Blue Jays Rosterization

The next couple of weeks promise to be active for the Toronto Blue Jays. After finishing out their opening home stand against the Athletics, the Jays will travel to Anaheim and Seattle as part of a West Coast road trip, before coming back East to Boston for a four game set and then finally returning to the Rogers Centre to face the Yankees and Rays. In addition to the long travel and stiff competition, the Jays will have to make several important roster decisions during this time.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the players involved:

Jose Bautista

The Jays slugger has left the team to be with his wife after the birth of their first child, a healthy baby girl. Bautista is expected to rejoin the team in Anaheim. We got a glimpse of what the Jays lineup without Bautista looks like last night when Juan Rivera moved into right field, Edwin Encarnacion played designated hitter and Jayson Nix filled in for him at third base. We should see a similar lineup tonight with J.P. Arencibia starting at catcher instead of Jose Molina. Looking at how the lineups have been juggled this far into the season, it wouldn’t surprise me if John McDonald got a start at third base for Thursday’s afternoon away game.

Brandon Morrow

Jays manager John Farrell told reporters yesterday that the hard throwing right hander, on the Disabled List with elbow inflammation, will likely make two starts for Single A Dunedin, the first of which will be tomorrow and likely come with a maximum pitch count of only 50-60. Once Morrow returns to the rotation, it will mean bumping either Jesse Litsch or Jo-Jo Reyes, who did himself no favours with Tuesday’s brief start. Performance may be a secondary factor in making a decision though because Reyes is out of options while Litsch can be sent down to the Minors without risking placement on the waiver wire.

Frank Francisco

Heading into the season, it was expected that Francisco would become the Blue Jays closer in 2011. Unfortunately (or as I read from someone else yesterday, unforch) a sore right pectoral muscle sidelined the reliever through most of the Spring. After throwing in a simulated game on Monday, Francisco joined Dunedin yesterday and is expected to pitch on Thursday after Morrow. Farrell suggested that the former Texas Rangers closer would pitch in at least three games before the team considered bringing him back to the big club. With so many right handers already in the bullpen, Francisco’s return likely spells out a demotion for Casey Janssen who is one of the few relievers on the team to still have Minor League options remaining.

Octavio Dotel

Further complicating the status of the Jays relief corps is Dotel’s impending return from the Disabled List. The right handed reliever has been out with a strained left hamstring, rehabbing at the team’s training facilities in Florida. He could return to the Jays bullpen as soon as the upcoming West Coast road trip. If Dotel comes back before Francisco, my money would still be on Janssen to be demoted. However, a scenario could happen where Dotel and Morrow’s returns coincide resulting in Janssen and Marc Rzepczynski being sent down, while Litsch would remain in the rotation and Reyes would take over Rzepczynski’s role as a lefty specialist in the bullpen. Such a move would only stave off the inevitable though, as Francisco’s eventual return would force the Blue Jays to expose one of their relievers to the waiver wire, unless they’re willing to go with David Purcey as the only left handed reliever, which would mean an eventual demotion for Litsch. Relievers Shawn Camp, Jason Frasor, Jon Rauch and Carlo Villanueva would all have to clear waivers before they could be demoted to Triple A.

Corey Patterson

After moving Bautista back to the outfield, the Jays can afford to take their time with Corey Patterson who was hit in the head with a Daniel Bard fastball during Spring Training. Although he showed no signs of a concussion at the time, the team is being properly cautious with him. His return will either mean Mike McCoy gets sent down to Triple A or Jayson Nix goes on the waiver wire. Nix probably has more pop in his bat than McCoy as well as a bit more experience filling in at third base, where defense is likely most needed.

Scott Podsednik

There’s no timetable on Podsednik’s return to action, and it’s very possible that with Bautista in right field and Patterson eventually coming off the Disabled List, Podsednik doesn’t play a single game in a Jays uniform. He really, really should have accepted his option with the Dodgers during the offseason.

Comments (16)

  1. I think it’s more likely Scott Podsednik never plays a game for the Jays because he has Plantar Fasciitis and has no speed (= no value)

  2. It’s only been a couple of games but Villenueva has looked awesome out of the bullpen so far. Combine that with his excellent peripherals throughout his career and I’m really hoping he doesn’t get sent down to make room for the returning guys.

  3. I get that you want to preserve an asset in Reyes. but, keeping the guy because he’s out of options is foolish. Field the best team, he’s easily replacable.

  4. IF, big IF, Podsednik can recover from his injury, I am wondering if the jays just cut rivera and makes Podsednik the DH. it would be an nontraditional use of the DH spot. I do think the Jays would be better served by adding a guy who walk at a decent rate and steal a few bases.

    It would mean giving up on the prospect of getting a pick. i would be depressed to think the jays would field a shittier team just to get a pick.

    If the 9,1,2 spots are filled with davis, podsednik and escobar then there is a decent chance of base runners on for bautista and lind.

  5. Podsednik hasn’t had an above average walk rate since 2002 when he had four walks in 22 plate appearances. His OBP doesn’t look bad from the last few years, but look at his wOBA. River is a much better option. Don’t fall too in love with speed.

