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Tag:Travis Snider
Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 pm
 

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays



By Matt Snyder

The 2011 Blue Jays were 81-81, despite blowing an AL-worst 25 saves. So the task heading into the offseason for general manager Alex Anthopolous was pretty clear: Improve the bullpen. And he did, in trading for Sergio Santos and signing Francisco Cordero, among other upgrades. If the Blue Jays can knock off 10-15 of those blown saves and basically play similarly in every other aspect, they'll have a great shot at one of the two wild card spots. And the good news for the Jays is that they appear a bit better in other aspects than last season, like getting a full season from Brett Lawrie, to name one example.

Major additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jason Frasor, OF Ben Francisco, IF Omar Vizquel
Major departures: C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch

Probable lineup
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Eric Thames, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C

Probable rotation
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Henderson Alvarez
4. Brett Cecil
5. Dustin McGowan

Kyle Drabek is also in the mix.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Sergio Santos
Set-up: Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen

Important bench players

OF Rajai Davis, OF Ben Francisco, OF Travis Snider, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel

Prospect to watch
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, one of the players who came over in the Roy Halladay trade, just turned 23 years old and is considered a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers in 114 Double-A games last season. And while Arencibia hit 23 bombs last season, he also had a paltry .219 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. He struck out 133 times while only walking 36. So it's entirely possible he struggles mightily and is replaced by d'Arnaud at some point this season. Or maybe the Jays trade one of them? We'll see, but keep your eye on d'Arnaud's progress. Many believe he's special.

Fantasy sleeper: Henderson Alvarez
"Alvarez wasn't considered a high-profile prospect at this time last year, so understandably, his 10 starts during a late-season trial weren't enough to put him on most Fantasy owners' radars. But consider just how impressive those 10 starts were. Better yet, consider how impressive his final eight were. He pitched at least six innings in each, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He also issued only six walks during that stretch. Six. In 53 innings. And this isn't some soft-tosser who took the league by surprise simply by throwing strikes, a la Zach Duke in 2005. Alvarez throws in the mid-90s. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff to go along with a good feel for the strike zone and has already tasted success in the heavy-hitting AL East." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust: J.P. Arencibia
"Arencibia was one of five catchers to hit 20-plus homers last year, and he did it as a rookie. But before visions of Mike Piazza start dancing in your heads, keep in mind he was especially old for a rookie, turning 25 before the start of the season. He's 26 now, which means he's already in the thick of his prime, which means what you see with him might be exactly what you get. And it's even worse than it looks. Arencibia hit only .219 in 2011, which is discouraging enough, but when you consider he got worse over the course of the season, hitting .199 over the final four months, you have to wonder if his excessive strikeout rate makes him a sitting duck against major-league pitching." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Morrow has a huge breakout campaign, giving the Jays a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. Alvarez blossoms into a good No. 3 while Drabek realizes his potential and has a huge second half. Lawrie enters stardom early and Rasmus reaches his potential, making the offense even more potent than before. Plus, the new back-end of the bullpen is dominant. That gets the Blue Jays into the 90s in victories and they win a wild card.

Pessimistic outlook
The Jays just didn't do enough to close the gap, as they still aren't good enough to finish ahead of any of the following, at the very least: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers or Angels. Instead, they're more on the same footing as the Royals and Indians. Thus, it's another fourth-place finish for the Blue Jays, who haven't made the playoffs since 1993.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:59 am
 

Spring position battles: American League East



By Matt Snyder


Here we are for the fifth of six installments of spring positional battles. This one is the mighty AL East, the most polarizing and probably best division in the majors.

Previous spring position battles: AL West | NL West | AL Central | NL Central

New York Yankees
Designated Hitter: Andruw Jones vs. Russell Branyan vs. Free Agent vs. Revolving Door

I still feel like the Yankees will sign either Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez or Hideki Matsui -- any of whom likely nails down this job full-time. But it's undecided as of right now, and wide open. Will Andruw Jones or Russell Branyan hit well enough to justify being the full-time DH? Maybe, or maybe they platoon -- as Jones hits from the right side while Branyan is a lefty. Or maybe the Yankees use bench players like Eduardo Nunez, Bill Hall and Chris Dickerson in the field while using starters like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher at DH a few times a week in order to keep guys healthy and in tip-top shape.

