A month ago, one could have easily predicted the New York Mets would be one of this offseason's big spenders. But did anyone predict the Toronto Blue Jays would be the other? Did anybody think the Blue Jays would commit $102 million to lock up two pitchers for five seasons apiece? I didn't, even though general manager J.P. Ricciardi hinted during the season that his club would be active in the free-agent market.
In the short term, will the Blue Jays' largesse make a real difference in the standings? Last season they won 80 games, which left them 15 games behind the Yankees and Red Sox. As good as A.J. and B.J. might be, together they're not going to make the Blue Jays 15 games better.
But how good were the Blue Jays in 2005, really? Their run differential -- they scored 775 runs and gave up 705 -- suggests an 88-74 record rather than their actual 80-82 record. In fact, according to this article, the Blue Jays were only the third team ever to outscore their opponents by at least 70 runs but lose more games than they won. Like virtually every other team that underperforms its run differential, the Blue Jays fared poorly in one-run games. Worse than poorly -- they were 16-31 in one-run games, worst in the majors.