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Jays trade Brad Mills for Jeff Mathis


 

After Jose Molina signed with the Rays last week, it became clear that the Jays were going to have to acquire a new back up catcher through free agency or a trade.

Generally speaking, back up catchers are a dime a dozen. If they were effective players, they would be starting catchers. This is why so many of the lot tend to be journeymen, who flip from team to team, year in, year out.

It usually doesn’t make a huge difference which back up backstop is chosen, as long a they are proficient defensively, they typically all put up similar lackluster offensive lines.

One glaring exception to that rule however, is heading to Toronto:

Jeff Mathis:

Career: .194/.257/.301

wOBA: .246/ WAR -1.8

Jeff Mathis is one of-if not the absolute- worst hitters in all of major league baseball. To my mind, the only reason Mathis has stuck around for 426 games and 1360 plate appearances is the delusional mancrush his former manager Mike Scoiscia had on him.

Mathis is an out making machine, who has no place on the Jays line up card in 2012. I don’t expect the Jays to fill the back up catcher role with mid-90s Mike Piazza, but surely they can do better than Mathis.

Bill James projections for Mathis’ 2012 season:

.202/.266/.298/ wOBA .246

The Jays could have easily kept Brad Mills, and paid Brian Jeroloman a fraction of Mathis’ salary to back up JPA. It’s a puzzling move, particularly because Mathis was probably going to be non tendered in a couple weeks, and could have been acquired without giving up a player. (Or just not acquired at all…)

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Tags: Jeff Mathis Jose Molina Mike Piazza

  • JaysJournal

    There are now 4 catchers on the 40-man roster for the Jays, possibly at least 1 too many. The nice thing is that having Mathis around will continue to take pressure off of Arencibia and will give him another player to learn a little from defensively. Even if he is still with the Jays when the season begins, Mathis wouldn’t play often, possibly as little as once per week, so I don’t see this as a bad move at all. Jeroloman can stay in AAA with d’Arnaud and teach him the ropes there, and there’s nothing wrong with that as both should be able to get plenty of work in with d’Arnaud obviously getting a bigger workload.

    Mills was never going to get a full time shot in the rotation and for some reason the Jays never tried him in the pen. It seems to be the best bet as to where the Angels will place him in 2012.

    Don’t ever knock the Jays getting a defensive catcher folks. So long as he doesn’t play often, there’s plenty of value in him game calling abilities to make him a more than worthwhile grab. And who knows, maybe the Jays hitting coaches can get him to hit above the medozza line!!

  • JaysJournal

    There are now 4 catchers on the 40-man roster for the Jays, possibly at least 1 too many. The nice thing is that having Mathis around will continue to take pressure off of Arencibia and will give him another player to learn a little from defensively. Even if he is still with the Jays when the season begins, Mathis wouldn’t play often, possibly as little as once per week, so I don’t see this as a bad move at all. Jeroloman can stay in AAA with d’Arnaud and teach him the ropes there, and there’s nothing wrong with that as both should be able to get plenty of work in with d’Arnaud obviously getting a bigger workload.

    Mills was never going to get a full time shot in the rotation and for some reason the Jays never tried him in the pen. It seems to be the best bet as to where the Angels will place him in 2012.

    Don’t ever knock the Jays getting a defensive catcher folks. So long as he doesn’t play often, there’s plenty of value in him game calling abilities to make him a more than worthwhile grab. And who knows, maybe the Jays hitting coaches can get him to hit above the medozza line!!

  • AJLutz97

    I was confused by this. I’m hoping maybe somebody else wants Mathis and this was just a move to make a flip. I can’t imagine a career .194 hitter is a better option than a green D’Arnaud or Jeroloman.

  • AJLutz97

    I was confused by this. I’m hoping maybe somebody else wants Mathis and this was just a move to make a flip. I can’t imagine a career .194 hitter is a better option than a green D’Arnaud or Jeroloman.

  • gnor

    Well, first of all, since The Blue Jays score a ton of runs already, 15 or 20 points on one player’s BA isn’t going to make that much difference. What they have to do is keep runs from going out the back door.Second, Duane Murphy has made a career out of fixing people’s swings. Mathis may not be another John Buck, but there is a good chance he will improve under Murphy.

