It's been almost a generation since the Toronto Blue Jays were relevant in the American League East. The Jays, bumping up against the division's glass ceiling, haven't been to the postseason since winning their second of two straight World Series titles in 1993.
But there, finally, may be some reason for optimism. The Jays have a new management team in place -- second-year GM Alex Anthopoulos and rookie manager John Farrell -- some flexibility in their payroll and a promising stockpile of young players.
With four winning seasons in the last five, the Jays are, if nothing else, competitive again.
Three things that have to go right:
1) Jose Bautista must come close to his power numbers from 2010, when he led all major leaguers with 54 homers.
The Jays' lineup otherwise lacks much punch, making it essential that Bautista once again carry the production load.
2) The Jays must invest the more than 80 million they saved on Vernon Wells' salary wisely.
The deal happened too late this offseason to impact the Jays' winter moves, but that's probably a good thing since the Jays aren't ready to contend -- yet.
3) Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow must be more consistent and develop into front-line starters.
Romero has won 27 games over the last two seasons, but can be inconsistent.
Three things that can't go wrong:
1) Bautista can't be yanked back-and-forth between third base and the outfield, as he was last year.
He needs to play one position and remain there.
2) Aaron Hill can't be as inconsistent as he's been.
The 2009 season (36 homers, 108 RBI) looked like his breakout year before he regressed and hit only .205 with just 68 RBI last year.
3) Travis Snider and Adam Lind can't be stalled in their development.
With Wells gone, the Jays lineup is in need of more run producers to give their lineup depth.