I said I would get to the bench, and other components of their roster that heads north at the end of March, and I had planned on spreading it out over the next week or so. But, since I have no life except to hang out, read MLB Trade Rumors and eat pizza, I have decided to tackle the idea of their bench now. Again, I reiterate that I know AA7 has more up his sleeve and there could be other players in the mix come spring training and beyond. I am also taking into account that I am sure the Jays will not bring a prospect or rookie north if they don’t intend to start him, so Mastroianni, Gose, and Lawrie seem destined for either New Hampshire or Las Vegas.
So if we go back to the starting lineup of C – JPA, 1B – Lind, 2B – Hill, 3B – Bautista, SS – Escobar, LF – Rivera, CF – Davis, RF – Snider, DH – Napoli, that leaves us with infield options of Encarnacion, McDonald, McCoy, and from the Blue Jays Non Roster Invitees List , I see they also have David Cooper, Jonathan Diaz, Brett Lawrie, Mike McDade and John Tolisano. Those last two haven’t played above A ball, and the first two’s performances have been very underwhelming. Lawrie needs every day at bats, so AAA Las Vegas seems like the best place for him and his ego.
Now looking at the outfield options, we have Moises Sierra, and Darin Mastroianni. Mastroianni needs every day at bats, as does Sierra. Sierra had 34AB in AA in 2009, and that is his highest level of ball so far. For non-roster invitees, we also have Anthony Gose, Corey Patterson, and Eric Thames. Thames had a good year in AA last year, but I have heard reports of a long swing and he can be over-aggressive. Needless to say, he probably goes to Las Vegas and plays beside Mastroianni. Gose will probably get to AA this year, getting every day at bats, and learning more about stealing bases properly. So far it seems like the only real option for 4th outfielder is Corey Patterson. Defensively, he is pretty average. 0.8 dWAR over 11 seasons. Overall, in his 11 seasons, he has a 5.6 WAR. Not terrible. Not to mention that he is pretty fast. He has 205 career stolen bases, and was successful in 21 of 25 attempts in 2010. So he has that working for him. Not a terrible guy to pinch run or play defense for Juan Rivera late in a ball game.
At catcher, there is Mike Napoli, who is also the DH/backup 1B. We also have Jose Molina, who, oddly enough, has the exact opposite name of his older brother Benjamin Jose Molina. Jose is a good defender, throwing out 41% of would-be base stealers. There is also Brian Jeroloman. He has always had tremendous plate discipline, racking up an OBP of .385 despite a batting average of only .246 in his 5 year minor league career. He was always seen as a fringy backup type catcher, and there are already 3 catchers ahead of him. As for NRI’s, there is Ryan Budde, Travis D’Arnaud, and AJ Jimenez. There is always a need for more catchers at spring training, because there are usually 600 pitchers, and somebody has to catch all their bullpens and side sessions. Look for D’Arnaud and Jimenez to make a bigger impact in 2012 or beyond.
Encarnacion makes the team as DH/1B/emergency 3B. McDonald goes north with his tremendous defense, where he can back up the middle infield, corner infield, and even play corner outfield in a real pinch. Molina makes it as a backup catcher I guess. As it stands now, Corey Patterson seems to be the only real viable option as the 4th outfielder, unless one of those kids really impresses enough to start.
So there are my picks of position players to break camp with the Jays, if it were to happen now.
JPA, Napoli, Molina,
Lind, Hill, Esco, Bautista, Encarnacion, McDonald
Snider, Davis, Rivera, Patterson
Next I will get to the rotation, which I think could also have a huge impact on the bullpen.