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With pitching coach Brad Arnsberg moving up to the big club from Triple-A and the departure of Rick Adair from Double-A New Hampshire to a position in the Rangers organization, the Jays had two important minor-league vacancies to fill. Once again, J.P. Ricciardi has attracted some talented individuals to his developmental team.

Chuck Kniffin, who takes over in Syracuse, has been working with the likes of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in Arizona the last two years. Here's a great 2002 profile of him by Paul Rubin of the Phoenix New Times.

The new Fisher Cats pitching coach is Dave LaRoche. The lefty, a two-time all-star in his 14-year major league career, is the father of Braves 1B Adam and Dodgers prospect Andy. He coached in the big leagues for five years with the Mets and White Sox, and has been at AAA Omaha in the Royals system the last three years. In 1987, Dave coached in Syracuse, so we welcome him back to the Toronto organization.

In other appointments, former D-backs hitting coach Dwayne Murphy, an OBP freak and graceful outfielder in his 12 big-league seasons, will be the new bench coach with the SkyChiefs, and veteran infielder John Valentin begins his coaching career as the new hitting instructor in Double-A. Best of luck to all of the new hires as they begin working with some outstanding prospects.
The Toronto Star is reporting that Rogers is set to buy SkyDome for $30 million. By their account, the deal could close as early as today.

Update: The deal is official. Purchase price is listed at about $25 million.
The Hall of Fame has announced the ballot for the 2005 BBWAA voting for new Hall of Fame members.

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TSN reports that the Jays have claimed former top pitching prospect Seung Song off waivers from the Expos.
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The Jays have announced that Vernon Wells has won a Gold Glove for 2004!

It may have been the unbelievable A-Rod robbery that cinched it for V-Dub, and I showed up late to Yankee Stadium that night. It's reason #2,424,391 that baseball should take priority over real life.

On behalf of the Batter's Box community, a hearty congratulation to Vernon Wells!
The Internet Baseball Writers Association, of which several Batter's Box authors are members, have announced their first annual IBWA Awards. A bunch of us were involved in the voting. Details are posted over at all-baseball.com. Thanks to the IBWA's Christian Ruzich for handling the voting.

The Awards:

Players of the Year - Barry Bonds and Vladimir Guerrero
Pitchers of the Year - Randy Johnson and Johan Santana
Debuts of the Year - Khalil Greene and Bobby Crosby
Managers of the Year - Bobby Cox and Buck Showalter
Executives of the Year - Walt Jocketty and Theo Epstein
TSN reports that Po-Hsuan Keng, a 20-year-old righthanded pitcher from the Chinese Taipei Olympic squad, has signed with the Blue Jays.

Welcome aboard, Po-Hsuan!

It's hard to find a good lefthanded arm these days, but apparently the Jays are taking that notion to the extreme. According to this report from New Zealand, the Jays have offered a contract to 19-year old softball pitcher/outfielder Andrew Kirkpatrick. I haven't been able to find out too much about him, but the few pictures I've seen of him on the net indicate that he's a lefty.
Thanks to Thomas for the update. According to the official Toronto Blue Jays site, the Jays have signed righties Juan Campos, Josue Matos, lefty Dave Maurer, and outfielder Noah Hall to minor league contracts with invites to Major League Spring Training. Pete Walker has also cleared waivers and has been invited to spring training with the Jays. I guess Major League General Managers like him a lot less than I do.

The Jays have also named Joe Breeden as bench coach for the big club. The Jays did not have a bench coach in 2003.
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The Toronto Star reports that Halladay was named Blue Jay Pitcher of the Year, while slugger Carlos Delago was named Blue Jay Player of the Year. Seeing as Halladay won the AL Cy Young and Delgado finished 2nd in the AL MVP voting, these come as no surprise.
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