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Marty Janzen has pitched a few strikes in his 22 years. Most of
the early ones were tossed in central-Florida bowling alleys,
where the kegling prodigy had a 217 average by the time he was
18. Strikes with a baseball, though, proved harder to come by.
Armed with little more than an 80-mph fastball that was as
straight as a teetotaler, Janzen considered quitting baseball
after his senior year at Gainesville High and was planning a
career on the pro bowlers' tour. But a summer under the tutelage
of his American Legion coach, Kevin Maris, son of the late home
run king, Roger Maris, put 10 mph on Janzen's fastball and
persuaded him to give baseball another try. Today, having bowled
over scouts like so many duckpins, he is probably the top
pitcher in the Blue Jays farm system.

Janzen, who was acquired by Toronto in the trade that sent David
Cone to the Yankees last July, is one of several youngsters the
Blue Jays are counting on to help arrest their free fall. The
team has no choice. For the first time since the early 1980s,
Toronto lacks the abundance of talent that brought the franchise
five division titles, two World Series championships and
countless paeans as the best-run organization in baseball.

Only eight players remain from the team that won the '93 World
Series. Gone are All-Stars Roberto Alomar and Cone, as well as
Paul Molitor and Devon White. And unlike in past years, the
Blue Jays were not able to replenish their roster with
comparably talented players during the off-season. Kansas City
stopper Jeff Montgomery accepted a reported $1.6 million less
than Toronto was offering, opting to stay with the Royals.
Closers Rick Aguilera and Randy Myers, and standout Cuban
pitchers Osvaldo Fernandez and Livan Hernandez all spurned Blue
Jays advances to sign with other teams. Toronto was even
rejected by one of its own: The Jays' best pitcher, Al Leiter,
coming off a year in which he had a career-best 11-11 record and
a 3.64 ERA, signed with Florida. Leiter's defection sent the
Blue Jays brass into a tizzy. "If it wasn't for [former general
manager] Pat Gillick and [current G.M.] Gord Ash, Al Leiter
would've been out of baseball three or four years ago," fumed
team president Paul Beeston.

So Toronto had to settle for several second-tier free agents
such as pitcher Erik Hanson, outfielder Otis Nixon, infielder
Juan Samuel and Charlie O'Brien, an excellent defensive catcher
who hit .227 with the Braves last year. Says Ash, "We're trying
to stockpile young arms and find players who can help teach our
young players the right way to go about the game."

Ash also hopes the fresh faces will invigorate the team's
veteran holdovers, many of whom have slumped recently. During
his first three seasons, 1991-93, Juan Guzman was 40-11 with a
3.28 ERA. Since then he has had a 16-25 record with a 5.99 ERA,
including a dismal 4-14 season in '95. The Jays, however, expect
the 29-year-old righty to rebound; witness the one-year, $2.24
million deal he signed during the off-season. Number 1 starter
Pat Hentgen also slipped dramatically after going 19-9 in 1993,
and first baseman John Olerud, who stayed in the suburbs of .400
through much of '93, hit below .250 for the first three months
of last season.

Should the Blue Jays lose early, full-scale rebuilding seems
inevitable. Veterans who still have value on the market are sure
to be unloaded. One is 36-year-old outfielder Joe Carter, who
slipped last year after having averaged 105.5 RBIs per season
over his career. Nevertheless, Carter remains a menacing
middle-of-the-lineup bat that any contender would welcome.

If Toronto dumps its veterans, it does have some talented
youngsters to fall back on. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, 22;
outfielder Shawn Green, 23; and DH Carlos Delgado, 23, have all
shown flashes of excellence. If the team's new stopper,
28-year-old Bill Risley, acquired from Seattle in the
off-season, is as effective in that role as he was as a setup
man, the Jays have a real find.

Despite the glut of losses they are bound to suffer, the Blue
Jays' young players will not accept that they are part of
anything but a team on the way up. Says Gonzalez, "We don't want
to be classified as a rebuilding program so we'll have an excuse
to lose." Unfortunately for Gonzalez, Janzen and the rest, the
Blue Jays won't need to make excuses; the reasons for their
losing will be obvious--on the field.


COLOR PHOTO: ROB TRINGALI JR./SPORTSCHROME COVER PHOTO [Varies by region] Joltin' Jay Can Joe Carter trigger a Toronto turnaround? COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT JORDAN LEVY The Jays, a team in steep decline, are banking on Guzman's return to form. [Juan Guzman in game]


1995 Team Statistics (AL rank in parentheses)

Batting Average .260 (13)
Home Runs 140 (9)
ERA 4.88 (11)
Fielding Pct. .982 (7)

Broken Wings

In 1993 the Blue Jays became the 19th team to win the World
Series two years in a row. All of the 18 other clubs finished
at least 13 games above .500 in each of the two seasons
immediately following their consecutive championships; the Blue
Jays, however, finished five games below .500 in 1994 (55-60)
and 32 games below .500 last year (56-88), tying Minnesota for
the worst record in the major leagues. The following chart lists
the best and worst winning percentages achieved by teams in the
two-year periods following their back-to-back World Series titles.

Best and Worst Records after Consecutive Titles

Next two seasons
BEST Championships Years W L Pct.

Cubs 1907-08 1909-10 208 99 .678
Yankees 1936-37 1938-39 205 98 .677
Yankees 1951-52 1953-54 202 103 .662


Blue Jays 1992-93 1994-95 111 148 .429
Reds 1975-76 1977-78 180 143 .557
Yankees 1927-28 1929-30 174 134 .565


Few players have gotten off to a more resounding start in the
major leagues than Carlos Delgado. As a rookie in 1994, he
smacked eight home runs, including a 445-foot blast, in his
first 47 at bats. But less than two months later Delgado
crash-landed in Triple A Syracuse, having suffered a 15-for-81
slump. Now the Jays are giving the 23-year-old former catcher
turned first baseman another shot, playing him at DH, where they
hope he will regain his old stroke. Signs are promising: In 333
at bats at Syracuse in '95, he hit .318 with 22 homers and 74



CF Otis Nixon[*] .295, 0, 45, 50
SS Alex Gonzalez .243, 10, 42, 4
LF Joe Carter .253, 25, 76, 12
1B John Olerud .291, 8, 54, 0
3B Ed Sprague .244, 18, 74, 0
RF Shawn Green .288, 15, 54, 1
DH Carlos Delgado .165, 3, 11, 0
2B Domingo Cedeno .236, 4, 14, 0
C Sandy Martinez .241, 2, 25, 0


IF Juan Samuel[*] .263, 12, 39, 6
OF Mike Huff .232, 1, 9, 1


RH Pat Hentgen 10-14, 5.11
RH Erik Hanson[*] 15-5, 4.24
RH Juan Guzman 4-14, 6.32
RH Paul Quantrill[*] 11-12, 4.67
RH Jeff Ware (R) 7-0 in AAA


RH Bill Risley[*] 1, 3.13
RH Mike Timlin 5, 2.14
LH Tony Castillo 13, 3.22
RH Tim Crabtree 0, 3.09

[*] New acquisition (R) Rookie