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News » Toronto Blue Jays Inside Pitch 2008-09-30

Toronto Blue Jays Inside Pitch 2008-09-30

Toronto Blue Jays Inside Pitch 2008-09-30
Many major league teams would have been happy with an 86-76 record this year, but the Jays were disappointed because it meant a fourth-place finish in the AL East. It's a far cry from their expectations at spring training, when they firmly believed they had the horses to compete for a postseason spot.

Along the way, the Jays jettisoned manager John Gibbons and three of his coaches, bringing on board 64-year-old Cito Gaston and three veteran coaches, including crusty hitting coach Gene Tenace.

The lack of offense in the first half was appalling, and under the guidance of Gaston and Tenace, the hitters became more aggressive in the strike zone and their power numbers improved.

They say that pitching and defense leads to championships, but try to sell that one to the Jays, who finished first in the league in pitching and second in defense.

The Jays received a breakout season from right-hander A.J. Burnett, but that might come back to haunt them. Burnett, thanks to his 18-10 record, will likely opt out of his contract and test the free agent market. The Jays will counter by offering Burnett a two-year extension for a rumored $30 million.

If Burnett leaves, the Jays' rotation will be in tatters because another starter, right-hander Shaun Marcum, is lost for all of 2009 after requiring late season Tommy John surgery.

They have little pitching depth down on the farm and will rely on right-handers Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen to fill the gaps. Both are recovering from shoulder surgery.

The Jays will also be looking for a power-hitting DH for the middle of their lineup.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: September 30, 2008

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