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5 Blue Jays Hitters Primed to Have Bounce-Back Years in 2013

Alex Anthopoulos, Paul Beeston and Rogers and Bell Media this offseason have decided now is the time to go all-out and spend the necessary cash to compete in a tough AL East division.

Adding nearly $50 million in payroll this season, the Blue Jays are not only in the discussion for a playoff spot, but some are even pegging the Jays as American League favourites and a possible World Series team.

Needless to say, after years and years of mediocrity, the Jays look like they are primed to compete in 2013 and for a few years after that.

Anthopoulos built up the Jays farm system for this day—the day he has to trade some of the higher-level talents for MLB ready talent in order for the Jays to compete.

By adding the likes of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis, Anthopoulos is well on his way toward making the Jays relevant.

For the Jays to compete, though, they will need a few players to play to their potential. Here’s the top five players who should have bounce-back seasons in 2013.

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MLB Trade Rumors 2012: RA Dickey Trade Buzz Rampant, Blue Jays the Front-Runner?

Could the Toronto Blue Jays pull off another blockbuster in a matter of a month? It appears that way, as rumors are surfacing that a deal between the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays involving 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey appears to be likely, and only Dickey’s unwillingness to sign an extension could be holding back a deal.

Dickey has long been a coveted pitcher for the Blue Jays. After a stellar 2012 campaign in which he pitched 233 innings and struck out a career-high 230 batters, Dickey wants his pay day, and it may come from Toronto.

Although grabbing a recent Cy Young winner would be a huge step forward for the Jays, one thing of concern is how he has pitched in the American League, and his past with the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners may leave me a little hesitant of picking him up.

However, pitchers always develop later than positional players, and Dickey certainly didn’t hit his stride until his mid-30s.

Before landing in New York, Dickey never pitched more than 116 innings, and only pitched 100-plus innings three times before 2010.

His arm is still fresh, and for a knuckleballer at 38, he still has about three to five good years left in him.

Many baseball insiders are spreading their rumors, and here are a few for your viewing:





I caution all Blue Jays fans, though, general manager Alex Anthopolous loves to work under a cloud of secrecy, and having all these rumors surface so quickly might mean there is either more to this deal or this isn’t even a deal at all.

The Mets are interested in catching and outfield help and really could use guys like Anthony Gose and J.P. Arencibia from the deal, as that may be the best package the Mets can get for Dickey.

With Melky Cabrera recently signed, Rajai Davis, Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus and Moises Sierra all with MLB experience in the outfield, and with D.J. Davis also in the minors, Anthony Gose appears to be as expendable as ever right now for the Jays.

Arencibia, on the other hand, will be in a battle for playing time with John Buck and super-prospect Travis D’Arnaud, whom the Jays likely will not move in a deal with the Mets.

If Dickey is indeed acquired by the Jays, he’ll instantly become the ace of the staff, with Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle and Ricky Romero taking spots two through five behind him and instantly making Toronto’s rotation one of the most complete rotations in all of baseball.

Stay tuned to Bleacher Report as more becomes known on the situation.

UPDATE, 9:42 p.m.: A few tweets of ongoing discussions.


UPDATE, 11:31 p.m.: Ken Rosenthal finally gets some thoughts in on the situation.

UPDATE, 3:20 p.m.: Mike Puma, beat writer for the NY Post tweets


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Adam Lind and Travis Snider: Are They in the Long-Term Plan for the Blue Jays?

Both Adam Lind and Travis Snider have had some success at the major league level, but recently, both of their careers have taken a turn for the worse.

Lind, who could not hit a golf ball with an aluminum bat farther than you could toss a medicine ball, and Snider, who lost his spot on the depth chart to Eric Thames, have both endured a pretty bad last couple of years with the Jays.

Lind, who was signed long-term by the club along with the now-departed Aaron Hill (Arizona Diamondbacks), looked like the Jays long-term option at first base. Three years later, Lind was waiver fodder, and eventually, cleared waivers and has been a minor league All-Star since his demotion.

