Bolstering the Bullpen

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After five months on the south side of Chicago, Jason Frasor is now back in familiar territory with the Toronto Blue Jays. For his family’s sake, I hope he didn’t already sell his place in Toronto back in July.

Bolstering the bullpen was one of Alex Anthopoulos’ top off-season priorities, and with the acquisition of Jason Frasor and pending a physical of Darren Oliver, AA can safely cross that one off the list.

The miraculious part of all of this is the Blue Jays were able to plug the holes in the bullpen by means of just a few trades. All it took was three prospects to get two major league relievers in Sergio Santos and Jason Frasor.


Even though the Darren Oliver signing isn’t official yet, one can assume the terms will be pretty reasonable as well. When all is said and done, it’s a very small price to pay to assemble a team of high calibre relievers.

When it  comes to Frasor, I think it was a case of “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. Jason Frasor was a mainstay with the Blue Jays bullpen for so long that I think I just took him for granted.

During his eight year tenure with the Blue Jays and 465 career appearances, Frasor quietly developed into one of the most unheralded and underrated relievers in the club’s history. I think part of the reason for that is he never really settled into a defined role until his final few seasons.

It’s incredible to think Frasor had two different test drives as the Blue Jays closer; once during his rookie campaign in 2004, and another in 2009. Then there were a few successful stints as the setup man, proving that Jason really has bounced all over the bullpen.

All I can say is it’s very reassuring to have a veteran right-handed weapon like Jason Frasor back in the arsenal, and I’m sure John Farrell will thoroughly enjoy his presence back in the bullpen.

So with the recent additions of Jason Frasor, Sergio Santos and Darren Oliver, the Blue Jays have shored up a good looking bullpen (on paper at least). There’s no question there is now a great deal of bullpen depth on Toronto’s 40-man roster.

Assuming the Blue Jays go with a four-man bench and seven-man bullpen, that means the relievers will likely be comprised of Sergio Santos, Jason Frasor, Casey Janssen, Carlos Villanueva, Jesse Litsch, Darren Oliver (pending) and Luis Perez.

That leaves Joel Carreno, Chad Beck, Aaron Laffey, Jim Hoey and others on the outside looking in. Personally, I’d consider Carreno a favourite to crack the Opening Day roster, but even if he doesn’t, it’s a luxury to have him in Las Vegas waiting in the wings just in case of an injury.

After a bit of a disappointing season in regards to relief pitching, Alex Anthopoulos has quickly remedied the situation and bolstered the bullpen quite nicely. What used to be a bit of a weakness on the roster will hopefully be a strength.


There will undoubtedly be some question marks on the roster this coming season, but at least relief pitching is one aspect of the Blue Jays game that we won’t have to worry about very much in 2012.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

6 thoughts on “Bolstering the Bullpen

  • January 3, 2012 at 4:51 am

    Makes sense. The Rasmus trade drained the BP of a number of effective relievers. It was tough to watch some of those losses including the disaster in Tampa where Rauch blew 2 saves in one game (which supposedly kick started their run to the playoffs) and a game in Baltimore when the O's and Tallet's command destroyed Tallet's only game as a Jay.

    I suspect this year, AA's probably going to let the young starters go at'em. They gotta get MLB experience somehow. This would be it. Also, I hope that the Jays don't need to use their BP as much.

  • January 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Damaso, I assumed the loss of Zach Stewart might come back to bite AA, but I guess I underestimated how badly the loss of Frasor, Zep and Dotel would hurt the bullpen.

    I hope Farrell gives all those starters like Drabek and Alvarez a decent shot at the rotation, hopefully 2012 will be the litmus test to see whether they can hold down a spot in the rotation.

  • January 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Yup. It's now time for the Jays to see what those young starters can do. I'm looking forward to it.

  • January 4, 2012 at 2:14 am

    If the reports are true I'm actually pretty stoked about what the pitching staff could look like in '12. I mean everything that could go wrong in2011 did. Morrow was unlucky / regressed. Cecil was out of shape and could not get things together. Drabek for 10 starts and JoJo for 20+ starts were horrible. Other than Romero, the only bright spot last year was Alvarez. I'm not counting Villi's 10 starts as IMO he shouldnt have been making that many starts.
    Most of these should take a step forward in 2012 and we dont have to watch Rauch suck for 70 innings.
    The only scare I have for 2012 is the lack of depth on the infield.

  • January 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Morrow didn't really regress last year, unless you consider his run of starts the the end of the '10 to be his true talent level. Morrow's 2011 was pretty much eerily similiar to most of his starting career, underperforming compared to his peripherals. I wouldnt say he's a lock to finally figure it out, Alvarez will probably regress from his 10 start streak last season, as the league will adjust to him and his limited pitch arsenal. If Drabek still doesn't get it together and Cecil continues to be Cecil, our pitching could be even worse than what it was last year

  • January 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    After Romero, it really is a lot of question marks in the starting rotation. I think the main issue for Morrow is he needs to stay healthy.I'm optimistic thought about Drabek and Alvarez, but less confident that Cecil will keep it together in 2012. McGowan is a big iffy as well, but he's out of options so he'll probably crack the rotation to start the year.

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