Daric Barton Could Be Useful, But Let’s Hope He Doesn’t Have To Be

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Barton Fink! Barton Fink!

Cue morons saying “dumpster diving!”

Sorry to continue to beat a dead horse on that point, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Jays — or any club — making small depth pickups that have a small chance of providing some small measure of utility for the club, but most likely will end up being utterly meaningless. And the fact that some Jays fans throw up their arms, pretend sombody is asking them to believe that what they’re seeing is Alex’s “big move,” and then vent accordingly is as baffling as it is insufferable.

Small moves happen. They’re OK. And the Jays adding Daric Barton certainly qualifies as both.

There’s nothing wrong with adding a guy on a minor league deal, and Barton is actually an interesting one. He’s a guy with a decent pedigree — the 28th pick in 2003, dealt (along with Dan Haren and Kiko Calero) to Oakland in the Mark Mulder trade), ranked on numerous top 100 lists as a prospect, peaking at 22nd in 2008 for Baseball Prospectus, and 28th in 2006 by Baseball America — and with a five win season on his resume.

Barton hit .273/.393/.405, posting a 126 wRC+ for the A’s in 2010. The next April he hurt his right shoulder diving back to second base in a game against Minnesota, played through it, put up a bunch of dismal numbers, got demoted, and ultimately needed surgery for a torn labrum.

He’s never been the same player again. Over 600 big league plate appearances since the beginning of that 2011 season he’s been exactly replacement level.

He’s put up some interesting minor league numbers, though, albeit in the Pacific Coast League. However, they don’t come with the usual PCL caveat, as he’s played in a rather pitcher-friendly home park in Sacramento. In 2013 he put up a .305/.428/.432 line against right-handers (which includes 120 plate appearances in Oakland, too), though he slumped to a .243/.366/.373 line in the split in 2014 (including 30 of 105 total games in the majors). (It has been pointed out that he has reverse splits in his big league career, but that has not been the case in his recent minor league history).

That 2014 on-base is still pretty alright, mind you. And as far as dirt cheap guys to potentially come in and, if Justin Smoak struggles, help this club out against right-handed pitching — where, with their righty-heavy lineup, they’ll need it the most — you could do a whole lot worse. Steamer projects him to hit .248/.344/.364 in the majors in 2015.

And he’s a good defender at first base, too.

So… he’s maybe not a guy that anybody should want to see getting a lot of time in the majors next season. But he’s not a player completely without utility, either. A fine pickup. And this far down the first base depth chart? Nothing wrong with that.

Image via Reddit

Saturday Night Rumblings – December 13th, 2014

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A few small items worth making note of that came about today, which for the sake of completeness of coverage, I probably shouldn’t just sit on until Monday. To wit:

Rizzo No You Didn’t!

“The Toronto Blue Jays have expressed interest in Mike Rizzo, the Washington Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager, as a candidate to replace Paul Beeston as team president and CEO,” wrote Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com on Saturday, citing “two industry sources.”

For what it it’s worth — because what else would he say? — Rizzo responded to the report, telling James Wagner of the Washington Post, “I have not been contacted by the Blue Jays. My sole focus is on the Nationals and bringing a World Series to the District.”

Gonna be real cool when the guy that eventually gets hired is plainly your sixth choice, Rogers. Gonna be real, real cool.

Hey, but if it’s not the guy behind the Stephen Strasburg innings limit business of a couple years ago, maybe that actually will end up being alright.

A Cabrera By Any Other Name?

Here’s the Google translation of part ofa report today from Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes about Asdrubal Cabrera:

The New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets are the clubs that have shown more interest in Cabrera, who last season played 92 games at shortstop with Cleveland and 48 at second base with Washington.

First things first, Google sure does a way better job with Spanish to English than Japanese, eh?

As for Cabrera, earlier in the piece Rojas tells us that “the versatile free agent Asdrubal Cabrera would not mind moving to third base, provided it is a contract of at least four years.”

If the same stipulation is in place for second base, I think we can very confidently say that the Jays aren’t going to touch him. But the fact that it’s unlikely any club would go to four years on him perhaps puts them back into play.

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Thumbs Up For The Jays’ Chris Colabello Claim?

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Easy there, garbage clowns.

The Jays have made a move! And while that image of what, apparently, ended up being a two-run single sure looks like a pretty good distillation of what I think of Chris Colabello as a hitter, let’s maybe can the “dumpster diving” nonsense that will inevitably greet this pick-up.

It’s not a game-changing move, but it’s one that has a chance to actually help.

Before today the Jays were basically planning to hand Justin Smoak a whole bunch of at-bats in 2015, with several options to take many of those away. Jose Reyes, Russell Martin, and Jose Bautista will certainly see some time at DH — with regular DH Edwin Encarnacion sliding to first on those days to accommodate that — plus Danny Valencia will be able to take a bunch of those at-bats against left-handers (provided he isn’t used as the right-handed bat in a second base platoon), and Dioner Navarro is still around too, for now.

That may still be the plan, in fact. And that’s a pretty big gift of playing time to a guy (Smoak) who has posted a career slash line of .224/.309/.380, albeit in a pitchers park. Yes, there are encouraging things about Smoak — he has always hit in the minors, has a terrific (though fading) pedigree as a prospect, and his 2013 season was more than good enough for what the Jays will be looking for him to do in 2015 (decent defence at first and a 137 wRC+ against right-handed pitching) — but obviously a little more depth there would help.

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