Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Should Snider be sent down to the minors?

The debate over what the Blue Jays should do with scuffling prospect Travis Snider is beginning to simmer. Should they keep him with the club, allowing him to hit 9th in the order and struggle to make contact, or should he be sent down to AAA in order to get his confidence at the plate back?

With Toronto heading to Atlanta for interleague play Thursday, and having a pair of series mid-June in National League ball parks in Philadelphia and Washington, it might not be a bad idea to send him down to get more at-bats, because he'll make way for Adam Lind in left field in N.L. parks (where there's no Designated Hitter.) Lind has been so productive so far that he has to be in the lineup every day, so Snider would be bumped to the bench.

Snider had a very solid debut after a September call-up last season, and absolutely tore the cover off the ball in spring training this year. He broke camp with the big club and impressed in the early going with 3 home runs in the first 6 contests. It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for the Jays best prospect since, though he is still hitting .242, so it's not as if he's been totally awful this season.

There's not a whole lot of other quality options (Joe Inglett would be, but he's currently on the disabled list) or prospects ready to make the jump north of the border, so that could force Toronto's hand into keeping Snider at the major league level for the foreseeable future.

Cecil's rough 5th inning sinks Jays

After such a brilliant start to his major league career, it was only a matter of time that Jays rookie pitcher Brett Cecil would run into a rough patch. In his first three starts with the big club, Cecil posted a 2-0 record with a sterling 1.80 ERA. After this one, his ERA shot up to 4.38 after the surging Boston Red Sox put the beat down on the rook.

Cecil looked decent through the first 4 frames, but ran into a heap of trouble in the 5th. Down 2-0 heading into the 5th inning, the lanky lefty served up David Ortiz's first home run of the year, then proceeded to get smashed around for 3 more long balls (5 dingers in total in the contest) sending to the showers early. The Sox cruised from there, and have the opportunity to sweep away the Jays tomorrow night.

The Jays are now 1-4 in the 5 games against the Yankees and Beantown this season. Is there cause for concern? Maybe. But Toronto is still 1 1/2 games up in the A.L. East, so there's no need to panic just yet. Cecil had a rough inning, but has proven to be remarkable in his three previous outings. The Jays didn't just forget how to win ball games, and Cecil didn't complete forget how to pitch.

Rios & Wells fail again

I understand that both Alex Rios and Vernon Wells aren't as awful as myself, and plenty other Blue Jays make them out to be, but Tuesday in the much hyped affair against the Red Sox, their inability to come up huge on the big stage reared its ugly head once again.

Down one run in the 8th inning, and with 2 men aboard and just one out, Rios and Wells hit weak fly balls to end any hopes of a stirring comeback. No surprise really, it's pretty much what we've all come to expect!

Having said that, it's more difficult to rip Rios for this one, given how he's swung the bat well recently (hitting the game winning RBI Monday against Chicago), but how often does he do that against a team within the vaunted A.L. East? Can I give him a free pass for this one? Maybe.

There are no excuses for Wells, the guy is garbage (Saturday's strong outing appears to be a mere blip on the radar.) He is so awful, and the worst part is, everyone knows it. There is not a single Jays fan that was totally confident he'd pull through in that at bat. It's a little bit overstated how hideous a player he is, with the expectation that V-Dub has to hit a grand slam every at bat, even with no one on base, but Wells, dude, come on!

Chalk it up! Our two "big hitters" in the heart of the order continue to display no heart at all.

Scott Rolen: the defensive wizard

Scott Rolen is an absolute marvel to watch at 3rd base for the Blue Jays. It's easy to see why the guy has been a 7-time gold glove winner, because he consistently is a phenomenal defender, year in and year out.

His majestic glove was on full display Monday against the White Sox. In the 3rd inning, he ranged to his right to pick up a sharply hit ball off the bat of Josh Fields, then threw it from his knees to complete rob Fields of extra bases. It was one of those plays that made you simply say wow. We come to expect these types of plays from Rolen, reacting at times like it's nothing out of the ordinary. The truth is, his leather larceny is otherworldly.

The added bonus this season is that he is feeling a lot healthier, and subsequently contributing well offensively. The power numbers aren't (and won't) be what they used to be, but Rolen has been solid at the dish, hitting at a .311 clip with 3 home runs and 15 RBI's.

I was not a fan of the Blue Jays/Cardinals swap of Rolen/Troy Glaus deal when it was made two years ago, but with the creaky Glaus breaking down, and with Rolen swinging a decent stick to go along with his customary exceptional defense, it's looking more and more that the Jays plucked a gem away from the St. Louis Cardinals.