drew, back-up catcher David Ross, righthander Ryan Dempster and set-up reliever turned star closer Koji Uehara. They didn't have to commit to ridiculous long-term contracts, they basically struck gold with five of those signings and all seven were worth the investment.
The Blue Jays on the other hand, partly through injuries, struck out on both their free agents, Melky Cabrera and Maicer Izturis.
Boston could lose Napoli and Drew as free agents in the off-season, but that doesn't diminish the job GM Ben Cherington did. He's s shoo-in for Executive of the Year.
The World Series clincher at Fenway really was something special. It was the BoSox' eighth Fall Classic title, but only the third time they have won the deciding game at Fenway (1912 - the season the Park opened and they beat the New York Giants in eight games, 1918 - when they defeated the Chicago Cubs, 2013 - with a six-game victory over St. Louis).
In 1915 and 1916, the Red Sox beat the Phillies and Brooklyn, at home in the clinchers, but those games were played at the home of Boston's National League club, since the seating capacity at Braves field was much larger than Fenway.
If you think the Blue Jays had a terrible season, consider this: Chicago has two teams and they both finished with worse records. The White Sox wound up at 63-99, while the Cubs finished at 66-96. That's a combined total of 195 losses. That breaks the all-time combined Chicago club mark of 191 losses set back in 1948.
What About Jimenez?
Here is an interesting free agent pitching possibility for the Blue Jays. Righthander Ubaldo Jimenez who, at the age of 29, seems to have his career back on the rails, rejected his $8 million contract option for next season with Cleveland and has opted to become a free agent. Cleveland can still make him a one-year qualifying offer of around $14 million by Monday. If they do, Jimenez has six days to decline or accept. If he declines and becomes a free agent, any team signing him would lose a first round draft pick.
Jimenez bounced back from a 17-loss season, to go 13-9 this season with a 3.30 ERA. He also struck out 13 Twins in the Wild Card clincher that put the Indians back in the post-season for the first time since 2007. In his six years as an established starter in the Majors, he has thrown at least 175 innings every season and has broken 200 innings twice. He has also struck out at least 172 in five of those six years. On a two- or three-year deal, he might be worth the risk.