Tagged: Mark DeRosa

Lawrie up, Kawasaki down

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.

@IHRTBJs

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LaRoche Designated

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.

@IHRTBJs

Is Kawasaki here to stay?

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.

@IHRTBJs

Last Night’s loss – May 2, 2013

I’m tired of losing.  Even more so, I’m tired of losing to John Farrell’s Red Sox.  

Last night the Blue Jays dropped another game to lower their record to 10 – 19.  That’s the 27th of 30 MLB teams.  Only the Houston Astros are worse in the American League.  

I never expect to win a game when our starting pitcher walks 7 batters.  It rarely happens.  But with all the walks (10 in total) allowed to Red Sox hitters, the Jays only surrendered 3 runs and definitely had a chance to win.  

Edwin Encarnacion came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded.  He’s been making solid contact for the past two weeks and really hitting it hard every time he puts it in play.  On a 2-0 pitch, he rolled over on a slider and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.  

Adam Lind came to the plate with two out and the bases loaded later in the game.  He has been seeing the ball as well as any Blue Jay lately (11 walks in his past 9 games).  He worked the count full and then struck out on a fastball at the letters.  

So the offence had its chance.  Bad start for J.A. Happ?  Definitely.  He couldn’t command anything.  But the staff gave us a chance to win last night and the offence, yet again, let us down.  

This next comment might sound a bit like I’m just bitter and looking for excuses for the Jays – I’m not.  They have played horrible baseball and deserve their record.  I really think they will go on a run, but they deserve to be 10 – 19 with the way they’ve played so far.  So keeping in mind this is not an excuse….what the hell was up with home plate umpire Gary Darling last night?  His strike zone was inconsistent to say the least.  He gave Ryan Dempster so many pitches off the outside corner, which I’m totally fine with if it was going both ways – but it wasn’t, and poor Happ couldn’t get a call when he was on the plate.  It was downright ridiculous.  Now, this umpiring did not lose the Jays the game.  The lack of clutch hitting lost them the game.  But you have to wonder if all the previous whining about balls and strikes over the past couple seasons is catching up with the Jays with umpires around the league.  

On a positive note, only Brett Lawrie complained last night.  Usually it’s Lawrie, Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia, and the list goes on.  I’m happy Bautista has shut his trap the last couple games.  You have to think John Gibbons had a private conversation with him about it.  

This is going to sound weird to some since the offence sucked again last night, but I think they are really close to breaking out.  The at bats are getting much better.  It was rare that they chased and it really looks like most guys are starting to see the ball well.  The only two that looked lost at the plate were Melky Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio.  Cabrera is in a funk and Gibbons has now moved him back to the 2-hole where he is certain to see pitches while hitting in front of Bautista – thank you Gibbons (you should have never moved him).  And Bonifacio just isn’t getting enough consistent at bats, so it’s tough.  He should be starting nearly every night and Munenori Kawasaki should be on the bench to spell Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis when they need a night off or to come in for Bonifacio as a defensive replacement late in a game if the Jays have the lead.  How many times do I need to say this?  

And Gibbons, I really do like you as a manager and don’t want to see you go (despite what some of the fan base is saying), but how can you not pinch hit for Kawasaki in the bottom of the 9th when he represents the tying run at the plate?  Really?  Mark DeRosa was available.  Hell, even Maicer Izturis has more pop than Kawasaki.  Just a bizarre decision to pinch hit for Bonifacio with Rajai Davis and not pinch hit for Kawasaki when he represented the tying run.

I realize it sounds like I really don’t like Kawasaki but I actually do.  I just don’t like him as a starter or at the plate representing the tying run in the 9th inning.  

Let’s hope Ricky Romero’s new mechanics can hold up tonight vs. Felix Hernandez.  And let’s hope the bats come alive.

@IHRTBJs

Lawrie Returns; Santos Hit DL

Brett Lawrie has returned to the Blue Jays lineup and from everything I’ve heard (I’m overseas on business and haven’t been able to watch the past few games), his defence has been a major improvement on what the Jays were getting from Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa at the hot corner (although I though DeRosa didn’t look that bad – Lawrie is definitely better, but Rosey held his own).

But Lawrie is 0-7 with 4 K’s since returning to the big club.  Was he rushed back?  Probably.  According to earlier reports from the Jays, Lawrie wasn’t supposed to be back until this weekend’s series vs. the Yankees.  But with Jose Reyes going down to a severe ankle injury that will most likely keep him sidelined until the allstar break, the Jays wanted to bring up some defence and add Lawrie’s bat to the lineup.  Even if he was rushed and his timing is a bit off, I think it’s the right move.  He’ll be just fine.

