|Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures|
Most predicted that the battle for the Blue Jays starting left fielder's job would be a battle; and up until yesterday, it was a neck and neck race between Travis Snider and Eric Thames. And just like that, the battle for left field was over.
Eric Thames had every reason to win the left fielder's job. He has played incredibly well this Spring Training, and it was his job to lose all along. While Snider did challenge for the position, his efforts came up just a little short.
So that means Travis Snider will indeed start the year in Triple A. His final option year has now been burned and the Blue Jays will be free to call him up and send him down at their will this season, but next year is a different story.
If Snider doesn't break camp out of Spring Training in 2013, he will be exposed to waivers and the Blue Jays risk him being claimed by another team. And I'm sure there are other teams out there that are just salivating at the prospect of adding Travis Snider to their roster.
The journey for Travis thus far has been a long and grueling one. Which is why I think his trip has been especially taxing on not just Travis himself, but the fans as well. We've been emotionally invested in Snider since 2008, and four years is a long time to wait for him to get his big break.
Unfortunately, for several reasons, Travis hasn't received that big break yet. Whether it was Cito Gaston's apparent dislike for him, injuries, or his swing retooling, Snider never really did get the chance to flourish.
I know this post is beginning to sound like Travis Snider's eulogy, but I don't believe his time with the Blue Jays has come to an end. Yet, there are those who believe the Blue Jays should put him on the trading block.
On the contrary, I think this move actually signals that Alex Anthopoulos wants to put Eric Thames on the block. AA may very well just be showcasing Thames as the starting left fielder to be a potential trade target.
It certainly makes sense; starting Eric Thames is like playing with found money. I don't think the club expected Thames to make his way through the ranks as quickly as he did, so they may as well play up Thames as much as possible and sell high.
Since Travis' development has been so many years in the making, I often forget he's just 24 years old. As Jon Morosi noted, if Snider was drafted out of college and put up the numbers he has this spring, then he would be the next big thing.
If Travis Snider was a college draft and had a spring like this at 24, we’d be calling him the next stud outfielder. Perspective.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 25, 2012
I guess the one positive side affect of Travis Snider being optioned is the Blue Jays do have the luxury of having two equally talented left fielders to choose from. While most teams would kill for just one of these guys, the Blue Jays have two.
In retrospect, the Blue Jays did rush Travis Snider too quickly to the majors and that may have hurt him in the long run. Part of that had to do with the previous regime and the coaching staff, so there's no sense in holding that against the current front office.
If the Blue Jays could go back to 2008, I'm sure they'd do things much differently with Travis Snider's career. However, that's all in the past and the team has chosen to move forward with Eric Thames ... at least for the time being.
A player's path to the Major Leagues doesn't come without a few bumps in the road ... and Travis Snider has certainly seen his fair share of setbacks. But this latest demotion for Travis is just another bump in the road.
Eric Thames has experienced some hardships as well; he tore his quad right before the 2008 draft and subsequently missed the entire summer of '08. Then he only played 59 games in 2009 because of a torn meniscus.
The difference though is since Snider was rushed to the show so quickly, his struggles were heavily publicized and in the public eye, while Thames' hardships stayed relatively under the radar.
It's hard to believe it's been nearly four years since a rosy-cheeked Travis Snider made his big league debut at Yankee Stadium. And the fact that Travis has been able to keep his head held high after all these years just goes to show you how much character he has.
I tip my cap n hold my head high. Left it all out there n will continue that same focus in Vegas. Thank u all for your overwhelming support— Travis Snider (@Lunchboxhero45) March 25, 2012
If Travis Snider can continue to focus on his game and persevere as he has these past four years, it won't be too long before we see him back with the big club once again. I'm willing to bet a steak dinner on it.