If you haven’t already, I recommend you check out the comments made by Ian Snell in this audio file from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
I was shocked at the comments made by Snell. In short, the whole interview came across as childish, and leaves no doubt in my mind that the problems with Snell’s inconsistent performances are entirely on him, more specifically, his head.
Here is a recap of my thoughts on the above audio file:
At 0:17 - Snell was asked if the Pirates left the decision up to him. His comments: “I left it up to myself. I wasn’t going to let them say what they want. I told them I want to go down.”
To me this sounds a little strange. Snell almost sounds defensive, like he’s saving face. He says he “wasn’t going to let them say what they want”. I have more thoughts on this later…
At 0:48 - Snell is asked what he needs to do in AAA. His response: “Nothing really”. He then goes on to say that it’s hard to explain if you’ve never played baseball (only in a more condescending manner), and says he just needs to get his thoughts together.
Go back to his whole “I wasn’t going to let them say what they want” line. Combine that with his comments that he doesn’t need to do anything at AAA, and it seems obvious that Snell disagrees with the view that his performance has been poor this season. My first thought was “If you’ve got nothing to work on, why do you need to go down?” That question was asked next…
At 1:10 - After being asked “if you don’t have anything to improve on, what’s the point of going”, Snell kind of unravels a bit. It’s almost like John Russell told him to walk the #8 hitter to get to the AL pitcher. He goes on about how he’s going to let everyone keep their opinion of him. He never really answered the question, and was asked “Since we’ve never played baseball, maybe you can explain it to us”. This prompts a classic line from Snell: “Hey, I’m just gonna get my thoughts together pal. You know? I’m not your pal.”
My reaction to this: wow! Obviously Snell is upset over being demoted (oh wait, it was his decision, I forgot). However, his logic has made no sense so far, and when questioned on it, he avoids the answer and acts like a jerk to the reporter that asked the questions.
At 2:22 - Snell is asked if he’d prefer this (being demoted as a starter) vs a major league bullpen situation. His reponse: “It’s not my decision”. He then quickly added in “Whatever, it didn’t matter. I said I wanted to go down. So, it’s my decision and I think that’s best for me and best for the team.”
I never really bought the whole “send me down to AAA” part. This last part confirmed it for me. When asked if he’d prefer pitching in a major league bullpen vs a minor league starting rotation, his first response was “It’s not my decision”. Really? I thought all along it was Snell’s decision to be sent down. If he has the power to convince the management group to send him to AAA, then wouldn’t he also have the power to be in the bullpen?
Of course Snell quickly covers this by saying he wanted to go down, and that it was his decision, which was best for him and best for the team.
The only thing I’ll agree with is that this is best for the team. Snell isn’t the worst pitcher you can have. He’s at the bottom for Pirates’ starters this year, but you look around the majors and you’ll see a lot of guys who are a lot worse, and pitching in major league rotations. Or you can just go back and look at who the starting pitcher was in any game the Pirates have been shutout to see guys worse than Snell.
All year we’ve seen Snell make excuses for his poor performances. This interview only cements one idea: Snell doesn’t believe he’s a bad pitcher. Maybe that’s true, and maybe it isn’t, but it’s hard to argue with the stats. The stats say that Snell has been playing like a bad pitcher for over a year.
I don’t know if Snell actually asked to be demoted, but I don’t doubt that the Pirates were thinking of demoting him. This whole situation seems like another attempt for Snell to shift the blame from his poor performance. He said that he has nothing to work on at AAA, and that he asked to be sent down because he didn’t want the Pirates’ management group saying whatever they wanted about him. He’s not accepting the blame that maybe he’s in this situation because of his horrible performance.
Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll see any type of turnaround from Snell until he realizes what he needs to do, and that involves more than getting his thoughts together at AAA.