Good News/Bad News
Ok, first the good news. Which is obviously not coming from the JAys’ big-league team…In a post over at ESPN insider, Jason Grey gushes about Travis Snider and points out why him hitting .263 cannot in any way be considered “dissapointing” when he’s the third-youngest player in the league and showing “light-tower” power. It’s a long, interesting article and includes a couple of quotes from the man himself on everyone’s favorite (*cough* overrated *cough*) ability- going the other way:
“Last year, I saw that my highest percentage of base hits are going the other way,” Snider said, “because pitchers aren’t going to bust you in on your hands very often because that’s the pitch you turn on and make a name for yourself. I looked at my spray chart and saw a lot of my success came on the left-center gap and down the left-field line, which is something I’ve always been able to do.”
“I got the best piece of advice I ever got hittingwise from Matt Williams [his AFL coach]. He said ‘for RBI guys, your approach has got to be up the middle. It’s the biggest part of the field and the most room to be able to put the ball in play without someone catching it. If you can stay up the middle, especially with guys on base, it gives your team a chance to score runs.’ To me, that made a lot of sense. I’d heard it a hundred different ways, but the way he put it clicked for me, and that’s what I try to do. I try not to get too caught up in pulling the ball 500 feet when you can go 380-400 in the left-center gap for a double or a homer.”
This year, Snider has gotten away from doing that a bit too much, rolling over a lot of balls to the right side of the infield, perhaps pressing a bit as he hasn’t been mashing as much as he did in the low minors.
“Sometimes you get into an approach where you start to try and pull pitches too much and you start to hook and pull,” Snider said, “so a big part of my development has been working to stay up the middle with pitches and allow my natural swing to work and my hands to react.”
Grey also confirms that although he was healthy enough to play, Snider’s elbow was causing him mechanical problems earlier this season that lead to his slow start.
Speaking of mechanics, here’s the bad news, that I’m sure you’ve already heard but not lathered up with enough doom and gloom.
“It’s not strength — it’s not flexibility,” Rolen said. “The problem is the mechanical functioning of my shoulder. It’s not functioning properly — the way a normal shoulder is supposed to function.”
Ok, so third baseman for the next three years is going on a rehab program even though the problem isn’t strength or flexibility. Lovely. “The trend has been too familiar the last few years” sent some chills down my spine as well.
Before the season, Rolen said that the real test would be if he could get separation of his hands from his body during his swing. Last year he couldn’t get his hands back and out, which threw off his mechanics and sapped power. Well, he’s had an almost identical year at the plate so it’s safe to say that it wasn’t the scar tissue that they cleaned out that had been causing that – his shoulder is just fucked permanently.
I was all for this trade because the Toronto medical staff was absolutely glowing about his physical condition, to the point where it seemed like they thought they knew something that the Cards didn’t about the shape of his shoulder. It tells you something about even the best sports doctors to evaluate something tricky like the range of movement required to not just function, but do so at an elite level.
Meanwhile, Troy Glaus has played every game but two this season and is mashing the ball after getting off to a slow start. Maybe he was right and the turf would have exacerbated his Plantar Faciitis, but right now it looks like the Jays have been left given a good old fashioned hosing in this round of “trade the cripple”…