Damon And Podsednik On Jays Radar

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that despite the Blue Jays signing Rajai Davis to a two year $5.75 million contract to avoid arbitration, Toronto remains interested in adding a top of the order type batter before the 2011 season starts.

The two names mentioned in connection with the Jays are Johnny Damon and Scott Podsednik.

Both Podsednik and Damon also hit from the left side; Snider and Lind currently are the only left-handed hitters on the Jays roster.

Podsednik, who turns 35 on March 18, has a .347 OBP and 65 stolen bases in 93 attempts over the past two seasons.

Damon, 37, had a .355 OBP with the Tigers last season, matching his career mark. But he no longer is much of a base-stealing threat, and his defense in left is below average.

Despite having a limited number of left handed batters in their lineup, the Jays showed last season that they had no difficulty in getting to right handed pitching.  In fact, no other team in the league had a wider platoon split last season in weighted on base average.

Even though either veteran’s on base percentage last season would’ve led the Blue Jays, a major difference emerges in their splits that Toronto would do well to take note of.

Johnny Damon
Career wOBA vs. LHP: .340
2010 wOBA vs. LHP: .334

Scott Podsednik
Career wOBA vs. LHP: .304
2010 wOBA vs. LHP: .289

Despite a better fielding reputation, Podsednik, who declined his $2 million mutual option with the Dodgers earlier this offseason, offers about the same level of defense as Damon would in a corner outfield position.  He hits for far less power and has been far more inconsistent over the last three seasons at the plate than Damon as well.

For his part, Damon saw a drastic drop off in his home run total with the Tigers last season (only 8 in 581 plate appearances) compared to his total for the 2009 Yankees (24).  Over the last three seasons, Damon’s OBP and total WAR have been declining.

A myth also exists that Damon rakes at the Rogers Centre, but his career .706 OPS at Rogers Centre begs to differ.

If either of these two players are being considered merely for their ability to get on base, something that the Blue Jays were unquestionably terrible at last season, and act as little more than a leadoff hitter, Toronto would probably do better to consider a slightly less conventional option that has a career OBP of .411, got on base more than 40% of the time last year and has a career weighted on base average of .424.

I’m talking about Manny Ramirez.  Sure, even though Damon and Podsednik’s aged wheels have slowed down, they’re still probably faster than Ramirez, but is there a better team in baseball right now to optimize Manny’s worth?  As his power numbers continue to decrease, his ability to get on base refuses to decline. In other words, he’s lacking where the rest of the Jays team succeeds, and succeeds where the rest of the Jays team is lacking.

The only issue is that while Damon and Podsednik’s defense isn’t close to what it used to be, either player’s glove is probably better than putting Ramriez in the outfield.  Manny would have to be the team’s DH, and that would either mean making Davis an everyday player in right field or using Edwin Encarnacion at third base.  The idea of Encarnacion throwing to Adam Lind at first base is more frightening than Davis batting against right handed pitching, but neither option is as terrifying as Scott Podsednik patrolling left field and batting in the lineup against southpaws.

Comments (24)

  1. The fact that the Blue Jays have been recently “connected” to Damon & Podsednik but not Manny makes me think they are hot n heavy on Ramirez – AA doesn’t work in public and will let agents like Boras (Damon) use the Blue Jays for leverage.

    That being said, I’d love to see us bring in Damon, and think there’s plenty of room for Damon AND Manny on the roster, and it would really improve the team’s depth/bench. All of a sudden Davis is back to 4th OF and EE is your utility player.

  2. I believe Boras still represents Manny as well.

  3. Doesn’t that prove my point even further?

  4. Manny would be such a good fit for this team, but seems less and less likely. Either that or AA knows Manny has few options and is waiting for a bargain. I would not mind Damon as well, but have no interest in seeing Podsednik on the Jays. I am guessing Podsednik is looking for at least a two year deal if he turned down a $2 million option. I also think whoever the Jays have at AAA Las Vegas would do just as good a job as Podsednik and for a lot cheaper.

    With regards to Boras – have the Jays ever signed one of his clients? None that I can recall.

  5. I just don’t see Damon as a RF in the AL East. His defense just isn’t good enough anymore. Would a Damon signing necessitate moving Snider back to RF?

