Monday, March 14, 2011

All Aboard the Brett Lawrie Express

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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
He can hit, he can field, he can throw ... but can he crack the Blue Jays roster?
That's one of the big questions as Brett Lawrie is turning heads at a breakneck pace.

We're in the midst of the Cinderella phase while Lawrie continues to hit around .400 in Spring Training, but let's be honest ... he could bat 1.000 and he's still not going to make the roster.

It's no knock against his talent, it's just not Brett Lawrie's time quite yet.

I can't say for certain, but I think if you asked Brett Lawrie point blank, he'd say he's ready for the show. I'm not denying that he isn't, the problem is this isn't the time for Brett Lawrie to hone his craft at the major league level.

That's what the Pacific Coast League is for; it's the equivalent of the Sarlacc Pit for young pitchers, but it's a breeding grounds for swing-happy hitters. I say let Lawrie rake down in Las Vegas for a year, and then reevaluate the situation.

And if Lawrie regresses, then he can spend some more time in Las Vegas. Heck, if it worked for J.P. Arencibia then it could work for Brett Lawrie too.

Barring some freak injury to Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie should spent the better part of 2011 in Las Vegas. And speaking of Bautista, now that the Blue Jays have a third baseman for the next five years, I wonder if the Jays might transition Lawrie back to second base.

Prior to locking up Bautista long-term, the third base position was one glaring hole in "the plan". But now that it's filled, what does that mean for Brett Lawrie? This is just my estimation, but I think he moves back to second base.

Aaron Hill still has yet to take a swing in an official Spring Training game, and that could have the Blue Jays concerned, considering they still have to decide prior to Opening Day if they want to exercise all three club options (2012, 2013 and 2014) on Hill.

If they believe Aaron Hill is no longer a viable option past 2012, then maybe Brett Lawrie could revert back to second base and fill the shoes as the every day starting second baseman.

I'm not claiming to be a professional on player development, but handing a young prospect a spot on the roster after one great spring is risky business. Even if he's earned it, there's nothing wrong with making him wait.

For an up and coming player who is just chomping at the bit to get some big league playing time, spending even more time in the minors might seem like a death sentence. However, in this case it's just what the doctor ordered.

10 comments:

  1. Jose Bautista will go back to his natural position in the outfield by next year and give way to Brett Lawrie. Bautista in right, Lawrie at 3rd base and Hill at 2nd seems to be the best overall solution.. This is just my opinion.

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  2. Even if he only hits .200(he'll do better) and makes 15 errors(he might make more), my opinion is to give him his reps at the MLB level. Just my opinion, not necessarily the way I think it will be done or is 'traditionally' done.

    He's going to sign here long term so no reason to slow the clock, and he's going to go through growing pains regardless of when he gets here. Let's get him ready as the future is quickly approaching.

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  3. I just realized I'm writting this from the field at the Rogers Centre-some indoor carnival thing happening...

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  4. Hill will not be a Blue Jay in 2012. However this works out for Lawrie and Bautista is not as clear, but Lawrie as a potential 2B is a good starting point.

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  5. Bautista will simply move back to RF where he prefers to play anyway. If Hill has a bounce-back year he sticks around to play 2B. If not they decline his options and hope either Hech is ready or that viable option is open on the FA/Trade front.
    I absolutely love the way AA is building this team reminds me of the mid to late 80s Jays teams.
    I also love the lovefest that appears to be brewing in the young players. I suggest following Lawrie, Snider, JPA and Romero on twitter for evidence that the core actually gets along.

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  6. JT, I thought about that but the issue is there could be a crowded outfield next year with Davis, Snider and (insert prospect here).

    Mattt, commenting from inside the dome! Very neat. With Lawrie, I think it's tougher for the Blue Jays to put him on the roster, then send him down (if he struggles), and then bring him back up. It also starts the clock on the service time, so that's why I'd personally keep him down in Vegas this year, and reiterate to him that would probably be the plan for him in 2011.

    Mark, I also have a feeling the Blue Jays will decline those options on Hill. That just opens the door back up for Lawrie at 2B then.

    Anon, Bautista prefers to play right field, but it could get very crowded out there over the next few years. Snider, Davis, Thames, Mastroianni, and Gose could all be out there. Plus, it seems like outfielders are a dime a dozen, whereas great third baseman are very tough to find.

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  7. I gotta say I'm with anon on this one. If Hech lives up to his hype, he and Escobar should be anchoring the middle of the infield for the foreseeable future, unless Hill gets his groove back, that is.

    That leaves Lawrie at third and JoBau in right.

    When Gose is ready to make the leap to the bigs, Davis, Thames and Mastroianni should make nice depth players and/or trade bait.

    Or maybe I've got it all wrong. One thing we can probably all agree on though: This is a great problem to have.

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  8. My 2 cents:

    I don't think we have to worry about Davis taking up space in the outfield, 2 years from now. To me, he's always seemed like a placeholder until Gose (or another CF prospect) is ready.

    An outfield of Snider-Gose in LF and CF and one or two of Thames, Mastroianni, Sierra, and Marisnick would be the ideal outcome. Add J-Bau to that mix if you don't think he'll be traded, released, or a DH by then.

    I tend to think that the Jays will hang onto Hill through 2012, but no further. He's becoming injury prone, but I can't see the team letting him go and counting on Hechevarria being ready to start the 2012 season.

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  9. Given that the Jays felt that Lawrie wasn't going to succeed defensively at second, and his strong initial results at third, I imagine he'll remain at third for the duration, with Bautista shifting back out to right field. This doesn't result in an optimal alignment in the abstract (Bautista is more valuable as a third baseman), but it does make sense with the players the Jays have.

    Should most of our prospects succeed in becoming MLB regulars (unlikely in any case), the Jays will have to start trading assets (perhaps Yunel Escobar if Hech comes up, Davis if Gose becomes ready, Arencibia when d'Arnaud/Perez make it).

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  10. infieldfly, certainly a great problem to have. This just goes to show how forward thinking you have to be as a GM to figure all this out. AA was right, you really do have to be thinking 5-6 moves ahead of everyone else.

    Roberto, the Jays could exercise Davis' option, but beyond 2012, Davis won't stick around. Like you said, that buys some time for one of the prospects to slot in.

    gabriel, there will definitely be a log jam in the middle infield and the outfield of all the prospects come to fruition like we're hoping they are. Like Chris alluded to earlier, it's a great problem to have!

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