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Griffin's Five Jays Questions Needing Answers, Answered By Bluebird Banter

Richard Griffin has a column in today's Star about five questions about the Jays that he considers pressing enough to require answers. To help Richard out, we've answered his 5 questions, and asked the ones he should be asking.

1. Whatever happened to Cito Gaston's contract extension?
Griffin points out that J.P. told fans that Gaston would be back in 2009 back on August 6 but that no deal has been announced. Griffin further points out, as did we at the time, that it was interesting to see J.P. assuring Cito of a position when there were plenty of folks who thought there was no way he himself had a job for next season. Gaston has only been with the Jays since June and it hardly makes sense for them to rush into giving Cito a contract since it's not as though teams were breaking down his door to manage them before he joined the Jays. In addition, these things take some time to negotiate and the five or so weeks it's been since J.P.'s statement is not ridiculous. My guess is that both Cito and J.P. will be back, but it makes sense to see how the season turns out.
2. Can the Jays keep their September intensity going and finish strong to possibly post their best record for any year since the unlikely 88 wins back in '98?
Griffin doesn't actually address this question but instead talks about Tim Johnson in this space. The Jays need to go 8-4 over their last 12 games to make it to 88 wins, which would be nice. Not as nice as the 90 wins that looked possible, if not likely, before the Boston series, but still nice. The way their starters have been pitching, if they can get some good performances out of their bullpen, it's certainly possible.
3. Can Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett combine for 40 wins, or at the very least accumulate the most victories by a pair of starters in club history?
It's unlikely that Doc and A.J. will combine for 40 wins, but the team record is certainly attainable (need one more win between them to tie Jack Morris and Juan Guzman's 1992 seasons). Ummm, this really isn't a pressing Jays question. At all.
4. Can the Jays hold off the Yankees and finish ahead of the free-spending Bronx Bombers for the first time in 15 years?
Sure, beating the Yankees this season would be nice, but this is another somewhat trivial question. I disagree that finishing in 4th place, in and of itself, would, as Griffin writes, "sour the accomplishments" of this season. I think the important thing now is doing what we can to prepare for next season. I'd start Snider and Lind every game and also start Thigpen most of the time, to see whether he's capable of being the backup next season (since I doubt the Jays will rush Arencibia).
5. Will the Jays pick up the $2.5 million (U.S.) club option of catcher Rod Barajas for the '09 season, signalling the end of the Gregg Zaun era?
It seems that way, although I must admit, I'm not particularly enamoured of Barajas' .704 OPS. Zaun hasn't had a good season either so perhaps it doesn't really matter, but I'd like to see the Jays offer Zaun arbitration as it looks like he has enough to be a Type B free agent. There are two problems with that - he might accept arbitration and thus be a Jay next season, and if he doesn't and no one signs him (and I'm not sure someone will), the Jays don't get any compensation. Though in the second scenario, nothing is lost.

The thing is, Arencibia looks like he's close, so it doesn't make sense to bring in a long-term catcher, but the Jays can't afford to just punt the position next season. So what to do? My guess is that the Jays go with Barajas' better defense and make Thigpen the backup. But they need to bat Big Rod lower in the order.

By the way, I know Griffin was trying to stick to questions that would be answered during this season (although he was unable to stick to just those), but these questions were terrible. Who cares if Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett get to 40 wins? The real pressing questions involve the health of young pitchers Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen, whether David Purcey can throw enough strikes to be a major-league starter next season, whether Travis Snider and Adam Lind will both have starting roles next season and whether both can produce over a full season, whether Vernon Wells' long-term health is there (I'm of the opinion that the offense missed him terribly this season when he was out), whether Scott Rolen can stay healthy and produce at the plate, whether Alex Rios will ever take his play to the next level, whether Lyle Overbay will be traded, and whether Aaron Hill will recover and be back. In short, there are a ton of questions that need answering. Many of them will at least have clues to the answers through the last 12 games, though we may not be able to put together the answers until next season.