Monday, July 4, 2011
The DFA All Stars - And Then There was One
I cannot pretend the exodus of scumbags was unexpected, though I didn't think it would all happen so quickly. Jayson Nix? Whatever. People get turfed from Cleveland for a reason. Juan Rivera kind of, well, shocked me.
It isn't that Rivera's been good, it's more than he hasn't been awful. What makes Rivera expendable but saves Corey Patterson? Patterson was much, much worse in June (more than 200 points of OPS and 80 wOBA points behind Rivera) with a fielding advantage based more on perception than reality. But with Snider and Thames getting full time at bats, there just isn't room for Juan. Again, not sure why this move happens right now, ahead of the All Star break but who cares? Travis Snider!
As I mentioned in live streams or on a podcast or somewhere, I came around on the Eric Thames idea (more on that in a minute) with Thames DHing, Snider and Bautista in the OF and EE playing third until Brett Lawrie steals his job like a good Canadian.
AA and friends have very different plans, as evidenced by the move of Bautista back to third and the potential move of Snider to centerfield(!). Anybody who watches the Cardinals play knows that Colby Rasmus is no center fielder, so putting a bat first player in center isn't exactly groundbreaking. If Snider can make the great strides in center that he made in left, there's no reason to suggest he can't play a passable centerfield1.
This is it, though. We wanted a revolution and it is nearly complete. Eric Thames is playing every day, much to my surprise. He's a lot of fun to watch, especially when you ignore the total lack of walks (zero since his recall) and super-inflated in-play average.
While crediting hitting in front of Bautista for an increase in "pitches" to hit would be the easy/Tablarian thing to do, it is also dead wrong. Over the past 14 days, Eric Thames has the highest swing rate (a hair under 60%) and second lowest percentage of in-zone pitches (41%, just ahead of Adam "hey did you realize he's struggling badly" Lind.)
Which isn't to suggest the league will "figure out" Eric Thames and he'll fall into a life of quad-A sadness, as he does things not everyone can do. Taking Cliff Lee deep? That counts plenty. I'll be happy to admit I was wrong on Eric Thames when some of these numbers stabilize and teams get second and third looks at him. It's kind of the way it works.
As for our friend Edwin...I think we can graduate him from DFA candidate to guy holding onto a job for until the end of the year. Lots of starts at DH and maybe a couple at first. Snider in center? Sure, except when Brandon Morrow pitches.
All I know for sure is the return of Travis Snider gets me as excited as his demotion got me down. As for as blind spots go, Travis Snider is approaching irrational in my eyes. I still believe he's a big part of the team's future, for better or worse.
1 - There are many, many reasons to suggest he can't become a passable centerfield. Most notably: centerfield is very difficult to play, thus the existence of Rajai Davis. That's another story for another day.
Reuters image courtesy of Daylife.