His last couple of seasons have seen a dramatic power loss, but even worse for Lind, a major decrease in batting average and on-base percentage—both huge indicators of success as a hitter

Snider on the other hand, was rushed a bit to the big show, and his inconsistencies with the bat showed as he was growing as a major leaguer. Snider has struggled with injuries the last couple of seasons, and his average, strikeout rate and walk rate all took major hits as a result.

Originally pegged as a can’t-miss hitting prospect with plus-plus power, Snider had never really hit his stride with the organization, and years later, isn’t even looked upon as a prospect anymore. He’s looking more like trade bait, rather than a prospect, and that’s just plain wrong in my books.

In 600 at-bat seasons, both Snider and Lind are on pace for nearly 40 HRs and 140-plus RBI seasons, while averaging well over .330 and having an OPS over 1.000.

The Pacific Coast League is a severely hitter-friendly league, but I look at how that league allowed Edwin Encarnacion to return to his form today (21 HR 50 RBI .280 AVG) and looking more and more like an All-Star bat.

Encarnacion struggled a few years ago and was demoted to the minors where he worked with Vegas hitting coach Chad Mottola and eventually earned his way back to the big leagues after demolishing Triple-A pitching for a 10-day stint.

Lind is on a different path than Encarnacion, as he still needs to get in better game shape according to Anthopolous, and Snider is still recovering from a wrist injury that has hampered him this entire season.

When both are in game shape, both of them would give the Jays a shot in the arm offensively and allow for more flexibility in the lineup, possibly giving Snider a platoon role with Rajai Davis and Lind a look at 1B/DH along with Encarnacion.

Whether its now, a week from now, or at the deadline, these two players need to be given a shot at some point. I would hate to see them dealt and excel with another organization just because we never gave them another shot at proving their worth.

They have the talent, but do the Jays have the patience?

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Jays Acquire Catcher Jeff Mathis from Angels in Exchange for Brad Mills

Another day, another savvy move by Jays GM Alex Anthopolous. Only a few days after losing back-up catcher Jose Molina to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Jays got the ball rolling by acquiring catcher Jeff Mathis from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for left-handed pitcher Brad Mills.

Mathis, 28, who by all accounts is one of the best defensive catchers in the game, leaves behind a great pitching staff in Los Angeles and heads north to Toronto.

Although not the greatest of hitters only averaging around .194 through three seasons, its his work behind the plate that got him to where he is today.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia absolutely loved Mathis, but acknowledged that the Angels needed a more offensive catcher next season. When the Angels acquired Chris Iannetta, the writing was on the wall for Mathis.

Mills, who likely has one of the weakest fastballs in the game, was hit more than a pinata at a backyard block party. In AAA however, Mills was very good leading the Pacific Coast League Las Vegas 51’s in strikeouts, and ERA at 4.00.

He also only walked 39 batters. In the majors, it was obvious Mills was wild inside the strike zone.

With back-up catcher now covered, the Jays can move onto filling other holes in the lineup, mainly at second, closer and possibly even at starting pitching. With Kelly Johnson likely on the way out, Frank Francisco all but a goner, and Jon Rauch likely not brought back, the Jays will have a much different look next season, at least when it comes to veterans on the squad.

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Jays Talk: Are the Jays 3 Years or 3 Players Away from the Playoffs?

As we head into the dog days of August, Jays fans are just now starting to get excited over the prospects of this team.

Usually around this time of year, it’s the lull in the schedule where teams usually just try and play out the string until September, but for the Jays, things look completely different.

The Jays are fighting game in and game out, and are 57-55 in 102 games this season. The team was expected to maybe win at most 75 games this season, so they are definitely ahead of expectations.

If the Jays had the ability to close out games with more ease, they could likely have seven-10 more wins than they do this season.

