Time for a Blue Jays Rant – Lawrie Up – Snider Down

I’m feeling a bit frustrated with the Blue Jays at the moment.

Today the Blue Jays called up Brett Lawrie from AAA. Ok, YAY a Canadian on the Canadian team. I was looking forward to Lawrie coming up, but the Jays have completely ruined it by who they chose to send down (IMO).

To make room for Lawrie on the roster the Jays chose to option Travis Snider back down to AAA, only a couple of  weeks after his return to the bigs.

Travis Snider first made an appearance with the Jays on August 29th 2008. Travis has seen bits and pieces of 3 seasons. He was drafted as a top prospect and he is one of the youngest players to debut in the majors wearing a Jays uniform. Since drafting Snider, the Jays have said that he is a key piece to building a strong future. They’ve said they see him being a cornerstone of the Jays outfield in the future; that he will lead the team in the future.

For all that the Jays organization says the right things about Snider, they certainly aren’t treating him like a Franchise player, a top prospect, or a key piece of their future.

I get that he is still young and has plenty of time, he is only 23; but it can’t be helping his value any if other teams are seeing Toronto play yo-yo with him. He’s been playing in the majors for parts of each of the last three seasons and in my opinion the team is now at this point jerking him around.

At the beginning of the season I seem to remember several conversations with the media by both the coach and the GM saying that Snider was going to be the Left Fielder, that they were going to support him and be behind him 100%; they were going to do whatever they could to make sure that Snider was a key piece of building this year’s team and this year’s outfield.

And how have they done that? Well Snider  had a bit of a slump so they sent him down. Fine, give him a chance to work out his swing in the minors. He works his butt off, does well and gets back here, only to have another outfield acquired which successfully puts him out of a job when Lawrie gets called up and Bautista returns to Right Field.

The outfield is overloaded right now. Bautista is your Right fielder, he is the best player in baseball right now, you’re not sitting him. You have Davis and with the speed he has, you are not getting rid of him, he can generate runs on the bases. That leaves Thames and Rasmus. I like Thames a lot, I don’t want to see him go anywhere. Rasmus though, seems like a nice kid and he is talented without a doubt, but he is a new acquisition that the Jays are standing behind and in doing so they are sticking a knife in the back of Snider (IMO).

I have nothing against this Rasmus kid, he’s a decent player and will probably grow into a fantastic player. But if I were Snider I’d feel somewhat betrayed by my team. I know “whatever is best for the team; whatever will get the wins” blah blah blah, but still I’d be annoyed, I am annoyed and I am just a fan!

Snider was told that this team believed in him and saw him as part of their future. The future is now and they keep pushing him back in line in favour of others.

I guess it is a good problem to have that many talented options for the outfield, I just feel bad for Snider. The organization says the right things, but then doesn’t have the actions to back it.

I’m sure that you could do a statistical analysis that says this is the right move out of the options that they have, but still I feel bad for the kid. He deserves his chance and a real chance. Someone needs to stick up for this kid. Some may argue that he’s had chance, but I’m sorry there have been a lot of players who’ve been a lot worse, who’ve gotten a lot more time to ‘earn their spot’ or sometimes even keep it.

Maybe this is the right move, honestly I don’t know what the best move would be in this situation, I just feel frustrated on the behalf of Travis Snider. If you’re in a job and you boss is telling you that you’re the future of the company and you keep getting sent to the mailroom, how would you feel? (And yes I know, AAA is not comparable to the mailroom).

I hate to say it but maybe what is best for Travis is a trade. I would hate to see him wearing any jersey that wasn’t a Jays jersey, but I think that being traded may be the only way he is ever going to get the chance that he deserves.

Twitter Blue Birds are really Blue Jays #jays #mlb

So if anyone reading this is following me on twitter (@Sadie_Liz) you will already know that I am a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan. You may also know that I am a communications consultant, who is big into social media.

This season many professional athletes have taken to twitter, creating accounts, interacting with other players and even fans. You can follow a list of professional MLB Players or follow a number of individual players like Toronto Blue Jays JP Arencibia (@jparencibia9), Jose Bautista (@JoeyBats19), Travis Snider (@Lunchboxhero45), Ricky Romero (@RickyRo24), Jesse Litsch (@JesseLitsch), Brett Cecil (@CEC0208) and soon to be reactivated Brandon Morrow (@2Morrow23). Turns out the Twitter Blue Bird is really a Blue Jay.

Last week JP Arencibia and Ricky Romero (I think it was) asked if they should try to get 2nd baseman Aaron Hill and utility man John McDonald on twitter. My answer was “Absolutely, Yes!”

Of course I would love to see veterans Hill and McDonald on twitter just because well, they are Hill and McDonald, what Jays fan doesn’t love those two, especially Johnny Mac, a fan favourite.

I’ve thought about this from a marketing and communications perspective though. I believe twitter can be hugely beneficial to a team like Toronto.

