Needs and Luxuries: Toronto Blue Jays

Today, let’s dissect the Jays.  A look at their 2008 setup:

C – Gregg Zaun
1B – Lyle Overbay
2B – Aaron Hill
SS – John McDonald
3B – Troy Glaus
LF – Reed Johnson/Adam Lind
CF – Vernon Wells
RF – Alex Rios
DH – Frank Thomas

SP – Roy Halladay
SP – A.J. Burnett
SP – Dustin McGowan
SP – Shaun Marcum
SP – Jesse Litsch/Josh Towers/Gustavo Chacin

Closer – B.J. Ryan
Setup – Jeremy Accardo


Needs

In general, the Jays’ main deficiency this year has been offense.  Their .326 OBP ranks 12th in the AL, their .422 SLG is 8th.  The lineup has plenty of underachievers – Wells, Overbay, Lind, and Johnson to name the chief culprits.  Johnson seems like a non-tender candidate.  But the other three are simply better than they’ve shown in 2007.  Wells has been playing through a shoulder injury this year, and surgery will be considered after the season.  Overbay broke a bone in his hand in June; he was hitting .256/.332/.464 up to that point.  Residual soreness after the surgery has led to a .223/.303/.326 line since.  Getting Wells and Overbay 100% healthy for ’08 is crucial.  As unpopular as it would be, the Jays should probably shut them both down right now.

If Wells does have shoulder surgery, a stopgap CF like Kenny Lofton might be a wise move.  But the obvious need for the Jays is shortstop.  No use pining for the should’ve-been-drafted Troy Tulowitzki.  The free agent market is weak – David Eckstein, Cesar Izturis, Juan Uribe, and Omar Vizquel.  J.P. Ricciardi has to hit the trade market.

His primary options: Edgar Renteria, Jack Wilson, Miguel Tejada, and Rafael Furcal.  The last two may be just wishful thinking for various reasons.  And J.P. had this to say regarding the Wilson rumors back in July: "We have absolutely no interest in Jack Wilson.  None."  Maybe a new GM in Pittsburgh can change his mind.  Renteria seems the best choice; would the Braves trade him for Burnett?  The oft-injured righty may opt out of his contract after 2008.         

Luxuries

If the Jays have an abundance of anything, it’s pitching.  They have the second best ERA in the league at 3.96.  As I mentioned earlier, trading Burnett could make sense.

Ricciardi should seriously consider moving Marcum at the peak of his value.  The homer-prone hurler has a 3.45 ERA in 130 innings as a starter, based heavily on an unsustainable low rate of hits allowed.  I like him – he’s plenty useful and has done a great job this year.  But this would be a prime example of selling high.  Maybe the Dodgers would part with Chin-lung Hu.

Towers stands a decent chance of being moved if he’s not non-tendered.  As we’ve discussed here before, he can help an NL team.  Perhaps the Bucs would swap Wilson for him.

The bullpen should probably be left untouched.  The Jays could assemble an elite crew with Ryan, Accardo, Janssen, League, and others.  The volatility of bullpens and players coming back from injuries might be reason to keep the apparent surplus.



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