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Jays' GM and coach pessimistic about contending

TORONTO -- The All-Star break is still a week away, but it may already be 'Wait till next year' for the Toronto Blue Jays.

General manager J.P. Ricciardi and recently hired manager Cito Gaston both sounded pessimistic when asked Tuesday whether the last-place Blue Jays can reverse form and contend for the playoffs in 2008.

Returning home after a 2-4 road trip to Seattle and Anaheim, the Blue Jays entered play Tuesday at 42-47, 13½ games behind Tampa Bay in the American League East and 9½ behind Boston for the wild card.

Speaking about a potential playoff berth, Ricciardi said Toronto's chances are "probably not good."

"It's no lie that it's been a disappointing season so far," Ricciardi said. "For us to say that we've underachieved offensively would be an understatement. We are what we are. We can't make any excuses about it. There's nothing that says we can't make a big run here and try to get into the wildcard in some way, shape or form. As we continue with this season, we're just going to try to make ourselves better, whether it's to finish this season or to get ready for next year."

The Blue Jays are second to last in the AL in both batting average with runners in scoring position (.238) and runs scored (364). Seattle, batting .235 with 357 runs, ranks last in both categories.

"We're in a collective slump as a group and it's just not fun to watch," Ricciardi said. "We know what the problem is. We just need to correct it."

Toronto has gone 2-4 against the struggling Mariners (35-54) this season.

"We should beat Seattle," Ricciardi said. "They're 20 games under .500."

Toronto has gone 7-8 since Gaston replaced John Gibbons on June 20. When he was hired, Gaston said his goal was to get Toronto back to .500 by the All-Star break. On Tuesday, however, Gaston was cool on the Blue Jays' chances of success.

"We're certainly not going to quit, but if you look at our schedule here, it's a pretty tough schedule," Gaston said. "We play everyone in our division, so we do have a chance to leap over some of these teas, but we certainly have to play well to do that."

Ricciardi said he has fielded few calls about potential trades, with right-hander A.J. Burnett a possibility to be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Toronto's GM acknowledged he is already debating who he might call up from the minors if the slide continues, with left-handers David Purcey and Brett Cecil and catcher J.P. Arencibia the top candidates for promotion.