Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baby steps (you gotta start somewhere)

Discounting the waiver claim of capital-P Project Sean Henn - who might have been worth keeping an eye on under the eye of now departed reclamation king Brad Arnsberg - the Jays began the inevitable (and necessary) roster makeover by claiming middle infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir from the Cardinals organization.

On first blush, it's an intriguing move, as Hoffpauir appears to have solid on-base skills, with a career minor league OBP of .365 (not a typo). The knock on the 26 year old appears to be his limited defensive skill set - and hello there, Brian Butterfield. Glad to see you weren't run out of town.

While Cards writer Brian Walton (see link above) seems to think this is just another Blue Jays "claim 'em & slide 'em through waivers" move (tough to argue the evidence), this addition to the 40-man bears watching for a variety of reasons:

1. These aren't your father's JP Ricciardi waiver wire claiming Blue Jays. It remains to be seen if these are really Alex A's Blue Jays, I guess, but let's give the retooled front office the benefit of the doubt on this one.

2. Outside of Aaron Hill, the entire infield - starters and reserves - is a major question mark heading into next season for the Jays, with Scutaro and McDonald heading to free agency. Jose Bautista and Eddie Encarnacion would be best advised to keep their real estate options open, too.

3. Did I mention the OBP? Oh, I did? How about the .843 OPS he put up in 350+ AAA at-bats last season. Why was this guy available again? Right - defense. Butter!!

Vernon Wells will remove the knife from his back and have it applied to his wrist
Word is that the much maligned Vernon Wells will have his left wrist repaired, after quietly dealing with the problem for a good portion of his brutal 2009 season. While it's certainly not unreasonable to believe the injury contributed to his miserable campaign, I don't think we should all go expecting the 2006 version of ol' Vern to reappear.

But a reasonable facsimile of the 2008 vintage Wells wouldn't be too much to ask, would it?

(No, seriously, I'm asking - what do you think is a reasonable expectation for Wells in 2010?)


DaveC said...

At this point, our wagon train is hitched to Vernon, like it or not. So we have to hope for the best here.

Maybe a new season and a fanbase that isn't rooted in misery will help him regain some of the old form, but I'd say .270-20-80 with continually declining skills in CF (with no other alternatives, sadly) is about where we can slot him in.

I like these 'intriguing' claims in the wake of no other news, let's get more Hoffpauirs and fewer Barretts on the 40-man.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the Jays becoming the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen for wayward prospects in the short term. If Butters can turn the Hoff around remains to be seen - surely Butters won't be the first coach to try and help he guy out, so I wonder what exactly his problem is? It could be a question of skill or a question of comprehending the position, or both.

I remember one thing Aaron Hill once said about his playing time at LSU (not 100 % on location) is that in College hitting was the focus, not defense. So yeah, Butters will have his work cut out for him on tweaking EE a little (who isn't really that bad) and getting the Hoff to resemble something that looks like a decent infielder.

Peter D said...

I think Dave's projection for Vernon is bang on.

As for these waiver claims, I don't expect any of them to have a significant impact on the Jays, and it's a bit of a waste of time to even hope for everything to magically come together for one of them. I remember JP Ricciardi getting pissed off at the Batters Box guys for this very thing, his comment was along the lines of 'Here I am adding quality major league talent and I get bashed, then I claim a guy for depth in the minor league system and I am praised for the move, you people need a reality check'

Ty said...

I don't know if we can set expectations for Vernon without knowing what the heck was wrong with him this year. It had to be more than just a physical thing -- his home/away and lefty/righty splits were just unbelievably backwards and deviated so far from his career stats that it's hard to know how to interpret them. I doubt we'll ever find out why, but hopefully he'll at least get over those anomalies for next year.

The Ack said...

Peter, I think that's a bit of a pessimistic take on the claim. I wouldn't say everything needs to "magically come together" for Hoff (thanks anon), but obviously there is a reason that a 26 year old with solid on base skills hasn't stuck at the major league level yet. Then again, Scutaro was little more than bench fodder until he got his break with the Jays....

And considering some of the fringe the Jays have on the 40 (nice knowing you, Bill Murphy), it's hard to knock the move.

re: Vernon - I'm slightly more optimistic - say .290-25-90.

Jim Briggs said...

Free Buck Coats.

Free Randy Ruiz

Anonymous said...

Please explain the attraction to Buck Coats, keeping in mind that his mediocre AAA numbers were from a launching pad park in a launching pad league.

Hoffpair falls somewhere between Joe Inglett and Emaus/Campbell on the infield pecking order.

Wells will put up an OPS between .780 and .810.

eyebleaf said...

Wells will post an OPS of above .850. I can't wait.

Tony Viner said...

Vernon will hit .300 with 35 HR in 2010. Believe it.

Mylegacy said...

I thought it was his eyesight. Then I thought it was his shoulder again. Then I thought it was his hammy. Then I thought it was just between his ears. Then I heard it was his wrist.

All you religious types spend the winter praying to your various Invisible Spaghetti Monsters that they fix it. Amen.