Darren Oliver

J.P. Arencibia

The Blue Jays are making it an easy call to sell

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After holding a players only meeting earlier in the day, the Blue Jays were up on the Dodgers 8-3 after six innings Tuesday night, only to give up seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings to lose 10-9. It was their sixth straight defeat.

Even the All-Star setup crew is getting into the action now. Steve Delabar gave up four runs in Monday’s 14-5 loss, while Brett Cecil surrendered three runs in two-thirds of an inning tonight. Cecil’s ERA has jumped from 1.43 to 2.61 since July 7.

At 45-54, the Blue Jays aren’t only 14 1/2 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East, but they’re 11 games out of the second wild card. Even the fourth place Yankees have 7 1/2 games on them in the AL East.

So while the Blue Jays have been talked about as buyers — they were one of the teams reportedly in the hunt for Matt Garza — they’re really leaving GM Alex Anthopoulos and crew no choice but to sell.

Unfortunately, the pieces the Blue Jays would most want to move have little value at the moment:

  • Josh Johnson has lost his last four starts and has a 7.36 ERA over his last six starts.
  • Mark Buehrle’s heavily backloaded deal calls for him to make $37 million the next two years.
  • Melky Cabrera just returned from an injury and has a .679 OPS.
  • Emilio Bonifacio hasn’t contributed as a utilityman, hitting .211/.251/.307.

The Blue Jays can and should deal from the pen, perhaps starting with closer Casey Janssen. Janssen is under control for $4 million next year and there isn’t a contender around that couldn’t use a guy like him, either for the eighth or ninth. The Jays can also part with one of their four lefties, whether it’s Cecil, Juan Perez or Darren Oliver. Aaron Loup is the keeper of the bunch.

One player the Jays probably can’t afford to move — and this would have come as a surprise a few months ago — is center fielder Colby Rasmus. Supposed heir apparent Anthony Gose has been a disaster in Triple-A, hitting just .230/.316/.303 and getting thrown out on 12 of his 24 steal attempts. Rasmus, a free agent after the 2014 season, has been a very good regular in spite of his strikeout problems, batting .267/.333/.480.

I doubt the Jays will part with any of their stars. There’s still plenty of talent here to get right back into the race next year. But it’s time to turn the page on 2013 and hopefully collect a few prospects to replace the ones they used in their deals for Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey over the winter.

Jose Bautista launches go-ahead homer to lead Blue Jays to 10th straight win

Jose Bautista Getty
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Another day, another win for the Blue Jays. Thanks to a dramatic go-ahead two-run homer by Jose Bautista in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Blue Jays defeated the Orioles 4-2 this afternoon for their 10th consecutive win.

The Blue Jays had a 2-1 lead going into the top of the eighth inning behind another solid performance from Chien-Ming Wang, but Darren Oliver coughed it up on a game-tying solo homer by Taylor Teagarden. However, Bautista took Darren O’Day deep with two outs in the bottom of the frame to put Toronto in front. It was sweet revenge for Bautista, as the two exchanged words after O’Day struck out him out last night.

As you can see in the picture to the right and the video below, Bautista had a message for O’Day on the way to home plate:

While the Blue Jays were 10 games under .500 as recently as June 4, they now sit at 37-36 on the year. Amazingly, all five teams in the American League East are currently over .500. This is going to be a fun summer.

Blue Jays place Darren Oliver on DL, call up Sean Nolin

Darren Oliver Getty
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Blue Jays left-hander Darren Oliver has been his usual effective self this season at age 42, posting a sub-3.25 ERA for the sixth straight season, but now he’s headed to the disabled list with a strained shoulder.

To replace Oliver on the roster Toronto called up Double-A left-hander Sean Nolin, a 23-year-old who was their sixth-round pick in 2010. While not considered a top prospect Nolin has excellent numbers as a starter in the minors and is arriving in the majors after a grand total of just 30 innings above Single-A, including zero at Triple-A.

He’ll make his MLB debut tonight against the Orioles.