Jays Notes: Leading Off, Rajai Davis, Jose Bautista


There are some interesting things to follow these days and you can tell that teams are starting to ramp up operations as Spring Training nears. Alex Anthopoulos was heard making some interesting comments, so I thought we should keep tabs on where his head – and the direction of the Jays as a result – is at:

  • As I expected, the Jays are apparently looking to add another outfielder to the mix despite Jose Bautista‘s wishes to remain in RF. Another OF addition would pretty well solidify the fact that Jose will play at 3B in 2011. The rumor comes after Ken Rosenthal indicated that his sources say Johnny Damon and Scott Podsednik are of interest to the Jays. Jays fans are very familiar with what Damon can do as he has been a big part of the Red Sox and Yankees over the years, making him very familiar with the AL East. Damon is now 37 years old and had a line of .271/.355/.401 for the Tigers in 2010. He only hit 8 HRs and swiped 11 bases, both his career lows since 1997. Personally, I say pass on the Caveman. Podsednik will be 35 in March, had a .297/.342/.382 line in all of 2010, but did much better while playing in the AL for the Royals (before heading to the LAD) with a .310/.353/.400 line. He hit a similar number of HRs than Damon in 2010 with 6 total, but unlike Damon he is still a very credible threat to steal some bases with 30 SBs (although he was caught 12 times). Podsednik is also a much better defender in LF, and can still man CF if needed in a bind. Alex has stated numerous times that competition will be present at all positions at all times on the Jays roster, so adding a guy like Podsednik makes a lot of sense to me. He made $1,650,000 in 2010 compared to Damon’s $8,000,000 salary, and would therefore be a lot more affordable to the Jays than Damon would be.
  • Some fans may be wondering, “what happened to Rajai Davis? Wasn’t he supposed to be the lead off guy?” The truth of the matter is that he’s going to have to earn an every day role. As Alex stated in a recent article:

"“He brings us tremendous protection because of his ability to play all three outfield spots,” Anthopoulos said. “Plus [he brings the] element of speed, which I find is getting increasingly more difficult to find in the free-agent market. With everything else he brings — his work ethic, clubhouse presence and his willingness to have any role on the team — we felt it was a very good fit.”"

  • Even though he signed a 2-year deal with a team option for a 3rd season (which I imagine the Jays will pick up if he’s still on the club by then), it doesn’t guarantee Rajai Davis anything. If the Jays do land a Scott Podsednik type player, he could very well be relegated to the 4th outfielder role or more likely a platoon role with Scott. After all, Rajai does a great job against LHP (.304/.349/.435) while Scott is better than Rajai against RHP (.300/.349/.406 with all 6 of his HRs against RHP). Both were more than adequate against their weaker sides of the mound, but if you combine those 2 sets of numbers above you get a pretty awesome leading off duo. The other nice thing is that both can man CF and that you’d still have a speed option off-the-bench for later on in the games. I’m a big fan of a Scott Podsednik acquisition as a result, it’s just unknown at this point whether or not he’s a big fan of playing for the Jays!
  • On the Jose Bautista side of the house – absolutely the most interesting thing on Jays fans radars at this point – it’s apparent that the relations between the Jays camp and Jose’s camp have been incredible respectful in negotiations. It’s also been said that although the Jays will not negotiate with players once they have exchanged their final arbitration numbers, they’re more than open to negotiating a long term deal if it fits their plans. So, it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see the Jays and Bautista agree to a 2,3 or 4 year deal before the case goes to arbitration. They may not see eye-to-eye, but as Alex Anthopolous stated:

"“We don’t play hardball with anybody,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re very clear with the agents and the players. We have open lines of communication and dialogue. Our No. 1 goal in all negotiations is to get a deal done, at all times. … The reality of it is you don’t always come to an agreement.”"

Some interesting things going on in the Jays world of affairs right now. Will Jason Frasor be in the 2011 pen, or will he be traded? Will Jose Bautista be signed long-term? Will Scott Podsednik join the franchise and be a very fitting compliment to Rajai Davis and to the bench? Many questions still have to be answered, and if I was a betting man, I’d say yes on all counts (with Frasor sticking around).

– MG

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