By Mike Holian @MikedUpHooligan on March 20, 2014
"Wayback and Gone!" and "Touch 'em all Joe!" are both classic World Series calls that will never be forgotten, as well as the party in the city streets that followed.
However, what has the last 20 years brought Toronto since? Does a span of never surpassing even the 88-win mark ring a bell?
As Opening Day knocks, optimism automatically sets in. Let's dive into the ammunition of 2014 and see what the future holds.
1. Jose Bautista
2. Edwin Encarnacion
3. Jose Reyes
4. Brett Lawrie
5. Melky Cabrera
The bats becoming the saving grace hinges on a healthy Reyes, and a new found strike zone recognition by Brett Lawrie, making life easier for the leaders of this attack. Bautista's zero games played in September over the last two seasons equals a huge concern.
Top Prediction: Encarnacion Wins AL MVP
Top Trade Bait: Colby Rasmus
1. R.A. Dickey * (by default)
2. Casey Janssen
3. Brett Cecil
4. Player to be named (hasn't been traded for yet)
5. Brandon Morrow
The weight on Dickey's shoulders knows no bounds, holding both his and the GM's future in his knuckleball grip. The staff's No. 1 option will be its workhorse, so this ranking comes with a default asterisk, which will be lifted once the starting rotation can actually outshine the club's bullpen.
1. Dioner Navarro - Everyday Catcher
2. Kevin Seitzer - Hitting Coach
3. Drew Hutchison - Rotation Fixture
4. Ryan Goins - Everyday 2B
5. Moises Sierra - Expanded Role
With limited offseason action, many opportunities have come from in-house options. Navarro claims top spot, due in large part to being the "prize" free agent piece, as well as handling the staff. However, look for Seitzer to have the most impact as new hitting coach.
1. SP - Aaron Sanchez - ETA: 2015
2. SP - Marcus Stroman - ETA: On standby
3. C - A.J. Jimenez - ETA: 2016
4. SP - Sean Nolin - ETA: Aug
5. SP - Daniel Norris - ETA: 2015
The farm is still top-heavy with future anchor's Sanchez and Stroman, with solid options in the organization's future at the catching position and back-end rotation spots. Can the current system reach the level of Pre-Dickey?
The AL East is not the division you want to call home when there are this many questions surrounding your franchise. It will eat you alive.
One thing is crystal -- the offense will allow them to compete, but the pitching staff holds all the cards. Battling is one thing, league-wide respect is another. Aces up one's sleeve will be necessary. "R.A." must not stand for "Remaining Average."
Overall Record: 84-78
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