Gibbons expounds on Jays' offseason
If healthy, manager believes club can make waves in AL East
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Blue Jays have made it well known that they're content with the roster they have in place. All offseason, Toronto's front office has preached that it believes the club has the pieces to field a contender.
That hasn't stopped Toronto from exploring the ever-popular trade market at the Winter Meetings this week. Maybe some alterations would help the Jays feel even more comfortable that they can keep pace with the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East.
On Wednesday, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons reiterated the club's stance -- that a healthy roster can make a run at the playoffs in 2008. If Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi doesn't pull off a major trade, Gibbons said that's fine by him. Just in case, though, Gibbons said he wasn't ready to start laying out plans for the lineup.
"I wouldn't say I'd be disappointed," said Gibbons, when asked how he'd react if the Jays didn't make a trade. "If we pulled off something that's going to make us better, I'd be excited, but you really don't know who we need to get at this point or who we're able to get."
There has been plenty of talk about who Toronto is attempting to get. The Jays are waiting to hear back from the Giants about a deal that would send right fielder Alex Rios to San Francisco in exchange for either pitcher Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain.
It's a move that would remove one of Toronto's most potent bats, but it could help turn the Jays' rotation into one of the top staffs in baseball. Gibbons said he's done his part, offering his input to the Toronto brass about the ongoing discussions.
"With J.P., I give him my two cents," Gibbons said. "I do know that San Francisco has contacted J.P. and was talking about Rios. A number of teams like Alex. He's a two-time All-Star at a young age -- he's going to drum up some interest.
"As far as I know, it hasn't gone much further than that. That happened on the first day I was here, which would've been Monday. Sometimes things are slow to develop and sometimes there's nothing even there at all. Sometimes, maybe things aren't worth it."
The Jays may not think it's worth it if the Giants want more in return than just Rios, as some reports have indicated. Rios was Toronto's top offensive performer in 2007, when he hit .297 with 24 homers, 43 doubles and 85 RBIs in 161 games.
Gibbons may have hesitated about discussing his thoughts on Toronto's projected lineup because Rios' status with the team appears to be up in the air. If Rios were moved, Gibbons would be assigned the task of juggling Adam Lind, Reed Johnson and Matt Stairs in the corner outfield spots.
"I've kind of bounced some things around," Gibbons said. "But we'll kind of wait to see until it's set. It may be set as it is right now, but there's some questions about how you want to set it up."
Aside from Rios, Gibbons will need to evaluate a handful of his hitters who will be returning from injuries this year. A lot of the Jays' hopes are pinned on successful rebounds by Johnson (back), center fielder Vernon Wells (left shoulder), first baseman Lyle Overbay (right hand), catcher Gregg Zaun (right hand) and third baseman Troy Glaus (left foot).
"Everybody's fine," said Gibbons, when asked how the players were recovering this winter. "They should be fine for Spring Training. We need those guys to have full years."
Gibbons said that the addition of Marco Scutaro, who the Jays acquired in a trade with the A's on Nov. 18, will certainly help. Scutaro can play some outfield and multiple positions around the infield, and he could prove especially beneficial at third base.
Gibbons hinted that the Blue Jays may have some concerns about how Glaus is able to come back from his foot surgery, which was performed in September. That's not even taking into account that Glaus could face a suspension for allegedly purchasing steroids earlier in his career.
"The key is we have to have somebody to fill in for Glaus over at third if he comes up lame," Gibbons said. "We don't know what's going to happen there. We think he's healthy, but who knows?"
Jays closer B.J. Ryan, who had season-ending surgery on his left elbow in May, should be ready to go by Spring Training, according to Gibbons. Toronto's manager also said he'd prefer to keep Casey Janssen in the bullpen, even though Ricciardi said the club might move the right-hander to the rotation.
"He's pitched so well in the role he's in right now," Gibbons said. "If it takes away from us down there, [making him a starter] doesn't make any sense to me. We have to be strong down there. We have some guys who can fill [the rotation's] five-hole."
There'd be no need to move Janssen to the rotation if the Jays pulled off a deal for another quality arm. As things currently stand, Toronto believes its pitching can potentially pave a path to October.
"You always shoot for the postseason," Gibbons said. "Back when J.P. first arrived, it was, basically, clean the house up and get everything in order. Then we kind of took the turn and now the talk has been, 'Hey, we want to be a competitive club.' We're past the rebuilding."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.