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Jays at a glance

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 1999


1998 RECORD: 88-74, 3rd, AL East.

1998 REVIEW: They may have finished a little better than .500 and not made the playoffs, but the Jays ended last season very strong and can point to some bright moments. None may have been brighter than another Cy Young Award-winning effort by RHP Roger Clemens, a very productive year from1B Carlos Delgado and a comeback-of-the-year type from slugger OF Jose Canseco.

MANAGER: Tim Johnson (88-74 in first year).

WHO’S NEW: LHP David Wells, RHP Graeme Lloyd, 2B Homer Bush; OF Geronimo Berroa, RHP Joey Hamilton, RHP Eric Ludwick, C Mike Matheny, OF Wayne Kirby, OF Jimmy Hurst, 2B Joey Cora, IF/OF Willie Greene, 1B/DH Cecil Fielder.

WHO’S GONE: Clemens, Canseco, RHP Woody Williams, RHP Carlos Almanzar, OF Peter Tucci.

FLASHY PHENOMS: RHP Roy Halladay, RHP Tom Davey, 3B Tom Evans.

THE SURE THINGS: After the trade of Clemens to the Yankees, very little is sure north of the border except, perhaps, the potential of Shawn Green and Delgado. Green hammered 35 homers (100 RBI) last season and should be better this year. Delgado, who is back from his shoulder problem, is the team’s primary power source.

THE QUESTION MARKS: OF Jose Cruz, who was supposed to have blossomed last season, hit a mere .253 and struck out 99 times in 352 at-bats. He had 11 home runs and 44 RBI, but the Jays expect those numbers to double. . . . Once a Cy Young winner, can RHP Pat Hentgen find some of the productivity that made him a 20-game winner in 1996? He was 12-11 with a hefty 5.17 ERA last year. . . . Who will win the battle at second base between Tony Fernandez, Cora and Bush?

A FINAL WORD: The loss of Canseco, who provided a clubhouse presence as well as a threat at the plate, could be significant, but the trade of Clemens could be devastating, particularly if Wells doesn’t recover emotionally. The Jays need Wells to pick up where he left off in New York and become the team’s identity on the mound. If not, Toronto will need great efforts from Hentgen, Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar to hold its own in the game’s best division.

-- ROGER MILLS

 

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