Toronto Baseball Guys
Thursday, November 30, 2006
  Jays Sign a Pair
It was a busy week for Ricciardi & Co.

Barajas here today, Zaun tomorrow.

At the beginning of the week, it appeared that former Rangers catcher Rod Barajas would be joining the Jays, at somewhere between $2-3 million per season over two years.

Picking up Rod Barajas is kind of like stopping for a Big Mac.

It's not a very exciting meal and it doesn't have a lot of value. On the other hand, you know exactly what you're getting and you won't die of starvation.

Barajas is the prototypical number 8 hitter: .250 average, no speed, no walks, a little pop. He's also 31, so he's not getting any better.

Thus, there was much cause for rejoicing when Gregg Zaun, thought to be long zaun from Toronto, was suddenly back in the picture Tuesday morning, re-upping for $7.25 million over two years.

Zaun's not young but he's sturdy, a bull terrier behind the plate, and - what distinguishes him from other backstops - he has a knack for getting on base. Zaun can post a .350 OBP in his sleep, which is a huge advantage over every catcher not named Posada and Mauer.

Zaun seems to be a guy who realizes just how precious the fleeting gift of a major league career is. His outspokenness in the face of Shea Hillenbrand's ugly departure cemented him as a "good clubhouse guy."

Zaun may be a little more expensive than Barajas but he's worth every penny, and he's a great signing. Royce Clayton... not so much.

Royce "Suitcase" Clayton

Clayton is sort of the prototypical #9 hitter: .250 average, no power, no walks, a little speed. He'll ply those skills for the Jays in 2007, his 10th major league team.

The best-case scenario here is that Russ Adams hits .450 in spring training and clamps onto the second base job like a Rottweiler on a barbecue-sauce encrusted toddler. That pushes Aaron Hill to short, and Clayton to share time off the bench with John MacDonald.

The offensive upside of a 26-year-old Adams is a lot more exciting than that of a 37-year-old Clayton. That said, should Adams crater again, Clayton is a much better everyday option at short than Johnny Mac, and he won't break the bank at $1.5 million. He has a legitimate shot at outhitting Alex Gonzalez, who signed a 3-year/$14 million pact with the Reds.

Sidenote: Is anybody else shocked to discover that Clayton is 144 hits away from 2,000?
 
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