Following their two large-scale losses to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays find themselves 4 1/2 games out of the wild card and 6 1/2 games out of the lead in the American League East.
The biggest hole on the team - one that was exposed during their just finished nine-game home stand against their AL East opponents - appears to be in their bullpen. More specifically, at the closer's spot.
The club has all but said that closer Kevin Gregg won't be used in back-to-back games against the same opponent. Jason Frasor, who opened the season in the closer's role, hasn't earned it back and Scott Downs seems to be locked in where he is - as the club's top left-handed reliever.
I understand that the club is rebuilding this season and that anything that happens in 2010 should be considered a bonus. But seeing how competitive the club is, I don't see why they shouldn't roll the dice and get some back-end help.
Now, before you start hammering the Your! Call button on the bottom of this, just hear me out a little!
There are at least 10 clubs in the game now that would love to trim their payroll. Some of those teams are bound to have better options to close in the AL East than Gregg, who relies more on guile than stuff.
What I propose is adding one of those types of players. Sounds easy, doesn't it?
Of course not, but the Jays do have one advantage that other clubs don't and it's a reserve of money. Heading into the season, the club's brain trust stated that the club has money to spend when they need it.
I'm thinking now is one of those times.
To be clear, I'm not saying that the Jays should/would/will consider any deal for a relief pitcher that would include any of their key prospects like Brett Wallace or Kyle Drabek.
What I propose is that they contact teams that have relief pitchers they like, and whose undesirable contract expires at the end of the season. Then they offer the parent club a low level/non prospect to take the player.
If you think that situation sounds far fetched, it happens. It would be a similar move to the one the Jays did last year, letting Alex Rios go to Chicago for nothing during the waiver process.
The only real downside I can see to a move like this is if the club adds a relief pitcher for a few million dollars for the rest of the year, and the player doesn't pan out. The only thing that the club would lose is money - which I know is easy to say because it's not my money, but the future wouldn't be touched.
Are the Jays a legitimate contender for a playoff spot this year? While I wouldn't think so, I also never expected them to be this good at this point in the season.
Nothing in baseball is guaranteed. While it's easy to say, 'if they're this good now, just wait until next year,' you just never know.
And right now, the club is still in the race. You could make an argument that they would be a lot closer, if they could finish teams out in the later innings.
If you don't have to mortgage the future, why not spend the money to see how far the club can go?