The news that Travis Snider had been sent down to Las Vegas following yesterday's game was not exactly a surprise, but it was still unexpected. Coming into the season, there was some notion that the back and forth to the minors and back was over, and that a new regime wouldn't be quite so quick to sit the youngster down or make him pay even more dues.
Well, maybe...not so much.
If you wanted to look at the boxscores, you could note that he expanded on a five-game hitting streak yesterday, but even the positives for Snider have looked ugly and accidental in recent weeks. His four hits in the Texas series were all singles, and not the "screaming-liner-hit-too-hard-to-take-two" sort of single. More of the "I-just-wanna-get-my-bat-on-this" variety.
As much as we love Snider, and root for him to emerge into the 30-homer mid-lineup star that we think he can be, he has looked like a man battling himself in the batters' box all season. He lunges at offspeed pitches, opens up on anything soft or with movement, and perhaps worst of all, he's a fastball hitter who is having fastballs thrown through his bat. He hasn't hit a homer since game five of the season, and in the intervening 20 games, has managed three doubles, one multi-hit game, and 19 strikeouts versus eight walks.
We've said before that a trip to Vegas in all likelihood would serve as batting practice for Snider, who has shown that he can tear up minor league hitting. Still, an extended streak of good hitting, regardless of the opposition, couldn't hurt.
We're not sure if Snider needs this. Whenever he comes back up, we'll still be holding our collective breath to see if he can eventually show a more regular ability to hit major league pitching. So there's an element to this which makes us feel as though the team is merely perpetuating the cycle.
But Snider needs something to change, and in the absence of a better idea to shake him out of his funk, this will do. For now.
The End of the Line? Hardly.
Because this is the fourth season in which Snider has pulled on the Blue Jays' colours at the big league level, some aspects of the fan base have begun to get impatient with his progress. We've had a number of people comment to us on how Travis is "a disappointment", or even that "he's done". And with the demotion, that point of view only gains more traction.
But given the fact that Snider is still only 23 (a reasonable age for a player's first year in the Bigs instead of his fourth), such pronouncements are premature to say the least.
Further to that point: The comp that is coming up (including from the general manager himself, as noted in Parkes' nice rundown of the AA conference call) is Alex Gordon, the one-time untouchable, super-awesome, can't-miss prospect who has scuffled over the past four seasons with Kansas City. After another demotion last season, Gordon has come back and had a decent start to the season for the Royals, striking out less and making better contact.
But here's the salient point on that comp: Alex Gordon's rookie season in Major League Baseball was in 2007, as a 23 year-old.
There's still plenty of time for Travis Snider to right himself, and he's shown in the past that he has the capability to be an above average hitter for stretches. He's displayed enough raw talent with the bat to lead us to believe that with some additional seasoning, he'll provide plus-power for the Jays, sooner rather than later.