But with that said, the Jays are expected to fall out of contention soon as they remain 11.5 back in the wild card and 12.5 back in the AL East. Their playoff hopes are fading fast, but the future is brighter than ever.

A main component of the future made his debut last night. Brett Lawrie, a native of Langley, British Columbia, made his highly anticipated Blue Jays debut in fine fashion coming up with an RBI single in his first ever at-bat.

After a bout of “erroritis,” Lawrie calmed down a little and finished out the game strong, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Lawrie’s debut last night set the country a blaze as it’s likely the most publicized minor league debut in Jays history. Lawrie, who has drawn comparisons to Ian Kinsler and David Wright, didn’t look out of place last night at the plate.

So that begs the question, since the Jays are ahead of expectations and .500 plus this year, would the Jays contend if they had three more players to add to the fold? Obviously these players would have to be good players.

But on the other hand, are the Jays just too young and inexperienced to contend right now even if they had those three extra players to add to the depth of the squad?

We’ll dissect the two scenarios right now.


Three Players

In my opinion the Jays would be in a better position if they have a closer, starting pitcher (a No. 2 or No. 3) and a second basemen.

The Jays this offseason should be looking at improving their bullpen. The relief department is filled with quality arms.

Closers available include Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Valverde, Ryan Madson and Jonathan Broxton, all of whom would be better options than Jon Rauch.

A few others have options attached to their deals and may opt out such as Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez who will likely want to leave Milwaukee due to being a set-up man behind John Axford.

So the free-agent cupboard is stocked heavily for Alex Anthopolous to really make an impact this offseason.

The Jays have been in talks with Houston over Wandy Rodriguez, and he would likely fit into the mold of that No. 2 or 3 starter this team needs; however, I just think he’ll get murdered by the AL East bats. Even Baltimore, the worst team in the AL, could destroy this guy.

The No. 2 or 3 pitcher in my opinion will come from within, as the free-agent class for pitchers is rather bare.

As for the second baseman, Aaron Hill is still find is a useful player; however, his swing needs serious work.

After a great silver slugger year where he hit 36 home runs 108 RBIs and averaged .286, Hill’s numbers have plummeted into the abyss as he’s only hit .215 in the two seasons since (August 6th) and hit 31 home runs in 882 at-bats.

 Hill has abandoned his quick, smooth stroke for a more loopy and long home run swing, thanks to the hitting coach Dwayne Murphy’s philosophy of sitting on your pitch and letting it rip. Hill’s best season came under Gene Tenace.

Adam Lind credited Tenace with his great offensive numbers in the month of July and August 2009, saying: “The thing is, a lot of people can teach you how to hit, but not a lot of people can teach you how to hit in the big leagues.”

Hill has been struggling, hitting only .232 this season, as is Travis Snider, who is now in AAA again. JP Arencibia will never be a high-average hitter, but he should still average around .245 to .260, but he’s at a .216 clip right now.

Rajai Davis hit .284 last season, this season he’s been relegated to fourth OF duties and is hitting .242.

The rant aside, only a scarce few have improved under Murphy (Bautista, Escobar, Molina) and the Jays might actually be better served finding a new hitting coach as opposed to adding another bat in the offseason. Build from within, I would like to say.

We’ve looked at the three players side and I decided that a closer is a must for this team, and a bonus would be a legit starting pitcher and second baseman. However, we could probably fill those two positions from within for a much cheaper price.


Three Years

The Jays are one of the youngest teams in the majors right now and some argue they are still two or three years away from contending because of their lack of experience, and the fact they have quality depth up and down the minor leagues.

The Jays are blessed with a great deal of starting pitching depth down in the minors with as many as possibly 10 or more major league caliber starters.

Deck McGuire looks to be a horse, Henderson Alvarez is looking dominant with his 95 mph-plus fastball and Nestor Molina is mowing down the competition.

