Thomson, Ohka have the opportunity to land last two spots.

By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com , 01/31/2007 10:00 AM ET

在今年冬天一開始尋求先發人選空手而歸後,藍鳥隊開始尋求較為便宜的人選。
多倫多無法搶到原先他們所設定的兩名頂尖自由球員,而在先發輪值中留下兩個空缺。隨著可供選擇的投手越來越少,藍鳥也開始評估風險與報酬。多倫多使用激勵條款來簽下John Thomson和大家友和。他們兩個人都才受過肩傷,但是卻有可能幫球隊解決需要有人吃下局數的麻煩。

現在,Thomson、Ohka和一群投手將要去競爭rotation中剩下的兩個位置。一但人選確定了,多倫多將會有一個由Roy Halladay和A.J Burnett這兩名聯盟頂尖強投領軍的壯大先發輪值。

“某方面來說,競爭非常激烈” GM J.P. Ricciardi上週說到。”我們製造了一些競爭。有一些位置人力過剩,而這樣可以增進以後調度的彈性。”

簽下大家友和和Thomson而不是用一堆小朋友去先發是C計畫。球隊的A計畫是簽下Ted Lilly和Gil Meche,但是他們兩人分別選擇和小熊以及皇家簽約。B計畫是運用交易,但是沒有任何交易成功。

所以多倫多選擇在大家友和和Thomson身上賭一把。如果他們兩人能列入開幕時的大名單,就可以拿到150萬的起薪。Shaun Marcum、Josh Towers、Casey Janssen和Dustin McGowan也都是這個位置的競爭者。而確定的人選是Halladay、Burnett 和Gustavo Chacin。

“大家友和和Thomson現在有機會贏得先發的位置,”Ricciardi說到。”理想的狀況是,這些傢伙都能夠做到他們能夠做到的,來創造一個積極而且有競爭性的環境。但是你知道的,總是會有人受傷,或是有些人無法達到進度或是什麼的。”

當上一季受到傷兵困擾時,缺乏深度變成了多倫多的大麻煩。在2006年以16勝5負、3.19的防禦率拿到美聯CY的第三名的Halladay因為右前臂的疼痛錯過了好幾次的先發。Burnett和Chacin也都因為相似的肘傷各自缺席了至少兩個月。

讓傷病變得更麻煩的就是Josh Towers的掙扎,他完全失去了2005年的那種拿下13勝的能力。去年他的成績是2勝10敗,防禦率8.42,而且被送到小聯盟兩次。他在今年春訓必須去證明很多事才能搶回先發的位置。

“進入春訓之後,我知道Towers想要一個好的開始。”John Gibbons最近說到。”他有某些事情必須證明,但他的整個生涯都是如此。我知道他非常急切想去證明去年的表現只是偶然。”

換個方式思考,去年先發陣容的傷痛反而讓年輕投手如Marcum和Janssen得到寶貴的經驗。去年還是新人的Marcum先發14次,在他最後7次出賽拿下2勝1負,3.31的防禦率。Janssen則一共先發了17次,最後9次的成績是5勝2負,3.07的防禦率。

“我們確實把這些孩子送上火線,”Ricciardi說到。”試著想想看,Burnett缺陣九週,Chacin十二週。我不知道如果沒有Marcum和Janssen事情會變得怎樣。這些傢伙在壓力之下確實幹得好。”

Gibbons相當認同這個說法。

“我們去年並沒達到原先設定的目標,但也許另一方面的好處是有些人獲得了經驗,”Gibbons說到。”我們目前還不知道4、5號先發是誰。如果人選在這些人中,在大聯盟先發對他們並不陌生。那是很重要的。”

保持先發投手的健康會是最重要的。上一季和藍鳥簽下五年5500萬的合約的Burnett在21次先發中贏了10場。Chacin則在17次先發中贏下9場。Halladay則拿到了自2003年他拿到賽揚獎以來的最多勝。

上一季還在多倫多的Lilly也贏得了生涯新高的15勝。藍鳥隊相信Thomson或是大家友和不論是哪一個或是兩人加起來可以彌補失去Lilly的損失。Thomson在2004年贏得14勝,並有三次單季投球局數超過180局。大家友和在2002年贏得13勝,同時在三季中也有一次投球局數超過180局。

“我們是支好球隊,我喜歡這個隊型,”Ricciardi最近說到。”去年我們有兩個人投完整季—只有兩個﹕Halladay和Lilly。如果Hallady、Burnett和Chacin都能正常出賽,我們應該可以比去年走得更遠。”

附上原文﹕

The Blue Jays became bargain hunters this winter after coming up empty-handed in their initial search for rotation help.

