Archive for August, 2011
|Photo by ElCapitanBSC Photo by SD Dirk Photo by Keith Allison
All licensed under Creative Commons
|Photo by Keith Allison licensed under Creative Commons|
Why is it that 90% of MLB Managers feel that they need to bat rookies so low in the lineup. Do they feel like there is too much pressure, like the rookies won’t be able to handle more “responsibility” or are they just plain old-fashioned.
So then what is it about rookies that just “makes” managers bat them in the 7th, 8th, or 9th spot, it doesn’t make any sense. Just because he hasn’t seen MLB pitching that doesn’t mean that he isn’t any good, many of the top prospects being called up can make immediate impacts as sometimes one of the better hitters on a team. Take Dustin Ackley for example, when Ackley was called up in his first game Eric Wedge batted him 7th. Just think about this scenario for a second, you are in a pennant race, you are half a game back out of first place in the AL West and you bat your best hitter 7th; say what. Yes, you’ve got it 7th, not 6th, not 5th, not 4th, and not 3rd, you bat your best hitter 7th. Thats not even the worst part, the player they batted 5th Chris Pegauro at that point in the season he had a .214 average and a horrid .713 OPS, nuff said.
Now looking to a more Jays relevant example Brett Lawrie. He’s a player who has absolutely killed PCL pitching, the Jays hyped him up so much and then you go and bat him 9th, why? It makes absolutely no sense, he is probably the most hyped prospect in Blue Jays history and you stuff him in the bottom of the lineup where he doesn’t belong. Ok the Jays do have a good lineup and it is his first game so maybe John Farrell can get a gimme for that one. How bout the second game, let’s see where is Brett batting oh wait of course it is 9th. And this time its even worse he batted 9th when our backup catcher Jose Molina batted ahead of him. Sure you can point to his .300+ average, but that is in very limited plate appearances, there is absolutely no way that Brett is a worse hitter than Jose Molina, even in his second MLB game.
Ok fine you can point to the fact that you don’t want to embarass the veteran (stupid unwritten rules), but even then how do you bat Brett Lawrie behind Eric frickin Thames. In the last 7 days Eric Thames has registered 1 hit in 21 at bats and that warrants batting him in the number two spot. So if that is all you have to achieve to bat in the number 2 spot then how is it that Brett and his .459 wOBA (in AAA) warrants the ninth spot. It makes absolutely no sense. If anything you should be batting Colby Rasmus second (not Eric Thames) and put Lawrie in the 6th spot right behind Lind and EE. There he is absolutely without a doubt more valuable player to the team. He is lucky that in his first couple games there has been runners on base for him, but if he continues to bat behind Aaron Hill, Jose Molina etc. that won’t be the case.
The problem is this Brett Lawrie nonsense isn’t even the end of it. Since the beggining of the season JP Arencibia has had to put through with hitting in the bottom half of the lineup. Where he has hit 18 homers tied for the league lead by catchers. But guess how many of those were solo bombs not 5, not 10, 13. Thats 72% of his home runs that were hit when no one was on base. Do you know why no one was on base because the two guys who have most often hit in front of him are Juan Rivera and Aaron Hill. Two guys whose combined OBP’s average out to .293 and whose combined home run totals is 11. Granted JP’s OBP is actually worse than that .293 mark, but at least there would be runners on base when he hits his homers, it isn’t like Aaron Hill is taking advantage of that spot in the lineup so why not change it up.
The consensus conclusion should be that for whatever reason despite being SABR savvy and whatever else it seems as if the managers of baseball still stick to their old ways when we are obviously moving to a new generation and if they don’t move with us then soon enough they will get left behind. Maybe there is some underlying thing that no one outside of baseball knows about, but from the sidelines it seems pretty obvious that these decisions that are being made are bad ones. I don’t care if someone is a veteran or not, if he is good he gets a high spot in the lineup if he isn’t, well then bump him down . The only manager who I can honestly say that I look at on a regular basis and say “hey he’s doing a good job” is Joe Maddon manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. He is consistently using statistics to help his team and he is always playing the percentages (and walking Damon to face Longoria is not playing the percentages John). So kudos to you Joe because you are one in a million and you definitely stand out from the rest, I hope that we as a baseball society can progress from the current mediocrity of MLB managing.
Analyzing the Demotion
To an uneducated Blue Jays fan it may have seemed like an obvious choice to send down Travis Snider since his 2011 slash line of .225/.269/.348 is far inferior to that of Eric Thames at .270/.313/.455. But Travis Snider is still the top prospect and the Jays have stated that they want him to be there everyday left fielder and many others believe the same. So for Alex Anthopolous it couldn’t have been an easy decision to make.
