Here’s a little bit of hope Toronto Blue Jays fans can cling to during what might potentially be a long, trying summer: The money for a payroll boost to $120 million US will be there, good economy or not, when the team feels it’s ready for a serious run.

“I don’t think there’s any question about that,” interim CEO Paul Beeston said yesterday, adding he’s not sure when that will be, but now was not that time. “If I said the money (should) have been there this year it would have been there, I just didn’t believe it in my own mind.

With that, bring on 2009 for the Blue Jays, a team not quite good enough to contend in the stacked American League East and not quite bad enough to wholly rebuild, stuck in the ever dangerous no-man’s land of baseball.

So, if there’s ever a time to start integrating the team’s hyped prospects, this is probably it.

Ricky Romero, the much-maligned sixth overall pick in 2005, won a spot in the starting rotation this spring and he joins fellow lefty David Purcey, the 2004 first rounder, Scott Richmond, the 29-year-old rookie from North Vancouver, B.C., and Jesse Litsch, a relative veteran by comparison, behind ace Roy Halladay.

Travis Snider, a future cornerstone, starts the season in left field with the ever-promising Adam Lind slated to get some time in the outfield and at DH.

“This is the club we’ve picked for April,” said GM J.P. Ricciardi. “There could be some different pieces in May, June and July as we go through the season.”

Latest From ...