Justin Nicolino is a man amongst boys in the Northwest League. Noah Syndergaard looks to be the real deal as well.

Asher Wojciechowski is struggling somewhat in Dunedin, but the organization still has high hopes for him, as well as Aaron Sanchez, another one of those projectable high school arms the Jays drafted last season.

Chad Jenkins, Drew Hutchinson, Adonys Cardona, PJ Walters, Mitchell Taylor and Joel Carreno are looking pretty great as well down in the minors.

The Jays have also only signed four of their top 25 drafted players from the 2011 draft. The Jays could add Tyler Beede, Daniel Norris, Kevin Comer, John Stilson and Tom Robson to the fold as well.

The highest rated Jays prospect whom I nearly forgot about, Kyle Drabek, has struggled with his control this year and was demoted to AAA earlier this season.

He hasn’t made it back and has continued to struggle down in Las Vegas. When he figures it all out again, he’s that quality arm the Jays are searching for.

Most of these guys I would say are two or three years away from a chance at making in to the show. McGuire, Drabek and Alvarez are likely the closest to making an impact right now.

The Jays infield isn’t littered with prospects, but there are some good ones that may be worth the wait.

SS Adeiny Hechavarria has huge amount of upside as he projects more like an Edgar Renteria or Alcides Escobar types of shortstops. He’ll likely not hit for average, but he does have a gold glove caliber glove and some speed.

Dickie Thon, Chris Hawkins, Mike McDade, David Cooper, Kellen Sweeney and Jorge Vega-Rosado look to be serviceable MLB players down the line.

To add to that, the Jays might have the best stocked catching prospects in the minors as Travis D’Arnaud is looking like a top-five prospect in AA. Carlos Perez is having a down year, but may have even more upside in some scouts opinions. AJ Jimenez and Santiago Nessy are looking good as well.

Lastly we look out to the outfield and that’s where the Jays will obviously need to make moves. Already having long-term options in center and right, the Jays really don’t have a lot of need for outfielders at the MLB level; however the team is stocked nicely in the outfield.

Jake Marisnick is having a sick year down in Lansing, as he’s projecting more and more like Hunter Pence by the day.

Anthony Gose is striking out a ton in AA; however he’s already at 50 steals this season and looks to finish with a .250 plus average. His arm out in center is very strong and looks to be a part of the future.

The other three heads of the monster in Lansing, Marcus Knecht, Mike Crouse and Markus Brisker, are all making good strides down in Michigan.

Eric Arce is displaying some power down the GCL and Moises Sierra is showing a good bat and a strong arm down in New Hampshire.

As you can tell, the Jays are well-stocked in the minor league system.

Should the Jays continue to rebuild and wait the three years, or should they look to add those necessary missing pieces and make a run next year when the playoff format should likely change?

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Toronto Blue Jays Featured Prospect: Pitcher Adonis Cardona

SP/RP Adonis Cardona (6’4″ 180 lbs)

Age: 17

Drafted: Signed as an International Free Agent in 2010 for $2,800,000

Bats: Right     Throws: Right

2009-10 Team: N/A

2010-11 Expected Team: DSL Blue Jays

Best-Case Scenario: Felix Hernandez

Worst-Case Scenario: Kelvim Escobar

The Blue Jays ruffled a few feathers on the major league circuit when they came to a supposed agreement with then International free agent pitcher Adonis Cardona to a contract well before the signing period was supposed to begin in July of 2010.

Despite that little issue, the Jays managed to sign Cardona to the richest contract ever dished out to an International free agent pitcher (without any major league experience), in the franchise’s history – $2,800,000.

With that high price tag, comes very high expectations for a kid who hasn’t really even ended his growth spurt yet.

Originally pegged for around 6’1 and 170 pounds at the time of the signing, today scouts and Blue Jays personnel say he is around 6’4” and nearly 180 pounds. Best of all, he’s still growing!

