The Toronto Blue Jays are up against it year after year, having to compete in the toughest division in baseball – the American League East. In 2009, they finished with a 75-87 record, good enough for fourth place. This offseason they dealt ace Roy Halladay and are ready to move in a new direction – what are the top questions for the Jays this spring?
- Stockpiling Arms: Just how many starting pitchers will the Jays go through now that Halladay is gone? Starters Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum will try to return from injury, and young pitchers Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, David Purcey, Scott Richmond, and Marc Rzepcynski will vie for spots as well. Could another trade be in the works, or will the Jays go into 2010 with a pitching surplus?
- Leading Off: The Jays lack a traditional leadoff hitter going into 2010. Right now, they plan to use Jose Bautista in the designated hitter and leadoff role. The question is, do they really plan to use a hitter with a .238 career average and .329 career on-base percentage in the leadoff role? Minor league signing Joey Gathright remains another possibility.
- Closer Battle: The Jays brought in veteran reliever Kevin Gregg to compete for the closer role with Jason Frasor and Scott Downs, both of whom racked up some saves in 2009 when B.J. Ryan tanked. Gregg has the most experience, but is far from a steady option – will someone emerge with the job, or will the Jays go with a “closer by committee?”
New Faces: Gregg and shortstop Alex Gonzalez were signed as free agents, and starter Morrow was acquired in a trade with the Mariners. Catcher John Buck was signed after being non-tendered by the Royals.
Positions Up For Grabs: Closer (Gregg vs. Frasor vs. Downs); Catcher (Buck vs. Jose Molina).
This article is part of the 2010 Season Preview series.
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