  6. Damon has never had the arm to play RF so the answer is yes. That’s where Snider belongs in 2011 anyway – let him prove first he CAN’T play RF before you relegate him to LF.

  7. Damon isn’t a great option, but he’s a hell of a lot better than Podsednik.

  8. I think you are right NYJ. Snider has more value if he can develop into an adequate right fielder.

  9. With Davis in the fold though, it’s not a matter of Damon vs. Podsednik overall – there’s no real reason for either of these guys to hit vs. lefties when a platoon with Davis would be best in both cases. So it makes sense to just compare their stats vs. RHP:

    Podsednik in 2010 vs. RHP: .300/.349/.406
    Damon in 2010 vs. RHP: .270/.352/.408

    Those are strikingly similar, but Podsednik is definitely the better defender at this point in his career, which I think gives him a pretty big advantage. And just for completeness here’s Davis’ also-quite-similar line vs. LHP:

    Davis in 2010 vs. LHP: .304/.349/.435

    Personally, I’d go with the Podsednik/Davis platoon in LF. That gives you a .350-ish OBP and a lot of stolen bases out of the leadoff spot without sacrificing defence.

  10. You can’t just assume a player who steals bases is a plus defender – Podsednik is known to be pretty bad defensively and has a noodle arm too. Unless the Jays think Pods can hit RHP better there’s no reason to choose him over Damon.

  11. I definitely don’t think Podsednik is a plus defender – I’d consider him below-average – but Johnny Damon only played 33 games in the field last year, and those were all in LF where he has a career -8.4 UZR/150.

    Podsednik, on the other hand, has a career 0.3 UZR/150 in LF, and played 129 games there last year.

  12. Who’s this Blue Jays player who could platoon with Davis?

    Player C in 2010 vs. RHP: .292/.343/.451

  13. First of all, UZR is irrelevant. The marriage to it is astounding. Second of all, now that I’ve discredited it with my opinion…Damon is career +3.5 UZR in LF. You used his CF figure. Either way, the point is they are both weak defenders and it shouldn’t factor into the decision because you’re removing them for defensive purposes anyway late in games and the difference between them is negligible.

  14. No idea who that is – if it’s anybody who played outfield for the Jays last year then I must be blind. Who is it?

    While I was looking I noticed Vernon Wells’ ridiculous reverse splits last year: .291/.342/.553 vs. RHP, and an unbelievable .195/.289/.354 vs. LHP. How the heck did that happen?

  15. NorthYorkJays: oops! My bad, that’s what happens when you’re just casually glancing at Fangraphs in the middle of doing actual work :P

    At any rate I guess career numbers are irrelevant at this point – I was just under the impression that Johnny Damon was basically a full-time DH at this point in his career while Podsednik is at least a passable option to play left field half the time.

  16. Player C = Corey Patterson

  17. I dont see the jays putting up money for Ramirez there is enough power in the line up with Bautista 52 homers wells 33 homers lind and hill can both bring in 20 to 30 each the jays need speed thats why they resined davis and are after podasidnek and damon but they are up there in age but so are the othere power houses in the divison the yankeeys and resox I’v noticed no one wants to play for them any more unless the give up big money because if play for them your rep takes a hit this is how I seee the standings this year for the east Baltimour Will be lats Boston 4 New York 3 Toronto 2 Tampa bay 1 it’s time to get younger or faster also I hope the jays get Russel Martin

  18. I hear razzing Johnny Damon in the outfield at the Dome might spur a two home run game out of the guy (Damon….Damon….You suck!). If we do that for 81 home games…..

  19. The Jays should definitely sign Podsednik ahead of Manny. Although there has never been a situation in the history of real and fantasy baseball where such a decision has been made, it would be fun to see the Jays so obviously do everything possible to stop the team from having a legitimate DH option. I mean, it really would be the corporation holding the nose of all the fans against a pile of excrement, until they can figure out how to do it to us one at a time.

  20. I like most people prefer Damon over the other 2, signing him probably puts Bautista to third, while Damon DH, and snider in right and Davis in left

  21. Pretty sure Bautista would have still led the Jays in OBP last year, champ.

  22. Michael Darquea WTF?*> you trying to get a rise out of ppl or just dumb? if the former; time to find a new site. if the latter; time to find a new site…

  23. Damon or Manny for DH!

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