Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Fought the Law, but the Lawrie Won

So it seems fitting to start the week, well at least my week... yep a wedding provided me with an incredibly long weekend, taking a look at when the Jays may or may not call up prized hitting prospect Brett Lawrie. While Jays fans across the country are swooning at the thought of seeing the young 'stud' that the ninja himself acquired in the Marcum swap during the offseason, I think we might need to hold our horses a little bit.

It seems that most fans are starting to wonder why Lawrie isn't up with the big club yet, as if the Jays don't believe his out of the world numbers are for real in the PCL. Well for starters, yes... I think that does have something to do with it. Not that I think AA and Co. are unsatisfied with his MVP like numbers in AAA this season, but with playing in the Pacific Coast League comes the fact that fans and GM's alike have to take the numbers with a grain of salt. If Willy Mo Pena can post a .300 avg in the PCL, anyone can.

But believe me, I don't think for a second that is what is holding him down. And my hypothesis of firm belief shouldn't come as a surprise to you either. The reason he is down with the baby jays still is that there simply isn't a spot for him in the bigs to get regular playing time right now. Sure, in reality there is, but it at what cost to the rest of the players does it come at?

While disillusioned Jays fans everywhere are positive that he can simply play second and take painful at bats away from Aaron Hill, the fact is that if every scout and analyst in the league says he can't handle it defensively, he can't handle it defensively. So that leaves us with only a few options to get him up, have him play third, have him play one of the corner outfield slots, or have him DH. But therein lies the problem.

Prior to the Colby Rasmus deal last week, it seemed as if the grooming of Travis Snider for CF was a precursor to bringing Lawrie up to play third, have Thames play left, and slot Jose back in right. But along came a streetcar named Colby, and a wrench was thrown in the plans. The Jays have to be committed to giving Rasmus (who posted a .859 OPS last season, which had he been a Jay last season would have been second on the team behind only Bautista) a chance to play everyday to reestablish himself. The Jays have also been quite certain that they will give Snider every opportunity to play - and despite only garnering one walk since his callup, his .287 average in July suggests that perhaps consistent playing time is all he needs to emerge as the player we all hope he can be. Then comes Eric Thames, perhaps the proverbial thorn in AA's side - while his numbers haven't been all that impressive (sorry guys the slipping average has to do entirely with a .347 babip) the way he has carried himself in his second go round with the Jays seems to please fans, and his knack for some timely hitting seems to make fans think he is the real deal.

The logical move would be bring Lawrie up and have him play third, slot Jose back in right, leave Colby in CF permanently with Snider getting the majority of starts in left with Thames getting his chance here and there between Left and DH. Problem solved right? Well sure if we are only thinking long term, but unfortunately Edwin Encarnacion has decided that he would like to audition as Brooks Robinson for a remake of Field of Dreams.

Since the All-Star break, Edwin has posted a .339/.451/1.061 slash line and has played above average defence at both third and first. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that a) those numbers are unbelievable (and also prolonged - he has posted a .800+ OPS since June) and b) even in our wildest dreams Brett Lawrie likely won't put up numbers like that right away. So DH seems like Edwin's for the rest of the season.

So back to the original question, it is not a matter of when Lawrie will play for the Jays, it seems more and more a question of where can they fit him in the lineup to get regular playing time? CF and DH one would think are locked with Rasmus and Edwin for the time being. One would assume so is LF with Snider. Then there is as always has been the plan of playing him at third, but that seems ever so contingent on Thames struggling to allow Jose to move back to right.

Oh but that one thing that I didn't mention yet... if the scouts and coaches are to be believed at all - there is a fear that he can't even handle third defensively in the bigs... and that crowded outfield just became ever more crowded.

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