If they wanted they could have benched Edwin Encarnacion and just put Thames at DH (where he really should be), but Edwin is on the verge of Type B status and we all know how much AA values those draft picks. If he’s going to buy one then he will definitely send down Snider for one. Another possibility I could have seen would have been buying out Mark Teahen and then having both Snider and Thames share at bats in left field with both playing when EE gets the day off. It would seem to be a good option, but I guess Rogers didn’t want to fully break the bank and buyout the 5.5 million that Mark Teahen still has on that horrid contract.
In the end I think that they made the wrong decision in sending down one of the two outfielders as they both deserved major league at bats. But if they had to choose one of the two it should have been Eric Thames Yes, Thames may be hitting better this season, but it isn’t like the Blue Jays are contending this season and need the hot hitter. They are looking for 2012 and beyond and despite his hot hitting in both the minors and the majors Eric Thames doesn’t seem to be the option. Who knows Travis Snider could very well become the next Corey Patterson, but then he could also become a superstar, he has the potential and Eric Thames just does not.
The only reasoning I could possibly see for sending down Thames over Snider is the possible backlash from Jays fans. Because the reasoning that they gave to “tweak” his swing just isn’t enough. The first time Snider was sent down this year it was exactly the same thing and how did that work, well he actually hit worse with a .670 OPS prior to his demotion and a .522 after the call up. So if it wasn’t working the first time then what would lead them to believe it would work this time. The answer is it probably won’t, so then why not keep Snider on the big league team where he can work with Dwayne Murphy and the other coaches. The Jays have stated that they want him to be part of their future so why not take steps to do so, give the guy some major league at bats and have him for the future don’t stuff him in the minors where he has shown he can’t improve.
Looking into the Future
Obviously I would love to see both Thames and Snider do very well in their careers, but as we know not everyone works out. Thames in a sense has the advantage because he has a lot less expected of him from both the organization and knowledgeable Jays fans because he is some 7th round miracle, where as Travis is the 1st round top prospect who has yet to pan out.
I would like to see the Jays keep the both of them past this season and get Eric Thames some at bats for next season at DH with Snider presumably in left. But if you want to capitaliza on Thames’ good play then why not sell high. Thames may appear to be hitting well, but he is swinging at way too many pitches and not taking enough walks, so it would appear as if his average will surely drop play. He may very well be an everyday big leaguer some day, but right now he projects to be a good 4th outfielder something the Jays will have a lot of.
More Production at the Plate
This season both Snider and Thames have had more than adequete time to show off their stuff, but neither has yet to show us anything too special. With the likes of Darin Mastroianni, Moises Sierra, Adam Loewen, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Knecht, and of course Anthony Gose all pushing to get to the big leagues Thames and Snider are going to have to step it up.
Snider will keep getting the chances because he is the top prospect, but in order for him to secure a spot he’s going to have to bring back his power and start walking again since this year Travis’ ISO has dropped a whopping 85 points and he hasn’t registered a walk since before his initial demotion. As well despite having played in twice as many games this season over his initial call up in 2008, Travis has actually produced less WAR. There is still the encouraging numbers from last season when Snider hit 14 homers and had a .331 wOBA over 82 games, but the numbers are still nothing compared to what was initially projected for the young phenom.
As for Eric Thames he better heat back up again if he wants to stay on the major league roster because despite his encouraging numbers over the 2011 season in the past 15 days he has hit to a lack luster .173 batting average with 11 K’s, which includes a couple Golden Sombreros. Also unlike Snider, Eric Thames doesn’t have his defense to lean back on shown by his -5.4 UZR/150 this year and Eric is just generally regarded as someone who can’t really play the field. If Eric wants to stay on the MLB roster he is going to have to heat up again and hit like he did towards the end of June.
Either way despite both guys having their positives, they will not be able to rely on them for much longer due to the fact that their is just so many guys pushing for that last spot. If they want to stay in the MLB both Snider and Thames are going to have to take major steps to improve.
Overall it has been nice to see the “competition” between these two young players as they fight for the now what seems to be one remaining outfield spot after the trade for Colby Rasmus and the call up of Brett Lawrie. It has been nice to see them both get the playing time they have deserved and it will be even better once rosters are expanded in September at which time Travis Snider would be presumably called up and take some major league at bats.
As for after the season I gave my thoughts before stating that I would rather see Snider long term as he has shown more potential and apparently the Blue Jays agree because they have stated that they want Snider long term. Though what hasn’t been said is whether he will play in the outfield or at DH (if he ever learns to hit in the big leagues) because he looks to have some competition within a couple years at the “one” remaining outfield position.
Any Opinions, Arguments, or Criticisms? Let me know in the comments below.
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