The Road Ahead in the AL East

Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi

In Major League Baseball the American League East is comparable to New York City - if you make it there you can make it anywhere. Well that's the expression, yet its one that most teams do not have to worry about. The Toronto Blue Jays do not have that luxury, as day in and day out they are confronted by the reality of the AL East.

How does one overcome the two rocks of Gibraltar at the top of the standings that combined to spend well over 200 million dollars?

There is an answer to that perennial question, and the answer is…Prospects. They are young, cheap and talented payers whose potential sometimes seems limitless and who only need the experience of the big leagues. J.P. Ricciardi himself has said you can not win in the AL East if you are running rookies out there year in and year out. There is a lot of validity to this statement, but eventual the boys become men and the few holes remaining can be filled with free agents and through trade acquisitions.

When making trades most teams drool over multi-tool prospects or young pitchers with ace potential, so making a trade for a veteran is always a possibility when you have a fertile farm system. The New York Yankees farm system has been barren for years, yet their bottomless pockets negate any damage that could do. The Boston Red Sox are in the same situation, as they do not have any exciting prospects (unless Hanley Ramirez gets you excited), but they do have a Bronson Arroyo here and there that comes up and contributes. The Baltimore Orioles do not have any top end prospects either and two of their three top pitching prospects- Daniel Cabrera and Erik Bedard-look like bottom of the rotation starters at best. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a history of signing over-the-hill free agents that block their younger players or of just mismanaging their prospects. They have produced some impressive position players-Rocco Baldelli, Aubrey Huff and Carl Crawford with B.J. Upton on the horizon-yet besides Scott Kazmir they have no sure-fire pitching prospects.

Out of the three forgotten teams in the AL East, the Jays might stand the best chance of competing now and in the future. The Devil Rays have a long way to go and with a budget of roughly 30 million, it probably will not happen any time soon. The Orioles just do not have the pitching no matter how potent their lineup is, even though the bullpen is looking extremely capable. Toronto Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers just announced a budget increase over the next 2 seasons. J.P. Ricciardi will have a 160 million to spend over the next two seasons which will be ample to sign free agents and re-sign their own players. Throw in a core including Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells, Alexis Rios, Ted Lilly, Corey Koskie and David Bush and such upcoming high-ceiling players as Aaron Hill, Dustin McGowan, Brandon League, Dave Purcey, Gabe Gross and Josh Bank the Jays might have the right ingredients to supplant the perennials.

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