The Best Moustaches in Baseball: Part Five

Friday, November 29, 2013  |  by 

Well, it's been a few years since the last installment of the best moustaches in baseball, but after a brief hiatus I've decided to reinstate the yearly tribute to the finest moustaches in baseball history.

As always, the archive of incredible baseball moustaches is a gift that keeps on giving. Just when you think you've unearthed the best of the bunch, a bevvy of incredible 'staches comes to the forefront.

They may not be the most prolific names in baseball, but once you hear the story behind the 'stache, I'm sure you'll agree all these players are deserving of recognition.

Here's the latest crop of cookie dusters that are worthy of being the best moustaches in baseball history.

Dave Henderson

Dave Henderson is just one of the many from the esteemed list of moustache-clad Seattle Mariners from the golden era of 1977-1986. Odds are if you see a Seattle Mariner wearing one of the classic trident caps, he has a spectacular moustache as well.

Not to mention, Mr. Parker resembles a certain beloved Red Sox slugger. In fact, are we sure that Dave Parker isn't actually David Ortiz' father?

Al Holland

I've always have a great deal of respect for a man who can pull off a great set of sideburns. The symmetry alone is difficult enough, let alone the upkeep to keep those babies even.

Not only does Al Holland make the mutton chops look effortless, he also combines it with a great moustache as well. Come to think of it, it kind of looks like Al Holland has a whole "Shaft" look going on here, doesn't it?

Dan Quisenberry

You've gotta give Dan Quisenberry credit here; he manages to pull off the "half-smile with a mouth full of chaw" look with ease.

Quisenberry obviously wasn't going to spit out a perfectly good dip for nothing, so they may as well have gotten the picture while the getting was good. Also, great moustache, sir.

Gorman Thomas

At first glance, Gorman Thomas' team photo resembles a mugshot. But don't be mistaken by that bushy moustache. Thomas is obviously an undercover cop posing as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in order to shut down an illegal underground beer ring.

Tom Brunansky

I don't claim to know Tom Brunansky, but judging by his moustache, Mr. Brunansky seems like a standup guy. There's something about cookie duster that heightens his likability factor by about 85%. Never underestimate the power of the moustache, folks.

Bill Greif

Bill Greif's horseshoe moustache was unique in the fact that it curled around at the ends, but this style is somewhat in a grey area according to the America Mustache Institute's style guide; it's somewhere between chevron and horseshoe.

Regardless of what the official style Greif's moustache is, one definitive thing is that it's completely awesome.

Phil Garner

Phil Garner is the textbook case of life imitating art. Apparently, Garner's nickname during his playing days was "scrap-iron" and he modeled himself after none other than Yosemite Sam.

With all this information in mind, it's pretty easy to see the similarities. Throw a couple of six-shooters in Garner's hand and he's a spitting image of good 'ol Sam.

King Kelly

Of course, any list of the best moustaches in baseball would be remissed if it didn't include one of the founding fathers; Michael Joseph Kelly,  AKA "The King".

King Kelly was one of the pioneers when it came to ushering in the moustached era of professional baseball. Kelly was also an extremely adept baserunner and is credited as being the first player to use the "hook slide".

It turns out his moustache had a pretty mean hook, as well.

Parting with Prospects like Stroman and Sanchez

Monday, November 25, 2013  |  by 

Everyone loves to hoard them, but nobody wants to part with them.

Prospects are one of the most coveted commodities in all of baseball. At the same time, they're also one of the most volatile.

Out of all the major professional sports, there is nothing more uncertain than a Major League baseball prospect. This is likely due to the fact that the road to show is much longer and grueling than any other professional sport.

Even when with first round picks, there are a lot of things that can go wrong in between draft day and a player's eventual debut in the MLB. For a great deal of players, for one reason or another, that day never even comes.

And yet even with the uncertainty of top prospects, often times teams display a reluctancy to moving them. Understandably so; because often times these young players represent the next phase in the life cycle of a Major League baseball team.

Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are arguably the two top prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system. Two players who displayed very impressive campaigns in the Arizona Fall League and whose stock is higher than ever.

But right now, the greater need for the Blue Jays is Major League talent; namely starting pitching. That invariably means either Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez or even both players would be the centrepieces involved in any sort of substantial trade.

If the Blue Jays could get a starter like Jeff Samardzija as it's been reported, and it took Aaron Sanchez to get him, as much as it pains me to say this ... the Blue Jays should probably make that trade.

