So the Jays wanted a defensive backup behind the dish. They filled this role with Jeff Mathis at the cost of Brad Mills, whom the Jays likely wanted to move off of the 40 man roster, thus making Brad expendable.
My Thoughts on Mathis
- Mathis makes Mendoza seem like Babe Ruth. Mathis has posted back to back sub .500 OPS seasons (.497 & .484) in a combined 499 PA.
- According to Mike Fast’s framing analysis over at Baseball Prospectus (quick summation: how catchers save their team runs by earning extra strike calls on edge of the strike zone) Jeff Mathis isn’t the defensive god he’s made out to be. While above average, Mathis averaged 7 runs saved per 120 game season behind the plate, placing him in about the 75th percentile of major league catchers. Outgoing Jose Molina led the list with a score of 35 runs per 120 games.
- Mathis caught 27.3% of base stealers, allowing 48 attempts in 91 games (79 starts). This is right at the MLB average of 28% CS
- Posted the 10th worst WAR score in amongst positional players in 2011, at -1.0.
- Using the WAR method, Mathis cost the Angels a net -$5.7 million in productivity and salary in 2011 ($1.7 million salary + Negative $4.0 production)
- Mathis is set to hit arbitration or get non-tendered. Unless AA can swing a deal Mathis in a short order, the Jays either pay Mathis close to $2 million or they let him walk (and in the process give up Mills for nothing).
- If Arencibia gets hurt, expect the Jays to call up d’Arnaud, Mathis is still going to be backup and play a max 25-30 games.
As you can see, I’m not a fan of Mathis, even if AA loves his defensive skills
Other Options Existed
Personally, I’d rather save on salary, bring in a AAAA type backup behind the plate and trade Mills for an A ball type player that doesn’t fill up a slot on the 40 man roster.
One such AAAA type guy that the Jays have been bouncing about is Brian Jeroloman. I’m not as much in favour of Jeroloman as I am a warm body (like a Fasano, Chavez type of the past).
But since Jeroloman has been around the org for a while, I can use him as an example.
Positives for Jeroloman
- Warm body with a decent BB rate. He has a low career BA of only .245 but an overall OBP of .378
- Would make MLB minimum salary
- Solid defensive reputation. Quote from Baseball America’s Jim Callis:
He receives high marks for his sure hands, sound footwork and above-average blocking and receiving skills…. is agile behind the plate and has advanced game-calling skills.
Negatives for BJ
- Declining caught stealing ratios. Jeroloman watched his CS % shrink from 43% in 2009 to 27% in 2010 to a dismal 15% in 2011.
- Can’t hit, slugged only .295 in hitter friendly PCL.
- Couldn’t crack the lineup. Called up in late August, Brian rode the bench for Sept, largely due to an injury according to MLB.com and J.P Arencibica
MLB.com: He was added in late August but dealt with a jammed right wrist for much of the time that he was up.
The Way I See It:
While he’s not much of a ballplayer, the overall package of Jeroloman/Salary/A type prospect is far superior to the Mathis deal. Feel free to sub in your favourite AAAA type catcher into the equation.