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!!!!