Posted by: Peter Houston | March 8, 2010

Positional debates heat up

Here’s the boring news: The Blue Jays won again. This time they beat the lowly Houston Astros 4-1. More on that later.

The interesting news: Some unexpected players – and I guess you could argue some expected players – have been lighting up the Grapefruit league, pleading their case for a spot on the 25-man roster. They’re mostly battling for backup positions, but might not be too far away from a starting gig. Who are these players you ask? Let’s take a look.

1B

This is probably the most hotly contested position on the team. Lyle Overbay is pretty much a lock as the starter to start the season, but things can change quickly. Everybody knows Randy Ruiz, last year’s September call up, has done nothing but mash the ball at every level and every country he’s played in since 2002. Surprise, surprise, Ruiz is hitting .615 with 1 HR and 5 RBI this spring. I consider him a favourite for the backup position at this point.

But while Ruiz may be the favourite, Brian Dopirak is a guy I’d like to see get a shot. I’ve already endorsed his candidacy for starting first baseman this year, so I won’t go over that again. But he’s also putting together a decent spring so far, hitting .385 mostly off the bench.

Catcher

J.P. “Don’t call me Ricciardi” Arencibia (I’ll try and come up with a new nickname for him everytime I mention him. Maybe I’ll keep a list somewhere, too.) went yard….how do you say it? AGAIN. His 2-out, solo shot in the top of the first was his 3rd dinger of the spring, which leads the Jays.

After reading Bastian’s blog today, the word is Arencibia will not make the big league team as a backup. The Jays want him to get some regular playing time, and already have John Buck, Jose Molina and Raul Chavez fighting for innings. If he stays this hot throughout the first few months of the season, and Buck, Molina and Chavez are garbage, there’s a chance he could be called up. But in all likelihood, Arencibia’s ETA is 2011.

OF

The third and final opening on the Jays bench is for the fourth outfielder position. In the mix are Joey Gathright, Jeremy Reed and even Mike McCoy just to name a few. Right now, Gathright is hitting .167, Reed .417 and McCoy .750. The interesting thing is McCoy is a shortstop by trade, but Gaston might try and get him on the team as a utility man if he can play the outfield. Doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me, the man hit .307 with a .405 OBP last year in AAA. Did I mention he swiped 40 bags?

Travis Snider Watch

I’m going to start putting this at the bottom of all of my posts so we can keep track of Snider’s play throughout the spring. Unfortunately, he had another bad day today. 0-for-2 with a walk, and 2 LOB. His average for the spring is down to .154. Again, Snider tentatively has the 3rd outfielder spot, but he won’t for long if he keeps this up.

. . .

Just a couple quick notes from today’s game to send you on your merry way: Romero started and went 3 innings, giving up 4 hits, no runs and struck out two. Eveland came on after him and was even better, 3 innings, 1 hit, no runs and 2 strikeouts. Brett Wallace (yes, THE Brett Wallace), was 0-for-3 with a K. Dopirak and Overbay were both 2-for-2.

Tomorrow is an 0ff-day for the Jays, but Dustin McGowan is scheduled to throw a simulated game. The Jays are back in action Wednesday against the Phillies.

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Responses

  1. I threw this at Asher on break this morning: Over/Under 20 homers for Ruiz this year?

    Also over/under 81 games for Snider in the bigs?

  2. Ruiz: under, Snider: over.

    What about the other way round? Over/Under 20 homers for Snider and 81 games in the bigs for Ruiz?

  3. . . . Go Sox?

    I’m not too confident about Snider considering how he didn’t handle his demotion well last year, and a regime change may not have the same patience for him that J.P. did . . . spring is still young AKA it’s still technically winter.

    As for my extremely uninformed opinion of Ruiz I see some Big Papi (or at least Pablo Sandoval) in him, if only in that he seems like a happy guy and just mashes it, definite fan-favourite potential . . . his MLB experience is in a late-season call-up and now spring training; there would be pressure on him to produce when things count except for the fact the Blue Jays as a team aren’t under much pressure to make noise in the AL.

    The pressure will be on him to produce individually in a similar way he has this spring and last season. I say he goes for 27 HR with a batting average in the .265-.280 range?

    And to actually answer your question? Snider will get 15 HR max, and Ruiz will end the season as the leading producer from the DH with about 120 games under his belt.

    Now I need to actually watch some spring training.


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