TORONTO - With just 13 days to go before the non-waiver trade deadline, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos finds himself in a pretty good position.
Ideally heíd like to have his team in the hunt for a playoff spot and be looking to add a get-us-over-the-top type of player.
But given the youth and direction the team is taking under his stewardship, Anthopoulos will be fielding calls up until the July 31 deadline from teams interested in adding either a veteran reliever or a role player who can supply a little pop.
Jut donít expect anything in the blockbuster category.
For the first time since taking over the job from J.P. Ricciardi, Anthopoulos is out from under all financial rocks.
Thereís no pressure to trade away a franchise player such as Roy Halladay or a financial anchor such as Vernon Wells. He has already done that.
Anthopoulos doesnít have to dump salary or move players under duress.
Instead, he sits in a pretty cozy position.
For teams that are looking to add bullpen depth, Anthopoulos has plenty to offer. In fact, he has five veterans, all of them available and all of them eligible to enter free agency in the off-season ó Shawn Camp, Octavio Dotel, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor and Jon Rauch.
None of the five are irreplaceable and all of them would probably be rated as Type B free agents which means if they are signed by other teams in the off-season the Jays would receive compensatory sandwich picks following the first round selections in next yearís June draft.
Of course, to receive compensation, the Jays would first have to offer salary arbitration and have the pitchers turn it down.
That fact may provide a small measure of urgency for Anthopoulos in the case of Dotel, who being 37 and earning $2.75 million, would likely accept arbitration in the off-season if offered.
As far as position players go, OF Corey Patterson will probably draw some interest as he can play all three positions, can steal bases and can hit for some power.
Anthopoulos always keeps his chips close to the vest and does not discuss players or trade possibilities.
ďI always try to look at the long-term pieces that we have and how can we address those areas that are a little weaker and shore them up and thatís what Iím spending a lot of time on the phones doing,Ē Anthopoulos said. ďAt this point, I donít think weíre close to doing anything. But if we can improve the club, Iím always open to doing that.Ē
Just like in politics, though, 13 days can be a lifetime.
The visiting Seattle Mariners would seem to be easy pickings given that they enter Rogers Centre Tuesday on a nine-game losing streak and appear to have all the offensive flair of our failed womenís national soccer team.
The Mariners canít hit for power, canít hit for average and have fallen right out of the race in the AL West.
But weíve seen all this before back in April.
When the Jays made their first west coast trip in April they entered Seattle with the Mariners having lost seven in a row.
In their first meeting, April 12, the Jays raced to a 7-0 lead against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez only to suffer what still stands as their most shocking loss of the season.
This reporter was at the fiasco in Seattle and the gutting in Cleveland, where the Jays blew a 4-0 lead in the ninth with a walkoff grand slam by Travis Hafner.
Trust me, the game in Seattle was worse.
The Jays entered the eighth holding a 7-1 lead when disaster struck.
In a complete bullpen meltdown, Seattle came back to score five runs, three of them on bases-loaded walks, before winning the game in the ninth on a two-out, walkoff single by Luis Rodriguez.
As expected, the Blue Jays optioned right-hander Jesse Litsch to triple-A Las Vegas Monday following the completion of his rehab assignment.
Veterans usually do not lose their jobs due to an injury but in Litschís case the Jays find they would rather stick with the five starters they currently have. When Litsch went down with a right shoulder impingement on May 19 he was replaced in the rotation with Carlos Villanueva, who has since been one of their more consistent starters.
In eight starts with the Jays in April and May, Litsch was 4-3 with a 4.66 ERA and suffered from the good start/bad start syndrome.
While at Vegas, the Jays will be looking for Litsch to obtain a greater measure of consistency as they did with Brett Cecil and as they currently are doing with Kyle Drabek.