* INF Danny Valencia arrived at Fenway Park from the Kansas City Royals after the Jays sent C Erik Kratz and Liam Hendriks to the AL Central division contenders. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in Minors … Canadians in college summer ball …. Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
BOSTON _ The balance of power in the American League shifted in the first inning Monday night. It wasn’t the same seismic wave other contenders felt when David Cone was acquired from the New York Mets in 1992. Or when Rickey Henderson set off a tremor arriving from the Oakland A’s the next year. In a move resembling the Jays acquiring Lee Mazzilli from Mets in 1989 the Jays acquired third baseman Danny Valencia from the Kansas City Royals to platoon at third base with Juan Francisco. The Jays gave up catcher Eric Kratz and right-hander Liam Hendriks for Valencia. Kratz hit .198 with three homers, 12 RBIs and a .572 OPS in 34 games with the Jays and .299 with three homers, 17 RBIs and an .871 OPS in 27 games at triple-A Buffalo. Hendriks was 1-0 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts with the Jays, while dominating at Buffalo going 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 18 starts. The right-handed hitting Valencia was hitting .282 with two homers and 11 RBIs with a .710 OPS in 36 games. “He’s played a number of positions, where he plays will be up to John Gibbons,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters in a conference call. “We haven’t had anyone who could one fill a role like this since we lost Mark De Rosa.” Valencia has started 304 games at third and six at second. “The No. 1 reason we obtained him is his success with the bat, we could have Francisco play first, third or DH.” Valencia is a career .333 hitter against left-handers with 14 homers, 70 RBIs and an .879 OPS in 199 games. Francisco has hit .265 with 15 homers, 36 RBIs and a .924 OPS against right-handers going into Monday’s game, but is only batting .118 with one homer, 17 RBIs and a .390 OPS against lefties. How will this affect Brett Lawrie when he returns, is Lawrie now a second baseman? “We’d like to have Jose Bautista play the same position every came, when Brett comes back, we’ll see the game plan and see who is healthy,” said Anthopoulos. “What has impressed me is the willingness of our guys to move around -- we even had Edwin Encarnacion play left.” For Valencia the Jays are his fifth team since he broke in June 3, 2010 with the Minnesota Twins. He was with the Twins until 2012 when he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox where he played 10 games. He was with the Baltimore Orioles last year before joining the Royals. “He’s not a good hitter, but he has power, as for that turf? I’d have to see him,” said one scout. The addition of Valencia does not mean that Rogers Communications are opening the vault and headed on a spending spree: Valencia earns $532,500 this season. Valencia was surprised to leave the second-place Royals. “This is a great opportunity,” Valencia told reporters. “Obviously this is a real tough division, teams that are always really tough. I was fortunate enough to play in this division last year with Baltimore and see it on the other side. It’s definitely going to be a fun and I think this team is going to be great.” Valencia will platoon at third with Juan Francisco, although he entered Tuesday’s game taking over for Francisco at first, while Munenori Kawasaki was at second. “I can’t pinpoint why I hit left-handers better,” said Valencia. “Traditionally your splits should be better against left-handed pitching, except I feel comfortable in there, but it’s one of those things that I carved out for myself. You want to be able to hit lefties and righties, and I feel I can do that pretty well.”
And the third catcher is: Dioner Navarro caught his 66th game this season Tuesday night at Fenway Park. At this pace the Blue Jays catcher is headed for 99 games. He has not caught that many games since 2009 when he squatted in 113 games with the Tampa Bay Rays. Not to fret too much but with catcher Kratz, along Hendriks, gone to the Royals, for Valencia, but who is now No. 3 on the Jays catching depth chart? Is it A.J. Jimenez, 24, who has never appeared in a major league game, or Mike Nickeas, 31, who caught 45 games with the 2012 New York Mets and one game with the Jays last year? Or perhaps should the Jays sign Markham’s George Kottaras, released three days ago by the St. Louis Cardinals after they signed AJ Pierzynski to replaced the injured Yadier Molina. Kottaras has knuckle ball experience catching Tim Wakefield with the Boston Red Sox. Jimenez took a .258 average going into play Tuesday with two homers and 32 RBIs with a .680 OPS in 75 games at Buffalo and double-A New Hampshire. The Vancouver-born Nickeas is hitting .224 with three homers, 12 RBIs and a .630 OPS in 40 games at Buffalo. Kratz caught 20 games at Buffalo, while Jack Murphy, 26, hit .206 with two RBIs and a .602 OPS in 11 games. What would be worse at the high-risk position behind the plate? Losing Navarro to injury or Josh Thole, who dances with R. A. Dickey’s knuckleball every five days? Tough one. Thole caught over 100 games with the 2011-12 Mets. While manager John Gibbons says that the all-star break re-vitalized Navarro, someone must be found to replace Kratz.
Looking: The Jays were still scouting the Chicago Cubs Monday night for a fifth game in the past week. Pro scout Dean Decillis was watching the Cubs host the Colorado Rockies ... Pro scout Bob Fontaine was watching the San Diego Padres play the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Making Noise: Those cheers for Melky Cabrera’s second homer, Ryan Goins three hits, doubles by Colby Rasmus and Menenori Kawasaki were led by a number of Jays fans. Nolan Lankhof, three, grandson of talented Toronto Sun scribe Bill Lankhof, brought his sister Avery, mom Lisa and pop Phil Lankhof to Fenway ... Burlington’s Mattingly Romanin, son of Jays P.R. exec Mal Romanin, had the night off from his Wachusetts Dirt Dawgs in the Futures League ... Georgetown’s Brandon Paul took his father Dwight Paul to the game as well.