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The Blue Jays designated lefty reliever Jason Kershner for assignment yesterday, bringing the roster numbers down to exactly 40. Kershner, picked up on waivers by Toronto from the Padres late last season, pitched well down the stretch and looked like the second southpaw out of the pen after Doug Creek this year.

Why designate him for assignment now? Well, maneuvers such as these are necessary before trading someone -- and there's that small matter of John-Ford Griffin yet to be resolved. And Scott Wiggins is always available to be the second lefty if required. Let's see how this works out: I'd be surprised if Kershner is simply ticketed for AAA with nothing more.

At the moment, then, the Blue Jays' 40-man roster looks like this (likely 2003 destination in brackets):



Roy Halladay (R, Toronto)
Mark Hendrickson (L, Toronto)
Cory Lidle (R, Toronto)
Tanyon Sturtze (R, Toronto)
Pete Walker (R, Toronto)
Justin Miller (R, Toronto)

Vinny Chulk (R, Syracuse)
Pasqual Coco (R, Syracuse)
Corey Thurman (R, Syracuse)
Mike Smith (R, Syracuse)

Diegomar Markwell (L, New Haven)
Francisco Rosario (R, Disabled List/New Haven)


Doug Creek (L, Toronto)
Kelvim Escobar (R, Toronto)
Aquilino Lopez (R, Toronto)
Cliff Politte (R, Toronto)
Jeff Tam (R, Toronto)

Brian Bowles (R, Syracuse)
Bob File (R, Syracuse)
Gary Majewski (R, Syracuse/back to ChiSox)


Greg Myers (Toronto)
Tom Wilson (Toronto)

Kevin Cash (Syracuse/Toronto)
Ken Huckaby (Toronto/Syracuse)

Guillermo Quiroz (New Haven)

Dave Berg (Toronto)
Mike Bordick (Toronto)
Carlos Delgado (Toronto)
Eric Hinske (Toronto)
Orlando Hudson (Toronto)
Josh Phelps (Toronto)
Chris Woodward (Toronto)

Dominic Rich (New Haven/Syracuse)

Frank Catalanotto (Toronto)
Shannon Stewart (Toronto)
Vernon Wells (Toronto)
DeWayne Wise (Toronto)

Jayson Werth (Syracuse/Toronto)

Jason Dubois (New Haven?)
Alexis Rios (New Haven)

This is likely not the 40-man roster we'll see when spring training opens. For one thing, indications are that JP is still talking with other starting pitchers, most notably former Rockie and Met John Thomson (whom I would love to see in a Toronto uniform, if only for the chance that there's anything left of the fine pitcher that Coors Field ground into dust). If Thomson or another starter is signed, then two of these guys are headed for either the bullpen or Syracuse; for my money, it'd be Justin Miller refining his control in the International League and Pete Walker becoming the long reliever/spot starter. Projected ML rotation: Halladay, Lidle, Thomson, Sturtze, Hendrickson, with Miller replacing Thomson if the latter isn't signed. But in any event, somone would have to be tossed off the 40-man to make room if the Jays signed Thomson or another starter. At this point, that looks like Pasqual Coco to me.

Then there's the three Rule 5 acquisitions. Aquilino Lopez will almost certainly stay with Toronto all season long. If there are lingering doubts about Lopez's ability to compete, they were further reduced by his terrific performance in the Dominican League this off-season: 2-1, 3.35, 48 IP, 36 H, 12 BB, 54 K. Now, the Dominican League isn't a much better predictor of ML success than the Arizona Fall League, but those are still mighty impressive numbers. Barring a spring-training Aquiline meltdown, I don't see the Mariners getting Lopez back. The Blue Jays sure do like Jason Dubois, and it appears they're negotiating a trade with the Cubs that would allow them to keep Dubois and send him down, probably to New Haven, to continue his development. That leaves Gary Majewski, who shows every sign of being a useful major-leaguer someday, but who is the likeliest player to be on the bubble if JP acquires another body for the 40-man (barring a similar arrangement with the White Sox, of course, a trade that would allow them to stash Majewski on a minor-league roster).The off-season isn't over yet, and this roster is subject to change without notice.

(There's also JP's version of Godot, John-Ford Griffin, to consider. Apparently he's still going to come to Toronto in a separate deal, one that shouldn't cost anyone on the 40-man. At the same time, the Jays might not need a roster spot for J-F: he's not on Oakland's 40-man at the moment, so presumably he wouldn't need to be on Toronto's either.)

A few more comments on the roster:

- the Blue Jays certainly won't keep more than three catchers on the major-league club, so when Kevin Cash is ready, either Tom Wilson or Ken Huckaby will return to upper New York State. Since Wilson mashes lefties and this team needs all the help it can get against portsiders, Huckaby seems the likelier RH catcher to go. It's even possible the team could start the year with just Myers and Wilson in Toronto, allowing Huckaby to go down and play Mike Bordick to Cash's Chris Woodward. If there's a major-league roster crunch come March 31, that may be the solution.

