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Sifting Through the Rumours

Rumours have been swirling around recently about Toronto's search for an outfielder. Due to Alexis Rios' continuing struggles at the plate and Frank Catalanotto's penchant for getting injured, the Blue Jays are looking for someone to fill their needs. With so many names being bandied about, I've decided to take a look at who's available.

Milton Bradley: I'd be ecstatic if the reported Batista-for-Bradley swap were to take place. With the addition of Bradley, the Jays would have a substantial improvement over one of last season's weak links, Alexis Rios. Also, Bradley is arbitration eligible for two more years, so he won't be paid much more than he's worth (unlike most of the members of this offseason's free agent class). In the `04-'05 seasons, his home/road OPS splits were .740/.823 and .799/.861, respectively. Considering the Rogers Centre is a much more hitter-friendly environment than Dodger Stadium, I would expect his overall performance to be more in line with his road stats from the past two seasons.

Brad Wilkerson: Much like Bradley, Wilkerson has been rumoured to be heading to the Jays. Unlike the Bradley rumours, however, the Jays are apparently offering someone other than Miguel Batista. Due to Bradley's malevolent behavior, the Dodgers seem much more inclined to trade Bradley than the Rangers are to trade Wilkerson. Although Wilkerson is a great player, he's not much different than Bradley, in my opinion. So, unless he can be had at a similar price, I would pass on him in favour of Bradley. In other words, acquiring Wilkerson at the expense of a player like Dustin McGowan would just be foolish.

Kevin Mench: The Mench-to-Toronto rumours have subsided recently, but considering the Rangers' overcrowded outfield, he remains a possibility. One major factor must be taken into account when comparing Mench to Bradley and Wilkerson: he played half his games in a bandbox, Ameriquest Field, while Bradley and Wilkerson played half their games in, to put it mildly, pitcher-friendly environments. However, what I find interesting is that many Rangers played very poorly on the road as compared to home. For example, here are some of last season's home/road OPS splits: .825/.769 (Mench), .895/.611 (Hank Blalock), 1.109/.809 (Mark Teixeira), and 1.011/.639 (Alfonso Soriano). I can think of but two causal factors: either the hitter-friendly Ameriquest Field field masks a player's deficiencies, or playing in that ballpark (much like playing at Coors) leads to inexplicably horrendous road stats. However, considering the splits of Michael Young (.913/.884), Rod Barajas (.707/.838), and David Dellucci (.839/.926), the latter seems less likely.

Nomar Garciaparra: I can't think of how he would fit into the Jays' lineup in 2006. Due to his lackluster defense at shortstop, his days there are numbered. With the Lyle Overbay trade, the DH role is currently occupied by either Shea Hillenbrand or Eric Hinske. With Koskie on the Jays' payroll for the next two years, third base isn't an option, either. The only possibility left is the outfield. The problem is that Nomar's defense is unproven out there, and I'm very concerned about his ability to stay healthy for an entire season while manning the field on a daily basis. The Jays would be wise to pursue other options.

I attached a poll question in the comments section.

Poll

Whom should the Jays pursue?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Keep Rios!
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Nomah Garciaparra
    (0 votes)
  • 11%
    Kevin Mench
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    Brad Wilkerson
    (1 vote)
  • 44%
    Milton Bradley
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please specify)
    (0 votes)
9 votes total Vote Now