Oct 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Infante (4) throws to first base against the Boston Red Sox in game five of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays Should Give Omar Infante Serious Consideration

This slide right here may have cost Toronto a shot at Omar Infante. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

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::

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  • Andrew van Laar

    I’m down for some Infante. I’ve been preaching him as the best 2B option for the Jays to my circle of Jay loving friends. I think he would be a perfect compliment in the 2 hole hitting after Reyes.

  • Travis Bateman

    A 2B with up and down offensive contributions over the years and declining defensive abilities entering their age 32 season? I think I’ve seen how this one plays out *cough*Izturis*cough*

    • Justin Jay

      You’re the 2nd person to say that to me. I don’t think it’s the same at all. I think he’s been better than Izturis with the stick, his range was only hurt because he was hurt by Rasmus. Leyland didn’t focus on SBs like the Marlins did, and he was 17 of 20 that year. The key numbers I see here though are the VERY low Ks and the GB/FB ratio. He was a 0.63 compared to Izturis’ 1.10. That’s a big difference. He did all of this in a bigger park too. I think he plays well in the #2 spot on a 3 yr contract in Toronto.

      • Travis Bateman

        In 2012 Izturis had 17 SB, the same as Infante; in 2013 both had a K% that was virtually identical (~9.5%), while having very similar LD%.

        Infante did hit far more fly balls as opposed to ground balls, but as a rule, ground balls go for hits more often than fly balls (although they don’t result in extra base hits as often)

        So the fact that Infante’s BABIP was higher than Izturis’ this season is a statistical noise ready to regress.

        Infante was MUCH better than Izturis last year, but the odds of Infante being that good again this season, another year older, is unlikely.

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  • bob l.

    just a comment on your first sentence. wouldn’t jpa be an upgrade at catcher for next year? does anybody really believe that he will hit under .200 again? i see names like ianeeta and conger floating around. i think i would roll my dice and keep jpa. he had a reputation as a hitter in the minors, sooner or later he will show that he can hit big league pitching. i remember being so frustrated with rasmus his first year and a half in toronto. i could predict a k or a g/o to 2nd about every at bat and look what happened this year. give jpa a chance in 2014.

    • Justin Jay

      This Discus messaging system is a mess. Sorry Bob, just got notified of your comment. I think it’s more of the body of work in the few years that JPA has been with Toronto that has people fed up. Everybody likes his attitude, but nobody likes his inconsistency. If it’s not fielding issues, it’s the bat. If it’s not the bat, it’s receiving issues or not controlling the running game issues. Also, the minor league numbers in Vegas are inflated because of its elevation, dryness, and the ballpark being considered a hitter’s ballpark. But I’m with you in that I don’t think Ianetta or Conger will be any sort of upgrade to the position. Maybe a slightly better OBP and maybe slightly better defensively, but at what cost? I’d be down with keeping JPA over those 2 options.