I'm not going to sit here and tell anybody that Chris Woodward is a great player, or that he should be a starter, or anything. But a lot of Jays fans seem to think that the guy is something of a joke and doesn't belong on the roster. I disagree.
First, his defense. At the major league level he's played all four infield positions, and his range factors (on www.baseball-reference.com) have been good, although admittedly in a limited number of appearances. So he's a versatile defensive player, and that has some value.
Next, his offense. He really hasn't hit that much at the major league level, but if you check out his minor league numbers, he doesn't look useless at all. I'm not saying that he could duplicate his minor league numbers in the majors, but he should be able to improve on what he has done in the majors to this point.
And what he has done in the majors to this point isn't all bad. There's a statistic called Isolated Power, which is meant to represent the portion of a hitter's power that isn't represented by his batting average. The formula is ( TB - H ) / AB.
These are the Isolated Power numbers, in descending order, for the Jays' regulars last year: Delgado (.261), Cruz (.256), Mondesi (.201), Fullmer (.170), Felipe Lopez (.158), Stewart (.147), Gonzalez (.135), Fletcher (.127), Bush (.081).
You see what this reveals. It points out which players' value is tied up most in high batting averages (Stewart, Bush), how bad Fletcher's year was, and how little power Gonzalez really has.
Woodward's Isolated Power was .206. That's higher than Mondesi's.
Now, Woodward's batting average was so low last year that you still can't say that he was a good hitter, or anything . . . but there's something there to like. I don't think this guy is a waste of time at all. I think that he's a useful player as a reserve infielder and doesn't deserve our disdain.
It's not so much that Bush was bad; it's that his game doesn't include power. Bush does three things: hit singles, steal bases and play defense at second base. (Well, four things if you count 'getting hurt'.) He did okay at all of those three things last year, and it wasn't a bad year for him.
Since he has no power to speak of, his value to a team is limited, and since he doesn't walk much, it's limited even more. However, he has spoken in public about his desire to take more walks, and the organization will probably provide him with more support for this initiative than the previous regime did, so if he can raise his OBP, stay healthy, and have a decent year in other areas (none of which are automatic), he'll be a reasonably valuable player. I kind of like the guy and hope he does well.
On the other hand, Orlando Hudson is on the way . . .
How come the Jays dont play him a lot then?
Well, what I was giving you there were his strong points. He has an obvious weakness - he hasn't shown that he can hit above .200 in the major leagues. So that's one thing.
Plus, the Jays were awash in middle infielders for a while there, all of whom had to play ahead of Woodward. Now, Gonzalez, Izturis and Frye are gone, so maybe Woodward moves up a bit on the depth chart. If you're looking at the Jays' roster this year, how would you allocate infielders? Delgado, Bush, Lopez, Hinske for sure. Someone like Brian Lesher to back up Delgado. Dave Berg as a utility infielder. That's six guys. Most teams, I think, carry seven or eight infielders, so Woodward can sneak in there as a defensive replacement. I suspect that his glove's better than Berg's is.