According to John Lott of the National Post, 24 year old left fielder Travis Snider has been optioned to Triple A by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cue: Earth shattering. Okay, not really. It seemed evident from the get go that Eric Thames had a leg up on Snider in the battle for the starting left fielder position, and considering the age and opportunities for development, it should hardly be surprising that the player who didn’t win the role would be sent down to Triple A.
While some credit should be given to the decision makers for not being swayed by good results from a small sample, the decision to keep Thames over Snider is ultimately the wrong one.
If one were trying to derive a narrative from the roster of the Toronto Blue Jays, it would be about the hope for redemption. Think objectively for a moment. How much confidence would you place in any guess as to how J.P. Arencibia, Adam Lind, Kelly Johnson, Colby Rasmus, Thames or Snider are going to do this year. In fact, the most reliable members of the starting lineup consist of a shortstop who was practically given away be the Atlanta Braves because of a supposed attitude problem, a third basemen with 171 career MLB plate appearances and a right fielder who no one had heard of two years ago.
With so much variance, it seems to me it would be the perfect time to give players with the highest upside the most opportunity to succeed. While Thames is a nice guy who puts in a visible amount of effort, he doesn’t project to be much more than a fourth outfielder and certainly not the type to be brought in as a defensive replacement. Snider, amidst his topsy turvy career between the Majors and Minors, has shown flashes of brilliant opposite field power, but has been unable to extend those flashes into anything close to resembling consistency.
Thanks to the grumblings from the what have you done for me lately fan base, Snider has become the type of prospect who is far too quickly transitioned into a suspect. He’s only 24 years old. That’s less than a month older than Dustin Ackley of the Seattle Mariners, who only put up slightly better numbers as a 23 year old than Snider put up as a 20 and 21 year old. Alex Gordon, the Kansas City Royals prospect who finally had his breakout after years of hype, had almost 800 more MLB plate appearances than Snider currently has before he saw the type of success that everyone expected him to have.
Major League Baseball isn’t easy, and it gets even more difficult when a highly touted player gets yo-yo’d around at a young and impressionable age. With so many question marks on the current team roster, what’s one more, especially when the potential upside is as remarkable as the one the Snider offers?