Jeff Samardzija may not be the sexiest name out there on the trade front, but the fact remains he's logged close to 400 innings total the past two seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He's also under team control for two more seasons.

Odds are Aaron Sanchez is at least 2-3 years away from making his way up through the system anyway. If the Blue Jays could get a bona fide starting pitcher in return for Aaron Sanchez, it almost serves them to deal him right now.

Say Aaron Sanchez does turn out to be the starting pitcher everyone is hoping he'll be. By the time he reaches the Major Leagues, the Blue Jays window of contention could already have passed.

At the end of the 2015 season, here's the list of Blue Jays who could be long gone (either due to expiring contracts or option years which could be declined): Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow.

Part of asset management is knowing when to sell high. And this would definitely be a sell high opportunity for the Blue Jays with someone like of Aaron Sanchez. After his impressive AFL stint, his trade value might not be higher than it is this very instant.

When it comes to trading prospects, I think back to the Nestor Molina/Sergio Santos trade. At the time, Molina was one of the Blue Jays top prospects in the organization. Coincidentally, weeks prior to the trade, Nestor Molina garnered glowing reviews from the coaching staff.

Not long after, he was swapped to the Chicago White Sox for Sergio Santos. Nestor Molina isn't a complete bust by any means, but two years since the trade, he hasn't progressed more than one game beyond Triple A. The Blue Jays sold high on Molina, and so far it's worked out.

Sergio Santos has experienced his fair share setbacks as well, but at least he has contributed to the Blue Jays roster. And he's still under team control for four more seasons.

Marcus Stroman on the other hand, is a bit of a different story than Aaron Sanchez. Right now, Stroman means more to the Blue Jays than he would any other prospective organization, as many people have said he's already Major League-ready.

Marcus Stroman is one of the few Blue Jays who could either make the Opening Day roster or get called up and make an immediate impact. Judging by his results from the Arizona Fall League, Stroman seems extremely well-polished for a 22 year old.

But again, if the opportunity presents itself for the Blue Jays to fetch an elite starting pitcher and it takes someone like Marcus Stroman to secure starting pitching or perhaps a catcher or second baseman, the Blue Jays need to seriously consider it.

Were this two to three years ago and Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez were at this very point in their development, the Blue Jays would have the luxury of time to bring them up through the minor leagues.

But the Blue Jays are built to win now. They need to make the playoffs now.

And if Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman aren't going to factor into getting the Blue Jays to the postseason right now, they need to trade them for players who will.

Image courtesy of Jays Journal

Will Ryan Goins Be Good Enough at Second Base?

Thursday, November 21, 2013  |  by 

He was the man who made the impossible seem possible.

After employing five different players to man second base during the 2013 season, the Toronto Blue Jays finally managed to find someone who could make the routine plays at second base. And it only took them three-quarters of the season to find him.

That man was Ryan Goins.

Anybody who displayed some semblance of range would automatically look like a Gold Glover next to Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis, but Ryan Goins actually did a decent job in a relatively short time at second base.

If you think about it, it's kind of baffling how Goins' natural position is shortstop, and yet he made second base look nearly effortless. And yet he spent a grand total of 32 games at second base in the minors compared to 478 at his native position of shortstop.

Perhaps Ryan Goins' experience at shortstop does translate into great second baseman skills. After all, he has a tremendous arm, his range is pretty decent, not to mention he quickly became accustomed to the tricky turf at the Rogers Centre, as evidenced below.

It might sound like sacrilege in these parts, but Ryan Goins has even drawn comparisons to the Blue Jays most prolific second baseman in franchise history, Roberto Alomar. That's pretty high praise for a guy who's only spent 32 big league games at second.

Ryan Goins' defensive prowess hasn't really come into question, but there are some concerns as to whether he could handle the day-in day-out duties of an every day big league second baseman. And there is certainly a lot of validity with those concerns.

How often do rookies get called up and are almost immediately handed the reins to a big league job? Let alone, how often does that scenario take place and those rookies hit the ground running and never relinquish the position? A player who did exactly that, Dustin Pedroia, is quite a rare find.

The Blue Jays could likely find out pretty quickly if Goins can survive the pressure-cooker environment. Even if he cracks the Opening Day roster as the starting second baseman, in this case the Blue Jays might be better off with the devil they know than the devil they don't.

If the Blue Jays do in fact bring in a new second baseman via free agency or trade, they once again run the risk of duplicating the Bonifacio/Izturis defensive debacle on the field.

