One of the comments that has stuck with us over the past week or so was someone taking a shot at Travis Snider in a defense of Cito. The notion seems to be that Snider had a lousy season, so how dare he question the tactics and decision of the great, sainted, beknighted Cito Gaston.
(That's Mr. Cito, who has not managed a team to a winning record over a full season since 1993...but we digress.)
It does strike us that some of the gleam has dimmed off of the rosy-cheeked masher of the future, now that fans have had a chance to see him for 101 big league games. People seem to focus on his (arguably) bad defense or his propensity to strike out. And his .748 OPS over a half-season certainly wasn't bringing forth choruses of hallelujahs from on high.
But as we watch the playoffs and see some of the premier players in the league, we're reminded to think of where those big name mashers were in the age 21 seasons.
Matt Holliday was playing high A ball in Salem. Mark Teixiera was finishing his college career at Georgia Tech. Joe Mauer, Vladimir Guerrero and Derek Jeter were getting their first taste of the majors in a handful of games. Kendry Morales was somewhere between Cuba and Rancho Cucamonga. Bobby Abreu was hitting 10 homers over a full season at AAA Tuscon. Todd Helton was hitting one homer over 54 games for the Asheville Tourists.
The player that we've pegged as most analogous to Snider over the past couple of years is Lance Berkman, and at 21, he was tearing up the Florida State League for Kissimmee. And Carlos Delgado, the greatest offensive player in the history of the Jays, was 24 before his manager (a certain Mr. Gaston) would give him enough playing time to hit 25 homers and drive in 92.
The point is that Snider still has time to develop into the player we think he can be. He'll need to be given enough latitude to develop, and we can't expect him to put up 100 RBI seasons immediately. But within the next two-to-three years, Snider has the potential to make the patience of Blue Jay fans pay off.