Toronto Blue Jays: What Will It Take to Bring Back Former Glory?

Matt EichelSenior Writer IJanuary 22, 2009

Remember that? I do, it was all too long ago.

In the face of so much potential over the last five seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays have continued to wade in the pool of mired inconsistency. Great players are coming and going as the Jays try and find the right balance to bring back that piece of former glory.

After another missed attempt at an AL East Division or Wild Card playoff spot, the Jays have gone 15 years without making it to the October dance. Now, with the departure of ace pitcher AJ Burnett to the New York Yankees, the Jays may have to wait a little while longer.

Or a lot longer.

The Jays' strength lies in their pitching.  Ace Roy Halladay (20-11) is still searching for a good season where the Jays can put their opponents away and get to the postseason. The Jays stand a good chance with Halladay on the mound.

Yet, last season, Halladay showed signs of frustration and impatience with the Toronto club, citing that the team had the talent but not the power to go the distance.

With younger starters Dustin McGowan (6-7) and Shawn Marcum (9-7), who both had their seasons shortened due to surgery, along with Jesse Litsch (13-9) and veteran David Purcey (3-6), the Jays have the potential. But do they have the power to make their lineup work effectively and efficiently?

In the field, the Jays have seen departures as well. Veteran catcher Greg Zaun left, mostly due to inadequate playing time. Rod Barajas was getting the majority.

The problem with the Jays in 2008 was mainly their ineffectiveness to use the power in the middle of their order.

With young, power-hitting players such as Vernon Wells (.300, 20 HR, 78 RBI) and Alex Rios (.291, 15 HR, 79 RBI) in the outfield and clutch hitting infielders such as Marco Scutaro (.267, 7 HR, 60 RBI), Lyle Overbay (.270, 15 HR, 69 RBI), and veteran Scott Rolen (.262, 11 HR, 50 RBI), the Jays have the power. Can they come through?

Players such as Rolen and Shannon Stewart were brought in to bolster and give depth and experience to the Jays while GM JP Riccardi said goodbye to outfielder Matt Stairs.

With a payroll cut from $100 million to $85 million this offseason, along with the return of Cito Gaston to the managing role of the Jays, it seems like the time to rebuild the franchise may be on the horizon.

Many fans wondered why the money that was planned to be used for Burnett's contract option was not used to add some more offensive power, mainly in free agent Jason Giambi.

With losses between $10 million and $20 million Canadian annually, the Jays have cut costs to avoid going too far into debt.

As for those loyal fans, let us hope that the Jays can get back to the winning ways and soon. Or will they become the next Montreal Expos?