Will Ryan Goins be good enough to start everyday at second base? So long as the Blue Jays can make up the offense somewhere else in the lineup, they can likely afford to have a light-hitting second baseman on the roster. So long as he's a sure-handed fielder, defense will be a premium.

And with a top half of a lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes, as well as Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, runs shouldn't be hard to come by.

An increase in offensive production may negate the dropoff in defense, but it sounds like the Blue Jays front office are looking to do the opposite at a few key positions; namely catcher and second base.

Goins doesn't even necessarily have to win the second baseman's job outright, either. If the Blue Jays employ some sort of makeshift platoon where Ryan Goins starts four or five games a week and Maicer Izturis gets the rest, that could be a good compromise.

I guess what I'm hoping is that the Blue Jays can find a second base option within the organization rather than sign an unknown commodity and just hope for the best. Because there would be nothing better than to see some homegrown talent contribute in an everyday aspect.

Part of me wishes that Goins will somehow develop into the next Dustin Pedroia; a slick-fielding second baseman who also is one of the toughest outs in baseball. But if the Blue Jays can't have the Pedroia-like offense, I'd certainly take the defense as a consolation prize.

Ryan Goins might not be a Dustin Pedroia-calibre second baseman, but if the Blue Jays don't at least give him an opportunity to play every day, they'll never know for sure. 

Image courtesy of Rant Sports

Free Agent Faceoff: Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana?

Thursday, November 14, 2013  |  by 

In a perfect world, the Toronto Blue Jays would sign two high-calibre starting pitchers to solidify their starting rotation this offseason. For a multitude of reasons, the reality is they may only get an opportunity to sign one.

Two of the most sought-after free agent starting pitchers on the market are Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. But if the Blue Jays only have enough resources to go after one of them, which would be the better candidate?

When a player has a comeback season like Ubaldo Jimenez did in 2013, people look for a clear-cut reason as to why it happened. Luckily, there is one.

Ubaldo's renaissance can be linked to an extensive delivery and timing overhaul with Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. According to Jeff Passan at Yahoo, they slowed down Jimenez' delivery by one second, in addition to adjusting his posture.

While Ervin Santana is arguably the biggest free agent pitcher out on the market, I don't think he's a good fit for the Blue Jays; predominately because the asking price for Santana will be astronomical.

The other thing that frightens me about Ervin Santana his he's prone to the longball. The past three seasons, Santana has surrendered 91 home runs total; which is the second most in MLB. He averages around 26 home runs given up per season.

My fear is that Santana would suffer a similar fate as R.A. Dickey did in the first half of 2013; that his home run numbers would skyrocket if he pitches in a home run-prone park like the Rogers Centre.

Ubaldo Jimenez doesn't come without his faults, either; control tends to be an issue as his BB/9 is 4 for his career. But on the flipside, Ubaldo tends to miss a lot of bats and strikes out quite a few batters as well.

Ervin Santana had a slightly better ERA and surrendered fewer walks than Ubaldo Jimenez in 2013, but other than that, Ubaldo bested Santana in every other category this past season. And yet for some reason, Ervin Santana is the belle of the ball.

Compare the two starters over the past three seasons, and they're quite alike, but Jimenez and Santana do have some subtle differences as well.

Ubaldo Jimenez might actually be the better buy for the Blue Jays on the free agent market, and he would likely come for less dollars and less years than Ervin Santana would command.

Tim Dierkes of MLBTR has Ubaldo fetching somewhere in the neighbourhood of a four year/$52 million dollar deal, which works out to roughly $13 million dollars per season. That actually seems quite palatable for the Blue Jays.

Compare that with the $14.3 million the Blue Jays stood to pay Josh Johnson with a qualifying offer or the $18 million Mark Buerhle stands to make in 2014, and $13 million for Ubaldo Jimenez seems like a bargain.

A four year/$52 million dollar contract for a 29 year old starting pitcher with over 200 starts under his belt? Heck, money's been spent more frivolously than that; even throughout the history of the Blue Jays franchise.

Ervin Santana is seeking nearly twice that amount on the open market, and wants five years instead of four. Not that he'll necessarily get it, but the Blue Jays really can't afford to delve out a $100 million dollar contract to another starting pitcher.

Both starters appear to be extremely durable and chew up a lot of innings, but Ubaldo Jimenez has posted six straight seasons of 30-plus starts, and you really can't find a much better track record than that.

Of the entire starting pitcher free agent crop, Ubaldo Jimenez has made the third most starts the past three seasons at 95 total ... lo and behold, the same amount as Ervin Santana.

