You poor, poor Toronto Blue Jays. Sometimes life just isn't fair.
Between Alex Rios becoming a cornerstone, Roy Halladay having another career year, and Vernon Wells looking like the slugger of old, this team had high aspirations of finally making it back to the playoffs.
Somebody didn't tell the Tampa Bay Rays, who leaped right over the Jays and stole their thunder. And guess what? Now nobody notices the vast improvements the Jays have made.
Roy Halladay is beginnging to become the face of the franchise. Sure, he's no Curt Schilling or Randy Johnson, but he consistently wins 15+ games and is in the top-five in strikeouts. Even when the team has been had, he's been good.
Alex Rios has yet to live up to the contract Toronto gave him. That being said, he has been consistent, albeit somewhat mediocre. He has the strength and speed to be a season-to-season, 30-90-30 guy, with at least a close-to-.300 average.
Outside of Greg Zaun, the team has picked up a few of baseball's dregs that probably still have a few good seasons left in them. David Eckstein, Marco Scutaro, and Matt Stairs all have some form of mileage with stints in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Kansas City, respectively.
Zaun has been a consistent player for the Jays for the last three years, and he shows no signs of stopping. He has the potential of a Pudge Rodriguez or even a Jorge Posada. Time will tell if he becomes a star.
Lyle Overbay must have left his bat in Milwaukee. He’s been a solid fielder, but the Jays traded for his power and consistency. As of yet, they have not experienced either of those. Hopefully he will hit the “Jeter” stride.
Along with Halladay, the starting pitching has been relatively solid. Jesse Litsch has come on strong for a relatively productive season, despite a staggering ERA. A.J. Burnett looked like he had turned the bend, but he has cooled off since the All Star break.
The bullpen is young and talented, but it is anchored by vet B.J. Ryan, who has had an outstanding season. He may not be the same as he was two years ago, but take a look at some of the other fallen closers (Gagne, Percival, Borowski). He hasn’t done that poorly.
The Jays also have four players sitting on the DL that could contribute. Scott Rolen may still have some fuel in the tank. That’s all I’ll say about him, because the rest of the Toronto press tells the negatives about overpaying for a guy on the downside of his career.
Jeremy Accardo is a bit unknown, but he is a vital part of that bullpen. Aaron Hill fills a hole at second base. Brad Wilkerson can provide a power boost; batting cleanup behind Rios would be a perfect fit.
Sad to say, but it looks like the Jays will miss the playoffs again. They need one or two more pieces to the puzzle. Hopping the Yankees will be easy, but then they have to best the Red Sox. That will be a task and a half.