Toronto wasn't able to add the top two free agents it targeted, leaving a pair of vacant spots on its starting staff. With the number of available arms dwindling, the Jays began weighing risk versus reward. Toronto used incentive-based contracts to reel in free agents John Thomson and Tomo Ohka, who are both coming off shoulder injuries but have the potential to solve the club's need for innings.

Now, it'll be survival of the fittest during Spring Training for Thomson, Ohka and a group of pitchers vying for the two jobs at the back end of Toronto's rotation. Once those spots are solved, the Jays should have a formidable staff, which is led by Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett -- one of the top one-two punches in the league.

"In a lot of ways, it's going to be a shootout for the jobs," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said last week. "We've created some competition. We've got a little bit more in the way of surplus, and a little bit more in the way of flexibility."

Having Thomson and Ohka fending off a pack of young pitchers this spring was, essentially, Plan C. Toronto's first plan was to sign Ted Lilly and Gil Meche, who opted instead for deals with the Cubs and Royals, respectively. For Plan B, the Jays entertained the possibility of using trades to bolster their staff, but no deals came to fruition.

So Toronto took a chance with Thomson and Ohka, who will each start with a base salary of $1.5 million if they make Toronto's Opening Day roster. Shaun Marcum, Josh Towers, Casey Janssen and Dustin McGowan will also be competing for jobs behind Halladay, Burnett and left-hander Gustavo Chacin.

"Right now, Ohka and Thomson are going to come in with the opportunity to win a job as a starter," Ricciardi said. "Ideally, you'd like all of these guys to come in and do as well as they can to create a very aggressive and competitive environment. But you know someone's going to get hurt, or someone's not going to be able to start the season or something."

Lack of depth was something that hurt Toronto last season, when numerous injuries took a toll on the staff. Halladay, who went 16-5 with a 3.19 ERA and finished third in American League Cy Young voting in 2006, missed a few starts due to a right forearm strain. Burnett and Chacin each missed more than two months after suffering similar elbow injuries.

Complicating Toronto's health issues were the struggles of Josh Towers, who was unable to replicate the 13-win season he had in 2005. Towers went 2-10 with a 8.42 ERA, and he was demoted to the Minors twice. The right-hander will have to prove a lot this spring in order to overtake Thomson or Ohka for one of the two remaining jobs.

"Going into Spring Training, I know [Towers is] going to want to get off to a good start from the get-go," Toronto manager John Gibbons said recently. "He's got something to prove, but his whole career has been like that. I know he's anxious to get going to show that last year was a fluke."

One positive that Toronto was able to take out of its pitching woes last season was that young pitchers like Marcum and Janssen gained valuable experience. Marcum made 14 starts as a rookie, going 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA over his last seven outings. Janssen, who made 17 starts, went 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA in his first nine trips to the mound.

"We really threw those guys into the fire," Ricciardi said. "If you think about it, we sat for nine weeks without Burnett and 12 weeks without Chacin. I don't know where we would've finished without [Marcum and Janssen]. Those guys did a really good job under very difficult circumstances."

Gibbons agreed.

"We didn't finish as high last year as we wanted, but maybe the silver lining is we got experience for some guys who we're going to have to count on," Gibbons said. "We don't know how our fourth and fifth starters are going to stack up. But if those guys are one of them, they have just enough experience under their belt now where it's not new to them. That's big."

Keeping the rotation healthy would be even bigger. Burnett, who signed a five-year deal worth $55 million with the Jays last offseason, won 10 games in 21 starts, Chacin tallied nine wins in 17 starts, and Halladay finished with his most wins since taking home the AL Cy Young Award in 2003.

Lilly also won a career-high 15 games for Toronto last season. The Jays believe that Thomson or Ohka -- or both -- are capable of replacing what was lost with Lilly's departure, though. Thomson won 14 games in 2004, and he has logged more than 180 innings three times. Ohka picked up 13 wins in '02, and he's also pitched more than 180 innings in a season on three occassions.

"We have a good club. I like the way we shape up," Ricciardi said recently. "We had two guys take the ball all year last year -- only two: Halladay and Lilly. If we can get Halladay, Burnett and Chacin to take the ball every fifth time, we're way ahead of where we were last year."

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