Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rolen traded; Encarnacion, prospects to Toronto

In what appeared to be a rather curious move by General Manager J.P. Ricciardi (because it now appears all system go toward contending again in 2010), 3rd basemen Scott Rolen has been shipped out of town to Cincinnati in exchange for 3rd baseman Edwin Encarnacion and two pitching prospects.

Rolen wanted to skip town for "personal reasons" related to the 34 wanting to be closer to home so Ricciardi appeased Rolen who was with the Jays for a season and a half. He was playing quite well this season, filling in as the cleanup hitter, putting up 8 homers and 43 RBI. Rolen's exceptional glove will be sorely missed in the Jays infield.

It'll be obvious how important defensively he is to the team because the 26 year old Encarnacion is terrible at fielding his position. His numbers at the plate this year are rather pedestrian (5 home runs, 16 RBI with a measly .209 average), but if he can stay healthy does have upside and some pop in his bat, having knocked out 26 homers last year.

The two pitching prospects coming back are Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart. The 26 year old Roenicke bounced back and forth from the Reds to their AAA team in Louisville, posting a 2.70 ERA in 11 games with Cincy. The right hander has good numbers in 4 seasons in the Reds minor league system, going 12-4 with a 2.89 ERA. He'll be slotted into the Jays bullpen, and to make room the Blue Jays pen, the club has announced that RHP Jeremy Accardo has been sent back down to AAA Las Vegas.

The true blue chip prospect coming back is Stewart, selected in the 3rd round in 2008. In three levels of the Reds farm system this year, the 22 year old has gone 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA over 23 games, including 14 starts. He's got a plus fastball that tops out at around 96 MPH, and is expected to make a push for the Jays rotation in a couple of years, if not earlier.

Rolen will be missed, particularly his stellar play this season after an injury riddled 2008 campaign. Considering the fact he wanted out, the Jays have acquired a pretty decent package back for him. Ricciardi has stated that both pitchers were guys the team has been interested in acquiring before, and Encarnacion could prove to be a pretty good pickup that might ultimately be moved to the outfield to offset his poor defensive skills.