Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Toronto Blue Jays Outfield

The other signing the Blue Jays made this week was a minor league deal for outfielder Scott Podsednik. Although this is a minor league deal I suspect that there is a wink wink nudge nudge assurance from Alex Anthopoulos that Podsednik will make the team and the only reason he was signed to a minor league deal was so that the Jays didn't have to remove someone from their 40 man roster prior to spring training. Towards the end of spring training it's a lot easier to release players like Scott Richmond and Jo-Jo Reyes to make room for Podsednik, but why do it now if you don't have to. Once Podsednik is added to the 40 man roster he will make $1 million for this season.

Now, in addition to Podsednik the main outfield competition to make the 2011 Blue Jays opening day roster includes Travis Snider, Rajai Davis, Juan Rivera and Corey Patterson (see Table 1).  Sorry Darin Mastroianni, it looks like you will have to wait a little longer.

Table 1
Rajai Davis291435256614928355250112678.284.320.377.697
Juan Rivera31124416531052001552223358.252.312.409.721
Scott Podsednik*3495390461218654430122957.310.353.400.753
Corey Patterson*309030843831618322142075.269.315.406.721
Travis Snider*228229836762001432632179.255.304.463.767
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/19/2011.

Corey Patterson is coming off somewhat of a Renaissance season as he had a combined .552 OPS over the course of 2008 and 2009.  However his 2010 success is a bit of a mirage as his BABIP was .332, an unsustainable average.  Therefore, Patterson is most likely the odd man out leaving Davis, Rivera, Snider and Podsednik as the most likely outfielders to open the season on the major league roster.

Who among these four will be the back up?  Or is there a natural platoon among these players?  Well to start, let's hope that Travis Snider is pencilled in every day in the line-up and look at the remaining three players.  Podsednik and Davis are very similar type players with speed, little power, an OBP that is dependent on a high average, and one is right handed and the other is left handed.  A natural platoon right? I don't think so, since Podsednik's days of playing CF are pretty much over, the Jays aren't paying Davis $3 million a year for potentially 3 seasons to start 1/3 of the games, and Podsednik's .723 OPS against right handed starters last season isn't much different than Rajai Davis' .720 OPS against right handed starting pitchers over the last two seasons.

This leaves Juan Rivera and Scott Podsednik fighting for the last outfield spot.  My preference would be to see Juan Rivera get the majority of playing time and hope he can rebound from a down season and put up similar production to his 2009 season, then bring back a coveted draft pick when he leaves as a free agent at the end of the year.  Unfortunately I think the most likely scenario will result in Podsednik starting against all right handed pitching, and Rivera starting against left handed pitching, virtually killing the value of both players.  With Rivera being a career 70 OPS points better against left handed starting pitching, I think this type of strategy makes a lot of sense if your a team competing for a division title.  However since I think that it is highly unlikely the Blue Jays are in this category, the better strategy is to develop your young players and/or build the value of your potentially tradeable assets, unfortunately neither of which will happen in left field for the 2011 Toronto Blue Jays.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely nothing to do with the post, but here's a Jays quiz for you..