Jays Win, Make a Trade for OF Fred Lewis

There is a ton of stuff going on for the Jays tonight so let’s get right to it. First of all we have to cover the impressive win which had 2 of the 3 offensive laggards in the lineup finally coming through after slow starts in Travis Snider and Mike McCoy. Snider hit his 1st HR of the season, walked once, and made a very impressive catch in LF which should help him stay in the lineup even with the new addition of Fred Lewis. McCoy also added some much needed gusto to his stats with 2 doubles in his 4 ABs, raising his average to .235 on the season. Vernon Wells also had a good offensive day going 2 for 4 with a SB.

Dana Eveland continues to impress me with his consistency. He threw an extremely well controlled and effective game, lastin 6 innings while allowing 3 hits, 3 walks, 2 ER, and getting 4 Ks. His ERA now sits at 1.35 and with the lagging performances of Brian Tallet and Brandon Morrow, Eveland is becoming more and more important to this staff. What a great find for Alex Anthopolous who hopes to have added another player with a good ceiling for the Jays tonight.

Fred Lewis is a 29 year old 6’2″ 200 lbs outfielder who was drafted in the 2nd rd of the 2002 draft by the SF Giants. He hasABs to his credit. He has 931 ABs to his credit in MLB between 2006 and 2009, but the majority of these have come in the last 2 years. His best attributes are his ability to get on base, his ability to play all outfield positions very well, and his speed with is a tick above average.

Baseball America writer Andy Baggarly ranked the SF prospects in 2007 and placed Fred Lewis 7th best SF prospect that season. He talks about the fact that it took a while for Lewis to develop as a baseball player because he had concentrated on being a wide receiver before he took baseball seriously. A quote from the book states that:

“he has the raw skills (bat speed, strength, speed) to hit .300 with 20-25 homers and 30-40 steals annually.”

We can only dream of such numbers now, as it seems fairly evident that Lewis will not have that kind of impact in the majors unless he really turns things around in Toronto. He had his best season in the minors in 2006, when he had 439 ABs, had 11 triples, hit 12 HRs, stole 18 bases, had a .375 OBP and kept a .276 average.

In the majors, his best season by far, and maybe not a coincidence that it occurred the only year he got steady playing time in SF, was in 2008 – the only year he had over 300 ABs in the majors. His line that season:

468 ABs, 132 hits, 25 doubles, 11 triples, 9 HRs, 40 RBI, 21 SBs, 51 walks, 124 SO, .282 avg, .351 OBP, .440 slg, UZR 3.5, WAR 2.4

You can add a bit to those stats to get his line at 500 ABs, but it’s likely that he’ll be fighting all year to get playing time in Toronto. The announcement posted by MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk correctly states that he’ll most likely be used in LF and could take time from Jose Bautista when righties are up. I’ve always pointed to that being a weakness for Bautista and that it should result in someone else leading off when righties start on opposing teams – well, it seems the Jays have their guy to do just that now.

For those wondering about how long Fred Lewis will be under Toronto’s control, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts he has 3 years of arbitration eligibility remaining (2011, 2012, 2013). At the contract size he has, $455,000, and control time, it’s quite a nice value grab by Alex “The Great” Anthopolous.

Fred Lewis joins Merkin Valdez as ex-Giants on the Jays roster and should so well in Toronto in my opinion. When we take into account the fact that he played on some horribly offensively challenged SF teams when he was brought up, and the fact that he got minimal playing time, it bodes well for his “primed for a breakout candidate” status. I’m not going to make any silly predictions, but Lewis should excel in what it a much better offensive lineup in Toronto. When Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, and Vernon Wells usually hit behind you, you know that you should get a few pitches to hit.He surely didn’t have that much talent behind him in SF.

With Edwin Encarnacion having more health issues than expected, could it be that Alex wanted to cover off the possibility of having Jose Bautista play 3B more often than anticipated? I believe that could be the case. But when you look at the cost and possible rewards of this transaction you have to wonder, why wouldn’t he do it?

It’s a great trade for the jays that adds a lot of experience and talent in a needed are, and also allows for more flexibility on the bench. Jeremy Reed was sent to AAA to make room for Lewis on the roster, but I’m not sure who’ll be sent down when Aaron Hill returns. Could it be Randy Ruiz who lacks any flexibility in the lineup and hasn’t been used much? I’m not sure, but I’d sure like to see him steal some playing time from Lyle Overbay who looks lost at the plate this spring.

Additional things you may or may not know that the Jays have done recently:

  • Signed 20 year old RHP Nick Purdy, 6’5″ 205 lbs, who was drafted by the Mariners in ’07 and the Royals in ’08, but for some reason chose to do something else those years and to play for the Oshawa Dodgers in ’09 instead. He was clocked at 91 MPH in front of scouts in 2008 but has no pro experience in the minors
  • Released RHPs Leon Boyd, Brian Justice, Chase Lirette, Brandon McGee, Celson Polanco, Wade Townsend, and Bob Zimmermann
  • Released LHPs Edgar Estanga, Davis Romero, and Nathan Starner
  • Released catcher Chris House
  • Released OF Chris Emanuele

That’s all for tonight! The Jays are now 7 – 3 on the season, 1 game ahead of the Yankees and Rays who are both 6 – 3. Shaun Marcum takes on Jered Weaver tomorrow as the Angels roll into town.

Tags: Edwin Encarnacion Fred Lewis Lyle Overbay Mike McCoy Nick Purdy Travis Snider Vernon Wells

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