Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts on Spring Training So Far

Two weeks into spring training games, we have a couple of weeks before some of the hard decisions about backup and bench players need to be made.

Mike McCoy has been doing an outstanding job for the Jays so far and on the surface he appears to be the perfect bench player for the Jays. He can play multiple positions in both the IF and OF which provides flexibility, he has speed which we are woefully short of, and can bat leadoff in the event the Bautista experiement fails. He had another couple of hits today against the Braves and if he continues will force the Jays to take him north.

I would be happy with either Ruiz or Dopirak as the DH/backup at 1st base. I have this sense that Dopirak just needs a chance and someone to believe in him before he puts it all together the Linda did last year. He certainly has the talent and the minor league stats to support. If you compare him to Lars Anderson who BA rates as the Red Sox 4th best prospect, other than age, they compare favorably, but Dopirak’s stats blow him away. In spite of the love for Ruiz and pending arrival of Wallace, I would give Dopirak a chance to be the DH/backup at 1st. He has a higher upside than Ruiz and could be great trade material if he succeeds, even if we are committed to a future with Wallace at 1st. Ruiz would continue to be a great alternate option if it doesn’t work out.

My bigger concern is Travis Snider. I know it’s only spring but he has yet to get it going and is hitting under .200. If he doesn’t improve over the next couple of weeks, I believe he could start the year in AAA. Right now the only one of the outfielders fighting for a roster spot, who is hitting is Reed. Could he start the season in the OF while he is hot while Snider gets more seasoning with less pressure in the minors to be recalled later. I see Snider experiencing the same issues Lind did getting established at the major league level. One day it will just “click” and he’ll have a monster year.

The pitching is even more exciting with so many great arms in camp. I believe this too will play itself out before the end of the March. With all the pitchers out of otpions, I believe the Jays will trade one or more of their middle relievers to make room for some of the up and coming talent, perhaps even keeping Zinicola on the roster. Dana Eveland has done a great job so far and makes more sense as a 5th starter to me than Tallet. Tallet’s highest value is as a long reliever and “spot” starter. What we saw last year is what we’ll get again if we try to make him a permanent starter – a mediocre record with an ERA near 5. We will get the same or better from Eveland if you look at his history. Whoever it is will only be a placeholder for McGowan anyway, who will start on the disabled list to build his arm strength before he gets a chance to prove he is finally healthy. We need a new #1 starter, and McGowan has the stuff and potential to be that, if he can come back to full health. I believe the Jays will give him every opportunity to do so. Being out of options, someone will claim him as a low risk/high reward player if they try to waive him anyway. Jays need to know once and for all if he is going to make their rotation.

So by May imagine a rotation of McGowan, Marcum, Romero, Morrow, Rzep. Great balance, great talent, lots of potential and upside.

One or more of the middle relievers will be gone by opening day. They have too many without options, such as Camp, Valdez, Eveland, and Tallet who would be claimed if the Jays tried to waive them. I believe one of the rumors about Frasor will be fulfilled. Middle relief is the part of our team which could be easily replaced with one or several of the players in camp.

Now sit back a enjoy the spring and remember – injuries – on our team or another, can dramatically change the roster makeup and player movement. Enjoy the next 3 weeks.

Postscript to today's blog:

Today’s pitching line for Eveland against the Braves

3.0 IP 2 Hits 0 Runs 0 Walks 4 SO

Is he starting to grow on you yet?

I picked up this post on the rumor wire while reviewing the boxscore: ” Both the Diamondbacks and Mariners had interest in Dana Eveland before he was acquired by the Blue Jays, tweets MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez.”

D’backs interest in Eveland is understandable as he was part of a 2006 trade in which they initially acquired him. They had to include him in the Dan Haren deal but obviously would be glad to have him back.

Eveland’s trade history

June 4, 2002: Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round of the 2002 amateur draft. Player signed May 26, 2003.

November 25, 2006: Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers with Doug Davis and Dave Krynzel to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Greg Aquino, Johnny Estrada and Claudio Vargas.

December 14, 2007: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks with Chris Carter (minors), Brett Anderson, Aaron Cunningham, Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith to the Oakland Athletics for Dan Haren and Connor Robertson.

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