Monday, February 18, 2008
With the majority of the Jays contracts ending after the 2010 season, I think it's important to look at the future of the organization. Two years from now, this team may look radically different than it does now. There will be a lot of turnover since 6 of the long term contracts are all set to end after the 2010 season. So with that in mind, I thought I'd look at the future of the Jays organization, starting with the positional players.
C- Assuming Zaun vests his option for 09, it's extremely unlikely that Zaun will be on this team past then. Three of the top internal solutions for catcher would be Thigpen, Diaz, and JP Arencibia. Thigpen isn't seen as the catcher of the future, and to be honest, I have no idea what position the Jays have in mind for him. Diaz is viewed as the catcher of the future, but Thigpen seems a man without a position. So he's one guy we can rule out. Diaz, while playing solid defense (or so I've heard...), is a terrible offensive player. Now, catcher is one position you can live without offense. But Diaz can't walk, so he's an OBP liability. Now, granted, he hits for great average, but I don't know if that's sustainable at the major league level. I'd view him more as a back-up. As for JP Arencibia, he won't be ready by 2011, if his first pro season is any indication. I still think in the future he'll be a solid catcher, but not by 2011. He might be in AAA if everything goes well, but that might even be optimistic.
So despite the trio of prospects, it's highly likely the future catcher for the Jays will come through FA or through trade. However, it's possible that Diaz or Thigpen could (and should) take the back-up job.
1B - Overbay is one of the many contracts that I listed that end after 2010. He's extremely underrated offensively, and a solid defensive 1B. With no other internal options (I believe Lind should either be in LF or DH, which will be determined by Rios signing long term and Snider's progression), it's likely Overbay will resign with the Jays to play 1B. He'll be in his early to mid 30s, so a possible decline is in order. But more likely than not Overbay will be playing 1B past 2010.
2B - Aaron Hill has proven himself over the past few years as a terrific defensive 2B. After his breakout offensive performance in 2007, he's solidified his future with the club. I'm expecting JP and crew to sign Hill through his arbitration years and beyond, so barring some unforseen event, Hill will be the starting second basemen in 2011.
SS - The problem child of the JP era. Eckstein is the new bandaid solution, but I don't expect him to be here long term. Internal solutions for the future include prospect Justin Jackson, but he won't be ready for 2011 as he was recently drafted. There are a couple of good FA short stops in the offseason such as Rafael Furcal & Orlando Cabrera. If they can be resigned for a reasonable price, they could be a solid fit for the Jays. I might prefer Furcal for his switch hitting abilities and solid on base ability. But odds are the future SS will be a FA/trade.
3B - Scott Rolen was recently acquired for Troy Gimp...sorry Troy Glaus. Rolen isn't a FA until 2010, so unless the Jays find a need to immediately replace him during that time (ie his shoulder falls off), they won't need to worry until after the 2010 season. While it's possible they could resign Scott Rolen, I'd be open to signing potential FA 3B Mark Teahen. As a huge Teahen fan thanks to fantasy baseball (I swear over a one month period it seemed like he hit 4 HR 3 2B and stole 3 bases every week...), I'd love to see Teahen manning the hot corner for the Jays. Top prospect Ahrens most likely won't be ready to that point, so Teahen would be a great addition to the Jays lineup. I believe he can improve on his 2007 batting line...at least I hope he can...
LF - This spot will be determined by Rios being signed long-term. If Rios is signed long term, Snider will be the LF of the future. If Rios is not signed, Lind will play LF, with Snider most likely in RF.
CF - Love him or hate him, we're stuck with Wells for a long time...
Rf - What I'm about to tell you will shock you. If you are pregnant, or have a heart condition I recommend you stop reading now.
Alright, I'll assume only the strongest willed men & women are reading this part. This may shock you...but the RF situation will be determined by....whether or not Rios signs long term. If he does....well...yeah he's gonna be playing Rf. And if he doesn't, it's Snider's spot to lose.
DH - Thomas' option will most likely vest for 2009. So looking at power hitters heading into 2010, if we had to take the free agent route Hank Blalock would be an interesting option. But most likely it'll end up being Adam Lind.
So there you have it. The future of the Jays looks to be vastly different from the current squad. Hopefully that group has a bit more speed in it than the current bunch. Next time, I'll focus on the future of the pitching staff of the Jays.