Blue Jays Deal Minor Leaguers For Infield Depth

The Deal
Seeking a solid defensive infielder who can handle a number of positions and hit a little, the Blue Jays acquired Marco Scutaro from the Athletics for a pair of young righthanders, Graham Godfrey and Kristian Bell.
The Big Leaguer
Scutaro, who turns 32 next year, toiled in the minors for eight seasons before getting a 27-game trial with the 2002 Mets. Despite a fine minor league track record (.297/.375/.439 in almost 3,500 at-bats), Scutaro failed to impress in ’02 or in ’03, when he played in 48 games. Both seasons he functioned primarily as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. But that didn’t deter the A’s from making a waiver claim on him in October 2003. Scutaro, who signed with the Indians in 1994 from Venezuela, spent the next four seasons in Oakland, filling in at second base, shortstop and third base, as needed, and batting as many as 455 times (2004) in a year. He hit .260/.332/.361 in 2007, in a typical year for him, filling in at shortstop for the injured Bobby Crosby. Scutaro has batted .259/.320/.384 with 31 home runs in 1,650 big league at-bats.
The Prospects
Because they had forfeit their second- and third-round picks to sign A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan, the Blue Jays convinced Godfrey, a 34th-round pick in 2006 from College of Charleston, to sign with a six-figure bonus. He signed too late to pitch in 2006, but he went 6-7, 3.98 with 74-36 K-BB in 111 innings for low Class A Lansing this year. The 23-year-old Godfrey throws a firm 90-92 mph sinker that touches 94, and his changeup, which he learned just this season, became his second pitch. His slider showed improved tilt and velocity in 2007, but it’s an average offering.

Bell, 23, has made just modest progress in the Blue Jays system since signing in 2004 as an 11th-round pick from Blinn (Texas) CC. He went 3-7, 5.33 with 46-28 K-BB in 78 innings for high Class A Dunedin this season, splitting the year between the rotation and bullpen. Bell has gone 18-17, 4.20 with 235-148 K-BB in 315 pro innings, spent mostly as a starter. Like Godfrey, the sinker is Bell’s best offering.

Quick Take
The A’s got as much value as they could for a utility infielder in his early 30s. Plus, they want to give Donnie Murphy, who hit .326/.388/.509 for Triple-A Sacramento this year, a shot at Scutaro’s former job in 2008. The Blue Jays get a player who can fill in at third base, if Troy Glaus gets hurt, or at shortstop, if John McDonald doesn’t hit.

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