Alex Anthopoulos himself noted the Blue Jays would attempt to minimize risk this offseason by targeting players with less of an injury history. Aside from the consummate picture of health like Mark Buehrle, you really can't get much more durable than Ubaldo Jimenez.

He has just one DL stint to his name his entire big league career and Ubaldo Jimenez never suffered an arm or an elbow injury. Not very many pitchers on the Blue Jays roster can say the same.

I may be a little biased here, but to me Ervin Santana's 2013 season seems like more of an outlier than Ubaldo Jimenez'. With Ubaldo, at least there's an indication changes were made mechanically, and that's partially why he enjoyed renewed success in Cleveland.

However with Ervin Santana, I think it's just more the fact that he was so bad the previous season, that it in comparison it makes his 2013 campaign appear that much better. I don't get the feeling that Santana has turned the corner like Ubaldo has.

2012 was equally horrible for Jimenez, but he has four really good sub-4 FIP seasons under his belt (2009/2010/2011/2013), whereas Santana really only has two (2008/2013). Let's not forget that three of those four years for Ubaldo were at Coors Field.

For my money, the Blue Jays would be better off investing their free agent spending in Ubaldo Jimenez rather than Ervin Santana. Not that either one is a bad choice, but in my eyes, Jimenez is the starter who would not only come cheaper, but who also offers a little more upside.

And that stability combined with some upside could be exactly what the Blue Jays need to help push them over their proverbial playoff hump.

Data via FanGraphs

Great Expectations: The Lost Toronto Blue Jays Season Interview with Shi Davidi

Friday, November 8, 2013  |  by 

Most great baseball stories are a rags to riches story; a team that battles adversity and overcomes all odds to become the very best. The narrative of the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays was quite the opposite; they were a riches to rags story.

The team that was hailed as the World Series favourites going into the 2013 season finished dead last in the American League East. The Blue Jays were truly the antithesis of the underdog in 2013.

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet and John Lott of the National Post chronicled a season bookended by excitement and disappointment in "Great Expectations: The Lost Toronto Blue Jays Season".

The two images on the front cover perfectly embody the two polar opposite emotions experienced by fans this season; the incredible high of an improbable walk-off win, and the utter disappointment of losing a key player in a freak injury.

I spoke with co-author Shi Davidi and asked him some questions about the book and a retrospective at the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays.

In many ways, the Blue Jays were the antithesis of the underdog story this year. Have you ever seen the hopes of a team at two complete opposite ends of the spectrum over the course of one year like this?
To this extent, no. And this is my 11th season covering the Blue Jays, and I've seen a lot of different build ups not come to fruition.

I think back to 2004 when Carlos Tosca was predicting they'd have a 95 win season after they picked up Miguel Batista, Pat Hentgen and Ted Lilly. But the level of players the Jays brought in was nothing like what Alex did the previous offseason.

To see that amount of talent combined with the base that was already in existence, you can see why there was so much excitement, and then it just fell apart so horribly. I don't think I've seen anything to this extent with the Blue Jays.
On paper, this was supposed to be a team that was at least supposed to contend. Why do you think things went so horribly wrong for the Blue Jays this year?
In the book we described it as the Blue Jays having a house with the finest bricks and the cheapest mortar. The metaphor there being that the supporting pieces of the Jays weren't what they thought they would be.

There's the starting rotation, and Izturis and Bonifacio at second, and key injuries ... and you combine all those factors together and it just drained the talent. You had all these symptoms add up and by the time they were even remotely healthy, they had too much ground to catch up.

There were just so many little factors that added up to one big gigantic problem.
In the book you have a chapter devoted specifically to Munenori Kawasaki. In many ways, he provided a welcome distraction to what was otherwise an abysmal season for the club. Why do you think he became a cult hero in Toronto?
There's a couple things here: one, he was legitimately loved by his teammates. He really endeared himself to everybody and there was a lot to his personality and he had a natural charisma.

Because of his size and the way he plays the game, he's someone you naturally root for. In this city especially, the fanbase generally seems to fall in love with these kinds of players.

Think back to Reed Johnson, John McDonald, David Eckstein ... Kawasaki's emergence was one of the few pleasant surprises of the season.
Image courtesy of Sportsnet
Speaking of positives, you and John said that assigning Brett Lawrie and Mark DeRosa lockers next to each other was one of the few success stories of 2013. How important was that relationship between Lawrie and DeRosa?
It was crucial. Brett was very charismatic headstrong guy, and all his career, he did things his way and found success his way. But when things went a bit awry for him, I don't know if he had the tools to handle that.

