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TORONTO a General manager Alex Anthopoulos was saying the right things at Sundays season-wrap up press conference, telling th

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TORONTO a General manager Alex Anthopoulos was saying the right things at Sundays season-wrap up press conference, telling the gathered masses the Blue Jays are very close to breaking through and ending a playoff drought that dates to 1993, now the longest in baseball. Cheap Shoes 2020 . He wouldnt, as is his custom, divulge a payroll number for 2015 but the GM said hes expecting a more active offseason as compared to last, when Dioner Navarro was the Blue Jays highest profile signing. We know the free agents that are out there, said Anthopoulos. I have a sense of some of the players that could be available in trade. Once you get to the offseason, I expect a whole other group of players to be available. That gets done in the month of October. At some point well come up with where the payroll is going to be, all that kind of stuff. But I expect us to continue to try to build and add and put a World Series team on the field. Heres a look at the current state of the Blue Jays, position by position. Starting pitching A perceived problem entering the season, the starting rotation outperformed expectations and maintained health after an early season injury to Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowans move to the bullpen. For only the second time in franchise history, the Jays emerged with five starters who won at least 10 games. Marcus Stroman rode his recently developed sinkerball to an 11-6 record (10-6 as a starter) after joining the rotation permanently on May 31. The 23-year-old rookie marveled at his ability to be more efficient; once he was a high-strikeout, high pitch count hurler. The sinker, and the 53.8 per cent groundball rate it produced, allowed Stroman to consistently work deep into games. He went at least six innings in 15 of his 20 starts. Drew Hutchison answered questions about his ability to hold up over a 32-start season, bouncing back from a bad July (6.53 ERA) to post impressive numbers in August (3.93 ERA, 0.912 WHIP) and September (1.229 WHIP). Hutchison was the staff leader in strikeout percentage (23.4 per cent), working most effectively when he could play his slider off good fastball command. Hes not a 4.5 ERA guy, not in my mind, said Anthopoulos. He should be in the 3.8s, 3.7s, and its not for lack of work ethic or effort. But the swing and miss, the strikeouts, certainly need some adjustments there, but Im real high on obviously Drew, and I think hes as a 23, 24 year-old kid, hes a guy that we can count on to be that. R.A. Dickey did what R.A. Dickey does. He logged a team leading 215 2/3 innings and won a club-high 14 games. Crucial to his success were the adjustments he made to become a better knuckleball pitcher in a home run-friendly park like Rogers Centre. He better fluctuated velocities on his knuckleball, dipping to as low as 64-66 miles per hour and topping out near 80 miles per hour. Amid speculation the Blue Jays may trade one of their two veteran starters, at this moment it appears Dickey will be back for a third season in Toronto. Mark Buehrle, the other grizzled veteran of the rotation, enjoyed a quick start to the season, winning his 10th game on June 1. Buehrle won only three more games over the seasons final four months, a combination of spotty performance and bad luck. Still, its difficult to argue with 13 wins and a 3.39 ERA, which was his lowest since 2005 when he pitched for the world champion Chicago White Sox. Owed $19 million in 2015, the final year of his contract, its likely Buehrle will return to Toronto. He is as valued in the clubhouse as he is for his work on the mound; his positive influence on younger pitchers like Stroman and Aaron Sanchez were noted over the course of the year. J.A. Happ carries a $6.7 million option for 2015 and hes earned the right to have it picked up. Entering spring training penciled into the rotation, Happ imploded and was hampered by a back injury. He started the season on the disabled list and, much to his chagrin, found himself in the bullpen when he was activated. However, Morrows finger injury and McGowans inability to carry a starters workload opened the door for Happs return to the rotation and he kicked it down to the tune of 11 wins and a 4.22 ERA. Happ pitched at least six innings in 18 of his 27 starts. More impressively, he went at least six innings in each of his final seven starts and in 10 of last 11. Happ found a better release point, less over-the-top, which gave him better command of his fastball and a sweeping action to his curveball (as opposed to the so-called 12-to-6, which breaks straight downward). A ballclub cant have enough starting pitching, taking into account seemingly inevitable injuries and factoring in the potential for underperformance. The above-mentioned five may not comprise the entirety of the 2015 rotation out of the gate. Thats because Aaron Sanchez (1.09 ERA, 2.80FIP, 0.697 WHIP in 24 relief innings) will be given the opportunity to start. Thats certainly the plan, said Anthopoulos. What do we do with the rotation in the offseason? What opportunities are there? You always stretch guys out. Is there a scenario he may end up in the bullpen? Sure. I mean, I wouldnt rule that out. Might it be as much because of innings? Its about being around 130 this year. We havent even talked about where he would be at for next year. Would he be at 170, 180, 190, 200, I dont know, but might there be a way to start that. Expect left-hander Daniel Norris to start the season at Triple-A Buffalo. Bullpen Anthopoulos has pegged the bullpen as his top priority for upgrade. Collectively, the group posted a 4.08 ERA (sixth worst in baseball) and walked 197 opposing hitters (second most in the American League). It will be incumbent upon the general manager to find a new closer with Casey Janssen all but gone in free agency. Anthopoulos often talks about getting creative when it comes to manipulating the budget; it sounds as though he may do the same with the back end of his bullpen. A lot is going to depend on who we get, said Anthopoulos. In terms of relievers, is closer that role specifically a focus? I dont know that its so much a closer as much as it is building that depth, and Im not saying were not going to need someone to close games. That goes without saying. But I do think we have some relievers and I think theres some guys out there that might not be quote unquote closers that if given the opportunity can close. Were going to look to add relievers, and there may be someone that we add via trade or add through free agency that we announce as the closer. There may be a bunch of guys that we add or sign and say theyre going to compete to be the closer depending on who they are. Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup provide a formidable one-two punch from the left side. Its the crop of high leverage right-handed relievers which must be bolstered. Sanchez, who became manager John Gibbons most trusted right-handed weapon, is headed for the rotation. Dustin McGowan was dominant immediately after moving to the bullpen in early May but a first pitch, three-run home run by Dayan Viciedo, which turned a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit in a June 28 loss to the White Sox, turned up being a sign of things to come. Brandon Morrow is a possible solution but with a $10 million option that isnt likely to be picked up and with Morrow publicly stating he wants to pitch for a team that will give him a chance to start, it doesnt seem likely. Catcher Dioner Navarro will enter the final year of his contract, which will pay him $5 million. While he represented a significant upgrade over J.P. Arencibia offensively and with his handling of the pitching staff, its doubtful Navarro is the long-term solution behind the plate. To Navarros credit, he proved durable this season, appearing in 139 total games and 106 behind the plate. His .274 batting average and .712 OPS were both respectable. First Base Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind appear poised to share the position once again. Lind is strictly a platoon player now but the Blue Jays value his .942 on-base plus slugging percentage against right-handed pitching. The problem for the ballclub occurs when the opponent starts a left-handed pitcher. In an effort to get players like Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes additional rest and to get them off the hardened turf of the Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays would like to get those guys more games at designated hitter. The team must hope that John Mayberry Jr., Danny Valencia or a yet-to-be-acquired right-handed hitter who can play multiple positions is able to serve as Linds platoon counterpart. There has been no firm decision on whether to pick up Linds $7.5 million option as of this moment but the betting is, barring the unforeseen (offseason injury, for example) the club will do so. Second Base A position that must be addressed as under no circumstance should Munenori Kawasaki once again lead the team in games played at second base. Ryan Goins spectacular defence isnt enough to overcome his lack of offence. Barring a positional switch by someone already on the roster, the second base problem will have to be solved by someone outside the organization. If theres a position switch, the vacated spot will have to be filled. The bottom line: an everyday, major league infielder must be brought in. Shortstop The problem isnt offence with Jose Reyes. His .726 OPS was tops among American League shortstops and his 175 hits led the Blue Jays. The problem with Reyes is his defence. Even putting aside his career-high 19 errors (most by a shortstop in the American League and third-most by a shortstop in baseball), Reyes range was bad to begin with and got worse as the season wore on. When manager John Gibbons talks about his team not taking away enough hits this season, Reyes is the prime culprit. But with a heavily-backloaded contract that will pay Reyes $22 million over each of the next three seasons, hes the shortstop. It doesnt appear the organization neither believes it needs to consider a position switch nor, if it does, it doesnt appear willing to broach the topic with Reyes. The solution, it would seem, will be more rest. I think as an organization we need to do a better job to give him days off, said Anthopoulos. Hes not going to be too happy about that, but ultimately to keep him fresh, to keep him on the field, to keep him performing at a high level, I think its going to be important, and I know we had to do the same thing with Scott Rolen to get more production out of him, and he was the same way. He did not want to come out of the lineup, would never ask for a day, and we got more production out of him. Third Base What to do about a third baseman who wont be 25 until January but who, since his first full big league season in 2012, has appeared in only 302 of the Blue Jays 486 games (62.1 per cent appearance rate)? Were absolutely definitely taking a look at it. Its happened too many times, said Anthopoulos. Its definitely not for not being in shape. Brett is in great shape. There might be something we need to change with his program, with his routine, things like that. Being hit by a pitch, sliding into a base, rolling your ankle, hes slid into bases his entire life, and those things happen. Im not overly concerned about those. But the obliques have occurred too often, and those are things that need to be addressed. I feel confident hes not going to be jumping into camera wells. I think thatll be a thing of the past, but the obliques are something that we are beginning to study, and hopefully in a few months well have some answers or at least well make changes. In each of the last two seasons, when healthy, Lawrie has played some second base to facilitate platoon scenarios. For the time being, he isnt being considered for a full-time position switch. Oh, position wise, Brett is our third baseman, said Anthopoulos. That being said, if a third baseman comes up that clearly makes the team better, we wont