With Colby Rasmus’ arrival and the potential of Brett Lawrie being called up to the Majors any day now, the Blue Jays find themselves with a dilemma. Rasmus is now in center field and with Lawrie expected to be called up to play at third base, the Jays find themselves with a surplus of position players.
Lawrie playing third will mean that Jose Bautista will move back to right field. This leaves left field and designated hitter as the only free spots in the lineup and four players looking to fill them.
It will probably mean that one of Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Rajai Davis or Edwin Encarnacion will be sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas.
So who will be the odd player out?
Brett Lawrie is having an outstanding year in Las Vegas. He is currently hitting .352/.415/.669 with a career-high 18 home runs, but is there any real advantage to calling him up to Toronto?
After all, the Blue Jays are not doing too badly on offence this season, currently standing sixth in runs scored and fifth in slugging.
These are not good enough reasons to keep Lawrie in the minors though. He deserves his chance with the Blue Jays having played so well.
As Toronto is not in contention for a playoff spot, there is no downside to seeing how he does. It would also be worth giving him a taste of Major League action before the end of the season to help him adjust for 2012.
The advantages of calling up Brett Lawrie at this stage of season far outweigh the problems his call-up may cause elsewhere on the roster.
Coming over from Oakland in the winter, Rajai Davis has been a disappointment in center field. Batting just .238/.274/.351, Davis has really struggled striking out four times more often than he has walked.
Not only has his offence been poor but Davis’ defence has been bad as well recording a -1.1 WAR. With Rasmus taking his spot in the lineup, it would appear Davis’ days a Blue Jay starter are numbered.
However, the one thing Davis has done well this year is steal bases. He is third in the American League with 31 steals albeit at just over 75%. This makes him perfect as a bench player who can come on late and pinch run.
It may well have been Alex Anthopoulos’ plan all along to use Davis as a fourth outfielder, it looks like it may be his role with the club from now on.
In his brief Major League career so far, Snider has struggled at times, none more so than the start of the current season.
At the time of his demotion Snider was hitting just .184/.276./.264. While he has improved his numbers since his recall, Snider has still only walked once and still strikes out far too often.
While there are still some legitimate questions about Snider’s ability to produce at the Major League level, essentially questioning his ability to hit offspeed pitches, it would not benefit him to go back to Las Vegas again.
He spent time down in the Minor Leagues to adjust his swing, it would be best to give him the whole of the rest of the season to see whether he has shown any significant improvement.
After a strong offensive showing in 2010, Encarnacion has struggled to replicate his showing in terms of power numbers this year. In April and May, he hit only one home run and like the year before, was poor in the field. So much so that he is played mostly as a designated hitter.
This has worked well for him though. Compare his numbers playing in the field as opposed to taking the designated hitter role.
3B: .223/.289/.388 2 HR 7 RBI
DH: .327/356/.510 5 HR 16 RBI
Calling up Brett Lawrie and getting Mark Teahen in the Rasmus trade means that it is unlikely that Encarnacion will have to play third base again. Instead he can concentrate on being a full-time designated hitter, something he’s proven to be good at this year.
It seems harsh to nominate Thames as the man to be demoted to the minors. He has been impressive since his Major League debut hitting .285/.326/.485 with five home runs.
However there are factors working against him. His BABIP of .347 is inflating his average somewhat. When that goes down, so will his average. He has struck out 41 times while only managing nine walks.
While you could apply some of these criticisms to Travis Snider, you also have to factor in that Snider is a stronger defensive player, which probably just about gives him the edge over Thames at the moment.
As well as Thames has played in Toronto, he is just a rookie and has plenty of time to go back to Triple-A and improve on his game offensively and defensively.