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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mulliniks Moustache #4 – Brett Lawrie

I have to say, when the Blue Jays first acquired Brett Lawrie, I drank the Kool-Aid®. I guzzled that sugary goodness like a 19-year-old at their first open bar. My thirst could not be slaked! I bought in hook, line and sinker. How could I not? A young, brash, highly-touted, dynamic Canadian baseball player? Sign me up! By all* accounts Lawrie was the second, coming clad not in robes and sandals, but in baseball cleats and eye black. He seemingly came from nowhere (Milwaukee), and his destiny was to lead a downtrodden team into the stratosphere and back to the promised land, baseball Mecca – PLAYOFFS. And all it cost was the Blue Jays’ opening-day starter.**

From the very moment he was acquired, I counted down the moments in breathless anticipation of when Brett Lawrie would arrive in “The Show”.

If that turncoat bastard John Farrell had had his way, 21-year-old Lawrie would’ve broken camp as the Blue Jays starting third baseman in 2011. Instead, upper management decided to send him to the minors for more “seasoning” where, on May 31st, he proceeded to break a hand on an errant pitch, thus delaying the inevitable and postponing his callup until early August. Then, he arrived…and lasted less than two months. On September 21st a broken finger during batting practice forced him to miss the remainder of the season. But by that point he had made his mark – he was the heir apparent by Spring Training 2012.

This entire preamble is merely to say that the delicious Kool-Aid® from way back in 2011 was tainted…I know, I know…that’s kind of the point of the “Kool-Aid®” metaphor, but anyways, the bottom line is this: I am no longer sold on Brett Lawrie as the future of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise.

I love that Lawrie plays with intensity, almost to a fault, but I think what we’ve seen from Lawrie over the past 2 seasons is what we’ll see for the next 10-15 years (if he lasts that long): an injury-plagued career with moderate to above-average offensive numbers and absolutely incredible defensive displays.

Best case scenario? I figure numbers along these lines: .280/.360/.550, 15-20 homeruns, 70-80 RBIs, 20-30 stolen bases and Gold Glove-worthy defense. If he puts those numbers up for a decade or more, then you’ll hear no complaints from me. The more likely scenario, though? The numbers mentioned above minus 30-40% due to time lost because of injury and/or suspension. That’s the hallmark double-edged sword of high-intensity players – it drives them to perform, but it also drives them to over-extend themselves and open themselves up to injury.

I hope I get proven wrong, and that possibility obviously exists, but I am not overly optimistic. In the meantime, I’m preparing myself for an abundance of Maicer Izturis and Chris Getz at third base this year. As should you, my gentle readers.

*All = Some overzealous accounts only.

**In hindsight, it was a good trade, though. Shaun Marcum had a good 2011 season for the Brewers, but then injuries derailed his career pretty quickly. That makes me sad. I loved that guy.

***And let’s not forget about the Red Bull®. Cases and cases of Red Bull®, possibly injected straight into his veins. Maybe if he limits his intake to a can or two an hour he’d be a little more low-key? I kid, of course. I have no idea how much Red Bull® Lawrie actually consumes, I just assume it’s a lot.

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