Jays Make Couple of Controversial Moves


If Alex Anthopoulos was trying to get the attention of Toronto’s fan base, he definitely succeeded yesterday when he dealt fan favourite Travis Snider to Pittsburgh in return for RHP Brad Lincoln, and then followed that up by dealing Eric Thames to Seattle in return for RHP Steve Delabar. To say that both deals took fans by surprise is a major understatement, and the majority really do seem angry about the returns, so far.

I can remember the fans, myself included, pondering which of Snider or Thames would grab hold of the LF job in Toronto. There was speculation on either side of the fence, and in reality, Snider did everything he had to do to get the win. Thames has struggled a little more to get going this year after he won the first shot at the job this season. I’d like to caution all Jays fans of the following: did you ever really think either player would block Jake Marisnick from getting a shot in Toronto? I don’t think so, because unlike Thames and Snider, Marisnick has 5 tools and a higher ceiling as a result. Therefore, it only made sense for the Jays to go out there and try to get what they felt was fair value for each left-fielder.

Before I go on, I’d like to caution everyone that there’s still a possibility of the Jays using their new acquisitions to get another trade done. For example, the Jays could use both newly acquired pitchers to get a trade for Justin Upton done. After all, the Diamondbacks have said that they want pieces that can help them win this year and what could be better than improving their pitching? The Jays can now afford to deal impending free agents like Brandon Lyon and Jason Frasor, as well as Darren Oliver, three veterans who could help a competing club make a run. It’s just one example that I could come up with, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that this is it and will assess it as is in 2 different articles. First up….

Travis Snider vs. Brad Lincoln

Both were drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft (Lincoln 4th overall, Snider 14th overall), but due to Snider’s hastened ascent to the big leagues, he will be FA eligible in 2016, while the Jays will have control over Brad Lincoln until 2018.

Snider has had many issues since he made the jump to the majors. We have supported him every step of the way, but whether it was injuries, playing time, or struggles at the plate, he never did seem to get settled in Toronto. One thing you always got, however, was 100% effort and a willingness to lay it all out there to get the job done in LF. This season, he looks a lot more mature and has enjoyed some success in both AAA and in the majors as a result. Still, there are some real holes in his game, and here are a few I’d like to point out before Jays fans continue their barrage against the trade:

  • Snider has a .174/.259/.217 line and 0 HR against RHP this season, so as much as I’d like to say he’s set for big things, he still has a lot of work to do when not facing south paws;
  • He was hitting .174/.208/.478 at home while hitting .385/.438/.692 on the road;
  • His overal line in 2012 of .250/.300/.556 this season is mostly due to a hot start. Over his last 6 games, Snider was hitting .190/.261/.381, so he wasn’t exactly lighting it up when the deal went down.

Does this mean that I am all for dealing him and don’t believe he could blossom into a 30 HR per season left-fielder for the Pirates?Not at all. In fact, if you read our stuff often, Jays Journal have always supported the fact that Travis Snider has that potential and could easily turn into a beast at the plate. However, when we assess whether or not Alex Anthopoulos has received fair value for Snider, we can’t help but look at the facts we have on hand. And, the facts tell us that it would be a stretch to call Snider an average MLB outfielder at this point based on what he’s done at the plate. After all, if I told you that the Jays traded a pitcher they drafted 4th overall for a nameless outfielder that had a .248/.306/.429 career line through 835 ABs, what would your opinion be then?

Like I said before, I still believe he’ll blossom into a great player, but I also believe Pittsburgh is assuming a risk in getting the deal done.

As for Brad Lincoln, he also has had troubles to get his career on track, partially due to an early career Tommy John surgery. But, if we look at the 2012 numbers he has put up, particularly over the last 10 games, Lincoln has settled in and seems poised to become a dominant arm in MLB, whether it’s in the pen or the rotation. For now, that landing spot seems to be the pen, as John Farrell has said he’ll make his Jays debut there.

Here are a few highlights of what Lincoln has done so far in 2012:

  • Has held RHB to a .244/.286/.471 line and LHB to a .214/.270/.311 line, fairly even overall;
  • However, his away stats are worse than home, as his 0.42 ERA/0.516 whip at home and 4.03 ERA/1.421 whip away indicate;
  • Lincoln was roughed up in June (.297/.340/.516 line against) but has done a great job otherwise with a notable .179/.214/.299 line against in May and a .214/.250/.310 line against in July; and
  • His last 10 games have been extremely dominant, with 1 BB and 17 Ks accomplished while allowing only 1 ER over 15.2 IP.

Brad Lincoln’s WAR rating in 2012 is 1.2, while Travis Snider’s WAR rating in 2012 is 0.2.

Yet, fans continue to doubt this deal and are assuming, for the most part, that the Jays were “robbed” and that Alex Anthopoulos has completed his first horrible deal. I completely disagree. You name me one team in MLB right now who would go ahead and tell you they have enough pitching. Go ahead, name one team! There aren’t any, because pitching is what wins championships. And if you believe that it’s only starting pitching that matters, wrong again. Just ask the Yankees how may championships they would have won without Mariano Rivera, or the Red Sox without Jonathan Papelbon.

In no way am I comparing Lincoln to either of those relievers, but he has the ability to be a part of a shut down pen that would help bring the Jays to another level. Isn’t that what this is all about? Which player makes the Jays better overall? The Jays will continue to score runs and have plenty of OF options remaining after acquiring Lincoln, so where’s the harm in dealing Snider for that arm? Let’s assume the Jays kick off 2013 with Jose Bautista, Anthony Gose, Colby Rasmus, and Rajai Davis manning all 3 spots in the OF while Jake Marisnick and Moises Sierra provide organizational depth. Are they really hard up in the OF?

On the flip side, the other question we need to ask is whether or not the Jays could have done better on the market than Brad Lincoln. It’s possible, if the Jays waited for Snider to really turn it on, but again, that would be a risky way to approach things since he could just as easily continued to go South, just as the stats were indicating of late.

Although I fully expect Travis Snider to blossom into a powerhouse in the future, I understand why Alex Anthopoulos made this deal. The Jays are assuming less overall risk and now have long-term weapons in the pen to work with, whether in trade or in practical use. With soon-to-be free agents like Jason Frasor, Carlos Villanueva, and Brandon Lyon being important parts of the pen today, the Jays will need to replace these arms and will need to do so well if they want to compete in a tough AL East. As much as I love Travis Snider and his potential, the Jays needed to address their long-term pen depth.

I’m not even going to bother putting a poll up because we already know the vast majority of fans are on Snider’s side of the deal. But, I’d ask Jays fans to keep an open mind about it, to see whether or not AA has another deal up his sleeve, and to give Lincoln a chance to prove himself before passing a final judgment.

That’s fair, right?

– MG