Is Snider’s demotion really about mechanics?

After a slow start to the season resulting in a .184/.276/.264 slash line, the Toronto Blue Jays have done the near unthinkable and sent their prized young outfielder Travis Snider back down to AAA Las Vegas.  The 23-year-old leftfielder had exhibited terrible mechanics at the plate this season and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos says that the best course of action is to let Snider work out those issues at AAA.

This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the Jays had any hope of contending this season, but the fact is, they do not.  This is a team with a very bright future, but presently, they aren’t any more than a .500 ballclub; if that.  It makes very little sense to send Snider back to a level where he has nothing to prove.

The last time Snider was at AAA was in 2009 when he tore the cover off the ball going .337/.431./663 with 14 homeruns in 204 plate appearances.  He simply has nothing left to prove at the minor-league level.

There is no doubt that Snider has struggled so far in 2011, but for the team to send him down after less than 100 plate appearances is downright con-fucking-fusing.  When looking at Snider’s batted ball and plate discipline statistics, most everything is similar to his career numbers.  The only thing that stands out as different is his infield flyball rate which has jumped from 10.5% in 2010 to 20.0% this season.  Like Anthopoulos said this morning in his press conference announcing the demotion, this suggests that his swing mechanics are on a serious fritz, but it still makes no sense to me to send him down.

Even though Anthopoulos has stated many times before that he will not hold a player in the minors to manipulate service time, this (and for that matter the Cecil demotion) stinks of a team trying to prevent players from reaching Super-Two arbitration status.*

As Dustin Parkes explains on Getting Blanked

“Snider entered this season with one year and 126 days of service time. A full year in a Blue Jays uniform would’ve meant two years and 126 days of service. Last season, the Super Two cut off was two years and 122 days, but experts say that 2011 will have a much later cut off, somewhere around two years and 144 days.”

For what it’s worth the difference between Snider’s and Cecil’s service time is two days.  I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but this seems fishy for a team with no thoughts of contending.  This is exactly the year that players like Cecil and Snider should be allowed to fail and work out their problems at the Major-League level.  In fact, in Snider’s case, Anthopoulos has stated many times that this is the year Snider will finally get 600 plate appearances at the major-league level; not anymore!

It’s probably exactly as it appears to be; that Snider’s mechanics at the plate are so messed up that the organization feels it’s best to send him down to fix his problems.  I still wouldn’t be totally surprised if this is a creative way for the team to save money by pushing Snider’s arbitration clock back a year.  Him struggling (and again, Cecil as well) just gave the organization the excuse to do it.

*- If you are unaware of baseball rather complicated arbitration process, check out this page for all you need to know.  You shall see the light unfold before you.
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