Not the kind of earth-shattering news we were maybe hoping for during these Winter Meetings– though it’s hard to get greedy, and as I heard Mike Wilner point out on the radio yesterday, if the Jays had spaced out their acquisitions of Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes, Bonifacio, Izturis and Cabrera a little more over the course of the winter, I don’t think we’d be nearly so antsy right now– but at least, apparently, Alex Anthpoulos is still on the prowl for something.
The Blue Jays, having dramatically remade their team already, are looking for bullpen help. Lefty Darren Oliver, 42, has not yet committed to coming back for next season even though Toronto exercised its $3 million team option on the former Met.
There hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to the Jays bullpen so far this off-season, largely because of all the work Alex Anthopoulos did to shore it up over the course of the summer, but… maybe there should have been.
By the end of the year, we felt pretty comfortable with the group back there, but especially without Darren Oliver– along with exiting veterans Jason Frasor and Brandon Lyon– it’s not exactly the same unit. Casey Janssen was terrific, but even the Jays, according to Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail this week, are giving off indications that his “grip on the Toronto closer’s spot is not iron-clad.”
“Indeed,” Blair writes, “it was apparent from both manager John Gibbons and Anthopoulos that if Sergio Santos (shoulder) is healthy, he could press Janssen.”
The health of Santos is still a work in progress, too, and for all the talk of having too many options, or too many guys who are out of options, beyond the two vying to be closer, the group isn’t exactly the Nasty Boys– at least not when it comes to name recognition.
Steve Delabar. Brad Lincoln. Brett Cecil. Aaron Loup. Esmil Rogers. Jeremy Jeffress. Chad Jenkins.
I mean, I know they have many strengths and that just because they’re not “name” relievers doesn’t mean they can’t be effective, but… this is the group we’re so confident in? Really?
It sure would look a lot better with Oliver back, another back-end piece to replace him, a guy like Carlos Villanueva, or even just with Happ sliding down from the rotation into the swingman role, wouldn’t it? Or, shit, remember when a couple executives told Jayson Stark that they saw the Jays as a landing spot for Rafael Soriano? I think big money spent on relievers is awful dumb… but on the other hand, what this book presupposes is, why the hell not?
They’ve got to do something, I think– at the very least with the money that will be freed up if Oliver turns them down.
So… there’s that.