The Toronto Blue Jays learned a lot about the 2003 season this past week. Manager Carlos Tosca and his entire coaching staff will be in the fold; starting pitcher Chris Carpenter will not, or at least not initially.
Carpenter, who was Toronto's ace until Roy Halladay won 15 games this season, will miss nine to 12 months after undergoing shoulder surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn labrum.
At the end of next season, Carpenter, 27, will be eligible for free agency, which will make for some tricky negotiations this winter. The Blue Jays might non-tender his contract rather than take him to arbitration for what might be a half-season, at best.
But the rest of what has been happening in Toronto has been pretty positive of late, and it is closing the gap on the Orioles for third place in the American League East.
The Blue Jays have 15 rookies on their roster, and they continue to make strides under Tosca and first-year general manager J.P. Ricciardi. Tosca and his coaching staff were given two-year extensions last week.
"He's got two [more] years because I've got two years," Ricciardi said. "I want the players going into September knowing these are the guys they have to deal with. The record doesn't reflect how far we've come. We have to establish ourselves as a team people don't want to play. I think we've gone a long way toward doing that."
It was an interesting development, especially because other baseball executives think Ricciardi will likely end up taking over as the Boston Red Sox general manager after the season.
Ricciardi has downplayed that possibility, but the Red Sox have left Mike Port with the interim GM tag, and Boston's playoff hopes are fading. Ricciardi is a Worcester, Mass., native, and this might have been one last gift to Tosca and the staff before he departs.
The Blue Jays were 20-33 when Tosca replaced Buck Martinez on June 2. They entered the weekend 42-45 under Tosca.
"I'd like to thank J.P. [Ricciardi]," Tosca said. "I think it takes a lot of guts to give a manager like me a chance to manage at this level."
Roger over and out?
Roger Clemens could hit the free-agent market after the World Series unless the New York Yankees re-sign him. They have already given him $10.3 million in deferred money toward next season, but it will probably take about $15 million a year to keep him in pinstripes.
Can the Yankees afford it under the new basic agreement, which would force them to pay $56 million in luxury taxes next season using their current payroll of $142 million? Clemens says George Steinbrenner can make it work.
"Somehow, he'll find a way to put a winning team on the field, no matter what," Clemens told the The Record of Hackensack, N.J. "All those teams that are going to be taking George's money, you know they're going to use it for themselves on the golf course. George is going to find another way to make up [the tax pay-out] and keep winning, just to stick it to them."
In Boston, Pedro Martinez has been praising Clemens, perhaps in an effort to bring him back to the Red Sox, calling him "a baseball hero." Clemens never won a World Series until he joined the Yankees, and he says his loyalty remains with Steinbrenner.
"I owe it to George [to stay], after what he's done for me," Clemens said. "I love it here. There's really no other place I'd rather pitch."
Do the math
Boston dropped its third consecutive game Thursday night to fall a season-high 9 1/2 games behind the Yankees and 7 1/2 games behind the Anaheim Angels in the wild-card race.
"There are a lot of things we're not executing around here, but I can execute a calculator real well," Red Sox manager Grady Little said. "We've got to win just about every game [to make the playoffs]."
Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.