Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Study in Contrasts

This strapping young man is Mike Stanton. Mike Stanton is an outfielder for the Florida Marlins. He's a stud. Certifiable. We see him here at the tail end of a tater trot, something he's done 18 times this year, including three in three games earlier this week. Mike Stanton turns 21 in 2 months.

Mike Stanton started this season in double A, where he tuned up pitchers until early June. With an OPS over 1.100 and his arbitration clock officially stalled for one year, the Fish wisely called him up. And what did the Marlins do after calling up this can't miss stud? THEY PLAYED HIM EVERYDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR.

Mike Stanton — after spending two full months of 2010 in the minor leagues — has amassed more than 300 plate appearances at the major league level this year. The first month of Stanton's big league career was rough, sporting a .635 OPS even when buoyed by a very high in-play average.

What did the Marlins do? Send him down? Scale back his playing time? Nope, they left him in to find his way. Which he did in a hurry, knocking out a .900 OPS in July. He came back to Earth in August but still produced well above league average offense. Now September is here and he's destroying baseballs and (I'm sure) more than a few dreams of virginal Cuban weddings.

Meanwhile, the Jays have certainly given Travis Snider his chances, though I don't think I'm alone in feeling he hasn't really had a job to lose. Travis Snider missed 6 weeks with a wrist injury before languishing (with a small L) in the minors for another two weeks. Either way, Travis Snider will get fewer at bats this year than Mike Stanton.

All the talk of "we don't know what we have in Travis Snider" and "I don't feel we know anymore about Snider than we knew two years ago" comes back, just as Alan Ashby said, to letting him go out and play. Every day. Against tough lefties and shitballing righties. The Marlins don't hide Stanton from tough NL right-handers (facing Halladay, Wainwright, Oswalt et al in his rookie year) yet Clarence insists on burying Snider in the order and against top pitchers.

This is a well-worn trope already but I can't shake it. I don't understand. It's easy and logical (and fun!) to blame The Manager but how can the front office allow the squandering of a valuable resource?

Can't we assume they believe one of two things: this doesn't impact his development or they've re-evaluated his ceiling? Maybe I'm grossly oversimplifying, but looking at his monthly splits, I see a guy who struggled out of the gate, then found his way, then got hurt. He came back, struggled, then started to come around. Until his playing time gets jerked around again.

Looking at their roster and track record, I'd say the Marlins know a thing or two about developing young players. Would it be crazy to follow their lead in this most-important situation?


  1. While I appreciate Ashby's honesty, I don't particularly agree with his statement "we don't know what we have in Travis Snider." Snider's raked at every level he's played at regularly. He hasn't had the chance to play regularly in the Bigs, thanks to Cito, so here we are. All signs still point to an above-average Major League hitter. At least that's what it looks like to me, when I watch him play.

    As much as we all blame Cito, frankly I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk of this in the mainstream media. Why hasn't Anthopoulos overruled Cito? This is more like an organizational failure now.

    Anyway, you nailed it at the end. The Marlins certainly do know how to develop young talent. Develop them into championships. If there's anybody's lead to follow, it's theirs, even if it means dismantling it and starting all over after you win a title.

    23 more games.

  2. On top of that, Stanton has also batted around the same part of the order (6-8) for the entire time he's been up. Snider has led off SEVEN times, all of them in front of Yunel Escobar somecrazyhow.

    Logan Morrison is another top hitting prospect on the Marlins who came up and got steady time in a consistent role--LF and 2nd in the order. Gordon Beckham, Alcides Escobar, Justin Smoak, Jason Heyward, Starlin' Castro, Carlos Santana. All these top guys came up recently and played regularly. Even if the results varied, they played god damn it.

  3. Jeff Blair's on top if it:

    Exactly what we're talking about, here.

    "Even with Snider and Arencibia needing playing time, Blue Jays GM aware that Gaston has earned the right to go out his way."

    Seniority, yo.

  4. Even with Snider and Arencibia needing playing time, Blue Jays GM is aware that Gaston has earned the right to go out his way.

    earned the right by being a close friend of AA's boss, who apparently also has no problem putting his personal interests ahead of the organization's best interests.

    does anyone believe that if Beeston was not here that Cito would be able to pull this nonsense?

  5. Look at the way the Marlins handle Cameron Maybin - they let him play until he proves he isn't ready, then they send him back down to keep playing! No sense wasting time.

  6. KLaw was at the NH playoff game last night and had this to say:

    Kyle Drabek came to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade this past offseason and ranked No. 40 on my Top 100 prospects coming into the year, but Wednesday night he brought the best stuff I've seen (or heard of) from him, with two plus-plus pitches and an aggressive approach. He started out 93-97 in the first inning and was 91-96 by the end of his outing, hitting 97 at least three times over the first two frames. His power curveball at 84-86 was a big league out pitch, with depth and a very sharp break -- and he threw it for strikes in addition to burying it for swings and misses.

    Can't read any more since I'm not an insider, buuuut... at least we won't have to worry about Cito fucking with this one.

  7. The Cito farewell tour is costing us on three fronts, I believe - Travis Snider not playing everyday; JPA not playing at all (likely leading to him not being the #1 next year); Brad Emaus not getting a looksee (instead opting for two guys - McCoy and Hoffpaiur - who are 3 and 5 years older than Bradley and were performing worse at AAA).

    I don't understand any of this.

  8. a bit more on young Kyle...

    Those two pitches do give him ace potential that I haven't seen from him before, although the lack of a solid third offering and the minor delivery issues probably give him a realistic ceiling just below that.

  9. "The Cito Farewell Tour" - I love that one Gil, just might have to use it for a blog post in the next few weeks.

    The real misfortune in all of this is the manager is keeping us from finding out whether Snider is the real deal or not. While it's not all his fault (injuries, etc), but not playing Snider every day, he's just logging service time and before you know it he'll be at arbitration and might have a couple seasons of solid playing time under his belt.

  10. One thing I was thinking about Snider the other day, though: he's already been here for two years, so if he has a good season in 2011, the Jays would be in a pretty good position to lock him up long-term (i.e. all 3 arb years and maybe a FA year or two) without having to pay too much, given his subpar numbers through his first two years of service time. If they'd let him play in 2009/2010, he might be putting up great numbers now, and he'd end up costing more in the future as a result.

    Yeah, it's pretty hard to find a silver lining here.

  11. The Jays have never had the patience to develop young hitters. See Delgado or Green's first couple of "yo yo" years, spent between AAA (where they learnt nothing) and the majors. Where they better or more prepared when they arrived. I don't think so.
    Also Cito was an average player with a keen insight into hitting. He played this insight into a hitting coach and then Manager job. Because he was an average player with a chip on his shoulder I honestly think he resents any truly talented players where things come more "natural". He also hates when "kids have not payed their dues". Like some bizarre frosh week overlord, he feels he has to make them pay these dues before they are ready. The only exception to this is when a player is going to shine his shoes and think he created the game aka Adam Lind. When this happens Cito will lavish the #3 spot in the order and spend tons of time on him.
    All we can hope for is the Beeston does not think that the city loves him and give Cito a role that has any influence over the team. That said - He would be a great Roving Hitting instructor:)


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