2006 record
87-75, second, American League East

Projected batting order
1. LF Reed Johnson:
  .319 BA, 12 HR, 49 RBIs in 2006
2. RF Alex Rios:
  .302 BA, 17 HR, 82 RBIs in 2006
3. CF Vernon Wells:
  .303 BA, 32 HR, 106 RBIs in 2006
4. DH Frank Thomas:
  .270 BA, 39 HR, 114 RBIs in 2006
5. 3B Troy Glaus:
  .252 BA, 38 HR, 104 RBIs in 2006
6. 1B Lyle Overbay:
  .312 BA, 22 HR, 92 RBIs in 2006
7. C Gregg Zaun:
  .272 BA, 12 HR, 40 RBIs in 2006
8. 2B Aaron Hill:
  .291 BA, 6 HR, 50 RBIs in 2006
9. SS Royce Clayton:
  .258 BA, 2 HR, 40 RBIs in 2006

Projected rotation
1. RHP Roy Halladay, 16-5, 3.19 ERA in 2006
2. RHP A.J. Burnett, 10-8, 3.98 ERA in 2006
3. LHP Gustavo Chacin, 9-4, 5.05 ERA in 2006
4. RHP John Thomson, 2-7, 4.82 ERA in 2006
5. RHP Tomo Ohka, 4-5, 4.82 ERA in 2006

Projected bullpen
Closer: LHP B.J. Ryan, 38 saves, 1.37 ERA in 2006
RH setup man: Brandon League, 2.53 ERA in 2006

The new guys
Thomas: In November, Toronto signed the free-agent slugger to a two-year, $18.12 million deal that includes a vesting option for 2009. The Jays used numerous players as the DH in '06, so Thomas, who finished fourth in AL MVP voting last year, gives the lineup an immediate boost. He also sits just 13 home runs shy of 500 for his career.

Clayton: The Blue Jays signed Clayton to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in November. Toronto plans on having the veteran infielder split time at shortstop with John McDonald. Both players provide sound defense at short -- a position that was a glaring weak spot last season.

Thomson: In an effort to add depth to its rotation, Toronto signed Thomson to an incentive-laden deal in January. The right-hander is coming off a shoulder injury, but has had success in the past. Thomson will be competing for a rotation spot with the Jays this spring.

Ohka: The Blue Jays also took a chance on Ohka, who was sidelined for much of last season due to a pair of injuries. Toronto signed the Japanese righty to an incentive-based contract in January because he's shown the ability to eat up innings when healthy. Ohka and Thomson are the leading candidates for the Nos. 4-5 spots in the rotation.

RHP Victor Zambrano: Zambrano is coming off reconstructive elbow surgery and probably won't be available as a starter until midseason, but that didn't stop Toronto from signing him to a Minor League contract. If Zambrano has a successful recovery, he would give the Jays another veteran option for the rotation. The contract also includes a club option for '08.

OF Matt Stairs: At the end of the Winter Meetings in December, Toronto signed Stairs to a Minor League contract with the hope that he could be the club's fourth outfielder. Stairs provides a left-handed bat off the bench and he can also serve as a backup at first base and at DH.

INF Jason Smith: During the Rule 5 Draft in December, the Jays picked up Smith, a versatile player who can add depth at all four infield positions. Last year, Smith hit .263 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 49 games for the Rockies.

C Sal Fasano: Besides Zaun and Jason Phillips, Toronto's depth behind the plate was relatively thin. So the Jays signed Fasano, a nine-year veteran, to a Minor League deal. Fasano could contend for the backup job this spring, but he's also willing to play at Triple-A for Toronto.

Prospects to watch
LF Adam Lind: Lind's offensive production led to a rapid ascent through Toronto's Minor League system in 2006. The 23-year-old outfielder then hit .367 in 18 September games with the Jays. He'll likely begin '07 at Triple-A, but an impressive spring could have him in the running for a job with Toronto.

RHP Dustin McGowan: McGowan, 24, has bounced between starting and relieving over the past two seasons in Toronto's system. Now, it looks like McGowan -- a first-round pick in 2000 -- will start 2007 at Triple-A as a starter, but he has an outside shot at making the Jays' rotation.

Returning from injury
Burnett: Toronto invested $55 million in a five-year deal to add Burnett to its rotation last offseason. When healthy, Burnett showed flashes of his potential, but he spent more than two months on the disabled list with an elbow injury. The right-hander finished the season strong and will play an important role for the Jays this year.

