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?
Labels: Travis Snider