Hugo: So can the Jays really compete with Rod Barajas catching, and Marco Scutaro playing SS, every day?
Rincewind: Short answer: Sure. They competed pretty good in the second half of last season with the two of them. Longer answer, still yeah but with qualifiers. The other offensive positions have to be strong. We can’t afford to have both of them in the line up and one of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz DHing. We have to get offense from DH, LF, 3B and 1B if we are going to win with these two.
Also Barajas can’t hit in the middle of the line up. I don’t care if he has a hot week or two, he can’t bat 5th, because when he goes a month without a hit it drags the team down with him. Let him bat 8th and take the hot streaks as a bonus from the bottom of the order. With Scoot, don’t lead him off! Let him bat 9th and be happy that he gets on now and then to get us back to the top of the order quicker. If he leads off 100 times this year I don’t see it being a fun year.
Hugo: Scoot and Barajas seem so predictable offensively. They seem like locks for a 700-ish OPS apiece. But there are questions – Barajas hasn’t really been a full-time catcher, and 100 games might be pushing it. Scoot was great defensively last season, or so the numbers (and my lyin’ eyes) say, but he never had much of a reputation as a defensive shortstop before that. The Jays have no one ready to take over at SS (Johnny Mac doesn’t count) other than possibly Aaron Hill, and J.P. Arencibia might be rushed were he promoted to full-time duty this season. I tend to think that a team that was serious about competing and had the average-at-best offense that the Jays have would be content to enter the season with one of the two, but not both, as everyday players. So I’d like to see one of the positions upgraded. I wonder if the Mets would trade Ramon Castro for Jason Frasor? Castro has been a very capable backup and he could easily be given more playing time with his skills, with he and Rod splitting time. That sure would be a cheap solution. I suppose Thigpen could still surprise offensively and play himself into more playing time, but it sure doesn’t look like it.
Rincewind: I’m not as much against Thigpen in the backup spot as most are, but I think the problem with him is Cito won’t use him at all. It think he’d use Barajas till he broke down which wouldn’t be good, other than we’d get an early look at Arencibia. I wouldn’t mind picking up Castro. I think he’s at least as good as Barajas.
I’ll admit I’m not sold on Scoot’s defence at short but he did look good last year. I thought that Mac didn’t look as good as he has in the past. A lot of the time it looked like he was trying too hard to prove how goes he was. Maybe if he was playing more it wouldn’t have tried to make something out of nothing so often.
Hugo: I wouldn’t mind Thigpen as the backup if we had a better regular, but we don’t, and Cito is clearly in love with Barajas for whatever reason. Barajas hasn’t been the most durable over his career so I just see the situation ending badly (though I am looking forward to seeing Arencibia, his AFL campaign was just more of what he did during the minor league season and he really needs to learn to recognize breaking ball and lay off bad pitches). Mac was a disaster last season, his defense was just okay and his hitting was the worst it’s ever been. I’m not down on him as a bench player but I can’t see how he’s earned any kind of starting gig, and Cito actually played him more than I would’ve liked.
I guess my final answer is that it would be great to upgrade at SS, since Jackson is likely a couple of years away. I’m really hoping we get Hardy, unless Snider is the cost, of course. But catcher we might be best served to just bring in a vet to help hold down the fort for 1 more season, since Arencibia is much closer to being ready than Jackson.
Rincewind: Hardy would be terrific. Like you say, Jackson is years away and there is no guarantee that he will turn into the player we are hoping for. I wonder if Pastornicky won’t pass him along the way. I think, if we don’t pick up Hardy or Furcal (and it doesn’t look like we are going to go after him), I think we are going to have to live with Scoot. Just not as a leadoff man, ok Cito?
The nice part about the catcher situation is that there are a lot of veteran catchers on the market, and most of them would be happy with a one or two year deal. I have the feeling JP will see how things shake out and then sign whoever is left just before spring training.