He may end up only growing maybe another inch or two, but it’s really how he fills out his frame that will really show the Jays what kind of future role he will have with the club.

Cardona was one of Venezuela’s best kept secrets for a pretty long time, and the Jays came in and snatched him up thanks to the extra money given to General Manager Alex Anthopolous.

The kid features a nice blend of pitches which include a 90-93 mph fastball, a 12-6 curveball and a pretty good change-up. Already being 16 and managing to top 90 mph on the gun is a feat all in itself. Expect his fastball by the time he is groomed for Major League competition to consistently hit 95-97 mph on the radar gun.

His delivery is very over the top with not a lot of arm angle which gives scouts some reasons for concern. Can he still pitch with the velocity throwing at ¾, rather than over the top? Will he gain so much movement he cannot control it?

The best part of this is that he’s young, and really can be trained however the Jays want to. The most important part to remember is that they need to develop him slowly.

With that much speed and movement coming out of a 16-year-old’s arm, there are concerns he could be injury prone if he’s overworked at a young age. With that I say, tread carefully Blue Jays.

Due to his over the top delivery, his curveball is considered his worst pitch, but he still features a well above-average fastball and change-up. Given his talent level at such a young age, if he can develop a good curveball, a devastating slider, or a diving splitter, Cardona could carve up opposing batters quickly and efficiently when he makes it to the show.

Cardona will more than likely begin the year in the Dominican Summer League where it is expected he should dominate competition there.  In Cardona’s opinion, he hopes to make it to the major leagues as a 19 or 20-year-old, hoping to fly through the Jays farm system in a matter of three or four years.

He looks up to Felix Hernandez, and like Hernandez, Cardona is hoping to make his debut as a teenager with the Blue Jays. Hernandez had an amazing beginning to his major-league career pitching 84 innings and accumulating a 2.67 ERA and 0.996 WHIP. If Cardona can even come close to those numbers in his debut, this may turn out to be one of Alex Anthopolous’ best signings as Blue Jays GM.

If he does in fact fly through the farm system, a debut in 2014 should be on the horizon for Cardona.

A former son of a major-league pitcher – Jose Cardona, Adonis has the DNA to be a great pitcher in the league, much like fellow Jays top prospect Kyle Drabek, and father Doug. Doug was a much more successful pitcher while he was in the league than Jose was though.

If there’s one thing you do this summer on a rainy day, be sure to check the DSL Blue Jays box-scores every so often to track how this young pitcher is developing. Hopefully for all Blue Jays fans, he’s the diamond in the rough we all hope he is.

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Toronto Blue Jays: Three Cleveland Indians That Could Be on the Blue Jays’ Radar

With only one real big signing remaining on Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous’ agenda before the season starts—Jose Bautista, the Jays roster looks to be almost set heading into spring training.

Spring Training for the Blue Jays will be used to figure out who will be that long-awaited fifth starter for the Jays. Names being mentioned already include Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepcynski, Zack Stewart and even Scott Richmond to fill the void left by Shaun Marcum, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the year for Canadian second baseman, and top 50 MLB prospect Brett Lawrie.

Another use for Spring Training will be to figure out who the team’s closer come opening day will be. Again, a fistful of names are on the tryout list which include Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor and the recently-signed Octavio Dotel.

Again, it will be anyone’s guess who will win the role out of Spring Training, but experts peg Francisco with the slight edge right now.

Manager Jon Farrell will also use the time to round out the remaining two or three bench spots that should remain before the season begins. Already pegged for bench positions appear to be back-up catcher Jose Molina, utility-man John MacDonald and fourth outfielder Juan Rivera.

If the Jays decide to keep eight bullpen pitchers, they will not need another bench player to round out the roster. However, if they choose to only keep seven, they will need an extra bench player. Guys who come to mind here include Mike McCoy, Corey Patterson and Darin Mastroianni.

