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Ferguson: Royals stealing Blue Jays off-season thunder

Scott Ferguson
12/6/2013 11:21:38 AM
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If you want to look at the cold hard facts, the Kansas City Royals are now the only team in the Majors with a longer post-season drought than the Blue Jays.

The Royals, who shrunk over the years from 'model' franchise to annual also-rans, haven't made it to the playoffs since 1985, the year they beat the Blue Jays in the American League Championship series en route to winning their one and only World Series title under the late Dick Howser.

The past few years though, they've developed a wealth of young home-grown talent, including catcher Salvador Perez, outfielders Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain, third baseman Mike Moustakas, shortstop Alcides Escobar and DH Billy Butler, not to mention outfielder Wil Meyers, who was dealt to Tampa Bay for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis last year.

The Royals are continuing their playoff push this off-season. They signed GM Dayton Moore to a two-year extension and then veteran lefty Jason Vargas to a four-year deal and this week, they traded for a needed lead-off hitter, getting Norichika Aoki from Milwaukee to play right field.

The next move may be their boldest yet if they can bring back outfielder Carlos Beltran on a three-year deal.

The bottom line is, even if they don't win the Central, they'd have to be a favourite for one of the two Wild Card slots, making it even more difficult for the Blue Jays to make it into the post-season.

The Jays have been fairly quiet so far, non-tendering catcher J.P. Arencibia, signing catcher Dioner Navarro and then trading reliever Brad Lincoln to the Phillies for catcher Eric Kratz and lefty reliever Rob Rasmussen. Not exactly earth-shattering moves.

GM Alex Anthopoulos is already dampening expectations for next week's Winter Meetings at Orlando a bit by telling the Toronto chapter of the BBWAA that he doesn't expect to add any more than one starting pitcher from outside the organization in the off-season, when most believe they need two.

I trust Alex still has a few tricks up his sleeve, but if the Jays aren't aggressive enough, they could find themselves with the longest post-season drought of all at 21 years and counting after the coming season.

Lone Ranger?
 
From all reports coming out of Texas, it sounds as though Arencibia is going to wind up in Texas as the back-up catcher to Geovany Soto and maybe a part-time DH. The Texas ballpark is made to order for J.P.'s power stroke, and here's hoping he can rediscover or rebuild the rest of his game. He's too good a person to flame-out in this game so soon.
 
On The Move?

Don't rule out the possibility of the Blue Jays dealing Adam Lind next week. Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay both want free agent first baseman James Loney. But the team that doesn't get him might come a-calling about Lind.
 
Names From the Past

A few more ex-Jays in the news this week include former 2B Kelly Johnson, who is reportedly close to signing a one-year deal with the Yankees in a utility role. Eric Hinske, who won the Rookie of the Year Award as the Blue Jays third baseman in 2002, retired to become the Chicago Cubs first base coach.
 
Finally Dave Winfield, one of the Jays' World Series heroes of  1992, left his front office post with San Diego to become special advisor to Tony Clark, the new Executive Director of the Players Association. Winfield and Clark are two of the most impressive and imposing men I've ever met, both charismatic and intelligent and just dominant in size when they enter a room with Winfield at 6'6" and Clark at 6'8". The Players Association is in good hands after the tragic passing of Michael Weiner at 51 after a long battle with brain cancer.

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