Inbox: Who will fill the Jays' rotation?

Inbox: Who will fill the Jays' rotation?

With Roy Halladay, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero being the front-runners for the starting rotation, are the Blue Jays willing to trade young arms like Brett Cecil, Brad Mills or Marc Rzepczynski?
-- Mark H., Hamilton, Ontario

First, let's address the first five starters mentioned. Right now, the only "locks" for the rotation would be Halladay (assuming he is not traded) and Romero. Marcum is expected to be fully recovered from the right elbow surgery he had at the end of the 2008 season, but the Jays will monitor him closely in the spring.

As for McGowan, he has shown progress in his return from the right shoulder operation he underwent in July 2008. It has been such a slow road back for him, though, that the Jays aren't sure what to expect. Toronto is also without Litsch (right elbow surgery in June) until at least May or June of '10.

At the end of this past season, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said his projected rotation for Opening Day next season would likely include Halladay, Marcum, Romero and Rzepczynski, with the fifth spot being up for grabs this spring. Some arms in the running will be David Purcey, Scott Richmond, Cecil and Mills, among others.

To get to your question, though, the Jays do have a large group of arms that are big-league ready or on the cusp of reaching that point. That being the case, it'd only make sense for Toronto to be willing to consider trades. Without going into specifics, general manager Alex Anthopoulos noted this week that he has been calling rival GMs to discuss potential swaps.

Given the Blue Jays' list of question marks (Halladay, Marcum, McGowan and Litsch) heading into the next year, though, the club is not going to trade anyone just for the sake of making a deal. Toronto needs to make sure it has arms in place to fill in if the recovering pitchers run into any more setbacks.

Do you have any idea of when Blue Jays interim president and CEO Paul Beeston will unveil the new permanent president or payroll for 2010?
-- Justin W., Burlington, Ontario

During a radio interview in Toronto this week, Rogers Media president and CEO Tony Viner, who oversees the division of Rogers Communications Inc. that runs the Blue Jays, indicated that he expected Beeston and Anthopoulos to present a plan for 2010 by the end of next week. That would seemingly include a discussion about payroll.

Anthopoulos told MLB.com this week that he expected the course of the club to be much clearer by the time the General Managers' Meetings begin on Nov. 9-11. Anthopoulos is still working on beefing up his scouting and player development departments and evaluating all corners of the organization while determining a direction for next season.

In terms of the hiring of a permanent president -- a search that began last winter -- Beeston has only noted that an announcement will come soon. Viner told The FAN590 that he would not mind if Beeston shed his interim tag, saying, "He's awfully caught up in it. He's enthusiastic about Alex and what he represents for the Blue Jays. So I'm not giving up hope."

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If Halladay indeed is off to another team by the beginning of next year, will the Blue Jays pursue another high-profile pitcher, or will they let Marcum, Romero, McGowan, and Litsch take the rotation?
-- Johnny T., Markham, Ontario

Trading Halladay this offseason would probably signal the beginning of a rebuilding period for the Blue Jays, though someone of Doc's ability would likely net top talent in return. If Toronto opts to part ways with Halladay, it seems more likely that the club would look to fill the rotation internally rather than pursue a high-profile free agent.

What does the future hold for Edwin Encarnacion? Is he the third baseman for the Jays going forward?
-- Fred W., Plymouth, Mass.

Gaston said at the end of this past season that Encarnacion is the projected starter at third base for 2010. Obviously, that could change if Anthopoulos is given the go-ahead to increase payroll and target free agents this winter. If Encarnacion is the starter, the Jays hope to have the player who hit .294 with seven homers over the final 23 games of '09.

Are the Jays going to give Randy Ruiz some consideration for next year? All he did was hit when he came up and he seems to be a pretty economical option.
-- Josh W., Sioux Lookout, Ontario

Ruiz did impress down the stretch, but the fact that the Jays see him only as a designated hitter could present a problem. With Ruiz in the fold, Adam Lind would be pushed from the DH role to left field and Travis Snider would need to be in right. At the end of the year, Gaston said he did not feel that defensive alignment was ideal for the Jays.

Could Lind be converted into a first baseman?
-- Les G., Toronto

There was discussion of possibly moving Lind to first base under former general manager J.P. Ricciardi. It was even reported at one point that Lind was going to head to instructional league to work on the position. That is no longer in the works for the Blue Jays. Moving Lind to first base would be more of a long-term plan, if it ever happens at all.

What do the Jays have in mind for left-hander Jesse Carlson? Is he expected to stay in the bullpen, or will he be a key item in trade decisions?
-- Sam B., Toronto

Carlson is one of Gaston's favorite relievers and will continue to be in the plans for the bullpen for 2010. The lefty struggled in stretches due to overuse this past season, but contributing factors included the release of lefty closer B.J. Ryan, the need to put lefty Brian Tallet in the rotation due to injuries and having lefty Scott Downs land on the disabled list twice.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.