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