Archive for the ‘Travis Snider’ Category

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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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.

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I’m not going to pretend that there hasn’t been a lot of Travis Snider love in these pages lately– too much, most likely– or that I didn’t feel slight pangs of guilt when it was tweeted at me this weekend that Eric Thames had said on the radio that he doesn’t “care what bloggers think” about where the battle between him and Snider stands so far.

Honestly, as much as I’m still in the tank for the tantalizing promise Snider once showed, I’d genuinely love to see Eric Thames take the ball and run with it and succeed– and I don’t think he’s incapable. It’s just… well… it’s just stuff like this:

ESPN is ranking the top 500 players in baseball, and today came out with the bottom 100 of their list. Riffing on that was Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory and the ZiPS projection system, who singled out seven players who could potentially be the the next Jose Bautista (Insider only). In other words, “some of the second-tier prospects and youngish journeymen who sit in the 401-500 range who still have a chance of really surprising, much like Bautista did in 2010.”

Marc Rzepczynski makes the list– much to what I’m sure is the delight of our friend Drew from over at Getting Blanked– but the first name mentioned ranked at number 475 on the Top 500 (below Eric Thames, it should be noted), Travis Snider.

“After hitting .301/.338/.466 during a cup of coffee stint at age 20 in 2008, 2009 was supposed to be Snider’s big breakout,” Szymborski writes. “Then 2010. Then 2011. The calendar’s turned yet again, and the Jays are still waiting for Snider to force his way into the heart of a solid Jays lineup. While there’s a natural inclination to give up on Snider, he just turned 24. ZiPS, for one, has soured considerably on Snider, but on the upside, still thinks he can develop into a Kevin Mitchell-type hitter in the best-case scenario. Mitchell had a better first experience in the majors, but had setbacks of his own, such as repeating Triple-A after a rough season with the Tidewater Tides in 1984. And remember, Mitchell was National League MVP in 1989.”

OK, so maybe it’s not quite the Mickey Mantle comparison some Globe and Mail commenter wants to put on Brett Lawrie’s head, but Mitchell was no slouch, putting up 31.1 wins in a career that spanned parts of 13 seasons. He was worth four wins four times, including a 4.2 fWAR in the strike-shortened 1994 season, and 7.1 fWAR in his ’89 MVP campaign. He also was in the three win neighbourhood an additional three times.

So… not a career to be scoffed at by a long stretch.

Also, this:

 

For Snider? Fuckin’ eh, I’ll take it. Since, y’know, right now we’re staring down the barrel of pretty much shit all.

I feel I must preface this post by saying that I haven’t heard the source material myself, and am simply relaying second-hand information being tweeted by @GSJays. Which isn’t to say I think he’s making it up, I just want to be clear about that, and the fact that any interpretation of the tone of the comments (I’m thinking of words like “hated” and “horribly” when I say this) is his and not mine.

Now, with that out of the way, Matt Stairs, everybody!

So… there’s that.

It all kind of makes sense, of course. I mean, it’s not an entirely surprising sentiment for a Jays player from that era to have, though it’s a little surprising to hear it supposedly expressed. And Stairs is pretty much exactly bang on when it comes to the approach the Jays should finally take with their once ridiculously-elite prospect. It’s just… at the same time, I kinda really want to hear the XM radio interview clip for myself before getting too worked up about it. (Anybody? Li’l help?)

Even then, it’s kinda old news. Cito got away with a lot of absolute ridiculousness, because he’s Cito. We know.

 

Update: Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter caught the segment as well, and relays the information as well, in a slightly less incendiary way.

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.