The next player on my list of possible Jays targets is someone who may have worn out his welcome with the Angels…
3B Brandon Wood – LAA
6’3″ 210 lbs / Bats Right, Throws Right / 25 years old
Drafted: in the 23rd rd of the 2003 draft by the Angels
A player who could win a gold glove at 3B due to his excellent defensive play, Brandon Wood has obviously outlasted his welcome in Los Angeles as Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo will likely be the mainstays at 3B for the Angels in 2011. Due to his (tremendous) struggles at the plate, the cost of acquiring Wood should be more than tolerable. Knowing that the Jays went as far as to audition Eric Chavez for 3B depth purposes, I would imagine that adding Wood fits in perfectly with whatever plan they had for Chavez. And, as a bonus, the Jays would get a player who is generally healthy and could turn out to be a steal if they can revamp his swing, whereas Chavez had already reached his potential.
Here is what Wood has accomplished thus far:
Brandon Wood Stats:
You can clearly see why his performances in the minors earned him top prospect status from most in the industry, but you can also clearly see why the Angels and others are frustrated by his play. When a player of his supposed caliber can’t get above the Mendoza line or get on base at all in the majors, you get frustrated.
There is no doubt that acquiring Wood should be viewed as a risky proposition for the Jays because he may never actually reach his full potential. But, at the same time I doubt that the cost to acquire him would make that risk very high overall. His defensive abilities would allow the Jays to use him off the bench in late innings only if that is the best alternative, while also allowing for them to try to find a way to get his bat going. Let’s face it, the Jays have had so much success turning some other players into better offensive players, such as Alex Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and John Buck most recently, that turning around the approach of someone like Brandon Wood seems to hold some promise. After all, there has to be a reason he can perform so very well offensively in AAA and yet has such a hard time at the plate in the majors.
From what I hear and read, Wood’s problems at the plate begin with the fact that he only uses his upper body in his swing instead of using his legs as well. That leads to more of an upper cut swing which makes him swing through pitches like a knife through hot butter. And, there’s also the belief that he truly can’t recognize pitches at the plate. However, I would lean towards the “trying to do too much at the plate” category on the latter problem, because he does so well hitting all pitches and recognizing them in the minors that I doubt it’s simply that he “can’t” do it. He just hasn’t yet, for whatever reason (self-imposed pressure, too aggressive, not working counts to his advantage, ect..).
Although many people, including the Angels, thought that Wood may break through in 2010, such was not to be the case. Will they be patient enough to see him get another chance in 2011? It’s highly possible since he has shown so much promise in the minors. However, a slow spring performance could lead to their losing patience with him, and the Jays could benefit from it. With Fernando Rodney being the best option as closer for the Angels at this point, could the Angels be interested in one of the many Jays relievers with lots of experience? With Scott Downs and Vernon Wells already part of the team, they have the perfect sources of information to help them assess the best fit for a potential return and already have a trading rapport with Alex Anthopoulos.
One interesting thing about Wood is that he also fits the utility mould on that works perfectly for the Jays bench since he can play 1B (43 innings), SS (421 innings), and 3B (716 innings).
I entirely believe that sometimes a change of scenery is best in order for a player to find himself. There’s something to be said for Jose finding his swing in Toronto, after spending so much time elsewhere. Having said that, if Wood was acquired and placed on the bench, the members of the Jays bench would include John McDonald, Jose Molina, Brandon Wood, and most likely Scott Podsednik. That’s a fairly light hitting bench – albeit 3/4 full of all-star caliber defensive abilities – and it would carry a ton of risk with Wood included. However, if Wood plays 3B, Juan Rivera winds up taking his spot on the bench, which then adds a little more power and experience. Also, if Wood does fail to impress at the plate, he can be sent to AAA in hopes that he can find his swing. With Brett Lawrie possibly taking over 3B in June, giving Wood a chance to prove himself could result in having a nice trade chip at the deadline, or a decent bench option.
I won’t hold my breath while waiting to see this potential Jays trade happen since I seriously doubt the Angels want to sell so low on Wood (he’s still young, after all), but if they truly lose their patience another team such as the Jays could be the benefactor. He’s still young enough to revamp his swing and to find himself a permanent job on an MLB team if he can just get the right instruction and make the right changes at the plate. He’s also an interesting – buy very low – player to keep an eye on in fantasy circles as well, as he really does have a ton of power to offer.