7:05 PM Eastern

The Blue Jays added to their outfield depth this afternoon by signing soon-to-be 35 year-old Scott Podsednik to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  While plenty of players get signed to minor-league invites, Podsednik’s deal is a little more significant because chances are he’s going to get a whole whack of playing time with the big club this season.

He’s a speedy left-handed hitter who has never finished a full (and healthy) big-league season with fewer than 30 stolen bases (he’s done that six times, with a career high of 70 for the ’04 Brewers).  Podsednik hit .300/.349/.406 against right-handed pitching last year, split between the Dodgers and Royals, and was a similar .297/.352/.429 against righties the year before.  For his career, he’s posted a .735 OPS against righties, .677 against lefties.  For Podsednik, though, OPS numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt – because for him, the “S” doesn’t count.

This is a guy who doesn’t hit for power, and that’s OK.  You might remember Podsednik as the guy who went deep in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, a walk-off shot that gave the White Sox a 7-6 win over Houston on their way to a sweep (I know our very own Alan Ashby remembers it very well).  It was Podsednik’s second home run of that post-season, which was two more than he hit over 507 at-bats during that regular season.  He has 41 career homers in 10 seasons, but he also has 41 triples.  His strengths are his legs, and his ability to get on base at a better than average rate as a platoon guy against righties.

So how does this last-second signing fit in with the 2011 Blue Jays?  Right now the Jays are looking at an outfield of Travis Snider in left, Rajai Davis in centre and Juan Rivera in right.  Word is they’re looking to move Rivera, though generally with Alex Anthopoulos, word doesn’t get out if there’s something actually happening.

I know there was talk across the webosphere earlier this winter that Podsednik would fit in well as a platoon-mate with Davis, but I believe that the Jays want Davis in the line-up every day – one of the reasons he got a two-plus year deal last month.  I think that Podsednik fits in either as a platoon partner with or as a replacement for Rivera.  That may lead to him playing centre with Davis shifting to right, or it may lead to Podsednik in left with Snider moving to right.  I asked Anthopoulos about shifting Snider over on the conference call this afternoon, and he said it was something that had been discussed, but that he wanted to talk to the players concerned before saying anything in the media. 

Podsednik doesn’t have the arm for right field, but he can play centre, though probably not as well as Davis.  Overall, Anthopoulos said that Corey Patterson is currently the Jays’ best defensive centre-fielder but then, the signing of Podsednik probably pushed Patterson off the roster, because the newer new guy’s bat is so much better.

Anthopoulos also went out of his way to point out Podsednik’s reputation for character and integrity, and said he was a guy who would be a great model for the younger players.

It’s an exciting signing, because it brings the club a step closer to being the “Go-Go Blue Jays”.  There’s potential for Podsednik and Davis to combine to steal over 100 bases this season – how much fun would that be?

Comments and future mailbag questions are welcome – the Bautista decision looms!!!!

 

11 Responses to “More Speed! More Speed!”
  1. 1.

    i believe that Davis and Podsednik will have a CF platoon similar (if i recall correctly) to that of what Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto had back in the day.

    a right/left platoon on starting pitchers, late inning pinch hitting for one another, with davis coming in as a defensive replacement with a late lead.

    the only variable i can see that would differ from the Cat/Reed situation is that whoever is on the bench may be used strategically as a pinch runner for let’s say a Jose Molina in late/close score innings.

    if used this way i predict that the Davis/Pods platoon will outperform Carl Crawford in ops. and sb. if i am right about this i will contribute an additional $25 dollars to the jays care foundation this year, if i am wrong, i will contribute an additional $25 in your name Mike.

    baring injury or the unforeseen i don’t believe that Juan Rivera goes north with the team. he will be traded, claimed on wavers, or released.

    - chris 32 time caller
  2. 2.

    This might be the Jays most underrated signing this summer.

    Mike, with Podsednik in the line-up what does the ideal batting order look like?

    - AK
  3. 3.

    I really like this signing. More speed, and another left handed bat. Both of which the Jays can use.

    - Ball Fan in a Hockey Nation
  4. 4.

    Hi Mike,

    I haven’t posted since you stopped responding, but I still really enjoy your blog. In the past I have had issues with some of your opinions and attitudes, which I have let you know about. But to see someone slam you for looking forward to spring and baseball is for lack of a better term “pathetic and snobbish.” Which also makes said poster a hypocrite.
    Anyways Mike, keep up the good work. I enjoy lots of things about the winter, and I’m sure you do as well. But, like you I am very excited about spring and baseball.

    Go Jays!

    - Rob H
  5. 5.

    WOW this team is going to be fun to watch this year. If we thought they were exciting last year (and I did) they ought be even more so this year.
    Alex continues to work magic and he will show it agian with the Bautista contract.
    Now if only the fans will turn out.

    - Richard A
  6. 6.

    Perhaps we can look forward to the Jays setting a double steals record :0)

    If the rumour of the Jays inking Bautista to a 5 year 65M contract is true, it really does look like a damned-if-you-don’t contract that had to be done….

    If he hits 35 this year, it looks like a good deal FOR THIS YEAR. Same for the next.
    But I can’t imagine any realistic scenario where this looks like a good 5 year contract.

    Hopefully, at least the last 2 are club options or this will eventually be ANOTHER albatross contract imo.

    - Gary
  7. 7.

    This is a no risk signing that could give the club good rewards.I like it.The Jays get more speed and more options now on how other players are used.

    - Paul
  8. 8.

    michael,
    very interesting signing this podsednik one is indeed.
    starting to look like it might be a bit of a track meet out there along the basepaths for these jays in 2011.
    nice switch in dynamics from last yrs. team no doubt.
    i do find it curious it took a.a. this long to decide to ink this guy.
    think you’re right michael, he must have a strong sense that a rivera trade is a real possibility for him at this point.
    or why else would you wait this long to sign him up particularly when at the end of the day all it took was a minor league contract.
    which was kind of odd in itself wasn’t it?
    pretty nice player with good bat, glove & speed to have to wait til’ camp opens to be signed to a minor league deal.
    tough league to break into. and even tougher to stay in it seems…..

    - darrell bishop
  9. 9.

    Mike,

    Very good signing by the Jays but I wonder just how much this guy will play. I can see the odd start or pinch-hitting duties or perhaps as a defensive replacement. Perhaps he plays more if Davis struggles.

    Wondering if you see Podsednik as a Dave Collins type, with the SB’s and triples that he brings to the table.

    - Craig M
  10. 10.

    MW: “For Podsednik, though, OPS numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt – because for him, the “S” doesn’t count.”

    His OPS is what it is: low, because of his lack of power. No grain of salt required.

    - Evan White
  11. 11.

    Post #1: “if used this way i predict that the Davis/Pods platoon will outperform Carl Crawford in ops. and sb.”

    Silly prediction. Podsednik’s career OPS vs. RHP is .735. Davis’s vs. LHP is .750. Neither one of these guy’s career is on the upswing. Crawford’s OPS was .800 or over in five of the last six seasons.

    - Evan White
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