No mistaking how excited young Eric Thames was to be called up to the big leagues by the Jays, and to make his debut in the Rogers Centre last night. On Tuesday he was the only player on either team out signing autographs in the rain for the handful of fans braving the elements in Detroit. Compared to many, it’s been a long road up for Thames, who while only 24 is thought of as “old” by many journalists. He’s come back from a hamstring injury which kept him out for a season and a torn quadriceps which cost him another. Still, after a solid .288 , .526 slugging season in AA New Hampshire last year and a solid .340 start to the AAA season this year, he’s up in the bigs and DH’ing. As manager John Farrell stated , “we’re hopeful his welcome will be a long one. He’s got an opportunity to impact just how long that is.”
Next to an upbeat hard-working young outfielder getting his chance to shine, the thing to like about the call-up is that the Jays didn’t opt to bring Travis Snider right back up, despite his being a left-handed OF like Thames and the team’s #1 draft pick back in 2006. It gives hope that they aren’t going to repeat the fiasco that was Russ Adams, another first-rounder that JP Ricciardi seemed intent upon making a major leaguer despite his having apparent strikes against him of not being able to hit major league pitching and not being able to field balls well at any position. Adams ended up clipping 218 hits over parts of 6 seasons he played in Toronto, but after a sound yet unspectacular 2005 (when he hit .256 and drove in 63 as an everyday player), he managed to hit just .220 with 5 home runs in the following four seasons. And hold back much more talented young infielders at the same time. It’s encouraging to think that the jays are going to make players earn their spot on the roster by playing well rather than being a highly-touted draft pick. It’s too early to completely write off Snider, but so far he’s not done anything much to show that he can be a reliably-effective big league player.
Anyone remember Matthew Bush? No? Bush was the #1 pick overall back in 2004. thus far he’s never made it to the bigs despite being picked ahead of the likes of Jered Weaver and Justin Verlander. Scouts can be wrong and sometimes high picks don’t turn into highly-talented players down the road.
Congratulations to John Farrell for being picked as a coach in the upcoming All Star game. It’s a measure of the respect other managers have for what he’s been able to do in his rookie season despite having lousy starting pitching and a number of injuries to contend with.
If the Travis Snider experiment may be coming close to an end, isn’t it time (or past) it that the Edwin Encarnacion one did too? Perhaps nowhere is Adam Lind more missed right now than in the field at first base, where he was developing quite well. Edwin, on the other hand has shown (as with his two official errors and couple more misplayed balls last night) that he’s no better on the right side of the infield than the left. He makes the most routine ground ball an adventure and nail-biter for the fans, and is on pace for a 40 error season despite being little more than a part-timer in the field. True enough he can hit a little, but still is looking for his first homer of the year and a .250 average with no power makes not a regular designated hitter. Time to bite the bullet and let him move on, and put people in the infield who can handle a glove. Let Eric Thames continue to try DH’ing for a few weeks and Johnny Mac (Mcdonald) handle first for the few days until Lind returns off the DL. Even though not a first bagger by trade, I’m sure John could do no worse defensively and would probably excel.