Diving into the depths: Toronto Blue Jays

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Toronto Blue Jays
Rotation
1. Shaun Marcum
2. Ricky Romero
3. Brandon Morrow
4. Mark Rzepczynski
5. Brett Cecil
6. Scott Richmond
7. Brian Tallet
8. David Purcey
9. Dustin McGowan
10. Robert Ray
11. Brad Mills
12. Kyle Drabek
13. Zach Jackson
14. Zach Stewart
15. Lance Broadway
16. Reidier Gonzalez
Of course, they’re not all serious threats for the rotation, but the Jays always manage to go through some pitchers. They’ll enter spring with three spots pretty much set, and Rzepczynski should be the clear favorite for the fourth.
McGowan is supposed to be ready to pitch this spring after missing most of the last two years, but odds are that he’ll begin the year rehabbing in the minors. Drabek should be a factor come June or July, and Jesse Litsch, who is on the way back from Tommy John surgery, could join the rotation after the All-Star break.
Bullpen
1. Jason Frasor
2. Scott Downs
3. Casey Janssen
4. Brian Tallet
5. Jeremy Accardo
6. Jesse Carlson
7. Shawn Camp
8. Josh Roenicke
9. Dick Hayhurst
10. Zech Zinicola
11. Zach Jackson
12. Luis Perez
13. Sean Henn
14. Willie Collazo
Everyone in the top nine here is a holdover from last year. The Jays have relief depth to part with in trade if they want to go that route. As is, they wouldn’t seem to have room for Roenicke or Hayhurst unless Tallet finds himself back in the rotation. Frasor and Downs, though, are both free agents after the season, and Accardo, who wanted to be non-tendered last month, would still like to move on to a team that would grant him a bigger role.


Catcher
1. John Buck
2. Raul Chavez
3. J.P. Arencibia
4. Kyle Phillips
5. Brian Jeroloman
First base
1. Lyle Overbay
2. Adam Lind
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
Second base
1. Aaron Hill
2. John McDonald
3. Jarrett Hoffpauir
4. Mike McCoy
Third base
1. Edwin Encarnacion
2. Jose Bautista
3. John McDonald
4. Mike McCoy
5. Brett Wallace
Shortstop
1. Alex Gonzalez
2. John McDonald
3. Brian Bocock
The Jays have filled two of the three holes in their lineup, but Buck and Gonzalez aren’t more than stopgaps. Worse, they’re not just filling in for a year while younger talents develop. Arencibia has been a bust since being drafted 21st overall in 2007, and the Jays’ best catching prospect now is likely Travis D’Arnaud, a 20-year-old picked up in the Roy Halladay deal. At shortstop, Toronto has to hold out hope that Justin Jackson will learn to hit. Neither D’Arnaud nor Jackson figures to be a factor until 2012.
Left field
1. Travis Snider
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Jose Bautista
4. Joey Gathright
5. Chris Lubanski
Center field
1. Vernon Wells
2. Joey Gathright
3. Jose Bautista
4. Jorge Padilla
Right field
1. Jose Bautista
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Joey Gathright
4. Jorge Padilla
Designated hitter
1. Adam Lind
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
The thinking earlier this winter was that Overbay would be traded and Lind would be tried at first base. That doesn’t seem likely to materialize now, and the Jays might just keep Lind in the DH role in preparation for eventually turning first base over to Wallace.
Right field is the biggest remaining question mark. I wouldn’t mind seeing Encarnacion out there, with Bautista or a free agent at third. However, there’s been nothing to suggest it might happen. The Jays will probably sign a cheap veteran (Rick Ankiel?) and push Bautista back into a bench role.
Since the Jays haven’t addressed their outfield at all, it does look like Snider is safe. The Jays wanted to force him to win the job in spring training, but it looks like the competition will be less than stellar.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.