For those who missed it this weekend, the Blue Jays have brought up Brett Lawrie – as a 2B. This move is a bit of a head scratcher to me. I think Lawrie is certainly athletic enough to play 2B, but there is no viable, long-term replacement at 3B on the roster in my opinion. The Jays plan to use Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa at the hot corner for now. Is there something in the works to acquire a premier 3B before the trade deadline?
The Jays are saying they see SS Jose Reyes and Lawrie setting up as a long-term double-play team. Yet even Reyes says that the transition for Lawrie probably would be easier if it had of happened in Spring Training either this year or next. For the record, Reyes believes Lawrie is more than capable of playing 2B – he just thinks it would be an easier move if Lawrie had more reps.
Lawrie went 1 – 8 at the plate in his first two games back and didn’t commit an error with limited chances at 2B.
Again, this move is a bit bizarre to me but we’ll see how it plays out.
The odd-man-out is once again Munenori Kawasaki. Kaswasaki was optioned to triple-A to make room for Lawrie.
The Jays are still carrying an 8-man bullpen but will likely go back to a traditional 7-man ‘pen when Melky Cabrera comes back from the DL shortly or immediately after the allstar break. Barring any trades (think Darren Oliver), the Jays will likely send down Neil Wagner simply because everyone in the ‘pen is pitching so well and he is the guy with minor league options.
Here’s a bit of insight into how a few of our boys are progressing with rehab:
Brandon Morrow – He threw 25 pitches during a side session on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw again on Friday. Morrow has been on the DL since May 28 because of soreness in his right forearm. At first, the Jays thought Morrow would only require the minimum 15 days off but it now looks like he won’t be able to rejoin the team until sometime in August (big surprise). The Jays want Morrow, 28, to make at least 3 rehab starts and there is still no timetable of when he’ll make his first of the three. After his session of Friday, we could hear more. Stay tuned.
Sergio Santos – He has been making appearances in single-A but has not been able to pitch on back-to-back days – something the Jays say is a must before he rejoins the team. Arguably the biggest offseason acquisition two years ago, Santos has only pitched in 11 games for the Jays and has lost his closer role. The surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow appears to have been successful and Santos is optimistic that he’ll be able to return shortly after the allstar break (although this is the same Santos that said he wouldn’t have to go on the DL – twice).
Brett Lawrie – He was promoted from double-A to triple-A and played for Buffalo last night going 2-4 with a homer, 3 RBI, and a stolen base. During 3 games in double-A, Lawrie went 3 – 9 with four walks. Interestingly, the Jays had Lawrie play 2B last night in triple-A, not his usually 3B. To me, it seems unlikely that Lawrie will move to 2B unless the Jays acquire another player to play 3B. It makes more sense to have current fill-in, Maicer Izturis, play 2B. I suppose you could have Edwin Encarnacion play 3B and move Lawrie to 2B, but that leave Adam Lind at 1B with no power DH bat. Perhaps this is just a move to see what Lawrie looks like for when the Jays play interleague and lose the DH. In that case, it would make sense to get Lawrie some reps at 2B. The 23-year-old is recovering from an ankle sprain and could rejoin the team at anytime. The Jays simply want to make sure Lawrie’s timing at the plate is back and not rush him. If he has another solid offensive performance in his next triple-A game, I imagine the Jays will immediately move him to the big club and cut Munenori Kawasaki.
To make room for Chien-Ming Wang, Adam LaRoche was designated for assignment after a very brief stint with the big club.
LaRoche, 29, appeared in just one game for the Jays this season and went 0-for-4. The infielder is a former top prospect who ranked on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list each year from 2005-08, placing as high as No. 19. However, in parts of six Major League seasons (1,336 plate appearances), he’s hit just .226 avg., .304 opb, .336 slg with 22 home runs. LaRoche, who has spent time with the Dodgers, Pirates, A’s and Blue Jays, was originally a 39th-round selection by the Dodgers in the 2003 draft.