Tampa Bay Rays
No. 4-5 starters: Jeff Niemann vs. Wade Davis vs. Matt Moore vs. Six-man rotation

Talk about a nice "problem" to have. The Rays obviously have David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson as the top three in the rotation. While there isn't a big problem with either Niemann or Davis, it's time to find a place in the rotation for Moore and I'm certain they will. The 22-year-old left-hander was awesome in his limited time in the majors last year, including a stellar outing against the Rangers in Texas for Game 1 of the ALDS. Moore's already received the type of team-friendly contract Evan Longoria got when he was a rookie -- as Moore is signed through 2016 with club options running all the way through 2019. So the question is, do the Rays demote either Niemann or Davis to the bullpen or trade one of them? Niemann would be the trade candidate, as Davis also has a team-friendly contract with club options that take him through 2017. And I doubt this happens, but the Rays could always go with a six-man rotation. Seeing how this plays out will a big spring storyline.

Boston Red Sox
Shortstop: Nick Punto vs. Mike Aviles vs. Jose Iglesias

After trading both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie this offseason, the Red Sox are left with what appears to be Mike Aviles against Nick Punto at short. Punto had a good offensive campaign by his standards last season, when he hit .278 with a .388 on-base percentage. He only had six starts at shortstop, though, and his career numbers don't indicate he's worthy of an everyday gig at shortstop. Aviles also only started six games at short last season, and he only hit .255/.289/.409. He did hit well for the Red Sox, but it was a small 107 plate appearance sample. So the choice between Punto and Aviles is dubious defensively and neither is a good offensive option. Enter Iglesias, the dazzling defensive prospect. He's a dreadful hitter -- his line in Triple-A was .235/.285/.269 last season -- but it's not like Aviles or Punto are going to be confused with Troy Tulowitzki or anything. Maybe the Red Sox just plant Iglesias in the nine-hole and enjoy the exceptional defense?

Corner Outfield spots: Cody Ross vs. Ryan Sweeney vs. Carl Crawford and his health

Crawford is said to be questionable for the start of the season after undergoing minor wrist surgery a few weeks ago. If he's healthy, he starts in left easily while Sweeney and Ross battle it out for the right field job. If Crawford can't start the season, Ross and Sweeney are the corner outfielders, yet still fighting for the right field job for when Crawford returns. At some point, Ryan Kalish will return from offseason shoulder surgery and could eventually fight for playing time in right field as well.

Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield logjam: Colby Rasmus vs. Eric Thames vs. Rajai Davis vs. Travis Snider

We know who mans right field, but these four guys are competing for the other two spots. Thames in left field and Rasmus in center seem the most likely, but Davis will get a shot at either spot and Snider is in the mix for left.

No. 5 starter: Dustin McGowan vs. Kyle Drabek

This may bleed up into the No. 4 starter as well, but I'll give Brett Cecil the nod for now, since he is left-handed. The top three are Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez. So, for now, I'll guess the last spot comes down to McGowan and Drabek. McGowan was once a very promising young arm. He went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings back in 2007, when he was 25. He then made 19 starts before falling injured in 2008 and finally just resurfaced late last season -- two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery later. Does he have anything left? He was good in 12 minor-league starts in 2011, but had a 6.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in the small sample of 21 innings pitched for the Blue Jays. Drabek was a top 30 prospect each of the past two years, according to Baseball America, but he fell flat last season for the Jays. He had a 6.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP and more walks than strikeouts for the big-league club. Even worse, he was knocked around for Triple-A Las Vegas, to the tune of a 7.44 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in 75 innings. Walks, again, were an issue with Drabek issuing 41 compared to 45 strikeouts. Prospects Deck McGuire and Drew Hutchison could also figure in the mix eventually, but this feels like Drabek vs. McGowan heading into March.

Baltimore Orioles
The entire pitching staff: Johnny Wholestaff vs. Joe Allstaff

So let's see ... the following pitchers might have a chance at the starting rotation: Zach Britton (very safe bet), Jason Hammel (safe bet), Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Alfredo Simon and Tommy Hunter. That's quite a mix of pitchers to sift through, but the job isn't overwith yet, because we have to look at the bullpen.

