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.

Thames Is Demoted

According to the team’s official Twitter account, the Toronto Blue Jays have optioned left fielder Eric Thames to Triple A Las Vegas and called up utility player extraordinaire Mike McCoy.

One has to imagine that if he was healthy, eternal prospect of the Blue Jays fans’ mind, Travis Snider, would be the player receiving a promotion, but alas, our lunch box hero is still attempting to get himself right after injuring his wrist earlier this season.

As for Thames, the demotion is overdue. In addition to collecting outs in more than 71% of his plate appearances, the personality plus regular was terrible in the outfield, taking paths to fly balls that would be too extensive for a shitty Family Circus cartoon to document. This, combined with power numbers that suggested Thames bat of choice was a flaccid pool noodle, put the writing on the wall for the left fielder’s immediate future.

I say immediate, because I firmly believe that Thames can be a useful contributor on a Major League roster. With a little more patience at the plate, he can certainly be a useful fourth outfielder or bench bat against right handed pitching. I just can’t see him as a regular on any roster, but the very worst.

I’m not sure that Mike McCoy offers an immediate offensive upgrade, but with Rajai Davis slowly taking playing time away from Thames and the day to day injuries with the current set of middle infielders (plus a winded bench coach who can’t play every day), McCoy will certainly be useful, even though he’s unlikely to be replacing Thames directly.

I have nothing bad to say about Eric Thames as a person. In interviews and public appearances, he seems to be genuine, intelligent and humourous. He has style, grace and a whole bunch of other descriptives found in the lyrics to Vogue. Perhaps most importantly, he has what the French call “the elan,” and what Blue Jays fans call “the swagger,” that the people of Toronto seem to love.

He has all this, but I have my doubts that he has the ability to be much more than a fourth outfielder.

Last night in Baltimore, as the Blue Jays inexplicably lost to Tommy Hunter and the Baltimore Orioles, we saw the best and worst of what Thames has to offer.

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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.