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Jay’s McDonald is nice defensively, but still can’t catch starting gig.

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Poor John McDonald.

Just when it looked like the 35-year-old may have finally locked down the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting shortstop gig, the club announced the signing of Alex Gonzalez to a one-year, $2.75 million contract.

Sayonara, starts.

McDonald has been a fan favorite in Toronto since his incredible defensive campaign in 2007. Fans have clamored for the light-hitting veteran to receive an extended audition, but McDonald has been used strictly as a defensive reserve on the Canadian ball club. In five seasons with the team, he’s yet to receive more than 350 at-bats.

And with age 36 approaching fast, McDonald is just a few years away from the proverbial pasture. A starting gig, at this point, is tremendously unlikely.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the Blue Jay’s logic; McDonald just does not have a playable bat at the Major League level.

In parts of 11 seasons, McDonald has stroked just 13 homeruns to go along with a .238 career batting average. That kind of production is acceptable if you’re a terror on the basepaths or an on-base machine, but that’s not the case with McDonald.

McDonald’s offense is so behind his dazzling glove work, that he’s consistently mentioned among the worst hitting position players in the American League, a dubious distinction to say the least. According to Fangraphs, McDonald isn’t helping the Jays win any more: his Ultimate Zone Rating of plus-9.1 at shortstop is just enough to offset what he’s costing the team with his bat.

McDonald owns a career on-base percentage of .276 and his slugging percentage is a paltry .317, 55 points lower than the notoriously meek hitting Juan Pierre (who has the same number of career homeruns over one less season). Caesar Izturis, a similar shortstop, has an on-base plus slugging percentage of .623, a mere 30 points lower than McDonald’s, but has earned almost double the plate appearances as McDonald.

That’s telling.

Last year, McDonald posted a career high with a .384 slugging percentage. That marked improvement clearly did very little to ease the mind of the Jay’s front office.

Jay’s General Manager Alex Anthopoulos signed McDonald to a 2-year, $3 million deal just one day before effectively replacing him with Gonzalez. For a player who profiles as nothing more than a late-inning defensive replacement and who will be 38-years-old by the time the contract expires, that’s quite a payday.

Only time will tell if it’s money well spent.

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Written by dylansharek

November 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm

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