    Third, and most important, The Angels won a higher percentage of their games when Mathis was catching than when he was not. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

  • gnor

    @AJLutz97 At this point, you don’t want to limit d’Arnaud’s playing and development time by having him play backup.

    The backup catcher is also involved in catching side sessions, and acts as a part time pitching coach. Mathis will be better at this than Jeroloman or d’Arnaud.

    They were also running out of room for Mills in AAA, because he has been overtaken by other prospects.

  • AJLutz97

    @gnor Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reason for letting go of Mills. I’m not one of those people I’ve seen crying over his departure. No doubt the Blue Jays tend to work magic making people better hitters, and there must be some reason why the Angels drafted him in the first round 10 years ago. Hopefully Murphy can find and exploit whatever it was they saw in him.

    I was just hoping for something more out of the backup catching position when it became obvious that Jose Molina wasn’t coming back. Arenciibia only had a .219 average himself, and an OBP of .282 in 2011. Fortunately when he did hit Arencibia produced, ranking 3rd in HR, 16th in Runs Scored, and 5th in RBI for Catchers. If those power numbers experience a sophomore slump, the Jays could be in for a long season at the catching position.

  • gnor

    Well, first of all, since The Blue Jays score a ton of runs already, 15 or 20 points on one player’s BA isn’t going to make that much difference. What they have to do is keep runs from going out the back door.Second, Duane Murphy has made a career out of fixing people’s swings. Mathis may not be another John Buck, but there is a good chance he will improve under Murphy.

    Third, and most important, The Angels won a higher percentage of their games when Mathis was catching than when he was not. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

  • gnor

    @AJLutz97 At this point, you don’t want to limit d’Arnaud’s playing and development time by having him play backup.

    The backup catcher is also involved in catching side sessions, and acts as a part time pitching coach. Mathis will be better at this than Jeroloman or d’Arnaud.

    They were also running out of room for Mills in AAA, because he has been overtaken by other prospects.

  • AJLutz97

    @gnor Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reason for letting go of Mills. I’m not one of those people I’ve seen crying over his departure. No doubt the Blue Jays tend to work magic making people better hitters, and there must be some reason why the Angels drafted him in the first round 10 years ago. Hopefully Murphy can find and exploit whatever it was they saw in him.

    I was just hoping for something more out of the backup catching position when it became obvious that Jose Molina wasn’t coming back. Arenciibia only had a .219 average himself, and an OBP of .282 in 2011. Fortunately when he did hit Arencibia produced, ranking 3rd in HR, 16th in Runs Scored, and 5th in RBI for Catchers. If those power numbers experience a sophomore slump, the Jays could be in for a long season at the catching position.

  • juanguzman

    ok, hopefully i eat my words on this one. this trade makes no sense whatsoever. if he accepts arbitration, the projection is for roughly 1.8 million. molina signed for 1.5. why did the jays not bring molina back? he was the perfect back up and in my eyes is going to be a coach after he retires. did he want more playing time? was he not happy in toronto? i don’t know the answers . trading mills certainly wasn’t for payroll reduction. we need to stop kissing aa’s a** all of the time and bash him occasionally on moves that are bad. this ranks right up there with the rasmus deal, if not worse. i hope this did not come down to molina vs. mathis. PLEASE aa, make me eat my words on this one.

  • juanguzman

    ok, hopefully i eat my words on this one. this trade makes no sense whatsoever. if he accepts arbitration, the projection is for roughly 1.8 million. molina signed for 1.5. why did the jays not bring molina back? he was the perfect back up and in my eyes is going to be a coach after he retires. did he want more playing time? was he not happy in toronto? i don’t know the answers . trading mills certainly wasn’t for payroll reduction. we need to stop kissing aa’s a** all of the time and bash him occasionally on moves that are bad. this ranks right up there with the rasmus deal, if not worse. i hope this did not come down to molina vs. mathis. PLEASE aa, make me eat my words on this one.

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  • gnor

    @juanguzman They don’t bring Molina back because the instant he signed with Tampa, The Blue Jays get another top 40 draft pick. With the new CBA, it’s the last chance for clubs like Toronto to stockpile draft picks.

