Archive for the ‘Eric Thames’ Category

Did Eric Thames just reveal the Jays’ upcoming roster move before the club got a chance to?

Well… I mean… it’s not like he gives a shit about keeping the Jays’ secrets anymore, is it?

Sierra, it should be noted, was already on the 40-man.

 

Image via Twitter.

When the news broke over the weekend that the Jays had demoted Travis Snider and decided to give Eric Thames the starting left field job, I just knew I had recently read someone suggest precisely that scenario, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out who it was.

Turns out, it was John Sickels of Minor League Ball, who I’ve discovered (while in preparation for tomorrow’s ultra-rare Morning Snack post) included the following nugget in his Prospect Notes post back on Saturday afternoon, a day before the news broke.

Buzz from Toronto Blue Jays camp is that Eric Thames has the edge over Travis Snider in the competition for the regular left field job. Both are hitting well (Thames 13-for-40, .325/.378/.500, Snider 13-for-43, .302/.375/.698) but Thames is reportedly impressing more with his defense and athleticism, which looks like the deciding factor since both are hitting. Thames is also making better contact, with eight whiffs against Snider’s 14.

Interesting.

Whoever he got his information from either got lucky… or he’s got the goods. I couldn’t possibly say which– though, knowing the Jays, I’d be willing to wager a guess. Still, I must admit, I might pay a little closer attention the next time Sickels says he hears some Jays-related buzzing.

Something truly remarkable happened yesterday…

Something I didn’t think would ever happen again…

Something so many of us had been quietly hoping we’d never have to deal with again…

Parkes actually wrote a goddamn post.

The news of the Jays demotion of Travis Snider to minor league camp, on the other hand? Not terribly surprising.

Nor is it, in my view, another instance of the Jays dicking around a once-extraordinary prospect, as many have been real effing quick to want to shout.

Much like Snider, Eric Thames is probably too good to be toiling in Las Vegas all season. And as much as the idea of giving Snider 600 MLB at-bats, come what may, sounds like the ideal plan for his development, it’s a quaint notion that would have been very difficult for the club to pull off if Snider slumped, Thames raked in Vegas, and the club– thanks especially to the lure of the AL’s extra Wild Card spot– needed production from its left fielder.

Almost certainly there would have, at some point, been pressures– both internal and external– to help the club by replacing a slumping Snider with Thames. Astutely, by being firm about Thames’ advantages in a position battle that Alex Anthopoulos acknowledges will likely go on all year, the club has ensured that they’ll avoid a potentially much more damaging scenario down the road.

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After yesterday’s heavy dose of realism, Jays fans demanded that Keith Law, the obliterator of all their little hopes and dreams, come forth and defend his absurd views on Dustin McGowan!

Or… probably it was just his contract with TSN Radio. Or maybe they just asked.

Either way, KLaw hit the airwaves– the free, public airwaves that I can quote anything from with a clear conscience, I should add– this afternoon and elaborated on what he saw yesterday when he took in the epic Grapefruit League tilt between the Jays and the Astros in Kissimmee.

And, actually, he skipped a lot of the stuff about McGowan. Or… probably I just tuned in a little too late to catch it.

What I did hear was pretty seriously awesome, especially where two the players I’d like to see the Jays not dick around are concerned: Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider.

He also talked Anthony Gose, Travis d’Arnaud, about the back of the rotation in general, and followed up his piece from yesterday with some activity in the comments.

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Alex Anthopoulos was on the Fan590 this morning with Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt (audio here), and while a lot of it was typical Anthopoulosian blather, he did admit that he overstepped when he proclaimed last year that Adeiny Hechavarria was a shortstop, end of story, and he had a few things to say that were definitely worth noting– even if we don’t necessarily believe what he’s saying. Actually, especially if we don’t.

Part Two of Three – Eric Thames (But Mostly Travis Snider)

“Travis knows that Eric is the frontrunner going in. Eric knows that he’s not being handed the job. Travis is going to have to play that much better than Eric, because the context of spring stats,” said Alex Anthopoulos, summing up the left field situation as best he could, in response to a Stephen Brunt question about the impressive start Travis Snider has had in camp.

“I knew that the competition in left field would be a story,” he lamented. “I was hoping it wouldn’t be as much of a point of emphasis, strictly because, by design it was– we told Travis this, we told Eric this– Eric is frontrunner for the job.”

