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As noted in the Twins thread, the Jays have made a wholly expected move and waived Ken Huckaby, replacing him with outfielder Reed Johnson. This move will not be met with howls of outrage from most BB denizens, this one included.

Huck calls a fine game and frames more pitches than the centerfield camera, but the rest of his defensive game is questionable at best, and his hitting is atrocious. In truth, his fate was sealed when Greg Myers, a superior version of Huckaby, came on board. If no other team claims him -- and I'd be rather surprised if one did -- then Huckaby could well fulfill his expected destiny of tutoring future backstop Kevin Cash at Syracuse. But if not, Ken can thank JP for placing him on that happy merry-go-round of established veteran backup catchers that rotate from team to team till retirement and a minor-league coaching job. Don't expect to see Ken Huckaby in a Blue Jays uniform again.

Reed Johnson's promotion comes, some might say, 11 games too late. Frank Catalanotto tries hard, but a BB reader put it best when he described Frank's right-field demeanour as "deer in the headlights." More than a few preventable runs have scored these last few games because Catalanotto hasn't exactly gotten the hang of right field, especially on turf. His bat is far too valuable to leave on the bench, but his glove is too dangerous to leave in the field, especially in the later innings. Moreover, the Jays need a legitimate outfielder to spell Stewart and Wells, neither of whom have had a day off yet.

Johnson, for his part, is your prototypical fourth outfielder. He can run (42 steals at AA Tennessee in 2001), he's got a decent batting eye, and he can hit a little, though his 2002 season was wrecked by a wrist injury. Most important, he can catch the ball, and he should become an eighth-inning fixture in right field. He once won a "Most Hustling Player" award, so he'll probably become a fan favourite after making a diving catch in the corner or sliding into third on a triple. I'll say it again: funny how "hustle" awards invariably go to short white guys.

At one level, of course, this is an extremely minor transaction, third catcher exchanged for fourth outfielder. But this also looks like a general manager saying to his field boss, "Okay, we tried it your way. Now we're doing it mine." It might also send a message to Roy Halladay that he's not quite in Greg Maddux's league yet in terms of designating roster spots for personal receivers. Ricciardi is not a three-catchers kind of guy, and it's still amazing to me that he started the year with Dave Berg as his fourth OF. That imbalance has been rectified, and fast; JP is not a man long on patience. Whether he'll pull the trigger on bullpen changes as quickly remains to be seen.
Farewell, Huck | 15 comments | Create New Account
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_M.P. Moffatt - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:23 PM EDT (#90689) #
You're right... this move did come 11 games too late. But atleast it did come. I thought it might be Aven, but Johnson's plate discipline and D is pretty good.

I hope Huckaby can latch on with someone else. I've been *very* critical of Huckaby on here, but it's never a happy thing to see someone lose their job. It's just been painfully obvious that the Jays would be much better off with a different roster layout. Huckaby seems like a nice guy, so I hope he can get a chance somewhere else. I could see LaRussa going for him. I wish Huck all the best.

_Shane - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:31 PM EDT (#90690) #
Ya, that's the funny thing. After a couple games where the bullpen collectively contiues to cost the club a chance to win, they finally kick the 3rd string catcher outta town. What the heck did he or his roster spot do to cost the Jays these ballgames, especially if his spot was only going to be replaced by Reed Johnson? Who knows how long this had been in the hopper, but there must be other moves coming, and quick. I'm starting to fear for lives here. Halladay and Walker were found in the shower post game today strangling Doug Creek, and Lidle had chased Escobar into the trainers room.
_jason - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:37 PM EDT (#90691) #
Huckaby seems like he could be an assest as the Jays roving catching instructor, or whatever that position's official title is.

How long before Werth is up? He could platoon with Cat in RF, and then on other days give Stew or Vernon a rest.
_Huckabys Mom - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:40 PM EDT (#90692) #
_the shadow - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 07:51 PM EDT (#90693) #
Sorry to see Huck leaving, he was a nice guy, but as Leo Durocher once said "nice guys finish last" but I wouldn't want Huck to be lonely on his trip out of TO, so maybe we can send Creek with him.
Craig B - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 08:00 PM EDT (#90694) #
I wish Huckaby well, he appears to be a class act and I hope we can hang on to him in case one of the other guys picks up a knock. If someone else claims him, at least it'll give him more service time and that would make me happy too. We have no business with three catchers, three outfielders and twelve pitchers, so one problem solved.

