Blue Jays set to re-sign McDonald for $1.5 million

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While trade rumors swirl around Roy Halladay, it looks like Alex Anthopoulos’ first move as the Blue Jays’ new general manager will be re-signing John McDonald for one year and $1.5 million.
McDonald has spent the past five seasons in Toronto, starting a total of 301 games, but was primarily a backup this year as Marco Scutaro emerged as the Blue Jays’ everyday shortstop. However, with Scutaro now a free agent McDonald may be given a chance to claim the starting job in 2010.
If that happens it’ll be great news for the Blue Jays’ defense and terrible news for the Blue Jays’ offense, because McDonald is one of the most extreme good-glove, no-hit players of this era. He’s a career .238/.276/.317 hitter, which works out to an adjusted OPS+ of 57 that ranks dead last among all active position players with at least 1,500 plate appearances.
Despite building a strong case as the worst hitter in baseball, McDonald has stuck around for over a decade because of his glove. He didn’t join the Blue Jays until after his 30th birthday, but while in Toronto he’s graded out as 12.7 runs above average in 2,513 innings at shortstop according to Ultimate Zone Rating. McDonald’s defensive reputation is even better than those numbers, although that’s perhaps due to the superior range he flashed in his 20s.
As a 35-year-old veteran with a good glove McDonald is worth the modest one-year commitment from a team with a big hole at shortstop, but Anthopoulos should definitely be looking for a more capable starter. Whether that means making an effort to re-sign Scutaro, targeting a different free agent, or swinging a trade, one of his offseason goals should be making sure that McDonald doesn’t head into spring training atop the depth chart.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.