- Jayson Werth likely will start the season in Syracuse, since he's going to be a fourth outfielder or platoon right-fielder at best for Toronto, and that's not what he needs right now, not with substantial holes still apparent in his swing. If the Jays can't work out a deal for Dubois and are forced to carry him on the ML roster all year (something that would complete the RF platoon nicely but that would not benefit young Jason tremendously), then Werth is even more assured of a AAA stay.

- JP undoubtedly would like a more reliable RH platoon partner for Frank Catalanotto in RF, and if he finds one in the non-tender bin come February or in spring training come March, then the spotlight shifts directly to DeWayne Wise. I suspect DeWayne's spring training performance may dictate his future with Toronto, not just on the 25-man roster but in the organization itself. If he doesn't put up a strong line in Dunedin and a Bruce Aven or someone similar tears the cover off the ball, then it may be the end of the line for the former Rule 5 choice.

- That's going to be one impressive pitching staff in Syracuse. If Toronto does sign a John Thomson or similar ML arm, then the Skychiefs will be able to choose from among these starting options:

Justin Miller
Jason Arnold
Mike Smith
Corey Thurman
Vinny Chulk
Pasqual Coco
Evan Thomas
Doug Linton
Josh Towers

That, my friends, is what you call depth. And consider that Thomas, Linton or Towers could conceivably break camp and head north with the Jays if they have sufficiently strong springs. Every Blue Jays starting hopeful not named Halladay should be on his toes in Dunedin: competition figures to be very intense.

It's all systems go for the Blue Jays right now. I think we can look forward to one more starter and one more Griffin, as well as any stray major-leaguers looking for work come February. But the bulk of this team's upper-level roster is set, and the transformation of the Toronto Blue Jays is nearing completion. Take note once again: only Carlos Delgado, Shannon Stewart, Chris Woodward, Roy Halladay and Kelvim Escobar remain from the major-league roster JP inherited From Gord Ash just one short year ago. Wow.
The 40-Man Roster | 9 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Steve Z - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 12:35 PM EST (#100146) #
This is my first post here, but I admit that I've been lurking here for about a week! Great site, Kent! I hope to contribute greatly in the coming weeks and months! As posted first on Fanhome ( I ran into Paul Godfrey a few days ago at a Toronto restaurant and ended up with several revealing pieces of information, some of which found its way into Gideon's column here. The miracles of the internet, eh?! Rather than recount the information again verbatim, you can check the thread out at fanhome. Everything, including Griffin's switch to 1B, and the Jays' interest in John Thomson is 100% accurate!
_Jordan - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 12:56 PM EST (#100147) #
Steve, thanks for your comments and the link to your thread; I should have included it in my original post. I had heard some talk about Toronto's interest in Thomson earlier, and your conversation with PG would confirm that the Jays are looking in that direction. I'm not sure Paul would have had this chat had he known its contents would be on the Internet the next day. :-)

Speaking of missing links, I pulled the Aqualino Lopez update from here, an MLB article that also updates other Jay prospects' winter-ball production. It seems safe to say that Guillermo Quiroz scares no one with a bat in his hand.
Coach - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 01:40 PM EST (#100148) #
Welcome aboard, Steve. Thanks for sharing your close encounter with Godfrey. Jordan, great summary. I'm surprised it was Kershner, not Coco, who was dropped, but the Toronto front office, in addition to evaluating their own talent better than most, seems to have an excellent handle on what their rivals might do. Many of us thought Wiggins would be lost via Rule 5, but he's still in the Jays mix.

Since they need a second lefty in the 'pen, and A. Lopez seems likely to stick, Brian Bowles and especially Bob File, after a disastrous 2002, would seem to be fading from the scene, rather than getting nearer to big-league jobs. And as much as I came to admire Huckaby for his many attributes that don't count in the stats, his spot could be short-lived.

I hope you're right about angling to keep Dubois, and Majewski might also be worth swapping a low prospect for. I don't think Wise is in the mix, though; he bats left. Bruce Aven might be the surprise package, but I wouldn't be surprised by another FA signing.

From the 2002 CNN/SI Rockies scouting report, quoting an unnamed scout from another team: "I'm a big John Thomson fan. If he stays healthy, he could pitch at the top of a rotation. He throws 90 to 94 with an 87-to-88-mph turbo slider. He's had some off-the-field problems (in 2000 he spent a month in rehab for alcohol abuse) but he got married and has matured, so I look for him to have a big year." Of course, the same source guaranteed Juan Uribe would be a star, but Thomson's worth a look at the right price.
Mick Doherty - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 02:24 PM EST (#100149) #
Sorry, Coach ... Jamey Newberg (in an e-mail, not yet on his site, just announced that the Rangers have signed John Thomson:

Texas [has signed] former Rockies and Mets starter John Thompson,
according to the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram. he righthander will
certainly figure into the Ranger rotation plans.

