One.. More.. Year..
Toronto Blue Jays fans, like it or not, will probably have to tolerate one more year of J.P. Ricciardi. The Jays are playing some fantastic baseball right now, and with Roy Halladay on the mound against the Rays tonight at the Rogers Centre, there’s no reason to think they won’t stretch their streak to a season-high 6 straight wins. The Jays are playing with the passion and fervor that seems to be saved for only those close enough to taste a playoff birth. Their intensity and stellar effort night in and night out since Cito Gaston arrived is impressive and encouraging. Although, it may be most encouraging for the oft ‘chopping-block-wished’ Ricciardi.
Since Gaston has taken over for the Jays, Toronto has the best record in the American League. Unfortunately, they’re still 9-games back of the Wild Card, but you’d never know it by the level of their play.
Travis Snider has made his way up, Adam Lind looks to be the hitter he was touted to be, Jesse Litsch defies critics and is posting a sub-4 E-R-A, is 10-8, and has 2 CG shutouts this season. Those are numbers reserved for a 3 or a very good 4-man in a rotation. These performances, accompanied with some others, I believe will keep J.P. in Toronto for one more season. Mainly because in the off-season, he has a very, very easy job…
GET A MONSTER BAT.
That’s it. Nothing else. It’s not like J.P. needs to address a plethora of issues, or deal with any managerial controversies. He simply needs a bopper in the middle, and all will be good in Blue Jay land… right?
Assuming Burnett opts out, the Jays will have some cash to spend. Lind has been seen working at 1st during batting practice, perhaps raising speculation about the future of Lyle Overbay and his Blue Jay employment. If Lind played 1st, Snider takes his OF spot, and right there you have 2, young, capable hitters that will more than likely occupy the 5/6 or 7 spots in the lineup.
Cue a DH. Names like Thome, Manny and Giambi have been raised in regards to the best off-season DH’s available. I’m not convinced Manny would subscribe to being a full-time DH, and I’m not sure J.P. wants to rest his hopes on the shoulders of Thome or Giambi. Raul Ibanez seems like a possible choice, but on the surface appears to be just a ‘decent’ bat, not capable of filling the kind of power stats that the Blue Jays desire. Scott Rolen at 3rd still doesn’t bother me too much, at least not to the point of calling for his head or another 3B. The acquisition of Jose Bautista more than likely adds a little insurance to that position anyways. Wells, Rios, Barajas (hopefully re-signed… not a superstar, but just as good if not better than any other A.L East catcher), Lind, Snider, and a healthy Aaron Hill are a nice combo of solid hitters. J.P. has stated that his #1 priority is in fact a monster bat, and I don’t have any doubts he will do his damndest to get one.
One quick ‘vent’ before I get going here. I’m sick and tired of hearing that John McDonald isn’t good enough offensively to take on a full-time role with the ballclub. I disagree. How many SS’s in the major leagues have a ridiculous amount of power anymore? Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, and Jhonny Peralta are the only MLB SS’s with 20 or more home runs. So ‘where’ is this supestar SS masher going to come? Miguel Tejada hasn’t had substantial power since getting off the gas, Michael Young has no pop, Khalil Greene, once rumored to be Jays-bound, had some power promise, but only has 10 bombs this season. Major League Baseball doesn’t have a lot of power-hitting shortstops. It just doesn’t. In the A.L. East, McDonald’s counterparts are Jason Bartlett, Alex Cora/Julio Lugo, an old and power-withered Derek Jeter, and Luis Hernandez in Baltimore. While all of these SS’s may own a .50+ better BA than McDonald any given year, is it really that much to give up, when McDonald can provide ridiculous defensive consistency throughout a baseball season? I’m not suggesting Johnny suit-up for 162, but the majority of games? Absolutely.
So, reiterating once again, Ricciardi has a simple task, and the Jays are not ‘far off’ from contending for an A.L. East crown or a Wild Card spot. Then again, we’ve been hearing they’re not ‘far off’ for years now. Here’s hoping J.P. makes that statement correct this time around.