That’s the best the Cardinals could do?

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Blue Jays acquire OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Trever Miller, RHP P.J. Walters and LHP Brian Tallet from the Cardinals for RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Octavio Dotel and OF Corey Patterson.

I mean, I’m a little down on Colby Rasmus, too.  It’s probably not a good thing that he listens to his dad either as much or more than he listens to his big-league coaches.  His defense hasn’t been nearly as good this year as it was when he entered the league in 2009.  And after a sneaky-exceptional offensive season as a sophomore in 2010, Rasmus has taken an obvious step backwards in 2011.

But this is a great deal for the Blue Jays.  It’s a lot like last year’s Alex Gonzalez-for-Yunel Escobar swap, though this one has even more upside.

Rasmus is just 24.  He’s hit .259/.334/.444 in his three seasons, giving him 111 OPS+.  The only guys 25 or younger with better OPS+ the last three years are Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez, Billy Butler, Justin Upton, Andrew McCutchen, Pablo Sandoval, Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera.  He’s a long-term answer in center field for the Blue Jays, and the biggest thing Toronto gave up to get him was Marc Rzepczynski.

I just can’t believe that the Cardinals, even if they felt that they had to move him, couldn’t get more for Rasmus.  A legitimate No. 2 starter or an All-Star-caliber middle infielder.  They gave up a terrific long-term property without getting a real difference-maker in return.  There’s the chance that Jackson will step it up under Dave Duncan’s tutelage, but he was working under a great pitching coach in Chicago and was just as maddening as usual.  I do like Rzep, both as a reliever now and maybe as a starter next year.  He’s under control through 2015, and he should be a nice asset for years.

But that’s not enough of a haul for Rasmus.  If they wanted Dotel, he would have been easy enough to pick up in a separate deal.  Corey Patterson?  Really?  They couldn’t even get the Jays to part with Rajai Davis instead?  Davis is certainly expendable enough with Rasmus’ arrival, and his right-handed bat makes far more sense for the Cardinals.  Jon Jay, who will replace Rasmus as the team’s primary center fielder, is a left-handed hitter, just like Patterson.

As for the rest of the players the Jays got, it was really just the dregs of the Cardinals’ roster.  Miller, who reportedly will be moved on to the White Sox as part of the original Edwin Jackson deal, has been useless as a lefty specialist lately.  Walters probably would have been bumped from the 40-man to make room for one of the four newcomers.  Tallet had an 8.31 ERA in 13 innings before going on the disabled list.  Absorbing the remainder of his $750,000 contract was part of the cost of doing business.

The Jays made out like bandits here, even after factoring in the hidden costs.  They were forced to take on $7.5 million unwanted dollars by absorbing the Mark Teahen and Tallet contracts.  They gave up the possibility of two supplemental first-round picks by moving Jason Frasor and Dotel.  And Rzepczynski is an underrated property with his fine 2.97 ERA in 39 1/3 innings out of the pen this year.   But to get a player like Rasmus, it really wasn’t much of a price to pay.

Update: For what it’s worth, the deal is now official and the Blue Jays are also surrendering three players to be named or cash considerations.  Hopefully there will be at least one interesting player in there for St. Louis.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.