I doubt the Jays would keep Mastroianni and have him rot on the bench, so the only two likely guys would be McCoy and Patterson. To bring Patterson in, the Jays would need to sign him to a major-league contract and demote someone off their 40-man roster. So with that said, McCoy could have the inside track there.

Enough with the background information and onto more important things.

With the Jays shedding some payroll, they have their books cleared up to re-sign home run champ Jose Bautista to a long-term contract. Even taking that money into account, the Jays still have one of the smaller payrolls in baseball.

The Jays will need to make a decision. Do we compete this year or next? Judging by the way the other Toronto sports major franchises are failing miserably, in my opinion, it would be in the Jays best financial interest to spend money now and make their team a contender.

With the Raptors and Leafs seasons heading down the porcelain throne, the Blue Jays could really see a spike in ticket sales and merchandise if they are willing to put a winner out there today.

A great AL team for the Jays to look at are the Cleveland Indians.

Rumors are swirling about all three of these players I will be listing, and personally, all three would be great fits for the Jays.


RF Shin Shoo Choo

Choo is one of those quiet, yet extremely effective right fielders nobody ever hears about, but should. Last season he hit .300 with 22 HR and 90 RBI, along with swiping 20 bags. I really can’t think of anyone who had a quieter 20/20 season than Choo, maybe across Ohio in Cincinnati, where Drew Stubbs hit 20 HR and swiped 30 bags.

Choo is extremely durable and dependable, and right now appears to be hesitating on signing an extension with the Tribe.

If the Jays are unable to sign Bautista, do they go after Choo? Or even if they do sign Bautista, do they move him to third and try and bring in Choo?

Choo is owed $3.95 million this season, and is still arbitration eligible for the next two offseasons. Personally, he’s right down the Jays’ alley in terms of relatively young and controllable for the next few years. 

What will they be looking for?

Likely two or three really good prospects in return for Choo.


SP Fausto Carmona

If the Jays are not confident in their No. 5 starter, a name being bandied about in trade rumors lately has been Indians ace Fausto Carmona. Last season saw Carmona resurrect his career after a few brutal seasons.

Carmona started 33 games, going 13-14 on a dismal team. In 210 innings pitched, he allowed 203 hits, 88  earned runs, 124 strikeouts, but sadly 72 walks.

Still though, his control was much better last season, as he walked only two more batters than the last two seasons, where he walked 70 batters. Even better, he only pitched 125 innings in each of those seasons, so that’s marked improvement for Carmona.

Last season in limited action against the AL East, he held his own going 4-3 in 52.2 innings pitched allowing 54 hits, 23 ER, good for roughly a 3.93 earned run average. Today, anything below 4.00 is great to have.

Under the tutelage of John Farrell and Bruce Walton, Carmona could have a breakout season.

The major downside however is that he’s owed $ 6.288 million this season, and $7, $9 and $12 million the next three seasons afterwords. So its really a financial burden trying to get him, but the Jays have plenty of room to expand their payroll.

What will they be looking for?

Likely two cheaper pitching prospects in return for Carmona. Maybe Chad Jenkins and Henderson Alvarez. Personally that’s probably overpaying on he part of the Jays.


CF Grady Sizemore

Injuries have plagued Sizemore for almost two seasons, and his trade value has taken a severe hit on the Indians. Once thought of as one of the best five tool players in the game, the injuries Sizemore that sustained lately has really derailed what looked to be a very promising career.

I am not saying his career is over or he’s washed up, but with injury concerns and a fairly high salary, the Indians, if they are fielding offers, would likely have to lower their asking value for the time being.

Best strategy for them would be to hold onto Grady and hope he returns to his 2008 form in which he hit .268 and belted 33 homers and drove 90 runners at the top of Cleveland’s lineup. He also swiped 38 bases that year.

But who knows, the Jays could come in with a wonderful offer and the Indians accept.

What will they be looking for?