  • gnor

    @juanguzman They don’t bring Molina back because the instant he signed with Tampa, The Blue Jays get another top 40 draft pick. With the new CBA, it’s the last chance for clubs like Toronto to stockpile draft picks.

  • juanguzman

    @gnor how many draft picks is enough? they take time to develope and are not cheap. they should have tried to keep molina or as scott barber said, have jeroloman be the back up . there are no long term plans for jeroloman anyway, so why not play him for a year and maybe he gets some trade value.

  • juanguzman

    @gnor how many draft picks is enough? they take time to develope and are not cheap. they should have tried to keep molina or as scott barber said, have jeroloman be the back up . there are no long term plans for jeroloman anyway, so why not play him for a year and maybe he gets some trade value.

  • gnor

    @juanguzman@gnor You can never have enough draft picks, because only about 50% of your first round picks never even have a cup of coffee in the majors. With the new CBA, top draft picks just got a lot harder to come by, and the value of good prospects just shot way, way up. AA is quite right to get what he can while the getting is good.

    Besides, there isn’t that much difference between Mathis and Molina.

  • juanguzman

    a .241 career average opposed to a .194? i believe there is a huge difference. and molina is coming off a very good hitting season. also, ask morrow if molina made a difference for him.

  • gnor

    @AJLutz97 Mathis is considered one of the best in the business at calling games and defending the plate, which is what you want in a backup catcher. Let’s not forget you also win games by getting the best out of your pitching staff, and preventing runs from scoring, which Mathis does very well.

  • gnor

    @JaysJournal Mendoza Line

    The Jays scored a ton of runs last year, and they should be OK this year too. They now have Lawrie, Thames/Snider, and Rasmus that they didn’t have last year, so even if they have to play a light hitting second baseman and a backup catcher that flat out can’t hit, they should still be OK overall.

    Their big problem is defense. They allowed more runs than they scored, ranked #24 in staff ERA, and tied for 10th in errors. Once they get better at preventing runs, this team should be OK.

  • gnor

    @juanguzman@gnor You can never have enough draft picks, because only about 50% of your first round picks never even have a cup of coffee in the majors. With the new CBA, top draft picks just got a lot harder to come by, and the value of good prospects just shot way, way up. AA is quite right to get what he can while the getting is good.

    Besides, there isn’t that much difference between Mathis and Molina.

  • gnor

    “the delusional mancrush his former manager Mike Scoiscia had on him.”

    That’s a really, really poor knock, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Had you done your research instead of trying to look like a hero, you may have found that the delusional mancrush that Scioscia (this is the CORRECT spelling) had on him might have had the the tiniest, remotest possibility that The Angels won 57.6% of their games when Mathis played, compared to 56.4% when he did not.

  • juanguzman

    a .241 career average opposed to a .194? i believe there is a huge difference. and molina is coming off a very good hitting season. also, ask morrow if molina made a difference for him.

  • gnor

    @AJLutz97 Mathis is considered one of the best in the business at calling games and defending the plate, which is what you want in a backup catcher. Let’s not forget you also win games by getting the best out of your pitching staff, and preventing runs from scoring, which Mathis does very well.

  • gnor

    @juanguzman If anything, Mathis calls a better game than Molina, he’s WAY better at blocking balls in the dirt, which gives pitchers confidence to throw their breaking stuff with men on base. He is also considered one of the best game callers in the business. Morrow will be very happy if he can throw his curveball in the dirt and not have it go to the backstop.

    At the plate, Mathis had 18 Runs, 22 RBI, and 3 HR. Molina had 19 Runs, 15 RBI, and 3 HR. What’s your point?

  • gnor

    @JaysJournal Mendoza Line

    The Jays scored a ton of runs last year, and they should be OK this year too. They now have Lawrie, Thames/Snider, and Rasmus that they didn’t have last year, so even if they have to play a light hitting second baseman and a backup catcher that flat out can’t hit, they should still be OK overall.

    Their big problem is defense. They allowed more runs than they scored, ranked #24 in staff ERA, and tied for 10th in errors. Once they get better at preventing runs, this team should be OK.

  • gnor

    “the delusional mancrush his former manager Mike Scoiscia had on him.”

