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Who is going to play in the outfield?

So we are a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training and about a month and a half away from our first spring game, so I thought we'd take a look at how our outfield might shake out. Let's start with what we are sure about. 

After the Jump

Vernon Wells: The one guy we are sure about, we know Vernon will be out there every day barring injury. Last year Vernon didn't have a good year in CF, his UZR was -18.2, second worst in the AL to Jacoby Ellsbury who the Red Sox are likely going to be moving to LF after the signing of Mike Cameron. I feel Vernon's defense improved as the season went on, as he put in some time after a hamstring injury. That said, in an ideal world I'd like to see the Jays find another CF and move Vernon to right. I think, taking some pressure off him defensively might help him offensively and less running on defense would cut the chance of him getting hurt. Offensively, we all know he had a terrible year. I'm not sure how much of his offensive problems we can put on the wrist injury he had surgery for after the season and how much of it was him. He is just a year removed from a pretty good 2008 season where he hit .300 with 20 homers in 2/3 of a season. I'd imagine (or hope) that this year his numbers will be somewhere in between the good 2008 and the lousy 2009. 

Travis Snider: We can be relatively sure Travis will play in the outfield this year, though Alex Anthopoulos says he has to make the team out of spring training. Now if I got my way I'd put him in RF and have Lind play LF leaving room for Randy Ruiz or Brian Diporak or someone to play DH, but Cito doesn't seem to think Travis can play right. Travis played 233 innings in RF last year, he made 3 errors and had a UZR of -0.8. He played 534 innings in LF with 1 error and a -0.9 UZR. I don't think he'd to a great defensive RFer but he wouldn't be terrible. We'd have to convince Cito of that though. Offensively, he didn't do what we hoped he would last year hitting .241/.328/.419 for a OPS+ of 98, so an almost average offensive season at age 21. I'd like to hope he'd do better this year and that Cito will put him in the lineup and leave him there everyday. Even if he struggles, letting him play everyday might help out in the long run and I'd like it if he didn't feel like he was gong to be sent to the minors anytime he goes 0 for 4.

Adam Lind: Like I said I'd like to see him play left, but I don't think Cito will do it. He didn't do well defensively in his 475 innings in left, he had a -8.1 UZR for a -24.4 UZR/150 but career his UZR/150 is -5.9, not so bad. He'll never be a great defensive player but with work he could be average, or just a little below average. The big reason I'd like him to play in the field is that he hit .316/.386/.605 as a LFer better than the .299/.362/.539 he hit as a DH. I think he's too young to keep off the field.

From there the question is: Do they carry another outfielder? Or do they plan on John McDonald as the backup in the outfield? It is a numbers game. How many pitchers will they carry? On the bench they need a backup catcher, McDonald and a platoon bat for Overbay (if he's still with the team). The platoon partner could be Ruiz or Dopirak or even Bautista if they decided not to use him in RF. 

If they carry another outfielder it would likely be one of the guys that they have given an invite to spring training:

Joey Gathright: the most likely choice. He has played all 3 outfield positions in his 6 major league seasons. He's only 19 innings in RF, he doesn't have the greatest arm, but he could do it. He is a left handed bat so he could be a natural platoon partner for Bautista but his lifetime .263/.327/.303 batting line doesn't give you a warm feeling inside. Career against RHP he is .264/.324/.307 (that's right, he's a lefty that has a better OBP vs lefties pitchers). He has speed (80 career stolen bases) and can jump over cars. He is a good fielder, lifetime 8.5 UZR/150 in CF.

 Jose Bautista:  The guy most likely to play RF. Cito likes him. His .235/349/.408 batting line doesn't scream corner outfielder to me. He hits lefties well (.293/.382/.537 last year), I wouldn't mind him as a platoon outfielder, but against right handers (.202/.331/.333) he should definitely sit. He plays pretty good defense in the outfield or at least he did last year. He had a 8.4 UZR/150 in his 641 outfield innings. His most impressive attribute as an outfielder is his arm. He had 11 outfield assists. But a great arm alone shouldn't be enough to earn him a full time job in the outfield.

Jose Padilla: Also invited to spring training. 30 years old and only 25 career major league at bats. A right handed bat with a career .289/.356/.414 minor league batting line. Can play all three outfield spots but really the only way we'd see him in the majors is if there are a few injuries. 

Chris Lubanski: Chris is a first round draft pick from 2003. He's a left handed bat. He's played mostly LF in the minors but possibly could make a RF platoon with Bautista if he has an amazing spring training. .278/.344/.466 minor league line. A little power, hit 28 homers in 2005 as a 20 year old in high-A. A big time long shot, he had a terrible year in Triple-A Omaha last year. Best hope is to have a great year at Vegas and get a call up.

Adam Loewen: A left handed bat, invited to spring training. You know the story, former pitcher trying to make it back to the majors as a hitter. Didn't hit great in high-A Dunedin last year. No real chance to make the team but everyone likes his swing.

It is possible the Jays could sign a free agent outfielder. As we get closer to spring I'd imagine that there will be some bargains out there. I'll just list the free agent outfielder that are left on the market, you can pick out the one you'd like us to sign:

Left fielders
Garret Anderson (38) - Type B, not offered arb
Marlon Anderson (36)
Emil Brown (35)
Johnny Damon (36) - Type A, not offered arb
David Dellucci (36)
Cliff Floyd (37)
Jonny Gomes (29)
Reed Johnson (33)
Greg Norton (37)
Wily Mo Pena (28)
Jeremy Reed (29)
Gary Sheffield (41)
Cory Sullivan (30)
Fernando Tatis (35) - Type B, not offered arb
Marcus Thames (33)
Randy Winn (36) - Type B, not offered arb

Center fielders
Alfredo Amezaga (32)
Rick Ankiel (30)
Rocco Baldelli (28)
Endy Chavez (32)
Darin Erstad (36)
Ryan Freel (34)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34) 
Reed Johnson (33)
Jeremy Reed (29)

Right fielders
Jermaine Dye (36) - Type A, not offered arb
Brian Giles (39) - Type B, not offered arb
Jonny Gomes (29)
Gabe Gross (30)
Geoff Jenkins (35)
Xavier Nady (31) - Type B, not offered arb
Randy Winn (36) - Type B, not offered arb

There are a few that could work as a platoon with Bautista and some could take a full time outfield role.

Let us know how you think the Jay's outfield will shakeout.