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Ferguson: Blue Jays' bullpen pretty much set

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Scott Ferguson
11/4/2012 5:43:17 PM
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Pedro Strop was an invaluable part of the Baltimore Orioles' bullpen this season, a pen that was integral in getting them to the post-season for the first time since 1997.
 
It would appear Alex Anthopoulos has unearthed his own version of Strop for 2013. Over the weekend, the Jays picked up 27-year-old right hander Esmil Rogers from Cleveland for middle infielder Mike Aviles and utility man Yan Gomes.
 
It's almost uncanny how similar Rogers and Strop are. Baltimore picked Strop up from Texas on September 1,  2011 as the player to be named later in a deal for reliever Mike Gonzalez. Strop, who hadn't done much of anything with the Rangers, suddenly blossomed and went 5-2 with the 0's, with a 2.44 ERA. He also struck out 58 while walking 37 and pitched 66 and a third innings. Strop is also 27-years-old and hails from the Dominican Republic, as does Rogers.
 
Rogers couldn't cut it as a starter at Colorado and had deteriorated as a prospect to the point where the Rockies designated him for assignment this season and ultimately lost him on waivers to Cleveland for $150,000.
 
At Cleveland, Rogers turned his game around going 3-1 with a 3.06 earned run average with 54 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 53 innings. His fastball averaged just less than 96 miles per hour, and he's been known to hit 99. A half season does not guarantee Rogers will become a quality reliever or even a set-up man but who would have expected a break-out season like that from Strop either?
 
It's too bad the Jays had to give up Aviles but in addition to his versatility, he's also the kind of guy you want in the clubhouse; a fun-loving trash talker who keeps things loose. Clearly, Terry Francona valued the total package Aviles brings to the table from their days together in Boston.
 
Gomes and Aviles bat right handed, something Cleveland needs. Aviles figures to be a super-utility type with Cleveland unless the Indians trade their incumbent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. If he produces, Gomes could soak up a lot of bats Travis Hafner would have got at DH. He can also play first or third and even catch in a pinch.
 
Making this trade pretty much guarantees the Jays won't bring back any of their free agent relievers; Brandon Lyon, Carlos Villanueva or Jason Frasor.
 
In fact, the bullpen is pretty much set now as long as lefty Darren Oliver doesn't retire and Sergio Santos can come back from  his shoulder issues. The Jays would likely have Casey Janssen closing, Santos, Steve Delabar, Rogers and Brad Lincoln from the right side, Oliver, youngster Aaron Loop, and perhaps Evan Crawford from the left.
 
The goal now is to get at least two veteran starters for the rotation and either a veteran second baseman or a veteran middle infielder who could spell Adeiny Hechavarria at second and push Yunel Escobar at short.
 
Interesting to note, Fox Sports learned from sources on Friday that the Jays are supposed to be going after big name starters such as Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse , Ryan Dempster and Anibal Sanchez. That sounds great in theory but the competition for these guys is going to be fierce. The Jays may still have to go the trade route to bolster their rotation.

The General Managers meetings are at Indian Wells, California, on Wednesday and Thursday and there could be some wheeling and dealing done, or at the very least, some lying of groundwork for moves at the Winter Meetings December 2-6 at Nashville.
 
The Jays figure to have a new manager in place by the end of the week. CBS Sports claiming the Jays definitely want to hire a manager with experience. The four names thrown out by Ken Rosenthal include, Manny Acta, Jim Tracy, Jim Riggleman and current Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu.
 
Interesting, both Tracy and Acta managed Rogers this season. I wonder if one or both recommended him to the Jays and might thus have the inside track on this job.
 
Baseball seems to be taking more of an NFL style stance to players found to have used steroids or HGH. Oakland has resigned 39-year-old right hander Bartolo Colon to a one-year contract and even gave him a raise to $3 million plus incentives. Colon still has five games left on his suspension.
 
Colorado is expected to pick its new manager within the week as well. Their four candidates include bench coach Tim Runnells, Matt Williams, Jason Giambi and Walt Weiss.
 
Williams was named in the 2007 Mitchell Report as using HGH and Giambi has acknowledged and apologized for using steroids. Williams claimed his use was to deal with an ankle injury.
 
There is also growing speculation that more than a few teams will take a run at Giants free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera who blew his shot at a batting title when he was suspended for testing positive for PED's and missed out on San Francisco's World Series run.
 
It's going to make this year's Hall of Fame vote all the more interesting when the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens come up for consideration.

Esmil Rogers (Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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