Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training: 5 Most Intriguing Roster Battles

John Altamura@@JohnAltamuraBRContributor IIMarch 19, 2012

Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training: 5 Most Intriguing Roster Battles

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    As the end of the Grapefruit League season draws near there are still many lingering questions on the mind of diehard Toronto Blue Jays fans.

    Who will be the starting left fielder? Will Colby Rasmus have a strong spring? Will Kyle Drabek earn a spot in the starting rotation? These are some the questions being asked as the Blue Jays look to appoint their opening day starters.

    Here are five of the most intriguing roster battles currently raging at the Jays camp in Dunedin, Florida.

Left Field: Eric Thames vs. Travis Snider

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    One of the most highly-contested position battles for the Blue Jays this spring has been between Eric Thames and Travis Snider.

    They are both having good spring campaigns to this point. If you were going to give one of them a statistical edge, you would have to give it to Snider.

    Through 11 games, Snider has a batting average of .313, four HR and 11 RBI.

    His power production to this point is better than Thames'—who has only one dinger during the Jays' Grapefruit League schedule.

    One concern for Snider could be the number of strikeouts to this point—a whopping 12 in 32 plate appearances. If his average was lower it may be enough to tilt the battle meter in Thames' favor, however, the overall nod should go to Snider.

    Winner: Snider

Catcher: J.P. Arencibia vs. Travis d'Arnaud

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    There are some people who believe Travis d'Arnaud will eventually overtake J.P. Arencibia as the No. 1 backstop.

    That is not going to happen this year.

    The hands down winner this spring season has been Arencibia who has posted decent stats: .259 BA, three HR, eight RBI.

    It seems d'Arnaud still needs a little more seasoning on the minor league level as he has posted a poor .143 BA through nine games this spring.

    Some expected some competition from offseason acquisition Jeff Mathis but he has not shown much so far posting a dismal .111 BA with seven strikeouts.

    The job is for Arencibia to lose and it doesn't seem likely he will lose it.

    Winner: Arencibia

Fifth Starter: Kyle Drabek vs. Dustin McGowan

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    If we were going to go off of name alone, Kyle Drabek would win this battle hands down. However, having a father who was successful in the major leagues doesn't guarantee you the same amount of success.

    Not to say Drabek has had a bad spring—he has not. His one start was not good statistically. In two innings he gave up three runs on four hits and one homer.

    In comparison, Dustin McGowan has pitched really well. He has started two games and in five innings has yet to give up a run.

    It seems that Drabek may be better suited for the pen—at least for the start of the season. It's hard to base a pitcher's success on such a low amount of innings, but based on statistics, McGowan edges out Drabek for the final spot in the rotation.

    Winner: McGowan

Center Field: Colby Rasmus vs. Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose

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    It seems that everyone is penciling in Colby Rasmus as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.


    He batted .173 in the regular season in 2011 and has posted dismal numbers so far this spring as well. Does a .192 spring batting average equate to a starting job on a Major League Baseball team? Blue Jay fans should certainly hope not.

    His main competition this spring has been youngsters Moises Sierra and Anthony Gose. Both Sierra and Gose are batting over .300 this spring but have not shown any power or RBI production.

    Gose has shown some signs of power in the minors as he belted 16 homers for Blue Jays' AA affiliate New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Eastern League. His teammate Sierra also showed some pop last season for the Fisher Cats as he went yard 18 times.

    Should Sierra or Gose get a shot over Rasmus? They should but probably won't—at least for now.

    Winner: Rasmus

Lefty Specialist: Darren Oliver vs. Luis Perez

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    The left-handed specialist role is one of the most important roles in the bullpen. The Blue Jays have two relievers vying for that position—the newly-acquired and much-traveled Darren Oliver and homegrown Luis Perez.

    The battle to this point has been won by Perez who has yet to give up a run this spring. He has held batters to a .074 batting average while striking out nine in 8.2 inning's pitched.

    Oliver has not had as great a spring as he pitched to a 12.00 ERA in three appearances. You have to wonder how much Oliver has left in the tank. He might be better suited to be a long relief specialist rather than a lefty setup man. The nod goes to Perez.

    Winner: Perez