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Previewing the Toronto Blue Jays

Current Series

4 game series vs Blue Jays @ Target Field

Toronto Blue Jays
@ Minnesota Twins

Thursday, Sep 30, 2010, 8:10 PM EDT
Target Field

Shawn Hill vs Francisco Liriano

Clear. Winds blowing out to center field at 5-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 70.

Complete Coverage >

Fri 10/01 8:10 PM EDT
Sat 10/02 1:10 PM EDT
Sun 10/03 2:10 PM EDT

In some ways it's been a good year for the Blue Jays. They've hit more home runs than any team in the history of baseball except the 2000 Houston Astros (who they'll pass), 1996 Baltimore Orioles (who they could pass hit 11 bombs in four games), 2005 Texas Rangers and 1997 Seattle Mariners, thanks in no small part to 52 from Jose Bautista. Six players will finish the season with 20+ bombs, and with that bullpen and a rotation that's not too shabby in its own right, it's a painful "what if" game to think about a league where spending wasn't out of control...or at the very least, a league where they didn't play in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

The bad news for Toronto fans is that they're already looking forward to next season. Again. And Vernon Wells' contract (sorry for bringing it up, Jays fans). The good news is that a lot of the pieces that make them such a competetive club this season are in place for next year...and cheaply.

Their free agents are Lyle Overbay (34 in '11), John Buck (it's never going to be any better than it is right now) and then major bullpen components Jason Frasor and Scott Downs. Kevin Gregg has a complicated option. But everyone else is either under contract or team control in some fashion. The rotation is young, the bullpen is deep, Adam Lind should be better and Travis Snider is still young and talented. And everyone (apart from Wells) is affordable.

Of course the big news for Toronto this week was that Cito Gaston, who's been with the organization since 1982, was managing his final home series. He had one good season as a player, hitting .318/.364/.543 in 1970, but he's been with the club for 18 seasons, including five ALCS appearances and two World Series wins.

This weekend, we're guaranteed to run into Shawn Hill, Ricky Romero and Shaun Marcum. Toronto has been running with a six-man rotation, like the Twins, over recent weeks, so the Jays will either likely go with Marc Rzepczynski for game four.

Going into play, the Twins are a game behind Tampa and a half game behind New York for the best record in the American League. While New York has to go through the Red Sox over the regular season's final weekend, the Rays get an easier job in the Royals.

Things can change, but right now it looks like the Twins will be hosting the Yankees in round one.