Personally it will likely take three to four top 25 organizational prospects to acquire Grady. A package including Jake Marisnick, Zack Stewart, Chad Jenkins and Kellen Sweeney could be enough to sway the Tribe to deal Grady.

Feel free to comment.

Until next time…


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MLB Trade Rumors: Three-Team Trade Could See Blue Jays Landing Kevin Kouzmanoff

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland Athletics are discussing the framework of a deal that would see the Blue Jays acquire a third baseman.

The Mariners are looking to unload third baseman Chone Figgins and it looks like the Athletics are putting together a package to try and acquire him. In the move, according to Olney, you will likely see Athletics third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff sent to the Blue Jays as part of the package.

A guy like Jason Frasor is probably a prime trade target for the Mariners’ woeful bullpen, outside of David Aardsma and Brandon League from the Blue Jays. Another guy they may look at is Edwin Encarnacion, but I doubt he would be very successful in Safeco Field, where power hitters go to die essentially.

This may all just be speculation, but the basis for the deal makes sense for all sides.

For the Mariners they clear some money off the books and open a roster spot for Dustin Ackley to take over at second and possibly move Brendan Ryan to third, or call up a prospect from Tacoma such as Carlos Truinfel.

For the Athletics, they appear to be making a playoff push, or at least an attempt to try and compete with the Texas Rangers, who recently signed Adrian Beltre, and the Los Angeles Angels, who recently dealt for Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells.

Adding Figgins, who is a decent gaps hitter, and a great base stealer, would at least give the A’s some speed back that they lost in the earlier trade with the Blue Jays. The deal saw center fielder Rajai Davis head the other way for relief pitching prospects Tryston Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar.

Lastly, for the Jays, Kouzmanoff is a decent power hitter, who, of course, has a low on-base percentage. Like most Blue Jays, he has a tough time getting on base with any consistency. But one thing he does have is good defence at a pretty fair price.

Kouzmanoff, in my opinion, has the potential to hit 25-30 home runs if acquired by the Blue Jays. Having played his last few seasons in pitchers ballparks like in Oakland and San Diego, Kouzmanoff has seen a slight decline in power numbers.

A change of scenery might do Kouzmanoff some good in this instance.

The Jays are more likely to go after him as opposed to someone like Michael Young because a.) He’s cheaper, b.) He won’t take up space for Brett Lawrie and lastly c.) He’s younger with more power potential than many people think.

Time will only tell if this rumour does in fact come true, but for me, this would be another win-win move for Anthopolous if he does in fact follow through with this rumoured deal.

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Toronto Blue Jays: 3 Impact Players Who Can Elevate Jays Into Playoff Contention

With the recent acquisition of yet another set-up man/closer to the fold in Frank Francisco, the Blue Jays appear to have one of the deepest bullpens in all of baseball. Starting at the top with likely opening day closer Francisco, then down the line with Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch, Shawn Camp, Jason Frasor, David Purcey, Jesse Carlson, Carlos Villanueva and likely Jo-Jo Reyes, the Jays are stacked in the pen.

With the influx of young but talented arms in the rotation, the Jays look to be trying to overload the bullpen just in case the starting rotation faces issues.

However, with the trading of Vernon Wells, Mike Napoli, Shaun Marcum and the departures of Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs and John Buck via free agency, the Jays are hoping their young farm system can help alleviate some of the losses here.

Expect JP Arencibia, Travis Snider, Kyle Drabek and possibly even Brett Lawrie to make an impact this season for the Blue Jays.

With that said, these are very raw and unproven players in the majors and the Jays may be in need of veteran players to help guide these potential stars through the major league grind.

The Jays will also be looking for bounce back seasons out of Jesse Litsch, Dustin McGowan (if healthy) and Jose Bautista—not the 54 home run-like numbers, but at least 30 is reasonable to ask.

So what else is out there Jays fans that will improve this team for the upcoming 2011 season?