But until the Jays can pick up a warm body with left arm attached, I think Creek is going to continue to impersonate a nihilist with a gas can. I hope he can turn it around and start locating his pitches, his stuff is clearly still OK.
_Dan Shaughnessy - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 08:05 PM EDT (#90695) #
Can you hear it? The slobbering and lip smacking, the uneven clicks of keyboard letters forming themsleves into stabbing words like: "I told you so" and "genius or lucky?". In a dark cubicle cell somewhere in the greater Toronto area, slumps the columnist, patient, calculated, exacting. Knawing on an old Expos press guide, he waits for his next opportunity to wobble out of pressbox alley and pounce on the unworhty GM with another quick strike, one more literary shiv between the shoulder blades.
_Joe Giardi - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 08:52 PM EDT (#90696) #
"Huckaby seems like he could be an assest as the Jays roving catching instructor, or whatever that position's official title is."

Don't let Ernie Whitt hear that. You don't want to see the hair on that man's arse curl, that's his livelihood, and if there's one thing we apparently hate around here it's a man losing his job when he didn't deserve the job to begin with.
robertdudek - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 09:03 PM EDT (#90697) #
My vote to replace Creek would be Jason Kershner; so far in AAA:

19 Batters Faced, 1 hit, 1 walk, 0 runs, 9 STRIKEOUTS (5.1 innings).
Coach - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 09:05 PM EDT (#90698) #
I still think Ernie has more value in a community/P.R. role -- he's loved in Toronto -- and Huck is better suited to coaching. And I already said in the other thread that this was obvious (to me, at least) the day they signed Myers. Only the two week reprieve was a surprise.
_lew - Saturday, April 12 2003 @ 09:58 PM EDT (#90699) #
escobar stinks
Dave Till - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 08:23 AM EDT (#90700) #
Huckaby doomed himself when the Sox ran wild on him and Halladay in their last start. That was supposed to be his strength. It's too bad - he seems like a great guy - but he was a total offensive zero, and Myers can basically do everything he can do.

None of this really matters - eventually, Kevin Cash will take the job away from all of these guys.
_dp - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 11:49 AM EDT (#90701) #
I'm glad Werth got left at Syracuse for now. Based on his performance last year, he isn't ready. Strikes out too much, doesn't hit for enough power, and more significantly, he hit worse as the season went on, so maybe pitchers were figuring him out. If he can put up some good all-around numbers in a half-season there, then there's justification for moving Stewart, but if he repeats last year's perfromance, the Jays should hold Stewart unless they get really blown away by an offer.
_John N. - Sunday, April 13 2003 @ 12:36 PM EDT (#90702) #

Why the certainty that Kevin Cash is the long-term answer? Splitting time between AA and AAA in his age 24 season, Cash hit .247/.337/.446. That's not a bad showing, but it hardly marks him as a top prospect. PECOTA predicts a .224/.295/.396 line for this year in the Show at age 25.

Furthermore, if there is a long-term catching answer in the Jays' system, why is it Cash and not Guillermo Quiroz? In High-A for his age 20 season last year, Quiroz hit .260/.322/.421. Quiroz was four years younger than Cash (11/29/81 vs. 12/06/77) and one-and-a-half levels lower, and his raw numbers were almost identical to Cash's. Moreover, while I don't have the numbers in front of me, my impression is that the FSL is at least as bad of a hitters' league as the SL or IL.

It's true that Quiroz couldn't hit a beachball before 2002, but he was a teenager back then.

Clearly, since Cash has proved that he can (sort of) handle AAA pitching, he's closer to Tirana right now, but is he really the better long-term prospect?

(Note: I calculated Cash's combined AA/AAA OBP as (H+BB)/(AB+BB), so it's probably off by a negligible amount.)

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