This move isn’t surprising. What was surprising is that the Jays called up LaRoche in the first place. With Brett Lawrie on the DL, it seems to me that Mark DeRosa and Maicer Izturis should be able to handle the 3B load until Lawrie comes back. Calling up LaRoche was a bit of a head scratcher.
LaRoche is a good triple-A depth guy. If DeRosa or Izturis goes down prior to Lawrie’s and Jose Reye’s returns, that’s when he should get the call. Until then, he should be playing in Buffalo.
LaRoche has cleared waivers and will play in triple-A.
There is some speculation that Munenori Kawasaki might be here to stay. You have to wonder if the Blue Jays would still sign Maicer Izturis if they could do it all over again. Izturis signed a 3-year, $9 million deal this past offseason and it was suggested he would be the starting 2B. But after the trade with the Marlins that included Emilio Bonifacio, Izturis has lost playing time at 2B as Bonifacio has established himself as the everyday player at 2B (you might not agree, but I stand by this decision).
Yet, with Jose Reyes going down early with a severe ankle sprain it wasn’t Izturis that received the nod to start at SS in Reyes’ extended absence. Instead, the Jays called upon former Japanese baseball allstar Kawasaki.
Kawasaki, instantly a fan favourite for his praying antics and gracious bows, is a sub-average utility middle INF at best. But for some reason, he is getting constant at bats over Izturis. It’s a bit mind boggling.
I can see why Jays fans (mostly casual band wagon jumpers who have had little to cheer for this year) love Kawasaki. He hustles, he battles and grinds every at bat, and he uses his speed. He has to use his speed – his approach is to slap the ball and try and beat out infield singles. Very occasionally he gets a ball into the outfield.
But he does walk and get on base. His batting average leaves a lot to be desired for a contact guy at .205. Yet, with a .322 obp he’s doing the job out of the 9 hole. But a .264 slugging percentage? Yikes. See what a mean about his “beat one out” approach?
The Jays, though, seem to want to find room for Kawasaki when Reyes comes back (probably late June). With Brett Lawrie on the DL, they might be able to do so for a bit longer. However, when Lawrie comes back, the Jays need to lose an INF and Kawasaki appears to be on the block. Izturis is earning too much to be traded, Mark DeRosa is a much more valuable bat off the bench with a healthy team, and Kawasaki just doesn’t hit enough to stick around.
Jays fans love Kawasaki and as a fan watching the little guy play the big league game, even I have a soft spot for him. But the club is a better team with Izturis starting at SS over the course of several games and it’s annoying that the Jays never let that take place. Kawasaki would have been a great call up to be the reserve middle INF.
Instead, he’s a guy everybody hopes will do well.
A very deflating game. Anytime you have a chance to win against David Price (career 12 -2 record vs. the Blue Jays going into last night) you have to close it out.
Just a couple of comments:
1. I know I keep harping on this, but again there was another situation with 1st and 3rd, one out, and a sub par batter at the plate. Why not bunt??? We had Colby Rasmus on 3rd, Maicer Izturis on 1st, and Henry Blanco at the dish. The score was tied 3-3. James Loney was glued to 1st base to hold Izturis. Blanco should have bunted up the first base line, scored Rasmus, moved Izturis into scoring position for Rajai Davis and given the Jays the lead. Instead, we choose to go for the strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Brutal.
2. Brad Lincoln – you had Luke Scott 0-2. The bases were loaded. Why nibble, nibble, nibble, on the edges? And if you do and Scott is back to 3-2, with the bases loaded and 2 out in with the walk off run at 3rd, you must throw a strike – even if it means a fastball down the pipe. Pretty tough to defence a walk.
Let’s take 2 of 3 from Boston this weekend.
A lot of people I know have been asking me whether I think the Blue Jays postseason hopes have already been crushed. And it’s still the month of April.
But let’s face it. Nobody expected a 9-17 start out of this group and if they did, they most likely wouldn’t have thought it was the offence that was hurting the team.
The Blue Jays have scored 3 runs or less in 15 of their 26 games. They have a major league worst .259 batting average of ball in play. Their last 7 games have been decided by 2 runs or less.