  6. I think it’s one of two scenarios, each dependent on how Litsch and Reyes pitch in their next 2 and 1 starts respectively:

    1) Reyes out-pitches Litsch or it’s a wash – Litsch goes down to AAA for Morrow, Janssen goes down for Dotel, and McCoy goes down for Francisco with the Jays carrying an extra reliever.

    2) Litsch out-pitches Reyes – I think if this happens you can’t send Litsch down to avoid exposing Reyes to waivers. In this case, the same thing as above happens except Morrow replaces Reyes who gets exposed to waivers and is likely picked up without clearing to AAA. Either that or he slots in for Rzepczynski who gets sent down with Janssen.

  7. Agree with dc on Reyes. If he has no trade value now, try to outright him to Vegas and chance the consequences. If he has no trade value, we don’t need him.

  8. I agree rivera is a better option in a vaccum. And i am shocked by how bad podsednik’s walk rate is.

    I am just saying for this year’s jays i can see podsednik being a bit more useful. he is another left handed bat and more mobile than rivera. i think the jays are fine for low OBP RH power (Hill, JPA, EE).

    Obviously neither one is very good offensively or defensively.

  9. I don’t want to sit through Dana Eveland 2.0 just because the guy doesn’t have any options.

  10. Re: Patterson: The third case is that , since he signed a minor league deal, that he goes directly to Vegas, eliminating the need to expose McCoy to waivers.

    I do think that unless Reyes pitches extremely well in his next start, he is going to be exposed to waivers. There’s a good chance that he goes unclaimed, or that someone offers a middling prospect for him.

  11. send E5 down??, hes useless at third base, Nix is such an upgrade and maybe the chance to play everyday will benefit him ( bautista # 2 ) besides Nix is a good short term solution till lawrie is ready to play,

  12. If the Jays are smart they’ll keep Lawrie down whether he’s ready to play or not for as long as possible. Encarnacion is Nix’s superior in every way, including defensively last season at third base.

    He’s had a rough start at third base, but he was playing first up until the last week of Spring. Give him some time. The lack of patience for this guy is incredible.

  13. your going to tell me he was’t taking thrid base reps in spring just to keep sharp?? 18 errors last year and already 3 this year, i dont think anyone is being inpatience with him, keep him as a bat of the bench/DH with rivera, i gotta a feeling rivera wont be here the whole season anyways, decent bat in the last year of his deal, he’ll be gone at the trade deadline

  14. Totally agree on E5. His errors are all throwing and they tend to come in bunches. The rest of the time he’s at least okay at third, often better than okay. And h looks to be in better shape this season. If he was as awful as the common wisdom suggests how come every opposition speedster who comes to the plate doesn’t bunt for a base hit? Because EE is really good at charging bunted balls, that’s why.

  15. I think the biggest issue with the roster isn’t the bench and what to do with Encarnacion. Posednik? I mean really, who cares? The biggest issue is how do we manage all of the BP arms and starters.

    The top 4 in the rotation should be a lock. Romero, Morrow, Cecil and Drabek. Given his track record and assuming he pitches well enough, Litsch is the 5th starter.

    As for the BP, assuming everyone is healthy, we will have Fransisco, Rauch, Dotel, Frasor and Camp. I love how Villaneuva has pitched. He’s shown some real nasty stuff so far. I say he’s a keeper.

    Purcey is a 1st round draft pick who has great upside but has yet to find a role. I doubt he clears waivers so you almost have to keep him.

    Reyes was a throw-in when the Jays acquired Escobar. He’s like house money. It sucks when you blow house money but sometimes, you have to cut your losses. I say, place him on waivers and see what happens.

    Farrell loves Rzepczynski out of the BP as his LOOGY. Plus, he can get right handers out if need be in longer relief situations. Combine him with Dotel or Camp as a ROOGY, and you have effective shut-down relievers out of the BP in 7th and 8th inning situations. As a side-note, some have said that Rzep’s talents are being wasted in the BP. Let’s remember that many fine Jays starters began their big league careers in the BP, including guys like Jimmy Key, David Wells and more recently Shawn Marcum. Rzep can also take solace in seeing how well Scott Downs has done in his big league career. I would say that he’s a keeper and screw it if he has options.

    Villaneuva is the intriguing one who might make Janssen redundant right now, so let’s send Janssen to AAA (although he doesn’t deserve it). If or when Villanueva implodes, Janssen gets his ticket back to the show.

    Speaking of redundancy, Dotel, Rauch and Frasor are basically competing for one maybe two spots in the BP. Guys who throw right-handed. Can close (sort of but not so much for Frasor). Are seen as power arms (sort of but not so much for Rauch). Something has to give with one of these three to have a composed and balanced BP.

    Competing against the Red Sox and Yankees, you need at least two good LH arms out of the BP. Ideally, the BP would be:

    Fransisco (CL)
    Rauch (SU)
    Rzep (L)
    Camp (R)
    Purcey (L)
    Frasor or Dotel (R)
    Villanueva (R)

    In the farm:

    Janssen (AAA)
    Reonicke (AAA)
    Farina (AA or AAA)
    Mills (AAA)
    Ray (AAA)
    + others

  16. Longer test

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