All it took for Travis Snider to get another chance in Toronto was a 10-player trade.
Following their big swap with the Astros this morning the Blue Jays have recalled Snider from Triple-A, where he hit .335 with 13 homers, 16 doubles, and a 1.021 OPS in 56 games.
It’s worth noting that Las Vegas is an extremely hitter-friendly environment, so Snider’s numbers there aren’t as impressive as they first appear, but he’s consistently had huge production in the minors and despite not yet establishing himself in the big leagues the former first-round pick is still just 24 years old.
Snider failed to win a spot on the Opening Day roster despite a strong spring training, as the Blue Jays chose to go with Eric Thames as their primary left fielder. That didn’t work very well, as Thames hit poorly in 46 games before being demoted to Triple-A himself. Since then Toronto has filled the position with Rajai Davis, but the combination of Jose Bautista’s wrist injury and Ben Francisco being traded to Houston clears the way for Snider to see regular action.
Snider hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he also hasn’t been a total disaster. He’s hit .248 with 28 homers, 54 doubles, and a .730 OPS in 232 games as a big leaguer, which is actually decent for someone so young. His big strikeout totals and regression last season led to his heading back to Triple-A, but the Blue Jays are absolutely making the right move in giving him an opportunity to help replace Bautista’s power and Snider still has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order fixture.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.