Tag: Mike McCoy

Omar Vizquel

Omar Vizquel snags a spot on Blue Jays’ bench at age 44


Jamie Moyer is still fighting for a spot on the Rockies’ pitching staff, but the other elderly gentleman in spring training, 44-year-old Omar Vizquel, has secured a place on the Blue Jays’ bench for Opening Day.

Toronto made it official today and also optioned his utility man competition, Mike McCoy, to Triple-A.

Vizquel no longer has the range to play shortstop regularly and hit just .251 with a .287 on-base percentage and .305 slugging percentage in 58 games for the White Sox last season, but obviously the Blue Jays aren’t keeping him solely for his on-field production at this point.

He signed a minor-league deal in January and this will be his 24th season in the majors.

Running down the rosters: Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista

Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has made a bunch of smart moves since taking over after the 2009 season and he was presented with one of the greatest gifts in major league history when the Angels took Vernon Wells’ contract off his hands and sent back Mike Napoli in return, yet his Blue Jays are still a fourth place team. This winter has to be regarded as a disappointment, as the Jays simply wouldn’t go the extra mile to land a star. In time, they may be better off for it — Prince Fielder wasn’t worth a nine-year deal and Yu Darvish certainly came with some risk — but right now, fans have to be wondering what good that new-found financial flexibility is actually doing.

At least the future is promising. All of the Jays’ best players are under control beyond 2012, and there’s quite a bit more talent on the way.

Ricky Romero – L
Brandon Morrow – R
Brett Cecil – L
Henderson Alvarez – R
Dustin McGowan – R

Sergio Santos – R
Francisco Cordero – R
Jason Frasor – R
Darren Oliver – L
Casey Janssen – R
Carlos Villanueva – R
Jesse Litsch – R

SP next in line: Aaron Laffey (L), Kyle Drabek (R), Nelson Figueroa (R)
RP next in line: Luis Perez (L), Joel Carreno (R), Trystan Magnuson (R), Jesse Chavez (R)

It’s the rotation that figures to prevent the Jays from making a run at the AL East. Romero may be one of the game’s most underrated hurlers, but there are no sure things beyond him. Morrow ended up with a 4.72 ERA last season, while Cecil came in at 4.73. Since the Jays were unable to add anyone through free agency, the 21-year-old Alvarez appears to be nearly guaranteed a place, with McGowan, Laffey and Drabek competing for the fifth spot.

The guess here is that McGowan is the fifth starter, even though it might make more sense to stash him in the pen initially to manage his innings. The problem there is that the bullpen is simply too crowded after the late additions of Cordero and Oliver. Villanueva and Litsch seem redundant now that both are being viewed strictly as relievers, so perhaps one will be traded this spring. That’d open up a place for Perez as a second lefty.

SS Yunel Escobar – R
2B Kelly Johnson – L
RF Jose Bautista – R
1B Adam Lind – L
DH Edwin Encarnacion – R
3B Brett Lawrie – R
CF Colby Rasmus – L
C J.P. Arencibia – R
LF Eric Thames – L

C Jeff Mathis – R
INF Omar Vizquel – S
OF Rajai Davis – R
OF Ben Francisco – R

Next in line: 1B David Cooper (L), INF Mike McCoy (R), INF Luis Valbuena (L), INF Chris Woodward (R), OF Travis Snider (L), OF Moises Sierra (R)

The only real question of the Jays here is left field. Either Thames or Snider will win the job as a starter against right-handers, with the other returning to Triple-A. Francisco figures to play against lefties regardless, with Davis also available off the bench.

There’s also some chance that McCoy or Valbuena could beat out Vizquel for a bench spot, but it seems unlikely.

The lineup has a great deal of upside, and I’m pretty optimistic about the group as a whole. Lind drove in 114 runs in 2009 and is still just 28. Encarnacion may have finally put it together when he hit .291/.382/.504 in the second half of last season. Lawrie looks like one of the game’s best young talents. Rasmus had an .859 OPS as a 23-year-old for the Cardinals in 2010. If two of those guys play up to their potential, then the Jays should be able to win a bunch of 7-5 games. If the Jays instead end up with Bautista and a cast of .700-.750 OPS guys, then even matching last year’s 81-81 record will be difficult.

Omar Vizquel agrees to minor-league deal with Blue Jays


UPDATE: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick originally reported that Vizquel was getting a one-year deal, but it’s actually a minor-league deal with a spring training invite. He’s expected to battle Mike McCoy and Luis Valbuena for a utility infield job.

8:00 PM: While we haven’t heard much about Omar Vizquel this winter, we’re happy to pass along word that he’s coming back for at least one more season.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the veteran infielder has agreed to a one-year contract with the Blue Jays.

Vizquel, who turns 45 in April, batted .251/.287/.305 with seven doubles and eight RBI and a .592 OPS over 182 plate appearances with the White Sox in 2011. He made 20 starts at third base, 14 at second base and eight at shortstop last season, so he’ll likely function in a similar utility infield role with Toronto. Of course, he’s also a nice tutor to have around for their young infielders.

This will be Vizquel’s 24th big-league season. The 11-time Gold Glove Award winner has a .272 lifetime average to go along with 2,812 career hits and three All-Star appearances. 49-year-old Jamie Moyer and 45-year-old Tim Wakefield are the only older “active” players in the majors.