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Written by Tom Lindsey (Contact & Archive) on April 07, 2009
The problem with the Toronto Blue Jays is not that they are a bad team necessarily; the problem with the team is that it has little chance to be great.Â Ordinarily, I would not advocate a massive overhaul merely for a lack of greatness, but in the division it plays in, itâ€™s no secret that greatness has become the standard:Â The Yankees continue to reload easily with their massive revenue streams, the Red Sox have taken to investing their fortunes shrewdly, and in recent years, the Rays have developed their farm system about as flawlessly as any team can be expected to.Â Â To compete, the Jays desperately need a strategy that not only produces a winner, but a remarkably efficient one.
* Itâ€™s worth noting that, even with one of the best rotations in baseball last year, they still only finished 4th in their division.
There are no secret weapons on offense.Â For as good a prospect as Travis Snider is, there is no reason to be convinced heâ€™s ready to contribute at a high level in the Major Leagues.Â The sobering truth is that, at 21, thereâ€™s the distinct possibility that heâ€™s not much of an improvement over Matt Stairs -- and thatâ€™s if most things go right.Â Integrating a prospect to the Majors is still an inexact science, and the possibility of total meltdown always lingers.Â Â The offense beside Snider is what weâ€™ve come to expect:Â There are a few above average contributors in Rios, Wells, and possibly Rolen, but the rest of the offense is so mediocre that it balances out rather quickly.
The problem is compounded by a farm system that ranks as one of baseballâ€™s least inspiring and which will be graduating its best prospect in 2009.Â With less young talent than any other in the division and with less major league talent than any other AL East team not named the â€śOrioles,â€ť the Blue Jays find themselves being quickly left behind.Â The good news is that they are a team that plays in a decent sized market, and that Ricciardi seems to be altering his draft-strategy to incorporate players with higher upsides.Â Â This will be key for the Blue Jays going forward:Â They are a team that has the money to supplement weaknesses with average to above average free agents, but one that also needs badly to develop its own superstars, using free agency merely to complement them.
What the Blue Jays really need is a Marlins-like implosion of the roster.Â Â Roy Halladay trade rumors seem to indicate that they may be considering this, at least to some extent.Â I would support them taking it as far as possible, jettisoning any veteran player on their roster for whom they can receive high-upside prospects.Â Â The downside is that they would get their teeth kicked in for the next couple of years, but the upside of acquiring premiere talent both from trades and high draft picks makes it more than worth it.Â There is no risk here:Â If the Blue Jays continue to operate like they have been, the only way they will be successful is if other teams in the division make massive misjudgments with their resources.