Vernon Wells has been one of the Jays best players for most of the past decade and while he was always one of my favorites, I like this deal. Wells was set to make $86 million over the next four years and while I’m sure the Angels got some money from the Jays, this is a huge cost burden that’s lifted off the team’s shoulders.
In return, the Jays get Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Rivera is a serviceable outfielder with some pop and he belted a career best 25 home runs in 2009. Napoli is a little younger but he can also rake and he’s hit as many as 20 home runs the past three seasons. Even better, he’s done while playing in no more then 140 games in a season. Last year was the closest he came to a full season when he played in 140 games and he hit 26 home runs. He’s a nice hitting catcher and it’ll be interesting to see how the home run hitting Jays do in 2011.
The Blue Jays inked relief pitcher Carlos Villaneuva to a one year, $1.415 million deal and in the process, they avoided arbitration with the right hander. Villaneuva came over from the Brewers for the infamous player to be named later after he had one of his best season as a Brewer. After being shuffled between the pen and the rotation, the team finally made a commitment to him as a reliever and he posted 67 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings.
That still leaves eight players the Jays have to contend with that are arbitration eligible. They include Rajai Davis, Yunei Escobar, Jason Frasor, Brandon Morrow, Casey Jannsen, Jesse Litsch and Shawn Camp.
In 2010, the Toronto Blue Jays became the first team to hit more then 250 home runs yet score less then 800 runs. While the good mashers draw walks, not all of them do and the Jays combined an odd mix of a low OBP with a high slugging percentage to put together an 85 win team. The question now is, will they be able to keep it up.
At Fangraphs, they examine three teams that closely resembled the Jays offense and took a look at what they did the year after. One of those teams ironically is the 2009 Rangers, who a year later landed in the World Series. The 2006 Cubs and 2001 Brewers were also used and in all but the Brewers case, the teams made some changes to cut back on the power and increase their on-base percentage. Of course the Jays are staying the course so they speculate (using their projection system) that the Jays will fall under .500 in 2011. They do part by saying the Jays offense will be one of the most intriguing.
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