    That’s a really, really poor knock, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Had you done your research instead of trying to look like a hero, you may have found that the delusional mancrush that Scioscia (this is the CORRECT spelling) had on him might have had the the tiniest, remotest possibility that The Angels won 57.6% of their games when Mathis played, compared to 56.4% when he did not.

  • gnor

    @juanguzman If anything, Mathis calls a better game than Molina, he’s WAY better at blocking balls in the dirt, which gives pitchers confidence to throw their breaking stuff with men on base. He is also considered one of the best game callers in the business. Morrow will be very happy if he can throw his curveball in the dirt and not have it go to the backstop.

    At the plate, Mathis had 18 Runs, 22 RBI, and 3 HR. Molina had 19 Runs, 15 RBI, and 3 HR. What’s your point?

  • juanguzman

    molina had 48 (171 ab) hits in 55 games. mathis had 43 (247) hits in 93 games. that’s my point. i think somebody else has a mancrush on him, too.

  • juanguzman

    molina had 48 (171 ab) hits in 55 games. mathis had 43 (247) hits in 93 games. that’s my point. i think somebody else has a mancrush on him, too.

  • scottbarber

    @gnor The fact that the Angles won games at virtually the same rate when Mathis played or not really doesn’t tell us much about Mathis as a player. The difference is so slight, and there are a lot of factors that go into a team winning that can’t be simply put on Mathis’ shoulders.

    Calling him “one of the best in the business at calling games,” is tough to verify/quantify. I think that reputation has developed in the media because Mike Scioscia has constantly asserted it. This is the same manager, who refused to play Mike Napoli in 2010 because of defensive issues behind the plate- and had Napoli shipped out of town..

    What can be quantified, is how completely inept Mathis is at hitting. He also racked up -1.0 WAR in only 93 games last year.

    Personally, I was glad when Molina signed with the Rays- the supplementary draft pick is more important to me. But I think there are better options out there to back up JPA than Jeff Mathis.

  • gnor

    @juanguzman I don’t know who has a mancrush on who, but my point is, don’t get hung up on the hitting stats of your backup catcher, because that’s not what he is hired to do.

    As I said, he’s a better receiver than Molina, which is what he is hired to do.He can actually scoot over and block dirt balls with his chest protector, instead of reaching for them.

    Anyway, I would sooner take Mathis, and stockpile a top 40 draft pick, which would net you a player like Escobar, Lind, Kelly Johnson, or Thames.

    Anyway, Molina had a career year at the plate last year, which he probably won’t repeat (see John Buck with the Marlins). His lifetime average is .241, and he has had 3 sub-Mendoza seasons out of 12. He wasn’t hired for his bat either.

  • scottbarber

    @gnor The fact that the Angles won games at virtually the same rate when Mathis played or not really doesn’t tell us much about Mathis as a player. The difference is so slight, and there are a lot of factors that go into a team winning that can’t be simply put on Mathis’ shoulders.

    Calling him “one of the best in the business at calling games,” is tough to verify/quantify. I think that reputation has developed in the media because Mike Scioscia has constantly asserted it. This is the same manager, who refused to play Mike Napoli in 2010 because of defensive issues behind the plate- and had Napoli shipped out of town..

    What can be quantified, is how completely inept Mathis is at hitting. He also racked up -1.0 WAR in only 93 games last year.

    Personally, I was glad when Molina signed with the Rays- the supplementary draft pick is more important to me. But I think there are better options out there to back up JPA than Jeff Mathis.

  • gnor

    @juanguzman I don’t know who has a mancrush on who, but my point is, don’t get hung up on the hitting stats of your backup catcher, because that’s not what he is hired to do.

    As I said, he’s a better receiver than Molina, which is what he is hired to do.He can actually scoot over and block dirt balls with his chest protector, instead of reaching for them.

    Anyway, I would sooner take Mathis, and stockpile a top 40 draft pick, which would net you a player like Escobar, Lind, Kelly Johnson, or Thames.

    Anyway, Molina had a career year at the plate last year, which he probably won’t repeat (see John Buck with the Marlins). His lifetime average is .241, and he has had 3 sub-Mendoza seasons out of 12. He wasn’t hired for his bat either.