Sunday, February 14, 2010

Here's a Cuban, There's a Cuban

by jw

 Toronto's name has been floated as a possible destination for Cuban defector Jose Julio Ruiz, an athletic first baseman.  After the Blue Jays lost out in the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes, they are apparently trying to make up for it by signing another former Cuban.

Ruiz, 25, put up a .305/.408/.467 triple-slash line in Cuba last season with good speed.  There has apparently been speculation that he could be moved to the outfield due to his athleticism.

Would this make sense for the Blue Jays?  This will be Lyle Overbay's last season on the team, but the Jays have said multiple times that top-prospect Brett Wallace will be moving to first base this season and obviously they see him as a long-term member of the team.  Is Ruiz good enough for the Jays to change their mind on this move?  They still need a long term solution at third and have said before that Wallace could be average to above-average playing there.  I find myself doubting this, however, as the organization has been absolutely committed to Wallace at first since they acquired him from Oakland.

If he is indeed moved to the outfield, I don't think I'm out of line to speculate that he would play a corner position.  This is another point of trouble with the Jays, as Snider and Wells will likely stick in the corner spots long-term as Vernon's decline in defence becomes too much to take in centre.  Could they put Ruiz in left short-term, then trade him when they can't play Wells in centre anymore?  I suppose, but it'd be a rather short-sighted move.

Apparently there is cash to burn in the amateur free agent budget, as the team seems to be mentioned every time a player like this is brought up.  Recall earlier in the decade, when each and every amateur player had their name attached to the Red Sox and Yankees at some point or another?  Well, the Blue Jays under Alex Anthopoulos have become another team that will always be mentioned whenever a young star moves into the MLB.  And that makes me optimistic for the future.  Even if JJR, as I suspect, is not a fit for the Jays, they have demonstrated their commitment to finding young talent wherever they can.

Edit: While we're at it, how much do you want to bet that the Jays were one of the teams that watched 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria last week?

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