Saturday, March 19, 2011

The case against Brett Lawrie

John came out that history may be on the side of bringing Brett Lawrie to Toronto when the Blue Jays break camp at the end of spring training. I certainly can see his point, and I can concede that he may well be right in what he believes.

But I also think he’s really wrong. Here’s why:

First and foremost, it wouldn’t be a wise business move for the Jays. If Brett Lawrie is indeed the real deal (and all indications at the present indicate he is), they have to leave him in the farm system for at least part of the season. Why? Because it would give the Jays an extra year before he’s eligible for arbitration and his eventual free agency. That could be worth several million dollars right there.

Second, he obviously has a lot of ability and baseball savvy, but he’s only been playing third base for a few months. That position isn’t called The Hot Corner for nothing. Yes, I’m sure he’ll do a much better job than Encarnacion did last year. Lawrie is blessed with better instincts and a way better throwing arm. But he could certainly use more games at the position in order to get more comfortable.

(Sidebar: I believe Encarnacion will prove to be a decent first baseman. He does field the ball pretty well and he seems to be able to pick a ball out of the dirt. It’s always been his throwing that’s too much of an adventure.)

Third, as I mentioned in my comment to John’s Thursday posting, jumping two levels and winding up in the major leagues is a big distance. Lawrie’s not assured of being an instant success. What if he bombs out and the Jays decide to send him down? What then? Will he suck it up the way Doc Halliday did, get his work in and be ready to go when the next call comes? Or will he go down and pout? Elite athletes don’t tend to take failure very well. Indications are that Lawrie could fall into the latter camp and that would not be a good thing for him or for his future with the Jays.

So my bottom line conclusion is that (barring injuries) we won’t see Brett Lawrie with the Jays on opening day. However, I don’t think it will be too many months before he’s at third base, Bautista is in right field where he wants to be, and the Jays will be better for it.

The Professor


John the Tomahawk Trembath said...

Well, good stuff Rick. It is a long way from AAA to the show. Obviously I think Brett can and will do great. He has spent two years in AA. As for the free agency money, you either pay or you don't. The Jay's have been there before.
If one is sent down it does not always destroy the player. Vernon Wells and Doc of course came back better. A strategy, maybe, but not best for the team in this case with Bautista in the mix.By the way, of the names I mentioned in my blog only Al Kaline went straight to the show without the minors and played 21 years.
So, about me being wrong. I have never considered such an idea. Might happen, but I don't think so.

Rick Blechta said...

The thing I like about Lawrie, John, is that he's making it very difficult for the Jays. The bottom line is that they'll probably go for the cash line with him. Send him down (I believe it's only for as little as 3 weeks) and they can control him an extra year. For what he'll probably cost in the future, that HAS to be a consideration for him.

I do believe Lawrie's the real deal. I like his attitude. I think he can do the job.

It's just that in the dollars and cents game that's modern baseball, he falls on the wrong side of the line.

But you're still wrong!!!

JohnZ said...

I agree with you Rick. I think the Jays will leave Bautista at 3rd and send Lawrie down for the first part of the season and then make the switch with Jose B going to RF where he can focus on hitting. Both have played well at the games i have seen here in Dunedin...interesting that Jays playing Lind also at 1st base which seems unsettled. i like Rajii Davis & Podsednik in the outfield - speed & both look like hitters.

Rick Blechta said...

John, how does Snider look to you in left field? He's shown flashes of brilliance with his fielding, but I think he has to play a whole season out there before anyone will know. When he has it together at the plate, he can be a game changer. So far in Grapefruit League play, he's been hitting well.

When (and please notice, John, I said when) the Jays bring Lawrie up to the majors and move Bautista back to right, if they keep Snider in right, that leaves only center for Davis, Podsednik and Rivera. One will obviously have to go. Another could be a back-up, but I also like McCoy as a back-up because he can play all those infield positions.

Thanks for weighing in!

JohnZ said...

I think one of those outfielders will rotate at DH, especially if Lind can play 1st. Encarnacion has been hitting the ball well and has seen time at DH too. My opinion is that Rivera is the odd man out.

Rick Blechta said...

Yeah, I get that feeling, too. Maybe someone will take him off the team's hands.

Based on his numbers, Encarnacion is definitely someone to look at as a possible DH. He and Lind could spell each other between that and first base.