The New Guys
It now seems relatively official that the Jays are getting back Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart for Scott Rolen. There’s going to be a lot of crying that this is a sign the Jays are not going to attempt to compete next year, but come on – when you get three young, cheap, almost major league ready players with upside for a guy who at the end of last season wasn’t sure he was ever going to play again, how can that be a bad thing? It has been an absolute once-in-a-lifetime treat to watch Rolen at third base, but if you take off your Blue-Jay tinted glasses for a second, he’s a walking time bomb that is at his highest value in years right now.
If you still need some confirmation that 2010 isn’t a totally lost cause, just listen to J.P:
But if we keep Doc now I think that means we are trying to put together the best team possible for 2010.
Notice I didn’t say believe him, but doesn’t that sound nice? Anyway, here’s the skinny on who the Jays are getting back.
1) Edwin Encarnacion
The Good: He’s 26, with a career OPS of .793. Hit 26 home runs last year. Will cost less than half (4.75 -> 11 mil) of Rolen’s Salary next year. Makes announcers go nuts with clutch bombs.
(Ok, I was trying to find the time that he made Jeff Brantley look like a tool by hitting a walk off home run at the precise moment Brantley was going on about how he was not a clutch hitter — but that is almost as entertaining a broadcast of it instead of what has long ago been removed from Youtube by the MLB facist regime).
The Bad: He’s having a terrible season, batting .209 apparently because he can’t hit an inside pitch to save his life (or at least before he landed on the DL in April – he has hit an excellent 276/375/526 since his return at the start of this month). Sounds like bat speed to me – he’ll fit in nicely with Vernon. Defensively, he’s at -10 in =/- right now, bad enough for 30th in the league. And that’s where he’s been every year, so the Jays just went from one of the best defensive 3B of all time to possibly the worst in the majors. Work your magic, Butterfield!
2) Josh Roenicke
The good: Dude throws gas. He has a fastball that averages 96 with movement, and a Litschian cutter that comes in at 86 with so much break it’s almost a slider. The occasional curveball. He’s 26, and pitching effectively in the majors. Got off to a late start in his career because he started as a hitter.
The bad: He only really has two pitches and is therefore just a reliever, although the Jays amazingly now seem to be in need of them. For a full scouting report including a generally rosy report on his mechanics with one minor qualm, check out the one at Redlegs Baseball.
3) Zack Stewart
The good: Big, athletic former quarterback . Throws a hard sinker around 93 mph, an average slider, and a developing change. Here’s his official draft report, or from more recently, a video of him facing the Reds in April of this year – not great quality, but you can really see the dirty movement on his fastball a few times:
Keeps the ball in the park (2 home runs in ~90 innings this year) He has roared through the Reds’ system this season, posting an ERA around two in A and AA before ending up AAA at the age of 22. Good mechanics, doesn’t fly open. Originally slated to be the Reds’ future closer, he was starting this season until he got to AAA (likely to try and build up his innings slowly) and the Reds were apparently toying with moving him back to the rotation next year, where he pitched some in college as well.
The bad: Doesn’t strike a lot of guys out. Has had command issues (John Sickels gave him a B-/C+ because of them before this season), although they seem to be in the past. According to the Hardball Times: “[His slider] can lose some of its tightness at times and turn into a slurvy-type pitch”. There is a frame by frame-by-frame breakdown of his two main pitches halfway down this page that is really worth a look and I would totally rip off if I didn’t write there.