George Bell, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado, Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells. All these former Toronto Blue Jays players have one thing in common; they were at one time the face of the franchise. Over the last two years Jays fans have bid farewell to some of their favourite and arguably most successful players.
What differs this season from previous years is that the Jays don’t seem to have a definite face to lead this team for the next few seasons. I truly believe that 2011 will be very telling as to what kind of progress the Jays will make and what clubhouse leaders will emerge. Let’s take a look at some of the obvious choices for “face of the franchise” as the season approaches.
Immediately, the most obvious choice is Jose Bautista. Bautista presents all the credentials after a year in which he hit 54 homeruns, along with a 124 runs batted in, an American League All-Star selection, and finishing in the top-5 in MVP voting. Add a new five year contract worth $64 million that makes you the highest paid player on the team and you suddenly have the potential of a new face for the franchise. There’s no denying that Bautista impressed everyone with his 2010 career year, but he has been constantly questioned as to whether he can repeat it. What he does this upcoming season will go a long way into determining what kind of value the Blue Jays get out of him.
Another potential option is Ricky Romero. With the departure of Shaun Marcum, all indication has been given that Romero will be the new staff ace and opening day starter. The former first round pick is poised to have another great year after a 2010 breakout season that saw him compile a record of 14-9 with a 3.73 ERA. Going up against other teams number one starters will be a great test for Romero but he has all the skills needed to become a dominant talent at his position.
Finally, my last two picks are more so for the future and they are Kyle Drabek and Brett Lawrie. As our top pitching and hitting prospects respectively, these two players present the fantastic job management has done restocking the farm system with high ceiling talent. Drabek is going to be counted on to turn into a top of the order pitcher who is capable of working the count and logging big time innings. As a Canadian, Lawrie may turn into a marketing goldmine for the Blue Jays if he can convert all his potential onto the major league level. There are never guarantees with minor league talent, but these are two players that the Jays are hoping to build a championship team around.
Agree? Disagree? Be sure to drop me a line in the comments section below. You can follow me on twitter @georgef9
About the Author
Written by George Fadel
Sports Journalist in training Passionate about all kinds sports Favorite athlete ever is Muhammad Ali Favorite sports movie of ever is Bull Durham