The scoreboard so far on this busy Blue Jay winter:
IN: B.J. Ryan, A.J. Burnett, Lyle Overbay.
OUT: David Bush, Gabe Gross, Zach Jackson.
|Brad Wilkerson: Why the fuss for this former Expo?|
PERHAPS IN: Brad Wilkerson.
PERHAPS OUT: Alex Rios, Orlando Hudson, Miguel Batista.
I'm fine with the pitching, although as I've said here before Burnett scares me. More unconvincing is the offence the Jays would net out of this -- it's an upgrade on paper, but not a huge one -- and there are other reservations too: Hudson's defence, for one, will be hugely missed if he's indeed on his way.
And David Johnson, a believer in the 21-year-old Rios, asks where the love for Wilkerson comes from. I'd love to hear some answers for that, too. Here's some numbers to ponder, all of them 162-game projections gleaned from baseball-reference.com (click on the player for a link to the whole file):
Wilkerson 21---66---.256---.365---.452---.817---.980* (OF only)
On the one hand, those aren't overwhelming numbers. These are hardly the intimidating bats the Jays require, and both of them are 28, so it's iffy they'll improve -- at least Wilkerson, with a 32-HR season in 2004, looks capable of being something of a bopper (and although he gets his share of walks, he also has been among the top four in the NL in striking out the past four years). Overbay looks like the definition of average, but as Geoff Baker points out, he may be a little more than that:
What will cause some Jays fans and baseball analysts to begin their debates is whether Overbay can really help push this offence up to a level good enough to challenge the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. A lot will depend on whether the Jays got the Overbay who clubbed 53 doubles in 2004, or the one who dropped to 34 two-baggers last season.
On the other hand, Ricciardi did point exactly to these kind of players on his radar screen once Brian Giles was out of play. And at least in terms of OPS, both are upgrades over the incumbents (Rios, .711; Hillenbrand, .775). Remember, too, that J.P. is on a mission and he's not done yet, so this is a pretty fluid situation.
Over at www.battersbox.ca and Blue Jay Way, they're debating these very matters. For a Milwaukee perspective on the Overbay deal, check out Al's Ramblings, and the major leagues' website has been pretty good at keeping up to date.