Sunday, January 23, 2011
Ramifications of Wells Trade
It still boggles my mind that another team was willing to trade for Vernon Wells and take on all of the money owed to him in his contract. After all it is his contract that was preventing the Jays from being a serious competitor in the AL East, or so we wanted to believe, and now that it's gone what happens? Truth be told, for this year the Jays will probably be a little worse without him as we know the team isn't going to run out and spend the savings immediately. The Jays will continue to add pieces for the future as they come up and before we know it they will be a damn good team, or so we hope. So again, what does the Wells trade mean for this year? Well let's take a step by step look at each position that will be directly impacted by Fridays deal:
This is the most obviously impacted position as this was Vernon Well's spot for the past decade or so, and also it has the most obvious solution. Centerfield will be manned by Rajai Davis this year as he is really the only in house option at this point, which makes you wonder if Anthopoulos new about the likelihood of a Wells deal before he traded for Davis? The Jays won't lose much defensively if anything at all with Davis, his defensive metrics are vary greatly over the past two seasons but most observers feel Davis that is a top defender.
The New Guys
Coming back from Los Angeles are Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, and where they will play is where it starts to get a bit confusing. I think the most likely answer is that Juan Rivera will take over in the corner outfield spot that isn't being manned by Travis Snider, and since they want to continue to develop Snider, I'd bet that he stays in Right Field.
As for Mike Napoli he will see time behind the plate, as a DH and at First Base, with the majority of his time being spent as a catcher. Sorry J.P. Arencibia, looks like if you want regular major league playing time you'll have to step up and take it from Napoli.
The incumbent Designated Hitter slash back up 1st basemen prior to the trade was Edwin Encarnacion, and now that the deal is done, you can take away that back-up 1st basemen role and give it to Napoli, who will also be the back-up designated hitter. I believe that Encarnacion will put together a decent season in 2011 and keep the designated hitter role all year. However, the pressure is on him for a quick start because if Arencibia thrives, then Napoli spends more time at DH. If Adam Lind really isn't a 1B, then he spends more time at DH. Also there is no natural platoon situation at catcher or DH among Encarnacion, Napoli and Arencibia as they are all right handed hitters. Why do I get this funny feeling that Encarnacion will see more time at 3B than anyone is comfortable with? Additionally, no matter how you slice it, this team has way to many designated hitters playing fielding positions.
Adam Lind remains the front runner to play first base this season, and he will most likely get a long look at that spot as the team will give him every opportunity to learn the position in a year where the emphasis is on development. He will have to be pretty awful defender for the team to give up on him at first base, which is not out of the realm of possibility.
This was supposed to be J.P. Arencibia's year, his chance to finally shine or fall flat on his face. Now it appears that opportunity has be taken away from him as Mike Napoli will be given the majority of starts behind the plate, with Jose Molina staying on as the back up. What does this mean for Arencibia? He will start the season in Vegas just long enough for the Jays to ensure they have his rights for an extra year. At that point, if one of Lind, Encarnacion, Napoli, or Molina is hurt or struggling, then Arencibia will get the call.
Just as the Vernon Wells trade sent ripple throughout the Jays starting lineup, I have a feeling Alex Anthoupolos has a few more tricks up his sleeve and we may see a few more changes before the season begins