Slugger Frank Thomas is headed north of the border after signing a two year deal with Toronto worth $18.12 million. Thomas also has an option for 2009 that will pay him $10 million. This is a great acquisition for J.P. Ricciardi and the Blue Jays as Frank is a major offensive threat.
Last year, as a member of the A's he batted .270 with 39 home runs and 114 runs batted in. He will be added to an already potent lineup that includes all star Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus, Alex Rios, Reed Johnson and Lyle Overbay. The big hurt is currently the only Blue Jay to be born before 1974. This team is founded on its youth and by adding a crafty veteran in Thomas you are telling your fans that you are serious about winning.
During last years off season general manager J.P. Ricciardi went out and signed pitchers A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan. Many people including myself thought that he was crazy in giving them such large contracts, but they both proved that they were worth the money. By going out early into this years off season and signing one of the best offensive players ever to play the game the Blue Jays will now find themselves up there with the best teams in the AL come October.
Toronto took a major step last season in leap frogging the Red Sox's into second place and this season I expect them to finish in first. When you can combine the pitching of all star and former CY young winner Roy Halladay with A.J. Burnett who has won a World Series ring before you are making a great one two tandem that will plow down opposing hitters. The knock on Burnett has been that he's never been able to stay healthy, but this year he will prove the doubters wrong.
Still, if the Blue Jays are to first make the playoffs and have a chance of going deep they need to solidify the back end of their rotation. Toronto possesses an above average bullpen that is lead by closer B.J. Ryan who posted an impressive 1.37 ERA last season and racked up 38 saves. Their offense featured six hitters who had at least a .300 or better average last season and with the addition of Frank Thomas their power numbers will sky rocket. The big hurt will be laying tremendous damage on American League pitching and hopefully he is successful enough to lead the Blue Jays into the playoffs.