close the door on that. There is a scenario, obviously I would give Brett a call beforehand if that looked like it had a good chance to happen, was coming down the way that it was going to happen. But right now, the goal would be to keep Brett at third. Hes a Gold Glove caliber third baseman. Theres no doubt about that for us. And to hopefully solidify second base if we can. One thing is clear: unlike in 2014, Juan Francisco will not lead the Blue Jays in games played at third base next season. Rightfield Jose Bautista, coming off a year in which he finished third in baseball with a .403 on-base percentage, is expected to be back. Bautistas 35 home runs, 101 runs scored, 104 walks and 103 RBI were his best totals since 2011. Not coincidentally, this was his first disabled list-free season since 2011. Centrefield Colby Rasmus isnt coming back. Does that mean Anthony Gose (elite defender, questionable bat and baserunning) will be handed the starting job for opening day 2015? Theres been some moments up here that hes been outstanding and some other moments where hell struggle, as well, said Anthopoulos. Consistently, though, the defense is outstanding, the arm strength is outstanding. He can be a dynamic base stealer, as well. The bat is going to dictate how good a player he becomes. Superstar tools, no doubt about it, but ultimately the bat decides if youre a fourth outfielder or a part time guy or bottom of the order bat that gets to play every day, is an everyday player. Dalton Pompey impressed in his brief run of everyday at-bats during September but Anthopoulos knows the sample size is too small. Hell look for more from Pompey in October. I think (Arizona Fall League) performance is going to be important. I really do. I told him that today, too, said Anthopoulos. This is a nice two weeks of starting games or whatever it is, but weve seen a lot of young guys come up whether its Travis Snider or Adam Lind, even Brett (Lawrie), and people try and pro-rate the numbers. You just cant do it. Its nice to see, but I dont know that you really put a ton of stock into it. Again, I put more stock into the quality of the at bats. I think the Fall League is going to be a little more important because hell be in the league for a while, some people might get to know him and adjust to him. Leftfield Its too early to predict one way or the other whether Melky Cabrera re-signs in Toronto. The Blue Jays would like to bring the 30-year-old back into the fold, valuing his .301/.351/.458 slash line and 171 hits. The issue, in the early going, revolves around the perception of the players term and monetary values. Given his age, Cabrera is looking to strike it rich the way he almost did in San Francisco before a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drug use derailed his future with the Giants. Its hard to imagine the Blue Jays going more than three years with Cabrera (unless the annual dollar value comes down over a longer term) at much more than a qualifying offer value. If Cabrera can do better than three years and $45-50 million, the Jays likely will wish him well and move on. Cheap Shoes For Sale . And I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences gained through International competition and the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Seven NHL referees and six linesmen will be assigned upcoming games in Sochi by the IIHF as part of their 28-man officiating roster comprised of 14 refs and 14 linesmen. Cheap Shoes From China . This time, Tebow was in a groove the entire second half -- not just in the waning minutes -- and his teammates on defence were getting gobbled up. https://www.cheapshoesdiscount.com/ . Its the games against the leagues struggling franchises that have proved to be an issue.NEW YORK, N.Y. - San Francisco Giants World Series star Pablo Sandoval was among 12 free agents given $15.3 million qualifying offers Monday by their former teams.Detroit made the offers to pitcher Max Scherzer and first baseman-designated hitter Victor Martinez, and Pittsburgh to left-hander Francisco Liriano and catcher Russell Martin.Also receiving offers were shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Los Angeles Dodgers), outfielder Nelson Cruz (Baltimore), right-hander James Shields (Kansas City), closer David Robertson (New York Yankees), outfielder Melky Cabrera (Toronto), pitcher Ervin Santana (Atlanta) and outfielder Michael Cuddyer (Colorado).An offer could be made only to a free agent who was with the team for the entire season, and players have until Nov. 10 to accept. The price was determined by the average of the top 125 major league contracts this year by average annual value.If a player rejects a qualifying offer and signs a major league contract with another club before the June amateur draft, his former team would receive a draft pick as compensation at the end of the first round.The club signning that player loses its first-round pick in the amateur draft, unless that pick is among the top 10, in which case the club signing that player loses its next-highest pick. Cheap Shoes Free Shipping. .None of the 22 qualifying offers made after the past two seasons was accepted.A total of 137 players became free agents, and 136 can start negotiating money with all teams starting Tuesday. Reliever Koji Uehrara agreed last week to stay with Boston for an $18 million, two-year deal.Three players who potentially could have become free agents stayed with their teams. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez exercised his half of a $14 million mutual option with Milwaukee; left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada agreed to a $4 million, one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs; and Tampa Bay exercised a $2.5 million option on right-hander Joel Peralta.Pitcher A.J. Burnett declined a $12.75 million player option to return to Philadelphia. Burnett and Baltimore catcher Nick Hundley became the final free agents.Kansas City exercised a $7 million option on reliever Wade Davis, who would have been eligible for salary arbitration. ' ' '

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