Three pitchers -- Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg -- will compete for the closer job, with Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day also being part of the bullpen mix. Of course, guys like Simon, Hunter and Bergesen will get a shot in the bullpen if they miss out on the rotation, too. There are more (Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga, etc.), but I already named 17 pitchers vying for 12 spots.

We could probably move Simon and Hunter to the bullpen while eliminating Eveland from the starting mix, but that still leaves eight guys in competition. In the bullpen, Johnson seems the best bet to win the closer gig, with Lindstrom and Gregg setting up. Add Strop, Patton, Simon and Hunter and you have your seven. But, again, we've thrown out Eveland and there would still be three extra starters along with O'Day, Eyre et al on the outside looking in.

I'll say one thing: Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair won't be bored this spring. Maybe frustrated, but definitely not bored.

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Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:15 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Toronto Blue Jays



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

The American League East is the biggest, baddest division in baseball -- in large part because of the deep pockets of the Yankees and Red Sox, but also because of the drafting and development from the Rays. Somewhere in the middle is the Blue Jays, a team that could be a giant in maybe any other division in baseball. In our exercise, the Blue Jays have an argument as one of the best teams in baseball, largely because of a stout rotation.

Lineup

1. Reed Johnson, CF
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Michael Young, 1B
4. Adam Lind, DH
5. Vernon Wells, LF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. Ryan Roberts 3B
8. J.P. Arencibia, C
9. Cesar Izturis, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Ricky Romero
4. Shaun Marcum
5. Alfredo Aceves

Bullpen

Closer - Brandon League
Set up - Marc Rzepczynski, Tim Collins, Brandon Lyon, Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen
Long - Jesse Litsch

Notable Bench Players

Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Casey Blake, Travis Snider, Eric Thames.

What's Good?

That rotation, are you kidding?

What's Not?

There's Rios and Wells -- two of the most overpaid players in the game. Those two are not just overpaid, they're also not very good. Eric Thames could step in for either one. There are some decent players on the bench, but not a lot of pop.

Comparison to real 2011

The 81-81 season was seen as a step forward for the Blue Jays in 2011, but with this lineup the expectations would be much, much higher. The rotation alone makes this team the favorite in the AL East in our hypothetical. The offense lacks the impact of Jose Bautista, but there's enough to support the pitching staff. Not only is this team better than the real Blue Jays, they have a shot at winning it all.

Next: Colorado Rockies

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 12:00 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Toronto Blue Jays

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 81-81, 4th place in AL East, 16 games back
Manager: John Farrell
Best hitter: Jose Bautista -- .302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 105 R
Best pitcher: Ricky Romero -- 15-11, 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 178 K, 225 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Jays played .500 ball pretty much throughout the season. By month, they were one game under .500, two over, three under, four over, two under and two under, respectively. That's the very definition of an average baseball team, but there are mitigating factors. Namely, the Jays are playing in the best division in baseball, trailing the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. If you removed those three teams from the schedule, the Jays went 60-48. So you can argue this is already a very good baseball team caught in the wrong division. Of course, they aren't going to be getting out of the AL East anytime soon, so there's no use in thinking about what could be.

R.I.P. series
The good news is that the 2011 Jays saw lots of reasons for optimism moving forward. The young nucleus is really strong and has the potential to get even better with lots of good talent sitting in the minors. J.P. Arencibia proved a solid catcher and Brett Lawrie is a future star. Meanwhile, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Adam Lind, Yunel Escobar and Eric Thames, among others, are all 28 years old or younger. At 30, Jose Bautista still has several years of his prime left -- and 2011 was huge for the Blue Jays as they discovered 2010 wasn't a fluke for Bautista. He's a legitimate superstar and the face of the franchise, until Lawrie surpasses him in a few years.

2012 AUDIT

They're actually set up to have a legitimate shot at the division. The Yankees are aging and have pitching questions, the Rays have monetary issues, the Orioles aren't close yet and who knows what happens with the Red Sox? The Blue Jays will need steps forward from young players like Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil and either Colby Rasmus or Travis Snider. They also need to shore up the bullpen. The Blue Jays were ninth in the AL in bullpen ERA. Saves and blown saves are flawed stats, but 33 saves against 25 blown saves doesn't bode well in close games. Only the Astros had a worse save percentage in 2011. I'm not necessarily of the opinion that a team has to have one closer and always use him in save situations, because sometimes a three-run lead in the ninth doesn't need maximum protection, but each team should have one reliable guy to shut down the opposition and Toronto lacked that for most of the season.

