In what many experts peg as a make or break offseason for Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays look well on their way to their first playoff appearance in the last 17 years.
It's been a long road since then—having to bear witness to many managerial changes and even a few general managers coming and going, mainly Gord Ash and J.P. Ricciardi.
But out of all the doom and gloom comes some light at the end of the tunnel.
The biggest but more unheralded thing to happen this offseason for the Blue Jays is that the U.S. $10 million contract owed to B.J. Ryan comes off the books. Not only can this money be used on multiple players, but it can also be used to hopefully re-sign home run champ Jose Bautista to a new long-term contract.
With that said, the Blue Jays come into the 2010-11 offseason with many question marks as well.
With a good handful of expiring deals and contract extensions hitting the Jays, there are questions as to whether Rogers will shell out the cash in order for this team to compete in a very expensive AL East.
The likes of Lyle Overbay ($7.9 million expiring), Edwin Encarnacion ($5.175 million expiring), Scott Downs ($4.0 million expiring), Jason Frasor ($2.6 million expiring), Kevin Gregg ($2.0 million expiring—although Jays hold an expensive option on him) and John Buck ($2.0 million expiring) have expiring contracts. I believe Brian Tallet will also be expiring at $2.0 million.
All in all, that gives the Jays about $35 million in expiring contracts (counting Ryan in the mix).
Much of that money will go towards pay raises expected for the likes of Ricky Romero, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Shaun Marcum.
The Jays finished last season with an 85-77 record, along with having one of the lowest payrolls in the game.
With new manager John Farrell at the helm, the Jays look to be gaining more respectability from around the majors. There's actually some optimism now surrounding this Jays team.
Rogers should be investing all the money they can to put this team over the top. To do so, I think the Jays should invest in two All-Star players: Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre.
I'll start with Beltre first. Beltre is easily one of the best all-around third basemen in the majors. His combination of bat skills and glove skills leaves him in a class alone at the top of the third baseman free agent crop this offseason.
Having played on the same team as Farrell coached, Beltre would have a great idea of what his philosophies are and how well he can run a team. Beltre finished last season with a .321 avg along with 28 HR, 102 RBI and, most notably according to Farrell, a .365 OBP along with 49 doubles thanks to Fenway's Green Monster.
I would love to peg Beltre in the No. 5 slot in the Jays lineup.
As for Crawford, he's the epitome of what the Jays have been missing since the days of a healthy Shannon Stewart.
Crawford's combination of defence, batting and his best attribute, his blazing speed on the basepaths, leaves him unmatched in the left field free agent crop.
Crawford would bring a newfound optimism at the top of the Jays order, getting on base and getting around the bases easier than anyone the Jays have ever had since Rickey Henderson.
Carl finished the season last year with a .307 avg along with 19 HRs and 90 RBI to go along with 47 stolen bases and 13 triples.
I would love to peg Crawford in the No. 1 slot in the Jays lineup:
Crawford/Yunel Escobar/Bautista/Wells/Beltre/Lind/Hill/Travis Snider/Jose Molina.
Yes, this may be a bit too much to ask, but you have to aim high to get results. I'm not expecting both of them to sign, or either of them quite frankly, but the reality of the situation is the Jays need to target these players if they hope to do anything this year.
This could be the year to make the playoffs. The Rays are trying to minimize payroll, the Yankees are aging fast and appear to only have CC Sabathia as their only reliable starter going into the season next year, and the Red Sox are not getting any younger either, although they stand the best chance next year of having success.
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