Monday, August 30, 2010
The Highly Movable Object
When pining for Fred Lewis lo those many months ago, I hoped he'd provide league average to above average play at nominal rate. I hoped he'd walk and steal a bag or two and maybe rope some doubles. As 2010 progresses, it is clear to see that Fred Lewis can do all those things, with his walk rate increasing. (Though all his other rates decrease.)
Remember, going into 2010 league average play out of the left fielder was far from a foregone conclusion. The Menchersons of the world were fresh in our heads; and the difference between league average and replacement level is much larger than we realize. And into this fray stepped Fred Lewis, doing an admirable1 job. He hasn't set the world on fire, but he did a job very few Blue Jays were qualified to do. Until now.
At this juncture of the season, with all the moving parts at play, Clarence needs to sit Fred Lewis so Travis Snider can play every day. Not a popular choice — especially with Lewis, who seems to believe himself an everyday kinda guy — but this is the only piece that fits both a) the Jays future plans for their young players and b) the ideology of the current skipper.
Lyle Overbay is playing for a contract, meaning Clarence must do right by his veteran. Jose Bautista fills in at third base but The Manager loves him in right field. When healthy, Clarence can't get away from E5. Even without EE, Clarence often finds ways to keep Bautista in the outfield and one of the young outfielders on the bench.
Foolish as it might be to assume The Manager is in tune with the contract status of all his players, he has to know Lewis is due but a modest raise next year. If something has to give, it must be Lewis. League average is nice but this team has bigger fish to fry, as I'm sure I've said a million times. Travis Snider is a special talent and his at bats should be paramount.
Hardly breaking new ground, but this seems like the only way to work it. If Overbay must play every day, let him DH a bunch with Lind at first. If Bautista isn't playing right field, plug John MacDonald or McCoy or whomever in a third. Just leave Snider in left. Every night, every day. Tough lefty or shitballing righty. All Snider, all the time.
1 - Admirable is a relative thing. Over his last 200 PAs, Lewis has an OPS a hair over .725. He's a streaky dude but that ain't too hot. Walks are good but the doubles have all but disappeared.
Reuters picture from Daylife