Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Expectations Clash on Travis Snider
By Ian Hunter
While all those delicious and succulent meats don't clash on one single plate, there is one thing that does clash; expectations for Travis Snider. Some view him as a stud outfielder with 30+ home run pop, and others see Snider as a dime a dozen outfielder.
Gregg Zaun reiterated multiple times during the season that it's sink or swim time for Travis Snider, and I couldn't agree more. The Blue Jays are long overdue to find out whether they have a legitimate stud on their hands, or just another outfielder.
And much like Zaun, I really didn't notice anything different with Snider's swing after he was called back up from Las Vegas in early July. If anything, they might have tweaked his swing slightly, but did it warrant a trip to the minors?
Isn't that something that could've been done with work from Dwayne Murphy and a little extra batting practice? I don't doubt there was some part of Snider's swing that needed work, but it's not like he looked like a kid swinging blindly at a pinata.
There was something fishy about Snider's demotion back then, and there's still something suspect about it now. And just in case there wasn't enough doubt planted in everyone's heads, the Blue Jays sent him back down again at the beginning of August.
Even though it feels like Travis Snider has spent a great deal of time with the club over the years, he's actually only accumulated just over one year of service time. If it feels like the Travis Snider Experiment has been a work in progress, it's because it has.
2012 will mark the fifth season that Travis has spent with the team, and yet amazingly he'll only be 24 years old when Spring Training camp kicks off. Just as a comparison, Eric Thames is a player who is at a similar point in his career, and he's soon to be 25 years old.
Despite Snider's young age and low service time, it still feels like we're nowhere closer to finding out where the Blue Jays stand with him.
By all indications, 2011 was going to be the year where we would find out if Travis Snider was going to sink or swim. It seemed like Alex Anthopoulos and John Farrell were ready to back their once highly-touted prospect and were willing to give him a chance to live up to the hype.
Instead, 2011 was another year of confusion and I hate to say it, but regression for Travis Snider. Now there are even more question marks than ever about him, and whether he'll be ready to reclaim a starting position for next season.
The problem now is there is a young crop of players who have elevated their game to Snider's, and even surpassed it. Eric Thames is a perfect example of that, and arguably he has a leg up on the others for the starting left field job.
So to give the reins to Travis Snider for the left field position is almost unfair to Eric Thames. Again, I hate to say it but Thames is way ahead of Snider on the outfield depth chart at this point. Snider may have more upside, but Thames offers more consistency.
But it's hardly all Travis Snider's fault; I think the powers that be were a little guilty of mishandling him this season. It looked like they didn't want to see him fail at the major league level, and instead hid him in the shadows of Las Vegas.
Not that I'm trying to relate developing a baseball player to raising a child, but with both situations I think you have to let them make their own mistakes. Even if that means Snider batting below the Mendoza Line at the All-Star Break, he needs to understand what that feels like in order to make him a better player in the future.
After all, it's not like the Blue Jays were playing for a pennant back in April and May. Better for Snider to work out the kinks now then a few years down the road when they could be in contention and really need to know what they have with Travis Snider.
The funny thing about this whole situation is if Travis Snider were not with the Toronto Blue Jays, he'd be the exact kind of player that Alex Anthopoulos would be gunning for. Snider is a high ceiling player, but a victim of his circumstance. A change of scenery and a change to play every day would no doubt unearth his potential.
And don't think that other GM's aren't thinking the exact same thing about Travis Snider, because I'm sure they'd be willing to trade for him in a heartbeat. Being under team control for just under five more seasons also makes Snider an attractive acquisition.
I think 2012 is the year that the Blue Jays need to decide whether they want to give Travis the reins and let him have an everyday job, or they need to trade him. With so many young talented players in the farm system, the organization has to figure out where Snider is a viable option in the outfield for the immediate future.
And if he doesn't fit into those plans, then it's time to send him to another team and get as much back in return as they can. You can only yo-yo a player around so much before they begin to develop a yearning for a change of scenery.