The Toronto Blue Jays Bench: Who Will Make It?

March 15, 2009

by Kale Sherar… With the MLB regular season set to commence in less than a month now, many managers are about ready to determine their final rosters.  The Toronto Blue Jays appear to be one of those teams who has one or two too many.

The Blue Jays have three spots remaining and have four players (plus a fifth long shot) vying for that position.  Unfortunately, one of them will be going to the Jays Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, or possibly to another team.  The four in contention are John McDonald, Jose Bautista, Joe Inglett, and Kevin Millar.  The fifth outsider is Russ Adams, but it appears likely that he will not make the team.

Since the Blue Jays rotation is not their strong point this season, the team will need a better offensive showing than last year.  Unfortunately for Johnny Mac, that is not his cup of tea.  Last year he hit .210 with one home run and 18 RBIs in 84 games.  What McDonald is known for, however, is his stellar defensive game.  He has a career .971 fielding percentage, and had .980 last year.  The question with him is do the Jays want to sacrifice some offence to improve their defence?

Jose Bautista spent time with two teams in ‘08.  In Pittsburgh, he played 107 games, collecting 12 HRs and 44 RBIs with a .242 average.  With Toronto, he hit .214 with three HRs and 10 RBIs in 21 games.  Of course, his offensive numbers aren’t too stellar, but he has a solid .961 (career) fielding percentage.  While he does provide a slightly better offensive game than McDonald, his defence isn’t quite as good.

Kevin Millar was signed from the free-agent “bargain bin” last month.  He played 145 games with Baltimore last year, with a .234 average.  His power numbers speak better than his mediocre average though, as he collected 20 HRs and 72 RBIs.  Last season for the Jays, Vernon Wells led the team with 20 HRs, and Rios led with 79 RBIs.

Millar appears to be a lock, as he can hit, and has a career .993 fielding percentage (.995 last year).  He will provide a reliable bat off the bench, and would be able to fill in should Overbay become injured again.

Last in the running in Joe Inglett.  He had a career year last year in many categories.  He played in 109 games while hitting .297.  He collected three HRs and 39 RBIs and stole nine bases.  He also had a perfect fielding percentage last year, and has a career .986 fielding percentage.  It would appear as if Inglett may also be a lock for one of the bench positions.

If my predictions are right, then John McDonald will battle it out with Jose Bautista for the final spot.  Personally, I can see McDonald getting the nod, as he is more proven than Bautista, and has a better defensive game.  If the Jays offence can improve on their lackluster showing from last year, then the team can afford to sacrifice a little power for an improved defence.