That assertion is about as emphatic as Anthopoulos gets (non-responding to intellectually dishonest and/or moronic Man in White accusations division), and it caused some uproar in the comments on the Chart Attack post from yesterday, where my little, entirely-unscientific Travis Snider head edged past Thames into the lead for the position.

As I said then, the Jays most likely don’t quite view it as a horse race, the way makes the most sense to our minds. I could have added that, if they do, there’s really no value to them in saying so outwardly, toying with these guys’ minds and making it a bigger story than it already is.

If there genuinely is a competition, Snider has to have made a much bigger first impression than Thames. Anthopoulos seems to acknowledge it, downplaying it while astutely noting that “Travis has been great, Eric has played very well also, but I’m also cognizant of the fact that these are small sample sizes in Spring Training against not the greatest of competition.”

In that sense, Thames is still most likely viewed as the frontrunner– and quite rightly so, especially since Alex makes clear that part of the reason there’s even a competition involving an incumbent starter is because he “to adjust my style, from a philosophy standpoint, because I think maybe it’s not the best thing in the world to hand a kid a job.”

But the sample sizes will get larger, and as cuts are made across the various camps, the level of competition will rise.

“It’s nothing against Travis,” he says, “because I love him as a player, I love him as a human being, I love him as a prospect, but you don’t want to guarantee anything.”

Further to that, ”I really want to avoid the up and down with Travis,” Anthopoulos explains. “Hopefully the next time he’s up here, whether it’s Opening Day, or it’s some point during the season, or whether it’s next year, he’s here to stay.”

Perhaps that indicates that the team is going to be more inclined to take a cautious approach with Snider, even if he outperforms Thames thoroughly this spring. And, you know what? If they’re not ready to give him the reins on April fifth, because of a fear that he’ll once again lose his consistency and have to be sent back down, while some fans seem to want to look at that as some kind of indication that Snider’s task this spring is impossible, and that the organization is probably looking to move on, I just don’t know how they fucking figure. The Jays’ reasoning on all this sounds about right to me.

With a shit-tonne of shit now shit-streaming in from Dunedin, it only seems prudent (read: easiest), instead of creating a massive commentary-laden Afternoon Snack, to pile all of the day’s links into one dump, then following that up with some expanded commentary where necessary. So that’s what we’re going to do each day. Unless we don’t. It’s your Further Comment…

This is further to yesterday’s Afternoon Snack, but so what? I wanted to say a couple words about Shi Davidi’s piece at Sportsnet on Eric Thames, and Thames in general.

You see, I’m not totally self-unaware. I understand that my constant backing of Travis Snider as the Jays’ Alex Gordon– the guy who takes a long time to figure it out, but at the minimum needs the opportunity to do it– kinda relies on diminishing the potential of Eric Thames.

Not only is that too-often a bit unfair, but it really tends to take away my enjoyment of Thames– who maybe isn’t the non-prospect I’ve often tried to convince myself he probably is. The Jays obviously think highly of him– or at least believe in the optics of thinking highly of him– grouping him with Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista for batting practice and what Davidi calls “various group work,” where Snider has been working with Rajai Davis and other less integral players.

“One of the holes other pitchers exploited last year came on fastballs high and away, in part because his upper body was too built to handle them. During swings his right elbow would pop up and force a longer bat path, something that’s been addressed with the increased flexibility he has through his back and chest,” Davidi writes, referring to Thames’ off-season yoga-and-weightlifting regimen that avoided building up his back and chest, specifically so he could make adjustments to his swing.

He’s come to camp with what Davidi calls “a shorter, more compact swing and a dramatically improved throwing arm.”

“I’m a perfectionist, I needed to find a way to get shorter because I don’t want to hit .260 in the big-leagues, I want to hit .300, I want to hit better than that, with more pop, so I had to be short to the ball, get more backspin,” Thames says. “I trained an hour and a half, two hours each day for about three months with my hitting guy to get that muscle memory, and in my last week there he gave me a hug and said, ‘A lot of the teams are going to come at you with the same book as they did last year, but they’re going to have to throw all that away because your swing is different now. The holes you had last year are gone.’ Now I’ve got to keep with it.”

It’s almost enough to kinda-sorta make you start forgetting about the tantalizing potential yet to be unleashed in his left field counterpart. Shit, throw in a few more walks and we’ll seriously be talking.