DeRosa made a concerted effort to get to know him and build his trust right from the beginning of Spring Training. And DeRosa reached Lawrie at a level that not a lot of people have, and he got Brett to open his eyes a bit.

John and I talked about this as well, but we really noticed a different Brett. There's a quote that he gave us at the end of the book, and I just thought what he said was such a mature answer. I'm certain we wouldn't be able to get such a mature answer earlier in the year.

That quote is due in large measure to Mark DeRosa and the work he did with Brett Lawrie.
As you wrote the book, was it difficult to get any sort of read on Alex Anthopoulos during this whole process, considering how guarded he typically is with the media?
One thing I will give Alex credit for is if you dig something up, he won't lie to you. When we were able to unearth stuff about Jake Peavy and Anibal Sanchez, he was open and upfront about it.

Alex was open as he could be with us given the circumstances, and I've always appreciated how Alex works with us in the media; he's very professional and that honesty goes a long way.
The past few years, it seems like the Blue Jays were an organization that had a clear identity; one focused on cultivating great young talent. But after they sold off most of those prospects, do you think the Blue Jays are in the midst of an identity crisis?
I wrote about that for Sportsnet last week, and they're now in this situation where the question is "what are you about going forward?"

Are they going to sacrifice their youth for the present? They've already given up a chunk of the farm system, but I don't know if you'd want to go too much further unless you're going to scorch the earth for 4-5 years down the road.

They don't really have a lot of homegrown talent. At some point, your farm system needs to be providing players that are contributing to your club. They haven't had a lot of fixtures and guys come in and be impact players.

This is in a sense uncharted territory for Alex because he's been in asset gathering mode for so long. The big thing is you have to service that $120 million dollar payroll, otherwise there's no point in having those commitments.
Image courtesy of Yahoo/AP
Close to the end of the book, R.A. Dickey said that if he could describe the season in one word, it would be "sad". What is the one takeaway that you'll take from the 2013 Blue Jays season?
The last few years have made me more of a believer in intangibles than before. I've always been more of a numbers/talent/production-based guy, and those things will rule the day at the end. But sometimes you need a bit more; a cohesive group feeling, some guys that have a knack for getting their teammates going with their tenacity.

Sometimes we get so fixated on talent, that we maybe are willing to overlook some of the character issues ... and maybe we shouldn't.

2013 is some ways was an example for that. Even if the starting pitching stayed healthy, there were a number of other cracks that probably would have hurt the team. I wouldn't have placed as much value in the little things as I would have after watching the last two seasons unfold.
If you were Alex Anthopoulos, how would you fix this team this offseason? And which players would you target via free agency or trade?
Personally, I'd like to see them go after someone like Ervin Santana. He's routinely solid and he'd be another 200 inning guy alongside Dickey and Buehrle. I can see them going after someone like Jeff Samardzija, who the Jays have made runs at in the past and might become available.

They could address second base; I'd be fine with them running Ryan Goins out there. He's probably not going to give you much offense, but if he plays that kind of defense, that would work and give them some extra insurance.

I can also see them doing something at catcher; I don't know that they're necessarily giving up on J.P. Arencibia, but I don't think they're in a position where they can gamble on him recovering. There are some intriguing options out there, guys like Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

I'm also curious what they're going to do in left field, if they just run with Melky Cabrera and assume he can return to the player he was. Or if they can try to work with Anthony Gose, I'm not sure which route they go and I'm not sure how much they'll have to spend at their disposal.

Obviously they have to divert the vast majority of their resources to their starting rotation, but if they don't address that, then there's no point having much conversation about them being a contender next year.
"Great Expectations: The Lost Toronto Blue Jays Season" is available now online in eBook and PDF form, and hard copies with free eBook version will be in stores soon at Chapters, Loblaws, Walmart and Costco.

As always, you can read Shi Davidi's work over at Sportsnet, and John Lott over at the National Post.

Do the Blue Jays Have to Spend to Contend?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013  |  by 

Money makes the world go round. And in a cap-free professional sport like Major League Baseball, at times it can seem like cash is thrown around like paper napkins.

That analogy rings true for teams like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, but that hasn't always been the case with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Last winter after years of penny-pinching, the Toronto Blue Jays blew the doors wide open and increased their payroll by approximately 53% in 2013. And after bumping things up by over half of what they spent year prior, it's safe to say the front office expected much different results this year. 

