Restoring the rosters: No. 9 – Toronto

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
Coming in ninth is one of the game’s model franchises from the 1990’s. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of talent left over from the era.
Rotation
Roy Halladay
Chris Carpenter
Ricky Romero
Shawn Marcum
Dustin McGowan
Bullpen
Brandon Lyon
David Weathers
Brett Cecil
Kelvim Escobar
Brandon League
Casey Janssen
Alfredo Aceves
As one might expect given recent history, it’d be a deep pitching staff with everyone healthy. Of course, Carpenter, Marcum, McGowan, Escobar and Janssen have all missed huge chunks of time the last couple of years with arm problems. Alternate fifth starter Jesse Litsch is in the same boat, and while Dave Bush hasn’t undergone shoulder surgery yet, he’s been a wreck lately. If you want to replace McGowan with someone who isn’t such an iffy bet going forward, you could plug Cecil or Mark Rzepczynski into the fifth spot. Rzepczynski and Mark Hendrickson were next in line for bullpen spots.
Even with so many others hurt, Halladay and Carpenter counted for an awful lot here. The bullpen, on the other hand, couldn’t be rated very highly with so many question marks.
Lineup
LF Gabe Gross
SS Aaron Hill
DH Adam Lind
3B Michael Young
1B Carlos Delgado
CF Alex Rios
RF Vernon Wells
2B Orlando Hudson
C Robinzon Diaz
Bench
1B-3B Casey Blake
INF Cesar Izturis
OF Reed Johnson
C Kevin Cash
The Jays have had plenty of failed catching prospects over the years, and the inability to develop even a quality backup has dropped them a couple of spots in these rankings. 2007 first-round pick J.P. Arencibia was the one alternative to the Diaz-Cash duo, but he’s hit .227/.275/.416 this year in a terrific environment for hitters at Triple-A Las Vegas. Also, he’s an unexceptional defender.
The rest of the lineup is pretty impressive, even if there’s no real leadoff man in the bunch. Gabe Gross, who is getting on base 36 percent of the time for the Rays, seemed like the best choice, if only because I wanted Young hitting in the middle of the order. Rios would be another option when he has his act together.
Failing to make the team, even though there were good cases for both, were Felipe Lopez and Travis Snider. I think Hill would be a solid shortstop, but if we’re using him there, then it made sense to carry the more defensive-minded Izturis as the backup. Snider is well on his way to becoming a better player than Gross, but Gross has the advantage right now and Johnson can serve as his platoonmate.
Summary
This Blue Jays squad looks very good now, but it’s well worth noting just how much of the talent was brought in before J.P. Ricciardi took over after the 2001 season. Hill and Lind are the only two legitimate position players Ricciardi has developed so far, though Snider is well on his way to being the third. Ricciardi has done a better job at bringing in talented pitchers, but he and his field staff can’t seem to keep them healthy. Unless that changes and a few of the quality arms turn into strong rotation regulars, then the Jays won’t find themselves still in the top 10 the next time these rankings are updated.

Video: Aledmys Diaz hits a grand slam in remembrance of Jose Fernandez

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Aledmys Diaz #36 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI single against San Diego Padres in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz was childhood friends with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, so it was expected when Diaz took time away from the team on Monday to visit Fernandez’s family in Miami. They grew up on the same street in Cuba and played for the same youth baseball team and both would ultimately wind up playing Major League Baseball in the United States.

In the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Reds, Diaz hit a 2-1 Robert Stephenson fastball out to left-center field for a no-doubt grand slam. Teammate Yadier Molina gave Diaz a tight hug as he crossed home plate.

Before Tuesday’s game, Diaz said that the best way to honor Fernandez was to play with his passion, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Diaz said, “I only play for [Fernandez’s] family right now.”

Here’s the video.

AL East still mathematically undecided as Red Sox lose, Blue Jays win

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27:  David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 27, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox would have clinched the AL East if one of two things happened on Tuesday night: the Red Sox themselves beat the Yankees, or the Orioles defeated the Blue Jays. Neither happened.

The Jays soundly took down the Orioles 5-1 behind six strong innings from Aaron Sanchez. Josh Donaldson went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and a pair of walks and leadoff batter Ezequiel Carrera went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, an RBI single, a walk, and three runs scored.

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox for a 6-4 win, responding to both two-run innings the Sox had in the sixth and seventh with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. Gary Sanchez hit his 20th homer of the season. Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin also contributed dingers. Starter Luis Cessa pitched well, limiting the Sox to two runs over six innings on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Red Sox starter David Price struggled, yielding six runs in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard got into trouble in the ninth inning but was able to wiggle out of trouble to finish out the game.

Once again, the Red Sox will be able to clinch the AL East on Wednesday with a win over the Yankees or a Blue Jays loss to the Orioles.