The good news for the Blue Jays is that they are in position to increase the payroll, reportedly pretty significantly, in the next two seasons. That doesn't mean it's all happening now, but a big splash is coming.

FREE AGENTS

Jose Molina, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B/DH ($3.5 million club option)
Shawn Camp, RP
Frank Francisco, RP
Jon Rauch, RP ($3.75 million club option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • It's folly to spend big money on late-inning relievers for the most part. Mariano Rivera is a rare case. Most closers have a short shelf life. Thus, let Casey Janssen be the guy. He had a good season (2.26 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.6 K/9) in 2011 and it's possible he sticks. In front of him, though, the Blue Jays need more. Jesse Litsch has the chance to develop into a good setup man and Joel Carreno showed great promise. If the Blue Jays still see a need to dip outside the organization here, Michael Wuertz and Chad Qualls could work if their respective options aren't picked up. Juan Cruz wasn't great in 2011, but he has good enough stuff to be an option as well. Maybe sign one veteran and plug the rest of the holes from within. It wouldn't be shocking to see the Blue Jays a major player for someone like Heath Bell, it just seems like their money would be best spent elsewhere (we'll get to that).
  • Keep an eye on Adeiny Hechavarria. The 22-year-old shortstop hit .389/.431/.537 in 25 Triple-A games in 2011 after promotion. Whenever he's ready, Yunel Escobar could be traded for more bullpen depth. 
  • By the same token, keep an eye on Travis D'Arnaud. The catching prospect hit .311 with 21 home runs and a .914 OPS in Double-A this season. The Blue Jays need to decide if they want Arencibia or d'Arnaud and eventually trade the other.
  • There's no need to make a big splash with starting pitching just yet. Romero is a clear ace, albeit an underrated one. Morrow is firmly planted in the rotation and Drabek will improve. The rotation can be filled out behind the three for now with some combination of Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan. Waiting in the wings are promising prospects Deck McGuire, Drew Hutchinson and Nestor Molina. With the starting pitching free agent class this season a bit underwhelming, the Jays can hold off another year before focusing on how to shore up the rotation -- and by then, maybe everyone pans out and they don't need to. But if they do, next season's free agent class could include the likes of Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and James Shields.
  • Let Encarnacion walk, go with Lind at DH and pursue Prince Fielder. I've said a lot of teams should pursue Fielder in these R.I.P.s, and that's because a lot of teams should pursue him. The Prince sweepstakes are wide open, as there are no real favorites. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers are likely out for various reasons. And who knows the Cubs' direction. That leaves the possibility open for teams like the Orioles, Nationals and Blue Jays to make a serious run. Can you imagine this Blue Jays offense with Bautista, Fielder and Lawrie together for the foreseeable future? The Blue Jays are really close to seriously competing in the AL East. They are a sleeping giant with tons of young talent on the rise and are ready to start spending some money. This signing would announce their presence with authority to the rest of baseball and take a huge step toward bringing a World Series title back to Canada.
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Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:10 pm
 

Jays' Lawrie close to be called up... again

Brett LawrieBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Once again, Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie is knocking on the door of the big leagues.

Lawrie was on the verge of being called up in May when he was hit in the hand by a fastball, suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left hand. But he's back and in 16 games with Triple-A Las Vegas since coming off the disabled list, Lawrie is hitting .344/.417/.625 with three home runs.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell told reporters Lawrie was still in the team's immediate plans.

"We haven't changed from our goal of getting him at-bats and games played at the big-league level prior to September," Farrell told reporters, including Ken Fidlin of QMI Agency.

When he's called up, the team will have to make a decision not at third base, but in right field. Jose Bautista will move from third base to right field. The team could send down either outfielders Travis Snider or Eric Thames, or release designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

Thames is hitting .285/.326/.485, while Snider is hitting .236/.282/.368. Both are young, though. Thames is 24 and Snider is just 23. That could mean the odd man out is  Encarnacion. Encarnacion, 28, is hitting .270/.314/.444, but has seen his homers decrease to just nine this season in 325 plate appearances. Last season he had 21 homers in 367 plate appearances.

