The Toronto Blue Jays had more then a few questions heading into Spring Training this February.
Which two pitchers will fill the rotation? Will the bullpen remain the same as last year? Who will the Jays take for their bench? Who is going to be the backup catcher?
Well, with just five days remaining until the Jays first game against the Detroit Tigers at the Rogers Center, all these questions have finally been answered.
Rotation: There were many candidates for the last two spots in the rotation: Matt Clement, Mike Maroth, Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Brad Mills, and Scott Richmond.
Mike Maroth suffered a knee injury before camp even began and he never got back on track. He was out of the running early and declined the Jays offer to go to the minors.
Matt Clement started off well, but his lack of control got the better of him. He is now in AAA Las Vegas and will be ready for when the Jays need him.
Brett Cecil, Torontos best pitching prospect, had a great spring but the Jays felt some time in AAA will suit him best.
For the last one and a half weeks, the competition has been between Brad Mills, Scott Richmond and Ricky Romero. Romero got the fourth rotation spot because of his improvement under pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and Richmond nabbed the last spot due to Mills horrid last two starts.
However, expect both Cecil and Mills to get some time in the Majors eventually, as injuries and struggles are bound to happen with this young and inexperienced pitching staff.
Bullpen: Gaston had an interesting dilemma. Should he stick with the same seven guys who led the league in ERA last year, or should he incorporate young talents like Jeremy Accardo and Dirk Hayhurst into the mix?
In the end, the decision was made easy for him as Accardo struggled with his splitter all spring and although Hayhurst was good, none of the bullpen guys pitched so bad that they would deserve to lose there spots.
Expect Accardo to get some time this year, as there is some worry that BJ Ryan will not make it through the year.
Bench: The competition for the last bench spot was not very close, some even wonder if there was a competition at all.
John McDonald, one of Barrett or Chavez, Jose Bautista and Kevin Millar were all nearly guaranteed to make the team. The only other possible choice was Joe Inglett, who did very well for the Jays when he filled in for injured players last year.
Jason Lane probably had the best spring out of any Jay, so don't be to surprised if he gets a chance during the season.
Catchers: With Rod Barajas already being guaranteed the starters position, the battle for the backup spot was between Michael Barrett and Raul Chavez.
Barrett has ended up being the victor, which leads me to believe that Chavez may not have even had a chance. Chavez is the better defensive catcher while Barrett is better with the bat.
Barrett ended off on a hot streak after struggling early on and Chavez was surprisingly consistent throughout the entire spring. I think the Jays made the right choice here.
Overall, the Jays have made some good decisions and some questionable ones, only time will tell if they were the correct ones.
With the Jays finally finalizing their roster, expect a comprehensive review from me within the next couple of days.
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