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Jays make a huge splash in MLB off-season

Aaron Hall | Interrobang | Sports | January 9th, 2006



Leafs nation is quickly turning into Ricciardi nation.

Known as a hockey city, Toronto has not enjoyed success in America's pastime since the early 1990's. But Toronto Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi, equipped with Ted Roger's bank account, has made progress in changing the drought.

With the Blue Jays annually placing third behind the high spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the American League East standings, Ricciardi and the team had to make some moves in hopes of surpassing the two power houses in the Jays division.

The Jays began their spending frenzy by luring former Baltimore Oriole's closer B.J. Ryan with a 5-year $47 million contract.

The signing of Ryan raised many eye brows, after the Jays made him the highest paid reliever in Major League Baseball history, and Ricciardi's legitimacy as a General Manager was questioned.

Ricciardi answered the critics by going out and signing the top free-agent starting pitcher on the market, A.J. Burnett, to a 5-year $55 million contract.

After improving two key elements to their pitching staff, Ricciardi sought to improve their inconsistent offence that was weakened last season after first baseman Carlos Delgado headed to the Florida Marlins.

Milwaukee first baseman Lyle Overbay was acquired in a trade for pitcher Dave Bush, outfield prospect Gabe Gross, and a minor league player. Overbay is not a power hitter, but will provide a very consistent and reliable force to the Jays lineup.

“He's always been a high doubles guy, a good gap hitter, a big on-base guy,” Ricciardi said in an article on MLB.com.

“He hits left-handers pretty good. He'll bat third to fifth in our lineup. He's a guy we've tried to get for a long time.”

The Jay's next move filled the void left by Delgado's departure when they traded second baseman Orlando Hudson and former closer Miguel Batista for All-star third baseman Troy Glaus of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“He's the big bopper we were looking for,” said Ricciardi.

Glaus, the 2002 World Series MVP with the Anaheim Angels, has the potential to hit 40 home runs and drive in over 100 runs on an annual basis and lifted a no trade clause to join the revamped Toronto squad.

“With the moves that they made, and things that they've been able to do, this team seems poised to make a run. We're young and very, very talented,” said Glaus.

Equipped with the new faces and hold-overs such as center fielder Vernon Wells, and former Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay, the Jays are undoubtedly improved, and barring injuries will be a more competitive force in the American League East division.
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