Faraway, So Close!

Well the season has started, but of course not yet for our heroic azure corvidae. We will have to wait for Monday, when I will unfortunately be in Tennessee for work and therefore away from my Extra Innings subscription. But I'll be able to listen to the game on the radio, and that's good enough for me. Everyone else gearing up for the start of the regular season?

Jesse Litsch had a very good outing against the Cincinnati Reds yesterday and looks to have his pitches working for what will hopefully be a successful start to his 2008 campaign. As those who watch Jesse know, the Jays defense will have a vital role to play if Litsch is to be successful. Dustin McGowan followed it up with a good outing today against Houston. The other three members of the Jays rotation are coming off much rockier outings but have also had some excellent spring starts, so it will be interesting to see how the rotation begins the season.

Former Jay sparkplug Reed Johnson has joined the Chicago Cubs. Johnson will apparently spend time in the 3 outfield positions, in particular the Cubs plan for Sparky to share time with the youngster Felix Pie in centerfield. Johnson signed for $1.3 million for the 2008 season and apparently had his pick of several clubs but preferred the Cubbies. We wish Reeder nothing but the very best.

Matt Stairs has a sore hip and has been playing in the minors. Having Stairs in the minors will be a useful thing to the Jays in case Stairs isn't ready to start the season and the Jays want to backdate his assignment.

Scott Rolen had surgery Monday to repair his broken finger. As part of the surgery, a screw was inserted. Scott will have the screw in for 2 weeks and when it is removed he will begin rehabbing. He is expected to miss about the first month of the season, and supersub Marco Scutaro will get the bulk of the time. In addition, Buck Coats has made the Jays and will take Rolen's place on the roster. I would expect him to see most of his time as a defensive replacement for Stewart/Stairs and as a pinch-hitter.

B.J. Ryan will also begin the season on the disabled list. BJ is expected to begin throwing from the mound again next week. We can probably expect BJ back sometime between the middle and the end of April. Jeremy Accardo will close games until then and Scott Downs and Brandon League figure to get plenty of late-inning work.

The Blue Jays are apparently close to locking up Alex Rios to a long-term deal . J.P. had mentioned that this was in the works earlier in the offseason, so it's not a complete surprise. The deal is reported to be in the $65 million range in terms of guaranteed money and will lock up Rios until 2014, covering his last 2 arbitration and first 4 free agency years. There is also talk about a team option that would give Rios another $15 million if exercised. The money on this deal seems pretty reasonable and getting Rios' first 4 free agency years would be a nice move, much better tactically than the Wells situation, where the Jays let Wells get all the way up to his last controlled season and ended up paying for years where Wells will likely be past his prime.

Dave Perkins thinks that the Jays have the pitching to contend . What do y'all think?

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