What does all this mean?
The Jays are due to score a lot of runs. They are do to have some of those “at’em balls” find holes and even better, due to have some bloops fall in. They are due to blow out some teams very soon.
Baseball is a game were nothing lies after 162 games and this team has too much talent not to turn this around. It’s only a matter of time, in my opinion. Once they string a few wins together, they could go on a huge run.
But will it be too late when they do? Well, you can’t win a division in April but you can certainly lose one. Already the Jays have dug themselves into a deep hole. Not always, but normally 90 wins gets you a playoff spot (the Rays won 90 last year and missed). To win 90 games, the Jays need to go 81-55 over the remaining 136 games. That’s playing nearly .600 ball (.596 to be exact). Can they do it? Absolutely. But it needs to start right not. Boston will not finish the season playing .720 baseball. They are due to lose. Neither John Lester or Clay Bucholtz have lost a game and sport ridiculously low ERAs (2.27 and 1.19 respectively). Both Morrow and Buehrle are due for wins.
In baseball, assuming talent is there, usually the hot teams are about to cool off and the cold teams are about to heat up. It’s time to even things out.
One request – can we please get Emilio Bonifacio into more games? He should be starting at 2B and Maicer Izturis should be at SS. You can bring in Munenori Kawasaki if you have a lead late or if someone needs a day off. Bonifacio is hitting .188 with a .232 obp over 64 at bats vs. a career .264 avg and .325 obp. Kawasaki is hitting .225 with a .313 obp vs. a MLB career (admitted sample size) .201 avg and .273 obp. So which player has more upside? Look at Izturis: he was batting .174 ten games ago and then hit .243 to bring his average up to .200. His career average is .271. Logic says he’ll continue to produce and probably go through a period of hitting over .300 for several games.
Let’s start playing .600 ball!
If you missed the game yesterday, you missed a bit of everything.
Finally, John Gibbons started Maicer Izturis at SS and Emilio Bonifacio at 2B. Thank you – it’s about time. The offence had the long ball going, as the Blue Jays hitters bashed four homers. But then the Jays squandered a 5-2 lead and allowed the Orioles to tie the game and force extra innings. Gibbons got tossed in the 9th by defending Brett Lawrie (who was arguing balls and strikes – big surprise). Jose Bautista made an error when he lost a routine fly ball and fans across the country were thinking “here we go again”. But Rajai Davis saved the day by throwing out the walk off run at the plate in the bottom of the 10th to set up a go ahead bases loaded walk to Izturis to take the lead. Casey Janssen was spectacular again, tossing a 1-2-3 inning with two K’s.
But I want to talk about something else. With the offence struggling, why are the Jays not trying to manufacture more runs? In two of the past four games, the Jays have had a situation where Munenori Kawasaki comes to the plate with one out and runners on 1st and 3rd. He is the definition of a slap hitter and more often then not hits a ball on the ground and hope it sneaks through a hole or he can beat it out. Why not bunt up the first base line? The 1B is glued to the bag to hold the runner and can’t charge the ball, you guarantee a run, move the trail runner into scoring position with two out, and play for a two run inning. Chances are Kawasaki is going to hit a ground ball somewhere and it’s important to stay out of the double play. Not bunting in these two situations makes no sense to me.
In the two cases, a bunt would have accomplished more than what transpired. In the first, Kawasaki hit a sac fly. Great. We scored a run. But we could have scored a run AND moved the trail runner into scoring position. Wasted opportunity. In the second, Kawasaki hit into a double play and ended the inning. Even worse.
If I look at the current starting nine, at the very least the Jays should be bunting in this situation with either Kawasaki or Izturis at the plate. I might even do it with others like Davis or Bonifacio depended on the situation.
Everyone in the lineup save maybe the 3-4-5 hitters should be capable of pulling off this play on a major league team, in my opinion. The Tampa Bay Rays use this play all the time and have more wins in the past five years then any other team besides the Yankees and Phillies. With a stuttering offence, it’s time to take the guaranteed runs when they are there.