  • Blue Jays are not just a Toronto team, they are a Canadian team. The fan base for the Blue Jays is from coast to coast and twitter helps to overcome the geographical distance for fans
  • The Blue Jays organization is built on ‘imports’. Meaning that with the exception of a few (Stairs, Richmond, Lawrie) all of the players are coming from outside of Canada. Even if there were players from inside Canada, it wouldn’t be like Hockey where the Canadians come up through the CHL and World Juniors and are highly familiar to the Canadian Public. Twitter will give fans access and insight into who the Toronto Blue Jays players really are, it will humanize them beyond their celebrity status. And this is even more important for the guys who are just coming up, or who were acquired through trades. Fans got to know Doc and Vernon Wells and invested years into them and now they’re gone. Fans need to find new favourite players and Twitter will help speed and intensify that process.
  • Over the years a number of fans have disengaged due to the fact that Jays haven’t seen the top of the AL East since their back to back World Series Wins. This has caused a decrease in game attendance and likely merchandising. By having Blue Jays players on twitter engaging with fans or participating in ‘Twitter Parties’ on off days  (not something that has yet happened) Toronto will be cultivating a new group of fans or re-engaging fans who have long since disconnected from the Toronto team.I was a huge Blue Jays fan as a kid, and while I’ve always been a big fan, I’ve been more engaged this year than any other year because of the players who are on Twitter. I’m getting to know the players that make up the teams. I almost feel like they’re guys from down the street, or someone I know from somewhere, instead of celebrity athletes. I’m invested in this team, their wins and their losses, how they handle the wins and losses and in the personal details that they share through their Twitter accounts. I feel connected to these players and I want to see them succeed. I wish I could go to their games and give them the support that people always gave me when I was playing. If I am feeling this way, I can’t imagine others aren’t feeling the same.If people are more connected to the team and engaged by the players they are going to watch more games, buy tickets and go to more games, spend more money at the ball park or online in the Jays store, or contribute more to the Jays Care foundation because it is something their ‘friends’ value  and therefore they value.
  • John McDonald is probably the most popular player on the Blue Jays team, at least I would contend that he is because last season when a little boy could choose any player he wanted to throw the opening pitch to, he chose Johnny Mac and the crowd roared. Johnny Mac has been one of my favourite players since he arrived. I’ve always cheered for him and been thrilled when he gets to see playing time. There is just something about him that is endearing. He is the underdog, the average Joe. Last season some sports analysts said that he didn’t deserve his spot on the roster, but fans disagreed and so thankfully did Cito. Johnny Mac by everything the fans know, is the hardest working person on the Blue Jays team. He doesn’t play every day, but he works hard everyday to be sure that if he is on the field he is ready. When he is on the field it is amazing to watch him work and succeed. To see him excel when he gets a day on the field is like a win for the little guy, even though he is probably the best utility player in the league. Now take that and think of him from a Marketing Perspective. He is the Jerome “JYD” Williams of the Blue Jays. He might not be as outlandish as JYD is, but he is just as, if not more beloved by the Blue Jay fans across the country. John McDonald has more ‘star power’ within the Toronto fan base than probably any other Blue Jay, though JP Arencibia may be taking over the young female demographic, so having a beloved veteran like him on Twitter would be HUGE. He feels like a guy you’ve known forever for some reason. If he got on Twitter, he would have droves of followers in no time. Twitter would connect people that much more to the already most relatable guy on the team. Honestly how many Blue Jays fans wouldn’t want to find a way to make it to a game if Johnny Mac tweeted a plea to fans to come out and support the team. Or if Johnny Mac tweeted about Jays Care, who wouldn’t try to scrounge up some spare change or canned goods to help? Johnny Mac is a fan favourite already, I have a feeling that would translate to Twitter and fans would just be on cloud nine, and if marketing decided to use that to their advantage, well they’d probably end up pretty happy.Even if marketing didn’t jump on that, all of the players are invested in the team and the work the team does. They want the team to succeed, the want the causes they support to succeed. The players are passionate about their team and they want to see fans return to their former glory of the World Series Years, who wouldn’t. I know when I played baseball not only did I want to win, I wanted to have the crowd energized, it makes the game that much more exciting as a player. Every player they get on Twitter, especially the fan favourites like Johnny Mac, Hill and rising stars like JP Arencibia, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow, the more fans are going to invest in the team emotionally and probably more importantly invest with bums in the seats, increased ticket sales and merchandise sales.

From my perspective the Jays already on Twitter absolutely need to be getting some of the other Jays on Twitter as well, especially fan favourite veterans like Hill and McDonald. It’s time to get this nation excited about the boys of summer and it has to start somewhere. If the players are pumped and have a never die attitude that is evident to the fans how can the fans not follow suit?

It’s time for the Blue Jays Nation 2.0!  Let’s go! Blue Jays! Let’s Go!