a 2012 Toronto Blue Jays Baseball: Blue Jays Needs
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What does Toronto need to do to win



Toronto Blue Jays hats & merchandise Toronto fell to the Kansas City Royals last night, 11-3, and it was another less than stellar outing from the Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero. Going 6+ innings and giving up 8 earned runs, it is his second consecutive start where he's allowed that many runs in a start. Romero has mentioned both on and off the record that he is not injured in any way, shape or form; and that it is just a control issue pertaining to his release point. With the depleted starting rotation, and the over worked bull pen, Romero needs to shake this off before the Jays fall further out of contention. They are 2.5 games back of the 2nd wild card spot, behind both Baltimore and the Los Angeles Angels and need to make up ground quickly. August won’t be a kind month to the team north of the border, having to face their AL East counterparts 14 out of 29 games. In a division as strong as the AL East, Toronto needs to make a splash soon in order to be relevant come September.

There are a few routes that Alex Anthopolous can take come trade deadline. He can look at starting pitching, whether it is long or short term. He can look at an everyday left fielder, as well as an everyday DH or 1st basemen as well. These are the Blue Jays main weaknesses this season, and it’s showing with a .500 record to date. In any other division, that record would be commendable.

Let’s start with starting pitching. The rotation looks as follows:

Aaron Laffey
Ricky Romero
Brett Cecil
Henderson Alvarez
Carlos Villanueva/Drew Carpenter

Even on paper, it doesn’t look that great.

With a lifetime record of 21-23 with an ERA of 4.22, Aaron Laffey is a subpar pitcher that is being used to fill a hole. Making 6 appearances, only 2 of which being games started, he’s managed a record of 0-0 while posing an ERA of 2.14. I admit that his last start in Boston was well above what is expected of him, allowing 0 runs, with 2 hits spread across 6.0 innings. But, Laffey isn’t an everyday man you can plug into your rotation.

Same goes for Brett Cecil. At the tail end of last season, he was up with the big club and needed to work on the velocity for his fastball. When spring training came around, the club was still not impressed with his efforts and ended up in Triple-A, only to drop down further to Double-A with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats team. Again, not someone you can rely on long term with the club if you plan to make a dent in the chase for a pennant.

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Henderson Alvarez has been making improvements, but lacks consistency in his starts. When he takes to the mound, you don’t know what to expect most nights. Sometimes he’s on point, other nights he lacks the control needed to get the W.
Aside from having injured players such as Brandon Morrow, and Dustin McGowan return, the Blue Jays need a middle aged establish pitcher to add to the 3 spot in their rotation. Someone like the Chicago Cubs’ Matt Garza would work in such a role. Having post-season experience with the Tampa Bay Rays on his belt, he can provide a much more consistent outing than most of the players Anthopolous has been trying out. At 28 years old, he has a career ERA of 3.85 and a much better track record in the American League than in the National League. A 4-6 record with the Cubs isn’t a particularly clear indication as to what he is still capable of given their rosters lack of performance these past few years. With both Minnesota and Tampa Bay, he proved he could be a solid 2 or 3 man in the rotation, and if the price is right, Toronto should look into acquiring someone with his talents.

Left Field is a position that has been a toss-up for quite some time. Currently we have Rajai Davis filling the 7 spot, and it is probably about time we look into someone with a little more defensive skill and a lot more pop in their bat to take over the role. Other than quickness on the base path, Davis doesn’t bring a ton to the table. We all know that Travis Snider is down in Triple-A waiting for another shot to redeem himself, but injuries are his worst enemy when it comes down to his wrists. He does possess the ability and skill to fill the role of an everyday LF, but needs to become much more consistent with the bat if he wants to maintain that same spot with the big club. Eric Thames had his shot this season, and it didn’t quite go as planned. Toronto needs someone that could easily fit as a 6 or 7 spot in the starting lineup, and someone who can perform when called upon.

Someone like a Shane Victorino, or a Nick Swisher could fill such a role. Being that they’re both in the last years of their contracts, something might be able to work itself out. Victorino is the more likely choice with Pat Gillick having done the Roy Halladay deal some years back, and having that tie with Toronto from his past. He also brings leadership, playoff and World Series experience, and a bat that can help out when necessary. Swisher, although highly unlikely due to the fact that the Yankees are in the same division, would provide much of the same. There are many other OF position players coming up in free agency, but these two make the most sense for Anthopolous to go after.

Finally there is the issue of the 1st/DH position. Encarnacion is on fire this season at 1st base, and Adam Lind has recently been recalled by the Jays to fill in for either position. Although he has shown some improvement in Triple-A, he is still extremely inconsistent with his bat. Encarnacion is having a career year, and fans have turned a cheek in the process. Boos have turned to cheers, and the “E5” chant has now become a memory of the past. Many people have suggested that JP Arencibia should be taught how to place 1st base, and have rookie sensation Travis D’Arnaud take over at the catching position. While it makes sense that JP is utilized for his bat, it doesn’t make sense to throw a catcher to the wolves so early on his career.

If the Jays are going to want to contend, they will need to spend the money to do so. With 1/3 of the Yankees payroll, the Blue Jays can’t contend in the AL East. If they want to bring back the packed seats of the early 90’s, and recreate those memories of multiple World Series titles, they’ll need to go out and become buyers at the trade deadline, and in the upcoming off season. Starting pitching, a LF, and either a fulltime 1st basemen of DH being of utmost importance.



Alexander McWilliams
MLBCenter.com Staff Writer

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