"The most important thing is that we're getting to a point with our roster that performance -- what you do between the lines -- directly impacts that decision," Farrell said. 

Lawrie was acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Brewers that sent Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee and sent Lawrie, a native of British Columbia, to Toronto.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 1:29 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rollins bashes two home runs

Rollins
By Evan Brunell

UPJimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins was a wrecking ball, contributing three hits, two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI to the 9-1 thrashing of the Cubs. His homers came from both sides of the plate and boosted his season line to .277/.344/.410, which is solid. It was the second time he had done that in his career. Rollins is an impending free agent, but if he continues to hit like this, won't have much difficulty getting good contract terms with the Phillies. Even though Rollins isn't the MVP of old, he's still a solid shortstop and there aren't many out there.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw's dominating performances are getting a bit repetitive, the true sign of an Ace. And he's only 23. He twirled eight shutout innings, striking out 12 and giving out zero free passes in a 1-0 victory over the Giants. He's driven his ERA and WHIP down to a career-best 2.88 and 1.02, respectively, throwing 137 2/3 innings and punching out 155. Did I mention he was left-handed? It's going to be fun watching him in the coming years.

Travis Snider, Blue Jays: Snider has been on a tear since returning from the minor leagues, racking up a .357 batting average and 11 extra-base hits. On Wednesday, he was 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI, defeating the Mariners 11-6. It was his second five-RBI game in 13 games and if he can keep this up, will start delivering on the promise he's always had.



DownRicky Nolasco, Marlins: Nolasco got murdered by the Padres -- the Padres -- by giving up nine earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. This happened with San Diego putting up a four- and nine-spot in the first two innings, respectively. Burke Badenhop absorbed part of the brunt after that but then settled down to go 2 2/3, with two other relievers also adding two innings apiece. The only home run of the game was hit by Will Venable to lead off the game against Nolasco, who saw his ERA spike to 4.08. "You could’ve brought [Bob] Feller back and Tom Seaver back and [the Padres] probably would’ve done them just as well," Marlins manager Jack McKeon told reporters, via MLB.com.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: Soriano went 0-for-3 against the Phillies. A fairly unremarkable night and perhaps not quite deserving of this call-out, but it just furthered a 1-for-21 slump he's been in for the second half. It's part of a larger trend with his batting average at .249 now, over 20 percentage points lower than it was earlier in the season. He's hit 14 home runs on the year, a solid number, but nowhere near the power binge he was enjoying and his contract looks as onerous as ever.

Sergio Santos, White Sox: The White Sox were up 1-0 entering the eighth, but Jeff Francouer doubled home a run off of Jesse Crain, the run counting against Matt Thornton. Chris Sale went three innings, faltering with two outs to go in the bottom 11th by issuing a walk and single. Closer Sergio Santos came in and promptly issued a wild pitch, allowing Gordon to score from third. Well, that'll do it.

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Posted on: July 9, 2011 1:30 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: McKenry's unlikely bomb



By Matt Snyder


Michael McKenry, Pirates. McKenry dug into the batter's box against the Cubs' Carlos Marmol in the bottom of the eighth Friday night with the game tied at four and two men on base. McKenry hit a three-run homer that would be the eventual game-winner. Sure, Marmol is a fickle closer, but he does not cough up the long ball with any semblance of regularity. Check this out: In the past three seasons (coming into Friday night), Marmol had faced 840 hitters and allowed four home runs. Four! McKenry had zero career major-league home runs before the at-bat. He does have 69 minor-league homers, but that's in over 2,000 plate appearances. So this was the longshot of the night. Meanwhile, the Pirates would have been tied for first place had the Reds not blown a lead in the ninth inning. Still, the Bucs sit a game out of first and had a dramatic victory in front of the home fans.

