Well June is almost over, isn’t it great to have Dustin McGowan back in the rotation?
With the Jays rightfully reluctant to part with prospects in a bid to beef up the roster for a pennant run, why not simply part with dollars and try to sign Pedro Martinez?
The Jays would add a once-legendary veteran to the rotation who still might have the potential to be brilliant and Pedro would have the chance to stick it to Boston and New York. And if it didn’t work out, if Martinez is indeed finished, all it would cost Toronto is a few extra bucks. Win-win.
The Jays saved $10 million when AJ Burnett left town and combined with the strength of the loonie (and the resulting positive effect on the bottom-line for Canada’s only MLB team) you would think Toronto would be inclined to add a player or two as a peace offering to a dwindling fan-base.
We’ll get to the rest of the pitching situation tomorrow, but in today’s Part I of the Blue Jays Report Card, we’ll examine the bats (which started the year off scorching but have since come crashing back down to earth)…
Marco Scutaro – Has been nothing short of outstanding this year, far exceeding both defensive and offensive expectations and providing a toughness and baseball smarts element that had been sorely missing on what seems to be a mostly un-inspired team. Scutaro is among the league leaders in runs-scored and has been right around the .400 mark in OBP all year. And his work on the field has been tremendous – just a single error through 71 games. However (and this is a monstrous ‘however’), he is in a contract year. Repeat: Contract Year. He’ll be 34 entering next season and hopefully Jays management allows another team to overpay him. Grade: A
Aaron Hill – He’s hit the ball hard from the first day he arrived in the bigs only this year the ball is really starting to carry for him. Hill had 28 career homeruns entering the season and with 15 already, may surpass that total this year alone. After he missed the final 100 games last year with concussion problems that lingered all the way into the offseason, the second baseman got right back on the career path that was (and will) eventually going to lead him to the All-Star game. Grade: A
Adam Lind – The most consistent big-situation hitter the Jays have had all year and arguably the most powerful bat in the line-up. Actually, the argument is over. With 25 homers in his last 157 games, Lind is Toronto's heaviest hitter. He also leads the team in back rubs from Cito which I have been tracking.
The list looks like this:
Adam Lind - 4
Gene Tenace - 3
Everyone else - 0
Scott Rolen – If I could just get myself to accept what Rolen is at this point (slap hitter and above average defender) instead of focusing on what he isn’t (home run hitter, run producer and everyday player) it would be a lot easier to cheer for the guy. It’s just that his $12 million salary is obscuring my vision. Grade: B+
Rod Barajas – Provides excellent bang for his buck at the catching position and has nurtured a young and unproven pitching staff to solid results. At the dish Barajas is on pace to set career highs in batting average, RBI, and walks. It'll be interesting to see if he sticks around one more year to bridge the gap until J.P. Arencibia is ready to take over full-time. Grade: B
Lyle Overbay – I’ve referred to him before as Lyle Doubleplay and Lyle Underbay but now I’m thinking he might be more Lyle Averagebay. Which isn’t all bad, it’s just that he created bigger expectations after batting .312 while hitting 22 homers and collecting 90+ RBI his first year in a Blue Jays uniform. It turns out he’s actually a 15 homer .270 hitter and 70 RBI guy. Again, not all bad. He plays a decent first base but I’m entirely ready for Adam Lind as our first-baseman and Jason Bay in left-field. Grade: B-
Kevin Millar – I have to admit I was a little confused by his signing over the winter, I just didn't think the soon-to-be 38 year-old Millar had anything left to offer. His OBP and slugging percentage have now declined four straight years but his clubhouse presence and professionalism have clearly aided the team. Plus, if the Jays do somehow stay in the pennant or wild card race, we can surely depend on Millar to come up with a catch phrase to rally around. 'Cowboy Up' can't be that hard to top, right? Grade: C+
Jose Bautista – I would have preferred to see Joe Inglett in Bautista’s bench role this year simply because Inglett is more versatile and he batted .297 with a .355 OBP in 2008. About the only area I see Bautista ahead of Inglett is in drawing walks and hearing. Check out those listeners to the right. Grade: C
Vernon Wells & Alex Rios – For the first time in a Jays Report Card I’m grading two players together. The reason is because I couldn’t stomach the thought of devoting two separate paragraphs to our 3rd and 4th hitters (for most of the year) who have combined for 15 homers and 68 RBI and have pretty much taken our season hostage. The pop-up artist and the strikeout artist have a combined batting average with runners in scoring position of -.126. I know that's a negative number but I assure you it's true. The gruesome twosome will make (steal?) $30 million a year for the next three seasons and I can’t imagine any of you out there feel good about this. Aside from the burger joints Wells frequents and the remote control car businesses Rios keeps afloat. Grades: D
Travis Snider – His 2008 September call-up and opening week of the 2009 season have Jays fan salivating at the thought of his impact on the future of the franchise. Snider is currently in the minors and injured but assuming he gets healthy it's likely he will be recalled by September at the latest. Grade: N/A