He has spelled the last name wrong, probably out of habit formed by hundreds of health updates about that other J. Thompson (Justin) who was to "certainly figure into the Ranger rotation plans."
Dave Till - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 04:51 PM EST (#100150) #
Just read Steve Z's article about his run-in with Godfrey. What a cool opportunity! I'm not sure that Godfrey's an entirely reliable source, but that's not Steve's fault. :-)

If Godfrey is telling the truth, he shouldn't be going around revealing JP's plans to anyone who happens to ask. I guess it's the universal impulse to emphasize one's specialness by telling secrets (and I'm referring to Godfrey here, not Steve).

My own comments on the 40-man, and on other threads:

- Wow, the Jays have a lot of pitchers and catchers on the 40 man roster: 20 pitchers and five catchers, leaving 15 men for the other eight spots. I guess this is what happens when (a) a team is struggling to find pitching and (b) has a bunch of young players as established regulars.

- I'm not going to count my John-Ford Griffins until they're hatched: Beane can still change his mind and keep Griffin. Besides, we already know that Godfrey was wrong about something - he thought the Jays were going to land Thomson.

- Myers may be good enough defensively to make Huckaby redundant. Huck can't hit at all; since Myers bats left, he's positioned to get most of the at-bats, with Wilson serving as a reserve, platoon and/or bat off the bench. Phelps could, presumably, serve as an emergency catcher if necessary.

- When Delgado's contract expires, maybe he'll take a hometown discount to stay in Toronto. (And, I suppose, maybe pigs will fly.)

I really like this board - where else can you find informed people willing to discuss the Blue Jays in almost obsessive detail? When's spring? :-)
Coach - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 05:18 PM EST (#100151) #
Oh, well. Thomson is more likely to make that rotation, and perhaps he got more security from Texas than Toronto was offering, so I can't fault his decision. I'd be pretty happy with Linton or Miller as the fifth starter anyway. At AAA Richmond last year, Linton struck out 160 in 174 IP, and walked just 26 batters! He had a 2.53 ERA, but 14 unearned runs and his mates' anemic hitting led to a 9-11 record, another illustration of how misleading W-L marks are for pitchers. He started the AAA all-star game for the IL, fanning 3 in two innings.

Miller was rushed into AL duty way too soon, bounced between the bullpen and the rotation, then was shuttled between Toronto and Syracuse a couple of times. While he was 3-2, 1.79 in eight AAA starts, he had 16 BB and 31 K in 45.1 IP, not nearly as dominant as Linton in the same league. But Justin's 12 years younger, and has something you can't teach: a fastball that (when it's working) jumps and hops like a knuckler. It gave the catchers fits when he returned to Toronto, so imagine how hard it is to hit.

He's a twitchy, nervous young man, who apparently gave former Jay Scott Eyre advice about how to cope with ADD; this might partially explain his notorious first-inning woes, and makes me reluctant to dismiss him as immature, or blame poor concentration. If and when the mental and emotional aspects of his game improve to equal his stuff, he'll be a solid big-leaguer. After the organization's horrible pitching problems of 2002, it's great to have enough depth to give Miller all the time he needs to develop.
_Jordan - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 05:30 PM EST (#100152) #
A sharper mind than mine has pointed out an error in my comments regarding players designated for assignment. Getting DFA'ed isn't a necessary precondition for a trade; it simply removes the player from the 40-man roster (because the spot was needed for someone else -- here, presumably Catalanotto) while giving the team 10 days to decide what to do with him -- release him, trade him, or place him on outright waivers. So at this point, I have no idea what they plan to do with Kershner. We shall see.
Dave Till - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 07:02 PM EST (#100153) #
Coach: I didn't realize that Miller had ADD - he didn't look that twitchy on the mound, as I recall. In fact, he seemed more composed than some of the wannabees who were forced to start when the Jays had a severe case of the pitching shorts last spring.

I like the idea of giving Miller a chance to develop in Syracuse. If he can harness his stuff, he'll be a good one. Of course, there are plenty of minor-league pitchers with world-class stuff who don't have control over it, but Miller has pitched well at times in Toronto, so there's hope.

Was Eyre let go because of his ADD? I originally thought that Eyre was released because he isn't durable enough to start, and his arm isn't resilient enough to allow for frequent bullpen use. I hope that it wasn't just a case of Tosca or Ricciardi becoming impatient with Eyre.
Coach - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 07:42 PM EST (#100154) #
Dave, I'm not a doctor, and I'm reporting hearsay. I thought Justin often had that "deer in the headlights" look, and I know it takes him a lot of time to settle down. If Jim Eisenreich could cope with his anxiety problems, there's hope. The young pitchers I coach are taught to breathe deeply, with an especially big exhale just before rocking into their windups, but Miller sometimes looked like he was hyperventilating, especially with two on and nobody out. I'm sure that J.P. knew all about whatever condition he has before trading for him, so I can't imagine he would hold that kind of problem against Eyre, who Miller recognized as possibly having a similar affliction, and tried to help. (Again, I read this somewhere, and apologize for the lack of detail.) I'm sure the decision to let Scott go was based on talent, age, salary, and durability, not brain chemistry; they replaced him easily enough with Hendrickson, Kershner and Wiggins, and there are plenty of other LOOGYs out there. Felix Heredia and Pedro Borbon, to name a couple we don't want back.
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