Three Players That Could Potentially Be Jays

3B Michael Young

How Can He Be in a Jays Uniform?

With the Rangers’ recent signing of third baseman Adrian Beltre, it pretty much sealed the fate of Michael Young. With a pretty hefty price tag, Young right now can only be had by some of the league’s most wealthy teams.

Young’s price tag, along with age, makes him a bit of a risk for any team to take on, but his defense and bat more than make up for the somewhat sketchy contract.

At 33 years old, he may be too old for the Jays’ young team, but his veteran experience and bat would be worth the price. With all the salary traded away, the Jays could easily afford to grab Young from the Rangers, although some would argue the Jays should have included others to grab Young in the Francisco deal yesterday.

3B Eric Chavez

How Can He Be in a Jays Uniform?

Alex Anthopolous believes in second chances, he’s doing it with Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch and also Edwin Encarnacion, and I believe Eric Chavez may be Anthopolous’ next reclamation project.

A former all-star and perennial gold glove winner, Chavez anchored the Athletics defense for many years until injuries caught up to him. With the injury past, and a declining bat, I don’t expect Chavez to cost that much at all, and to me seems like the most realistic option going forward for the Blue Jays.

DH Vladimir Guerrero

How Can He Be in a Jays Uniform?

This may be a tough one for some to wrap their heads around, but I think Vladdy to Toronto makes a ton of sense. They lack a middle of the lineup presence, which Vladdy can help with. He is getting up there in age, but his bat proved to be alive last year in Texas.

With the big boppers of the AL already securing DH’s for the next season, I think the Jays probably can offer the native of the Dominican Republic a decent incentive-laden deal with the club.

The AL is full of DH’s right now with David Ortiz in Boston, Jorge Posada in New York, Hideki Matsui in Oakland, Bobby Abreu in Los Angeles, Jack Cust in Seattle, Mike Young in Texas, Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in Tampa Bay, Luke Scott in Baltimore, Jim Thome in Minnesota, Magglio Ordonez in Detroit and lastly Adam Dunn in Chicago, there really aren’t any more voids at DH left in the AL.

Toronto is probably Vladdy’s last option right now to play for a contending team this season. I highly doubt the likes of Kansas City, Seattle, Cleveland or Baltimore entice Guerrero to sign there, and even more unlikely is a move to the National League.

In my opinion, if the Jays can get two of these three players, the offense will be that much better.

The Jays have the money to spend, but will they is the better question.

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Toronto Blue Jays Ink Reliever Jon Rauch To 1-Year Contract

The Blue Jays have added some more closer depth to their already growing bullpen, as the club announced Monday that they have come to an agreement with former Twins closer Jon Rauch on a one-year contract worth $3.5 million. The deal also includes a club option for 2012 that will see the hurler earn $3.75 million.

Having already signed relievers Carlos Villanueva and Octavio Dotel, the Jays added quite possibly the most imposing presence on a pitching mound since Randy Johnson.

Coming in at 6’11” and 290 pounds, Rauch is easily the largest Blue Jay, and for the record, would be the most intimidating presence on the Toronto Raptors.

The Jays lost out on Brian Fuentes and Rafael Soriano, so they still managed to pick up quite the pitcher to help fill the voids left by closer Kevin Gregg and set-up man Scott Downs.

The 32-year-old posted a 3-1 record with the Minnesota Twins last season.  He also recorded a career-high 21 saves and a 3.12 ERA.

The right-hander has spent eight seasons in the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox, Montreal, Washington, Arizona and Minnesota.

Judging by the value of Rafael Soriano and his set-up man contract of nearly $12 million a season, the Jays getting two semi-legit closing options for half the price seems like another “Walmart” like deal for Alex Anthopolous.

This offseason Anthopolous has been shopping at Walmart compared to other GMs who have clearly went with the more expensive Best Buy option. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess who this will all turn out for the Blue Jays GM.

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