Ranking the Toronto Blue Jays' Biggest MLB Trade Deadline Needs

Ramy EljawharyContributor IIJuly 27, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JULY 21: J.A. Happ #48 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the game on July 21, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Last week, the Toronto Blue Jays made quite the splash as they acquired pitchers J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon  and David Carpenter in a 10 player swap with the Houston Astros

Going the other way was pitcher Francisco Cordero, outfielder Ben Francisco, and four minor leaguers (pitchers Joe Musgrove, Asher Wojciechowski, David Rollins and catcher Carlos Perez). 

The Astros will also receive a player to be named later.

With Sergio Santos and Luis Perez lost for the season and with the recent injury to Jason Frasor, the Blue Jays desperately needed to bolster an overworked bullpen which features veterans Darren Oliver, Casey Janssen and the aforementioned Frasor, along with rookies Chad Beck and Aaron Loup.

Happ is capable of stepping into the Jays’ rotation, but with Aaron Laffey and Carlos Villanueva throwing the ball as well as they have, the Jays may elect to leave Happ in the bullpen and give him the same role Perez held prior to his injury.

Despite the recent trade, pitching remains the club’s biggest need moving forward. 

The Jays have been resilient for much of the season and could go on a hot streak, but the cost for starting pitching will come at a premium,  and a playoff spot may be unrealistic with five teams ahead of them for the second Wild Card spot.

At 49-49 and four games out of a wild-card spot, the Blue Jays are not out of it, but at the same time they have lingered around the .500 mark all season long and might be just that - a .500 team.

The addition of a proven starter would surely give the rotation a boost, but are the Jays a starter away from contending for a playoff spot?

Staff ace Ricky Romero has just eight quality starts over 21 turns and has struggled mightily since going 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA over his first five starts of the season. 

He managed to go 3-1 in May with a pedestrian 4.82 ERA, and posted 2-1 mark in June despite an ugly 7.33 ERA. 

However, his luck has run out as the offense has been unable to bail him out in his recent outings. 

He was terrific in back-to-back appearances (July 7 and 13) against the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians, as he gave up just three earned runs over 12 innings, but the Jays failed to score in each of those starts.  In fact the offense has been shut down in four of his five appearances this month. 

The 27-year-old has also made a habit of falling behind early. 

He was tagged for eight runs in six innings on July 2 against the Kansas City Royals, and gave up six runs over six innings on July 18 against the Yankees.  He was abused in his most recent start (July 25) by the Oakland Athletics, as he was lit up for eight runs in just 1.1 innings of work.

Injuries to Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison have left a major hole in the rotation.  

Morrow was easily the team’s best starter prior to his injury and is expected to return in August, which should take some pressure off the rest of the rotation. 

Toronto may be better off sticking with what they have for the remainder of the season and look to add to their rotation via trade or free agency during the offseason.

They could use another arm in the bullpen to help bridge the gap from their starting pitcher to closer Casey Janssen. 

At present, manager John Farrell is likely to use one or a combination of J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and Darren Oliver before calling on Janssen.

Outside of the injured Santos, the Blue Jays ‘pen does not have anyone who can come into a game and light up the radar gun. 

The Royals (Aaron Crow, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera) are loaded with those type of arms and could be a good trade partner for Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos. 

Offensively, the Jays are in good shape and will likely stand pat as their 141 home runs rank second in the majors to the Yankees’ 153, and as of July 26, their 488 runs equal the Texas Rangers for the major league lead.

The offense will soon return to full strength with Jose Bautista (sore left wrist) expected to rejoin the club in August, while the addition of Travis Snider could make potent Jays offense even more dangerous down the stretch. 

In six games, the 24-year-old is batting .304 with two homers and six RBI.