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Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (L) talks to general manager Alex Anthopoulos during team work outs at the team's MLB baseball spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida February 20, 2013. (FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS)
Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (L) talks to general manager Alex Anthopoulos during team work outs at the team's MLB baseball spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida February 20, 2013. (FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS)

Blue Jays storylines in Dunedin Add to ...

“Honestly, the starting pitching is not that bad”

The guessing is Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos signs one of the remaining big-name free agents and keeps an ear to the ground for a trade, while keeping an eye daily on Brandon Morrow, whose health is the single most-important determinant for a successful 2014 season. It is very much hope and rainbows after R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, but the fact the Blue Jays haven’t signed minor-league free-agent pitchers for Triple-A Buffalo the way they did last season – gilt-edged prospects such as Marcus Stroman (22) and Aaron Sanchez (21) should be in the Bisons rotation, along with knocking-at-the-door types such as Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek – suggests some quality depth. The Jays starters’ earned-run average of 4.39 was fifth-worst in baseball.

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“Ryan Goins’s defence reminds me of Roberto Alomar”

Goins is a utility player on 29 other teams, but given the Blue Jays’ lack of depth at this position he will go into spring training as a starter. He is a superb defender who is woefully inefficient on offence – he had just two walks with 28 strikeouts in 121 major-league plate appearances, and his minor-league numbers don’t suggest he’s capable of being a contributor – and it will take more than the presence of new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to turn him into something other than a default option. Backup Maicer Izturis can’t be ruled out, which is not necessarily a good thing.

“Remember Bengie Molina?”

So far, Dioner Navarro is the Blue Jays’ marquee free-agent acquisition and while he will be an offensive upgrade on J.P. Arencibia – although that .300 average last season, put together with the aid of .336 at Wrigley Field, was a full 41 points higher than his career average – his defensive game has deteriorated in the four years since he left the Tampa Bay Rays. Still, any Blue Jays fan who remembers Molina’s contribution off the scrap heap in 2006 could be excused for having faith Navarro will keep the seat warm for prospect A.J. Jimenez.

“Colby Rasmus has finally figured it all out”

There is only one contract story in spring training, and it’s really not that big a deal. Rasmus is a year away from free agency and if he gets off to a good start, the Blue Jays will attempt to sign him to a contract similar in structure if not value to the $29-million (U.S.), three-year deal (with a fourth option year at $10-million) Edwin Encarnacion agreed to in 2012. If the Blue Jays are having a good year and Rasmus doesn’t bite, the Jays could hang on to him. This is a big deal only if Rasmus – or his father, Tony – turn it into a big deal, or if outfield prospect Anthony Gose can play.

“Hey, the Boston Red Sox went from 69-93 to 97-75 in 2013 and won a World Series without a big free-agent signing”

True. General manager Ben Cherington shopped in Filene’s Basement for Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes and the like, signing seven players – including closer Koji Uehara – for $100.45-million. But the Red Sox had Jon Lester and Dustin Pedroia and a return to good health and form from John Lackey and David Ortiz. Almost everything went right. They also had the Blue Jays in a division that seemed to cave in under the weight of expectations.

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