In total, the Blue Jays had 33 players under contract this past year at a total payroll just shy of $128 million dollars. And their 2014 payroll is already at $110 million; that doesn't include any option years, and that doesn't account for any arbitration raises.

And now that the Blue Jays have picked up Adam Lind, Casey Janssen and Mark DeRosa's options, that puts the 2014 payroll at nearly $122 million dollars.

Factor in significant arbitration raises to Colby Rasmus, J.P. Arencibia, Brett Cecil, Esmil Rogers, and Brett Lawrie, as well as arbitration-eligible players like Steve Delabar, Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek and Aaron Loup, and the payroll could reach as high as $135 million dollars.

The Blue Jays will surely be dipping into the free agent pool this offseason; add in any free agent money whatsoever or any kind of high-priced acquisitions via trade, and that number creeps yet even higher.

So without even thinking about it, the Blue Jays total payroll for 2014 has already eclipsed $140 million. That's certainly a lot of cash devoted to a roster without any significant improvements.

Here's the million dollar question; how much money will it take to make the Blue Jays competitive again? Just how high will their payroll go?

Will it go up another $10 million? 20 million? Dare I say another $50 million? Tack on another $50 million dollars to the Blue Jays payroll, and that puts them in territory as one of the top payrolls in baseball next season.

Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston have already knocked down that proverbial $100 million dollar wall, so what's another $50 million? It's not like the money isn't there, as both Alex and Paul have given the impression that they could go and ask Rogers for more money if necessary.

At this point, the Blue Jays really have no choice but to increase payroll if they want to stay competitive.

The instant the 11-player trade was finalized with the Miami Marlins last year, that effectively ended the penny-pinching ways of the Blue Jays. That was the watershed moment that opened their payroll wide open.

Does that mean throwing bad money after good money or vice versa? Probably. There really isn't much in the way of prospects the Blue Jays can deal for upgrades, and the big league roster doesn't provide much in the way of tradeable assets either.

The Blue Jays are also in a precarious position because when it comes to free agents because they'll likely have to overpay in the way of dollars and/or length of contract.

This was on full display last offseason when they inked Maicer Izturis to a three-year deal, even though nobody was really banging down the door to sign him to a one year deal. The Blue Jays also gave Melky Cabrera that guaranteed second year when most teams were weary of offering anything beyond a one year contract.

Over at Baseball Digest, they crunched the numbers and discovered the Blue Jays approximate cost per win in 2013 was $1.588 million dollars. That ranks as the fourth highest in the American League and eighth highest in MLB.

So really the only way for the Blue Jays to be more cost effective when it comes to cost per win is to either win more games or significantly reduce payroll. And considering how far the Blue Jays have ventured down the rabbit hole, I don't think the latter is a viable option.

With the position the Blue Jays franchise is currently in, I'm reminded of the spending spree of the 2005 offseason. J.P. Ricciardi went out and signed A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan to lucrative contracts, and acquired Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay.

Although some of those contracts were panned years after the fact, the first few years proved to be quite successful. They may not have made the playoffs under J.P. Ricciardi, but people often forget how great in particular the 2006 and 2008 Toronto Blue Jays really were.

The key this offseason isn't how much the Blue Jays will need to spend, it's who they're going to spend the money on. The Blue Jays could easily pull a 2005 offseason and pluck a couple of the most sought-after free agents on the market.

It pains me to say this, but perhaps Alex Anthopoulos should look to the Boston Red Sox as the model for how to pull off a successful mini-rebuild. Boston inked seven free agents in the offseason, and most of them were fruitful signings by Ben Cherington.

The Red Sox may the exception to the rule here, but they proved that you don't necessarily have to mortgage the future become a winner. They demonstrated that diving head-first into the free agent market isn't always detrimental.

You could argue the Red Sox were actually in worse shape at season's end last year than the Blue Jays were this year. And yet Boston brought in a few position players, a starting pitcher, a reliever and a couple of bench players ... and now they're in the World Series.

The Blue Jays shopping list is a little shorter; they need a pair of starting pitchers, a catcher and a second baseman ... all which can be easily bought on the free agent market. All it takes is money, something which the Blue Jays have a great deal of at their disposal (despite how they may lead on otherwise).

The Toronto Blue Jays will need to spend to contend in 2014, even if that means overspending. So long as it results in a postseason berth, no one will question what the final price tag will be.

In retrospect, very rarely are teams criticized for trying to doing too much or being too active. On the other hand, teams are criticized for not doing enough.

Image courtesy of Toronto Sun

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