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Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Blue Jays’ gambles look pretty good; M’s haven’t started rolling the dice

December 18th, 2012 by cstark

Wish lists for Mariners’ fans, once again, have not been filled as Christmas approaches.
Catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli was available, but not for long. Gone to Boston (3 years, $39 million).
Catcher Russell Martin. Gone to Pittsburgh (2 years, $17 million).
Outfielder Josh Hamilton. Gone. Hamilton moves from the rival Rangers to the rival Angels (5 years, $125 million).
Outfielder Justin Upton. Thought to be available, Diamondbacks keep promising young player who seemed available for the right price early on in free agency.
So far, outfielder Jason Bay and utility infielder Robert Andino have been the only new additions for Seattle.

Excited about that? Didn’t think so.
Seattle’s believed to still be interested in outfielders Nick Swisher, who visited Cleveland Tuesday, and Michael Bourne, who was Atlanta’s starting center fielder last year.
Bourn, 29, is a speedy left-handed hitter. He’s stolen as many as 61 bases twice for Houston, and is a career .272 hitter. Swisher, 32, is a left-handed corner outfielder who brings power (207 homers in his last eight seasons with the A’s, White Sox and Yankees) to the table. Seattle’s bringing in the fences and is desperate for power, but the M’s don’t really have a burner and Bourn’s a legit leadoff guy.
The outfield needs an upgrade, unless you’re happy to go into the season with the five-headed monster of Jason Bay-Casper Well-Michael Saunders-Mike Carp-Franklin Gutierrez.
Would Bourn or Swisher make a difference?
How about this suggestion?
They say the Royals are still in the market for pitching. Package one of the pitching prospects (Taijuan Walker or Danny Hultzen) for Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon (23 HR, 87 RBI, .303/.376 on-base percentage/.502 slugging percentage  in 2011; 14/72/.294/.368/.455 in 2012). Move Kyle Seager to second and Dustin Ackley moves to left field, or even center field.
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Fans in Toronto, meanwhile, have reason to be stuffing tickets to Blue Jays games in their friends Christmas socks.

The Red Sox and Yankees don’t seem so threatening any more, the Rays, despite a glut of talented players, haven’t broken through and no one will be surprised if  Baltimore pulls an Arizona by going from first to last.
The Blue Jays took a look at the lay of the land and seized the opportunity to make a serious run in the NL East. If you haven’t been paying attention, Toronto added a lot more than knuckleball sensation R.A. Dickey.
Toronto picked up pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, and shortstop Jose Reyes in a blockbuster deal with Miami. They’ve all got huge guaranteed contracts. They also added outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was in the midst of a career year with San Francisco before being busted for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Mix those newcomers with Edwin Encarcion and Jose Bautista, two legit 40-home run guys in the their prime, future star and third baseman Brett Lawrie, and pitchers Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, and you’ve got championship ingredients.
The Jays payroll was at $83 million a year ago, and is expected to surpass $120 million this year.
Yeah, the Jays are taking a gamble. But it seems like it’s a gamble that makes sense.
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The Mariners and Blue Jays joined the American League as expansion teams in 1976. The Mariners are still looking to get to a World Series, and they haven’t done anything this offseason that makes you think they’ve closed the gap to getting there. Attendance is shrinking and how long can Felix Hernandez wait for the M’s to build a winner? Toronto has won two World Series titles. Granted, it’s been a while (1992 and ’93, but the Jays have remained competitive for the most part and are a heckuva lot closer to a third after some serious wheeling and dealing during the offseason.

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