Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason plans of every MLB team before the Dec. 3-6 winter meetings. Our series continues with the Toronto Blue Jays.
2007 record: 83-79
Finish: Third place, American League East.
2007 Opening-day payroll: $82 million
The Blue Jays' wish list includes several birds in hand. They need center fielder Vernon Wells to bounce back from his puzzling .245 batting average in his first season under a big contract. They need first baseman Lyle Overbay to produce more than a .240 batting average and 10 home runs. They could use 200 innings instead of 160 from starters A.J. Burnett and Dustin McGowan and more consistency from veteran set-up reliever Jason Frasor.
They could use more offense from slick-fielding shortstop John McDonald (on-base percentage, .279) and could add a consistent left fielder, unless they believe Adam Lind is the real thing or Reed Johnson can return to his .319 form of 2006 and isn't really the .236 hitter he was in 2007. It's increasingly likely that Lind will be handed the job and Johnson traded. Acquiring super-utility player Marco Scutaro – who made 86 starts at five different positions last season – from the Oakland A's was a good move.
Not knowing if left-hander Gustavo Chacin is for real, general manager J.P. Ricciardi could add another starter to a staff that allowed the second-fewest runs in the American League. Otherwise, the pieces are in place for another winning season.
It's a shame the Blue Jays must compete against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees every year. Any other division in baseball and they'd be a strong contender. In the AL East, they are perpetual bronze medalists, finishing third in eight of the last 10 seasons.
Wishes, therefore, are tempered. So what if they bring in another starting pitcher? What's the difference if Troy Glaus is suspended for steroid use or not? Does it really matter that Alex Rios is becoming one of the best all-round outfielders in the game and that Aaron Hill emerged as the top-fielding second baseman in the AL?
The Blue Jays' payroll has nearly doubled in the last two years, but still pales in comparison to the Yankees and Red Sox. The Blue Jays play extremely well at home and are so-so on the road. Maybe that's a function of their location. But playing half of their games north of the border isn't nearly as tough as where they are situated in the league standings. Sure, they hail from north of Beantown and the Big Apple, but might be destined to look up at the Red Sox and Yankees once again.
- The Blue Jays