2012 Blue Jays: Rajai Davis, Travis Snider, Adeiny Hechavarria

18 02 2013

There are two kinds of players who aren’t good enough to be regulars. The first is a modern creation: the supersub who can fill in at six or seven positions but not hit well enough to play regularly. This sort of player didn’t exist a generation ago, as teams could afford to carry multiple bench players. Now, because there are so many pitchers on the roster, teams can only have three or four people on the bench, at least one of which must be a catcher. This means that reserve players need to be able to handle multiple roles.

The second kind of reserve is going out of fashion: the player who can do one thing very well. Rajai Davis is a perfect example of this kind of reserve player – what he can do is (a) run and (b) cover any of the outfield positions in an emergency. His problem is that Anthony Gose can do these things too, but might become a better player than Rajai, thus forcing him out of a job. Still, it’s better to be able to do one thing well than nothing at all well – and there are times in a game where a team desperately needs a stolen base. At those times, Rajai is one of the best options available.

I don’t know of many general managers who would have handled the Travis Snider situation the way that Alex Anthopoulos did. Almost everybody else would have taken the easy way out and just left Snider to play left field for a good part of the season.  Instead, he went with his baseball judgement, decided that Snider wasn’t good enough, and traded him to Pittsburgh for bullpen help – a move that outraged many Jays fans, who felt that Snider hadn’t been given a fair shot. (For good measure, he traded Eric Thames too.) So far, it seems to have worked out – Snider hasn’t hit better in Pittsburgh than he did in Toronto.

Last year, the Jays called Adeiny Hechavarria up to play third base and then second. Given Hechavarria’s defensive reputation, this is a bit like asking Pablo Picasso to paint the side of your house – yes, he could probably do it, but he would be a bit underemployed. However, Hech still has a bit of work to do with the bat – unless he gets better, he’s going to be the next Alfredo Griffin.

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