Yes, the single most glaring need for the Toronto Blue Jays right now is catcher. There will be no argument from me there. Or is it starting pitching? Or maybe it’s this… 2nd Base.
I can hear the cries of “But we already have Ryan Goins.” Hey, no argument from me there… except he’s not an established major league player. Typically, second year players slump because opposing pitchers and coaches have time to now evaluate and find weaknesses. Goins did not light the world on fire. In his short stint with Toronto, he was a steady hand, but it still wouldn’t be a bad thing to give him some AAA time. They’re trying to build a winner in Buffalo anyway, remember?
That being said, I honestly haven’t heard Omar Infante‘s name being tossed around in Toronto. It makes me wonder why nobody other then Rant Sports is entertaining the idea of Infante becoming a Blue Jay. He’s not exactly the prize 2B to be had this offseason. “Why isn’t Toronto making a run at Robinson Cano!” Are you serious? $300 million over 10 years might be
a reason THE reason.
Here’s what Infante brings Toronto at the nice age of 32:
- A clear cut #2 hitter. With a career .279 bat, including .318 this past season, that’s better than any Blue Jay fielding 2B over the last three years. While he does strike out more than walk, in 476 PA, he whiffed an “alarming” 44 times. That’s only 9.9%. So he’s a contact guy with a GB/FB rate less than 1. That means GIDPs are rare. How rare? In 98 opportunities to piss off Tigers fans everywhere, he only angered them 11 times. That was what? One month’s worth for Toronto fans right?
- He’s got some pop. Not a lot, but he did have 10 HRs after missing some time (See the picture above).
- Even with a -0.1 dWAR, it’s still an upgrade. Again, I challenge Baseball-reference.com’s dWAR formula. 10 errors on 509 chances is something any Toronto fan would take at this point. I feel where Infante really gets penalized by dWAR is his range isn’t considered as good as the league average. That’s debatable.
- Speaking of WAR, it was 2.4. Jays’ fans haven’t seen that since Aaron Hill‘s 2009 performance.
- He’s not represented by Scott Boras. That makes him reasonably affordable.
The problem with getting Infante is pretty simple though. There are many suitors, not to mention he does play for a powerhouse team in Detroit. He came up through their system back when things were awful. So he’s certainly appreciative of what it’s become and chances are, he’ll stay there. If not, the other suitors will be more-than-likely willing to overpay for his services. I feel the Toronto brass, like most Toronto fans, seem to be inclined to settle on Goins.
The final problem (or hurdle? It feels appropriate to use here) in this mix is “the slide.” You’re looking at it above. Colby Rasmus hurt Infante on that slide. It’s been done before where players that previously cannot stand each other have found ways to bury the hatchet. If Kevin Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain can do it, I guess anybody could. Jeff Kent had to tolerate Barry Bonds… but let’s face it, Kent had pent up anger from when Toronto traded him away to the Mets. Point being, the problem can be fixed. Maybe there’s a lack of interest on Toronto’s end or maybe Infante is asking for too much, but if I were a GM, I’d seriously consider giving Infante 3 years $15 million. Or… we could just continue to watch the Izturis-Kawasaki muff show ::slams head on keyboard thinking about it::
**For the counter viewpoint, check out Travis Bateman’s article at HERE::