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Jays camp report: likes, dislikes

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Rising star Brett Lawrie drove in four runs on a pair of doubles in the Blue Jays' spring opener. (US Presswire)  
Rising star Brett Lawrie drove in four runs on a pair of doubles in the Blue Jays' spring opener. (US Presswire)  

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- What I like, and don't like, about the Blue Jays:

Likes

  The Blue Jays have done a good job of adding talent, and they've become one of the more interesting teams in the league. Everyone knows about Jose Bautista, and plenty of people learned last year about Brett Lawrie. There's more on the way, too. Opposing scouts talk glowingly about young pitcher Drew Hutchison, among others.

  It's hard not to root for Dustin McGowan, who went three years between major-league appearances because of major shoulder trouble. McGowan returned last September, and the early word is that he's looked very good this spring. He's slated to be in the Blue Jays' rotation, and could give them a big boost.

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  The bullpen seems to be significantly improved, with new closer Sergio Santos (acquired from the White Sox), and with former Reds closer Francisco Cordero signed to be the setup man. The Jays also signed Darren Oliver.

  Last summer, one Blue Jays person described Bautista as "our Derek Jeter." It really is amazing what has happened to Bautista, who followed up his 54-home run 2010 with a 43-homer 2011, while also becoming the unquestioned leader of the team.

  The Blue Jays may be the most social team in baseball. They may also be the most social media-friendly. Their Twitter contingent includes starter Ricky Romero (@RickyRo24), catcher J.P. Arencibia (@jparencibia9), third baseman Brett Lawrie (@blawrie13) and pitcher Brandon Morrow (@2Morrow23).

Dislikes

  The Blue Jays have accumulated talent, but can they shift into pushing towards contending. General manager Alex Anthopoulos points out that when he traded for Santos last winter, it was the first time he'd dealt a prospect (pitcher Nestor Molina) for an established player. He also said he agonized over it. Will the Jays be willing to make the bold moves it will take? "I want to be in position that we're knocking on the door and it's on me," Anthopoulos said.

  Ricky Romero won 15 games and had a 2.92 ERA last year. The other 11 guys who started games for the Blue Jays combined to go 36-50 with a 5.05 ERA. The Jays have some good arms in the rotation, but to compete in the tough American League East, they need a few more of those starters to step up and prove they can handle it.

  A year ago in spring training, Anthopoulos explained to me why Toronto should be a big-market club, and it made sense. They play in a huge city, with an entire country to market to, and they have a fan base that once produced three straight seasons with attendance of 4 million-plus. But will ownership and upper management step up and act big-market? For now, the Blue Jays have stubbornly stuck to a policy of never giving anything longer than a five-year contract, which keeps them out of bidding for the biggest free agents.

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