Toronto Blue Jays: Why the Next 2 Weeks Will Determine the 2012 Season

Tim MackayCorrespondent IJune 24, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 23:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 (L) of the Toronto Blue Jays scores on a squeeze play against Catcher Brett Hayes #9 of the Miami Marlins in the second inning at Marlins Park on June 23, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays are at a crossroads in their identity as a team. 

Usually, defining moments don't occur right before the All-Star Game, but in the case of the 2012 Jays, the next two weeks may very well decide what direction the franchise will go in the near future. 

As it stands at the time of writing, the Jays sit in fifth place in the American League East with a 37-35 record. 

Being in fifth place is never a good thing. It's difficult to try and spin fifth place into a positive.

However, the Jays are only six games back of the first-place Yankees, and the division is extraordinarily tight this year. It would be very easy to argue that the Blue Jays have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs and making a run. They do have two spectacular pitchers at the top of their rotation, remember.

But then, the problem becomes the wave of injuries that have beleaguered the team. 

First, it was Sergio Santos, the closer who was supposed to solidify the shaky bullpen from a year ago. 

While some Jays fans were happy to see him injured after his early season struggles, if you asked those fans now whether they'd rather have Santos or Francisco Cordero closing, it would be unanimous for the former White Sox reliever. 

Then, ace Brandon Morrow went down with a strained oblique, and there remains no timetable for his return. 

Then, Kyle Drabek had season-ending surgery after such a promising start. 

Then, Drew Hutchison, after I wrote that now was his opportunity to make a difference in the Jays season, will be out until late July at the earliest. 

The Jays' probable starters for this week are Ricky Romero, Henderson Alvarez, Jesse Chavez, Aaron Laffey and Brett Cecil. 

Anytime an MLB team has three starters who began the year in Triple-A in their rotation, they have serious problems. 

That being said, it's wrong to say the Jays have no shot of making the post-season. 

If the patchwork rotation can keep Toronto close over the next few weeks—or at least until Morrow returns—they might be able to keep up with the rest of the AL East. 

And if that happens, general manager Alex Anthopoulos will have some very tough decisions to make at the July 31 trade deadline. 

As it stands now, Anthopoulos will likely be a seller at the deadline. 

But what makes the next two weeks so crucial and downright interesting for Jays fans is that if the team can go, say, 10-4, then Anthopoulos might consider adding a few pieces to the playoff puzzle. 

Wouldn't that be fun, Jays fans?