Last year at this time, the Toronto Blue Jays were introducing us to R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and the word optimism as fans were staking out the perfect spot on the World Series parade route through the streets of Toronto. Fast-forward to Jan. 29, 2014, when 900 season ticket holders were given this oh so eloquent message from the club’s skipper:
“Stick by this ball club. It’s a good ball club.”
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All right, Gibby, will do.
President Paul Beeston, GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons hosted the annual Blue Jays State of the Franchise event Wednesday night and answered pre-screened questions while sitting comfortably — in oversized green leather armchairs — atop the home dugout. Beeston clarified the club’s goal is to win the World Series (isn’t that every team’s goal?) and asked for patience from frustrated fans, insisting there is significant talent in Toronto and a plan in place to obtain even more.
“We are talking to a club or two about some trades and we’ll see where those discussions lead, but we are very active and very involved in trying to bring in at least one more starter,” Anthopoulos said.
He also told reporters before the event free agency for a starting pitcher is becoming more appealing as prices come down. However, Gibbons said if the season were to open today, he’d likely have Dickey, Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ in his rotation, with a fight for the fifth spot.
The two free agent names that have remained connected to the Blue Jays are right-handers Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. And last night, Anthopoulos also threw out the names Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett as intriguing options. If Toronto doesn’t land one of these top free agents, then the Blue Jays will have to roll the dice with Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, Dustin McGowan or prospect Marcus Stroman, who has been the subject of much talk this offseason.
Anthopoulos acknowledged Stroman is ready for the big leagues, comparing him to Sonny Gray, but ideally, Anthopoulos would like to see Stroman start the season in the minors.
In terms of position players, Gibbons added he is comfortable with the Blue Jays existing group … except if prices drop … then “anything is possible.”
One burning question that made its way through the State of the Franchise’s screening process was answered by Beeston as he sets his sights on 2018.
“We’re for grass. There is absolutely no question about that.”
So there you are Jays fans, who knows what 2014 will bring, but four years from now, we can say goodbye to the concrete and carpet under our dome.