That takes awhile, but the early results have been encouraging. He's expanded the size of the scouting staff, cleared room for young players to play every day and landed quality hauls in three trades. Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace won't be with the team in April, but Brandon Morrow will and all three have the kind of talent that could make fans look back one day and see this offseason as the breeding ground for a great new era in Toronto baseball.
That day won't be in 2010, however. The lineup is short on production outside of Aaron Hill and Adam Lind, the rotation has more question marks than the SATs and Baltimore's ascendancy might mean a trip to fifth place is in the offing. It's going to take patience, in other words, and that might be a tough sell after so many years in the wilderness.
Coming and Going
In: John Buck, C (free agency); Kyle Drabek, SP (trade); Alex Gonzalez, SS (free agency); Kevin Gregg, RP (free agency); Morrow, SP (trade); Wallace 1B (trade)
Out: Rod Barajas, C (free agency); Roy Halladay, SP (trade); Brandon League, RP (trade); Kevin Millar, 1B/DH (free agency); Marco Scutaro, SS (free agency)
Around The Horn
Rotating Starting Rotation ...
The Blue Jays aren't hurting for options in the starting rotation, but they are awfully short on sure things. Morrow has worlds of talent, but frustrated the Mariners as often as he thrilled them. Ricky Romero finally made good on his lofty draft status in the first half before falling apart later. Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan have flashed skills but are coming off of serious arm surgeries. Brett Cecil, Drabek, Jesse Litsch, Mark Rzepczynski and Zach Stewart will probably get their looks as well. The good news is that whoever survives the AL East crucible should be a solid bet for long-term success.
Corners of Ill Repute ...
Many of your finer major league lineups get the lion's share of their offensive production from the infield and outfield corners. The Blue Jays are not one of your finer major league lineups. Lyle Overbay is a placeholder until he's traded or Wallace forces the issue. Edwin Encarnacion had a 748 OPS after coming to Toronto and that was a big improvement over what he mustered with the Reds. Jose Bautista is a utility player miscast as a leadoff-hitting right fielder. The only hope is that Travis Snider makes good on his massive minor-league stats and joins Hill and Lind as the drivers of the lineup.
Finishing Strong ...
It's not all doom and gloom in Toronto. When the team does get a lead to take into the late innings, they should do a relatively good job of protecting it. Jason Frasor and Scott Downs each did time as the closer in 2009 and Gregg brings plenty of experience in that role with him from Chicago. Figure Gregg gets the job to start the season with the other two in front of him and the experienced Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson and Brian Tallett logging many of the other innings.
See Ya Cito ...
Cito Gaston is set to move into a front office role in 2011 so this will be his last year in the dugout even if the team outperforms expectations. The question here is if Anthopoulos made the right choice to bring him back at all in 2010. The team is young and Gaston caught a lot of criticism for being overly negative as the 2009 season wound down. The year will be tough enough on these players without hearing constant invective from the manager's office.
Projected Opening Day Roster
Any way you slice it, it is going to be a rough year in Toronto. The best-case scenario is probably in the neighborhood of 75 wins, but given the division and the shortcomings on the roster they're probably going to be scuffling to hit 70 and could lose 100 games without raising too many eyebrows. Whatever the final record, the Jays can consider the season somewhat successful if they get growth from Morrow, Romero and Snider and strong debuts from Drabek and Wallace. Add in Hill and Lind and you've got yourself a foundation for better days.