The Pirates acquired outfielder Travis Snider from the Blue Jays early Tuesday morning in exchange for relief pitcher and former first round pick Brad Lincoln.
Snider is 24, but already has parts of five seasons in the majors under his belt. He was selected with the No. 14 pick in the 2006 draft, the same draft in which the Pirates picked Lincoln No. 4, overall and made it to the Blue Jays by 2008. In 813 career at bats, he's hit .247 with 31 home runs, 112 RBIs and a .734 OPS.
In 10 games since being called up July 20, he's hitting .250 with three home runs, eight RBIs and a .856 OPS, on top of a line of .335 with 13 homers, 56 RBIs and a 1.021 OPS in 56 games with Triple-A Las Vegas.
For a look at Snider's game beyond the numbers, though, we've enlisted the help of Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter, SB Nation's Toronto Blue Jays blog. He was kind enough to answer some questions for us, and offers some pretty sweet nickname ideas to boot.
AB: Could you give us a quick scouting report on Travis Snider?
TD: Travis Snider has been my favorite Jay for the past several years. He has great power potential. He was our top prospect for several years. The Jays called him up in 2008, when he was just 20. Maybe he was too young, but he hit .301/.338/.466 in 24 games. The next couple of years, well, he clearly wasn't a favorite of former Jay manager Cito Gaston. Snider was up and down a lot. Cito likes his hitters to go up looking to pull the ball. Travis has good power to the opposite field and didn't agree with the all-out pull philosophy. Cito had the same complaints about Shawn Green and John Olerud.
I hoped that Snider would get a new start with the team, with the change of manager to John Farrell, but Snider started slow last year, and was sent out after about a month.
I really think that if someone gives Snider 500 at bats he'll figure things out and become a really good player. Every year I figured this would be the one that he would get those at bats, each year I was wrong.
He strikes out more than you would like, but for that power, you will forgive him. He's also turned himself into a really good defensive outfielder. When he first came up the feeling was that he'd end up a full time DH, but he gets good reads on balls hit to the outfield and has good speed, with a decent arm. He played some center field for us and didn't look out of place.
AB: Snider has bounced around between the big leagues and minors. Is that a cause for concern?
TD: Well, yeah there is a little concern there, but I think if he gets 500 at bats, he'll figure things out. The organization seemed to give up on him, I'm not really sure why. Travis has had wrist injuries over the last couple of seasons. That might be worrying. A sore wrist can sap power.
AB: What do you think the Pirates can expect from Snider this season? Is he a bat that could really bolster a pennant run?
TD: Yeah, I think you will love him. I think he'll want to prove the Jays wrong for giving up on him. He's had trouble with LHP in the past but he's hit three home runs, in his 10 games as a Jay, and all three were against lefties. He seems (small sample size of course) to be hanging in much better against southpaws than he did in the past. Right-handers he has always hit hard.
AB: What do you think of Snider's longer-term potential?
TD: I think he'll be the type that gets you 25 to 35 homers, with a pretty good batting average, .270's, 280's with enough walks to keep you happy. He also has some speed. He won't steal a lot of bases, ( though 10 to 15 isn't out of the question) but he'll go first to third with almost anyone. He is a smart baserunner too.
AB: What did you think of the return from the trade?
TD: Honestly? I really don't like it. I don't see Brad Lincoln as anything more than a reliever. Maybe a good reliever, but I can't see trading a good everyday player for a reliever. As I said, Travis has been a favorite of mine for a few years now, I would have expected to get more for him. After hoping for Snider to be called up to the majors (#freesnider was everyone's favorite hashtag) it is tough to see him leave for Lincoln. I hope I'm wrong.
AB: Do you have any insight about what kind of clubhouse guy Snider is?
TD: Travis seems to be loved by his teammates. For one, he's a good cook (he loves meats). Before yesterday's game in Seattle he cooked for the team (he is from the Seattle area). His teammates were thrilled for him when he was finally called up to the Jays earlier this month.
AB: Any nickname suggestions?
TD: We called him Moonraker. It came about in a game thread a few years back. The idea was that he hits moon shots and that he rakes. It stuck, at least for those of us on the site. He refers to himself as Lunchbox (his twitter handle is @Lunchboxhero45). Food is a reoccurring theme on his twitter account. He loves to eat. I like Moonraker much better.