The Changing Jays Depth and Bench

Although it may seem to go mostly unnoticed, Alex Anthopolous has made some pretty significant changes to the depth of the Jays overall since the season began a few short months ago. He has added experience to the bench, a lead off hitter to a line up that desperately needed one, acquired enough pitching to await those injured, and added to the minor league depth in many areas. All of these moves have helped enhance the Jays chances this season and could still play a major role in their success from here on out. Sure, it’s hard to top dealing the best pitcher in franchise history in terms of impact and media attention, but the tinkering is very interesting because it smooths out the bumps along the road and provides some safety about the future.

Here’s a revision of the in-season moves that have added to the ever-changing Jays depth and bench:

  1. 4/13/10: Every single Jays fan was aware that the Jays had no in-house SS option at any level in the minors that seemed to be on the rise or able to handle SS duties in MLB within the next 3-4 years. So what does AA do? Well, he steals what most believe was the best international SS prospect from under their hated rivals nose when he acquires Adeiny Hechavarria. Sure, the kid is rough around the edges and will take some time to develop, but a 1-2 year time-line is better than anything that was going to be available on the FA market or in the draft, so this was by far the most important and best acquisition made by AA.
  2. 4/15/10: The second acquisition was Fred Lewis from the Giants for peanuts and a bobble head of Alex Anthopolous that says “gotcha” continuously. We all know the impact he’s had in settling the top of the lineup and he’s learning to hit the inside pitches….oh oh….
  3. 4/23/10: The next acquisition made by AA was Shawn Bowman, a Canadian 3B that he took from the Mets as they tried to pass him through waivers.  Bowman most recently made the BA Prospect Hot Sheet in the “Blast from the past” section. They noted that “The 25-year-old has still not played a game above Double-A, but he’s hitting .315/.395/.586 this season and has hit three home runs in the past week.” Well, that’s still a very nice addition for the Jays at the position where the team seems to be weakest. He should get a look in AAA before long at this rate and is another low key and high reward acquisition.
  4. 6/1/10: This next move was pure genius. AA was going to lose Dana Eveland through waivers for nothing. I knew it, you knew it, everyone knew it. So what does he do? He trade him to Pittsburgh in return for a very credible and possible impact prospect in Ronald Uviedo! The Jays took him out of the pen and put him back into the rotation, where he’s had instant success again in AA. Not only does this increase the pitching depth overall for the Jays in the minors, but it gives the Jays yet another option to call up from September forward if he continues to improve. The Bucs were wrong to have this guy in the pen as his best season in the minors was in 2008, when he was a starter. AA identified that, moved to acquire him, and pronto – we have another starter that’s 3/4 developed in return for an arm the Jays were going to lose anyways.
  5. 6/10/10: The Jays had a 1/2 inexperienced bench when they had Randy Ruiz, Mike McCoy, Jose Molina, and John McDonald manning it. Well, Alex addressed that with this first of 2 moves to bring in experience and to allow McCoy to get full playing time in AAA. AA acquired Dewayne Wise, who is the perfect speed guy off the bench and also plays excellent D. His bat is not awful,  and he does have some limited experience in the post season with the Braves and the White Sox. He’s a cheap option, knows how to be ready to come off the bench, and gives the Jays versatility all over the OF.
  6. 6/12/10: Finally, AA added Nick Green, a player that’s played on many teams but has rarely gotten steady playing time. He does have a little pop, hits the gaps very well, and most importantly has experience playing everywhere on the field – as did Mike McCoy, the player who he essentially replaces on the bench.

I said finally, but really it doesn’t end there. AA added so many power pitching arms to the depth chart in the draft that it seems the Jays will have an endless supply of #1 to #4 pitchers coming up the ranks over the next 3-4 years. Ask anyone what that means to an organization and 99% will tell you: it means success. If you can produce pitching from within, without the need to spend a crazy amount of money or years on the riskiest aspect of the business, you’re doing a fine job. Well, when I couple that with everything else stated above I have to tip all of my hats to Alex Anthopolous, because he’s making all the right moves to this point. I certainly hope he keeps it up long enough for the Jays to win their first world series of the post 2000 era!

Tags: Adeiny Hechavarria Dana Eveland Dewayne Wise Fred Lewis John McDonald Mike McCoy Nick Green Randy Ruiz Ronald Uviedo Shawn Bowman

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