Travis Snider was pulled from tonight’s game in the seventh inning for no injury-related reason, then proceeded straight into the clubhouse with John Farrell, eventually coming back out to shake hands and exchange hugs with teammates. Clearly he has been dealt somewhere.
And Wilner has it:
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) July 31, 2012
This will not go over well.
But, of course, Travis Snider for anybody would have had the masses up in arms, because of all that was promised of him over the years, and all that wasn’t delivered on. And of course, to many minds– mine included– all that he wasn’t given enough opportunity to deliver on.
But as disappointing as it is to see the club give up on him, and as underwhelming a return as Brad Lincoln appears to be on first blush– especially since this all went down in real time, on the field, with many rumours swirling about the club’s interest in Matt Garza — the red flags certainly come a little more into focus as Snider heads out the door.
There are the crazily high number of strikeouts. The inability to keep himself healthy and on the field. The lack of success he’s had in the few, limited opportunities he’s had in the majors.
Most importantly, I think, there’s the question of his future value.
As much as his recent call-up was welcomed by the many fans who’ve been following his career with great hope for so long, we knew it was essentially a make-or-break situation for Snider, because 2012 is his last option year. He’d have to play well-enough down the stretch to assure himself a job next season, which meant convincing the club to not aim higher in the off-season and to send Anthony Gose back to Triple-A for another season.
Yes, we all wanted to believe this was finally the time when he was going to put it all together, but if we think about it honestly– or look at the strikeout and walk rates he put up in the short time he was here– we can acknowledge that there was a very real possibility that he wouldn’t. And if he didn’t earn that job, and left the club looking for a contingency plan, a better option, or staring at the very real prospect of losing him for nothing on waivers if they ever needed to send him down, his value would have taken a considerable hit.
It’s fear of that possibility which, I suspect, has animated the Jays’ actions tonight, picking up a nice piece in Brad Lincoln in the process.
Lincoln’s numbers have moved in the right direction this year: his 4.29 K/BB is excellent, his strikeout rate is up, walk rate is down, swinging strikes are up, he’s added more than a mile-per-hour to his velocity, and all of those numbers look even better when he’s pitched in relief. His K-rate is up 10% when pitching in relief this year (29.9% and 10.0 K/9), and he’s got a WHIP of 0.84, a FIP of 2.43, and opponents’ wOBA against is just .228.
Now, is a solid-looking reliever at perhaps the peak of his post-prospect value the kind thing I always dreamed of the Jays getting in return for the Great Snider? Holy piss, no. But Lincoln is certainly an asset– and perhaps already more of one than Snider was ever going to be here. Plus, as Shi Davidi notes, the Jays have control of Lincoln until 2018, as opposed to just 2016 for Snider, which is also a plus– especially in the eyes of the club.
“We felt like we gave up a quality player to get a guy who’s starting to come into his own in Lincoln,” said John Farrell, according to another of Davidi’s tweets.
I always expected that, when this day came– as it’s looked more and more likely to have over the past few years– I’d be writing a paean for a still tremendously talented young player and raging against the organization that not only dealt him, but who sabotaged so much of his value before doing so– as so many have been tonight on Twitter and in the comments below. But… this isn’t so bad. Mind you, it’s not exactly uplifting– it isn’t the Rasmus deal or the magical offloading of Vernon Wells– but it’s really not as bad as you probably think.
And guess what? Lincoln isn’t even the newest member of the Jays’ pitching staff, as another trade was announced shortly thereafter! Yes, the club has dealt Eric Thames to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for yet another reliever: Steve Delabar.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs and USS Mariner tweets that Delabar has a “big fastball (94-96) and a good splitter, but no breaking ball. HRs against RHBs his downfall so far, but fixable.”
So… it’s some immediate bullpen help for a team that seem to really want to believe it’s in the playoff hunt, regardless of the fact that they’re in such a poor position, probably not talented enough to make it happen, and that we’re talking about the coin flip that is the play-in game.
Has Anthopoulos been afflicted by the same cynical, short-sighted, everything-to-drive-attendance disease that plagued his predecessor? I sure as fuck hope not. And the deals he’s made these past few weeks, even if they very obviously serve to paper over an injury-ravaged area of need, don’t entirely have me convinced that he is– especially since it would mark such a major turn away from everything we’ve known about Anthopoulos, how he operates, and how we believe that he could have made deals happen last winter, but chose to cling to his best prospects.
Thing is, much like with Brett Wallace, Nestor Molina, and even Wojciechowski and Musgrove, the perception among fans about who those top prospects who must be held so tightly are doesn’t necessarily match what the front office believes. We’ll miss the myth of Snider– the feeling of possibility that, just beyond our noses, exists the kind of young, vital, untapped power that could turn a season, or the club’s entire fortunes around for years to come– but not so much his real, tangible production on the field. I wish him well and hope that he blossoms into an All-Star in Pittsburgh, not out of spite for the way the club jerked him around and tempted fate by messing with his ample talents, but because I believe the talent really is there, even if I can understand why maybe the Jays felt this was the best move for their ballclub from the point-of-view of asset management.
A new era awaits– yet again. And probably more deals, too.
Image via Tom Szczerbowski/Getty.