Now that Roy Halladay is on the DL I think it is time the Jays start to look at the bigger picture than their chances of making the playoffs this season. What they did early this season signifies that are able to play with the big boys but their tailspin 9-game losing streak shows that they are not quite ready to be one of the big boys just yet. They have some needs that J.P. has to address and soon or they will miss a window of opportunity and most likely Halladay will be packing his bags when he hits the open market.
Who is the cleanup hitter on this team? I'm not trying to say that Cito should pick one guy and stick with him, Cito knows what he is doing and he has to be held responsible for the teams success to this point in the season. Without a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup this team is going nowhere and fast. Look at the teams in their division. You have Rodriguez and Teixeira in New York, Bay and Youkilis, along with a resurgent Ortiz in Boston, Pena (and now Zobrist) in Tampa Bay and Baltimore has Markakis along with young studs Wieters, Riemold and Jones. A strategy that might work in the West is not going to work in this division of mashers. It's time for Riccardi to go out and get a power threat that will let the supporting cast feed off of his success and grow together. How different would this team look right now if Cito could pencil in Scutaro, Hill, Rios, Adam Dunn, Wells, Lind, Rolen, Overbay, Barajas? They could have had this guy from free agency but Riccardi failed to pull the trigger. Not all the blame can be put on his shoulders because most in the organization thought Travis Snider was ready to make an impact this year, but regardless, he failed to make the big signing and has shown throught the teams first 69 games of the season.
Looking ahead to this offseason there are a plethera of players set to hit the open market that make your mouth water in anticipation. Adam Laroche could be had from Pittsburgh as he is set to become a free agent and he would bring more power potential to the lineup than Lyle Overbay. Scutaro and MacDonald are both set to be free agents so Riccardi is stuck with the decision of paying Scutaro or going after a guy like Jack Wilson (also from Pittsburgh) who has pop and could be had relatively cheaply. One scenario I really like would be the Jays shipping Wells out and signing one of the outfielders who are set to hit the market this winter. The list includes some big names like Jason Bay, Matt Holliday and Vlad Guerrero but an intriguing guy is another one they missed out on this past winter, Bobby Abreu. Along with the 100 rbi's he brings annually he can also swipe a bag or two and he is much cheaper than Wells. Signing Abreu and trading Wells would allow Rios to slide over to centre and Abreu would then occupy right until Snider is ready to play out there every day. This would be a short term contract that would take the pressure off Snider and allow him to develop into an everyday player. This would still leave the door open for another signing and I like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday in left for about 5-6 years. Yes Rogers will have to ante up to get one of these guys but if they want to win they have to open the wallets at some point.
There is also a long list of arms that would look great teamed up with Doc including a couple Canadians in Rich Harden and Erik Bedard. Thinking out loud here but wouldn't it be great to see Bay, Harden and Bedard in a Jays uniform, not that it's realistic but a nice thought to ponder? Brett Myers and Justin Duchscherer are the other names I would like to see the Jays pursue after the final pitch of this season. All four of these guys are injury risks yes, but with those risks come monster rewards. Harden and Bedard are absolutely brilliant when healthy and having them behind Halladay, like Burnett last year, they would thrive.
The Jays are not out of the picture this year by any means but it's nice to look ahead to what could be once in a while. Realistically, I don't think any more than one of the guys listed above will where a Jays uniform next year, if any, but if Riccardi can convince ownership that this team is on the brink, as it is, we might have some things to look forward to on the days in between Halladay's starts.