Chacin: The left-hander also missed more than two months with an elbow injury last season. Chacin pitched well after returning to the rotation in August, and Toronto expects him to arrive to Spring Training without any lingering issues.

Halladay: Halladay missed a handful of starts last season due to a right forearm strain, but the injury wasn't serious. The problem simply required rest, and Halladay had plenty of that this offseason. The right-hander should be poised for another strong season as Toronto's ace.

Johnson: The left fielder had to call it a year before Toronto's final series last season due to a stress fracture in his right leg. This winter, Johnson had his running stride analyzed and found out that the issue began with his hips. He's worked with various hip strenghtening and flexibility exercises to hopefully avoid a similar injury this year.

On the rebound
RHP Josh Towers: Towers struggled as a starter last season, going 1-9 with a 9.11 ERA as a member of Toronto's rotation. It was a drastic contrast to 2005, when he led the Jays with 13 wins. Towers, who is scheduled to make $2.9 million in 2007, will try to prove he's worthy of a rotation spot this spring. The Jays might consider him in a long-relief role, too.

INF Russ Adams: Adams entered last year as the Jays' starting shortstop, but fielding and hitting woes led to a demotion to Triple-A. Adams -- Toronto's top pick in the '02 First-Year Player Draft -- then converted to second base and rejoined the Jays as a backup. Adams will likely start this year at Triple-A, but he could possibly make Toronto's roster as a backup to Hill at second.

Long gone
OF Frank Catalanotto: The versatile veteran spent four memorable years with Toronto, but he signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal with Texas this winter. After Johnson emerged as an everyday player in left field and the Jays signed Thomas to be their DH, Catalanotto was left without a regular role with Toronto.

LHP Ted Lilly: The Blue Jays made every effort to re-sign Lilly, but the southpaw decided to sign a four-year, $40 million contract with the Cubs. Losing Lilly, who won a career-high 15 games last year for Toronto, left a big hole in the rotation. The Jays are hoping Thomson, Ohka, or perhaps one of the young pitchers, can help fill in the gap.

C Bengie Molina: Both Zaun and Molina were interested in returning to Toronto, but neither wanted to be part of a platoon situation again. Zaun, who inked a two-year deal worth $7.25 million in November, was more affordable for the Jays. Molina signed a three-year, $16 million with the Giants after hitting a career-high 19 homers last season with the Jays.

RHP Justin Speier: Toronto had interest in retaining Speier as its setup man, but the 33-year-old reliever signed a four-year, $18 million deal with the Angels. Losing Speier, who had a 2.98 ERA last season, leaves the Jays with a very young bullpen. They plan on trying League as Speier's replacement.

2006 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Johnson .319
OBP: Johnson, .390
SLG: Wells, .542
Runs: Glaus, 105
RBIs: Wells, 106
Hits: Wells, 185
2B: Overbay, 46
3B: Rios, 6
HR: Glaus, 38
SB: Wells, 17
2006 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Halladay, 220
W: Halladay, 16
L: Lilly, 13
Win %: Halladay, 16-5, .762
S: Ryan, 38
ERA: Ryan, 1.37
K: Lilly, 160
K/9: Ryan, 10.70
WHIP: Ryan, 0.86

Triple play: Three questions that need answers

1. Who will occupy the fourth and fifth spots in Toronto's rotation?
Heading into Spring Training, Thomson and Ohka are the leading candidates for the two jobs at the back end of the starting staff. They'll have to fend off pitchers like Shaun Marcum, Casey Janssen, Towers and McGowan, though.

2. Can Toronto keep its pitchers healthy this year?
Health will be a big part of who makes Toronto's rotation. Halladay, Burnett, Chacin, Thomson and Ohka each experienced some sort of injury last season. The Jays will need to take every precaution this spring to keep their staff off the shelf and on the mound.

3. Will Toronto's offense be as good as it looks on paper?
A few Blue Jays had breakout years last season, and it's not always a guarantee that a player can repeat past success. That being said, adding Thomas to the heart of the order acts as added insurance and it gives Toronto one of the most intimidating lineups in baseball. The offense should be the Jays' strongest asset this season.

The bottom line
A lack of pitching depth was a major issue last year for Toronto. Various injuries and slumps took a toll on the rotation, which in turn put extra strain on the bullpen and pressure on the offense. This year, the Jays need their starters to eat up more innings if the club wants to make a serious run at the playoffs.