Travis Snider, Blue Jays. The Jays had to have felt a bit deflated after losing on a walk-off grand slam Thursday night to the Indians, but they came back strong with an 11-7 win. Sure, the bullpen tried to blow the game again (it was 8-2 at one point), but the offense was relentless. It pounded out 11 runs on 16 hits. Rajai Davis was great, but Snider stood out for me. He went 3-5 with a double, home run, two runs and five RBI. He's been a promising prospect for a while but never really put things together for an extended stretch. Maybe he's doing so now, because he's hitting .409 with five doubles, a home run and eight RBI since resurfacing in the lineup on July 4.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers. I don't even want to think what he's going through. Had I been the one who tried to toss a ball up into the crowd for a father to give to his young son, and then seen that father plunge to his untimely demise ... well, I don't know. I'm sure I'd keep playing it over and over in my head that had I just not thrown the ball ... Or thrown it higher ... Man, it would be so tough to get past that. It's not Hamilton's fault at all, but it's human nature to start thinking about things like that. He heard the boy screaming for his Daddy, for God's sake. How can you get through that? And Hamilton showed up for work Friday and answered all the questions with grace and sensitivity. He played in the Rangers' 8-5 win, too. Kudos to him for keeping himself together and let's hope that continues.



Zach Britton, Orioles. It would be safe to say the future ace has hit the proverbial wall. Through nine starts, Britton had a 2.14 ERA and easily would have been a Rookie of the Year candidate. He had a quality start next time out. Since then, however, it's been ugly. From May 29 leading into Friday, Britton had a 5.35 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. And then Friday night was a catastrophe. Britton only recorded two outs while allowing six hits, two walks and eight runs. At age 23, and with the Orioles going absolutely nowhere this year, it's worth thinking about optioning him to Triple-A to salvage some confidence.

Brian Wilson, Giants. I thought people feared the beard? Maybe Wilson needs to just finally give in and shave. Friday night, he entered with a tie game in the ninth inning against the Mets. He coughed up a home run to Scott Hairston and took the loss. In Wilson's past five outings, he's blown two saves and has Friday's loss. His ERA in those games is 7.20 and twice he's been pulled before finishing an inning on his own. Maybe he's overworked, but the only people fearing this small sample are Giants fans who realize the offense isn't good enough to overcome Wilson faltering.

Padres' offense. One week ago, almost to the minute, I posted that the Padres would make dubious history before the All-Star break. They did Friday night. They have now been shutout 14 times before the All-Star break, which amounts to 15.6 percent of the time they suit up. No team in recent memory has been so futile offensively. The closest match was the 2004 Expos, who were shutout 13 times before the break.

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Jays moving Bautista to third, call up Thames

By Evan Brunell

ThamesJose Bautista will temporarily move from right field to third base, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous announced, according to Sportsnet.ca.

Toronto has been trying to get by at third with an amalgam of Jayson Nix, Mike McCoy and John McDonald, but both players simply aren't hitting. As a result, the club decided to call up outfielder Eric Thames, demote McCoy and shift Bautista to third,.

Toronto has been stumbling as of late, and starting pitcher Ricky Romero was none too pleased about that, saying the offense needed to step up. He later clarified his comments to the team, but it is clear that something needed to change. Now, Toronto is making a bid to get some more offense in the game with Thames, who already made his major-league debut earlier this season in a stint from mid-May to the first of June. The 24-year-old will be playing in left and right field along with DHing in the hopes he can spark the team.

Thames (pictured) was tearing Triple-A apart. While the Jays' Las Vegas affiliate plays in a hitter's league, Thames was still mighty impressive with a .352/.423/.610 mark in 241 plate appearances, cranking seven home runs and knocking 25 doubles. He also has a modicum of speed, as his five stolen bases (two caught stealing) indicate. Overall, it's a fine gambit for Toronto in the hopes of creating offense; while the Jays rank ninth in baseball in offense, only three other AL teams are head of the Jays. It's just their luck that the top two teams in offense are in the same division.

For Bautista's part, he last played third in 2010, playing 48 games, with a career 357 appearances at the hot corner. While his defensive numbers at third indicate he is below average, he's livable there provided Thames comes in and hits, but he will need a few days to adjust to the spot, Anthopoulous said.

Part of this move may be predicated on Brett Lawrie's fractured hand. Lawrie, the team's top offensive prospect, was on the verge of a call-up when he took a pitch off a hand in a Triple-A game. Originally thought to be a bruise, it instead revealed itself as a fractured hand. Thought to be out only a couple weeks, Lawrie now doesn't project to return to the lineup until August as he is still having trouble gripping a bat properly.

For those wondering why Thames got the call over Travis Snider, who was demoted to the farm at the end of April, the projected long term left-fielder is hobbled by a concussion. A MRI came back clean, so he should return to action before long.

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