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The Globe and Mail

Five Blue Jays second half storylines to watch

Paging Ricky Romero, staff ace

General manager Alex Anthopoulos can add a starting pitcher. Maybe a reliever. Throw in Justin Upton if you want. But even if Brandon Morrow hits the ground running, the Blue Jays desperately need 71/3 innings of the old Romero every night for anything to work.

The mushy middle

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With Luis Perez facing elbow surgery, Carlos Villanueva in the rotation, Casey Janssen closing and Francisco Cordero imploding, the Blue Jays need firmer middle relief. Darren Oliver is everybody's idea of a nice trade deadline acquisition, but he's needed where he is right now. The matter will be resolved if Sergio Santos makes it back soon, although manager John Farrell won't hand him the closer's job out-right.

Travis Snider

When, where and how?

Adeiny Hechavarria and Anthony Gose

The minor-leaguer position players closest to the majors, now that Travis d'Arnaud is done for the year, are mentioned as trade bait almost as much as September call-ups. Keep this in mind: until Yunel Escobar, the Blue Jays had almost 20 different starting shortstops since J.P. Ricciard traded Cesar Izturis, and Hechavarria's glove was ready for the majors the instant he came out of the womb. Speaking of which …

Whither Escobar and Kelly Johnson?

Escobar is signed through 2013 on a cost-effective contract but there are still nights when he leaves his manager and teammates wondering 'Wow, is that really all there is?' Baseball has new rules for free-agent compensation that make it harder to sit back and collect draft picks. Teams must now make qualifying offers (expected to be in the range of $12-million to $13-million) in order to collect a draft pick if the player signs elsewhere. Johnson's a free-agent and, sorry, he ain't worth that much.

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