However, in the same day Jays fans received the good news of the Lawrie activation, they also learned that hard-throwing righty Sergio Santos has hit the DL.  Santos had looked good so far this season during his brief sample size of appearances.  Despite giving up a homer and being tagged with a loss in one of his outings, overall he had pitch 4.1 innings, had 6 K’s, only 1 BB and held opponents to a .188 batting clip while boasting a 0.92 WHIP.  With those sorts of numbers and the inconsistency of Steve Delabar to start the season, losing Santos could hurt the backend of the bullpen.

Santos has been shutdown for extra rest already twice this year (once during spring training and once in Detroit) for experiencing a sore triceps muscle.  It appears the Jays have taken the cautious approach, as they should early in a season, since Santos had a MRI that showed no damage.  He won’t throw for a week and will be re-evaluated.

I don’t know about the rest of the Jays fans, but I’m getting tired of the organization telling us these injuries “are nothing” having players go “day-to-day” only to see them miss fairly considerable time from what we were told during first assessment.

So….Lawrie back, Santos out.  Probably more good news than bad, but still not great to hear.

@IHRTBJs

Blue Jays Sign Andy LaRoche to Minor League Deal

The search for organizational depth continued today; the Blue Jays have signed corner infielder Andy LaRoche to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

LaRoche, 29, spent last season between triple-A splitting time between the Indians and Red Sox organizations.  He posted a .251 avg, .335 obp, .422 slg batting line, with 20 doubles, 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He last played in the Majors in 2011, batting .247 with a .654 OPS in 40 games for the A’s.

LaRoche does have Major League experience; he has totalled 403 games with the Dodgers, Pirates and A’s over parts of five seasons.  He was the Pirates everyday third baseman in 2009, posting a .258 avg, .330 obp, .401 slg batting line with 12 homers and 64 RBIs in 150 games.  He also has the ability to play 1B.

The right-handed hitter is a career .226 hitter in the Majors, with a notably better minor league numbers.  He holds a .285 avg, .372 obp, .492 slg batting line in eight Minor League seasons.

I see this move as insurance on aging Mark DeRosa, whom the Jays signed to fill the 25th bench spot on the MLB roster.  If DeRosa gets hurt, look for LaRoche to get the call and possibly platoon with Adam Lind if Lind struggles against lefty pitching.  It’s no secret the Jays want a right handed bat that can spell Lind if he struggles vs. tough southpaws.  I’ve said it before, I thought Russ Canzler was the perfect fit.  However, DeRosa with LaRoche as back up isn’t too shabby for the 25th spot on the roster.

IHRTBJs

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Blue Jays Sign DeRosa; Dyson Designated for Assignment

The Blue Jays have signed Mark DeRosa to a one-year contract worth $750,000 with a club option for 2014 at the same amount.  DeRosa, 37, is expected to take the 25th spot on the Jays MLB roster.  He bats right and has the ability to play all 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF or RF.

DeRosa played in 48 games for the Nationals last year, posting a .188 avg, .300 obp, .247 slg batting line in 101 plate appearances and playing every infield position plus both corner outfield positions. Most of DeRosa’s MLB experience comes at third base, second base and right field. In 15 seasons at the MLB level he has a .270 avg, .340 obp, .412 slg  batting line.

It looks more and more like the Jays are wanting veteran clubhouse guys in the 24th and 25th roster spots with the signings of Henry Blanco and now DeRosa.  With Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai David ability to play nearly every position on the field with the exception of pitcher and catcher, don’t look for DeRosa to get too many at bats this season.  But what’s great about DeRosa is not only his versatility; he also knows and understands his role.  He was looking to be the 25th man on a very good team – he wants a World Series ring over playing time at this point in his career.  He is well known as a great “clubhouse guy” around the league.

The signing of DeRosa will come as a surprise to some.  Most MLB insiders expected the Jays to pursue a right handed bat with power that could slide into a DH platoon with Adam Lind if needed.  Again, I’ve said it before: Russ Canzler would have fit this role perfectly.  But it looks like Alex Anthopoulos is more concerned with having some veterans in club house (Blanco and DeRosa) who don’t expect much playing time.  Because with this line up and the versatility of the bench, the final 2 roster spots might not combine for 250 at bats all year if the team stays relatively healthy.

Here’s a look at the projected 25-man MLB roster:

Rotation:

R.A Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero.

Bullpen:

Jeremy Jeffress, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar, Esmil Rogers, Darren Oliver, Segio Santos, Casey Janssen.

Starting lineup:

C – J.P. Arencibia

1B – Edwin Encarnacion

2B – Maicer Izturis (I’d prefer Bonifacio, but it looks like it’s Izturis spot to lose)

3B – Brett Lawrie

SS – Jose Reyes

LF – Melky Cabrera

CF – Colby Rasmus

RF – Jose Bautista

DH – Adam Lind

Bench:

Emilio Bonifacio (LF, CF, RF, 2B, SS, 3B)

Rajai Davis (LF, CF, RF)

Henry Blanco (C)

Mark DeRosa (LF, RF, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS)

You might be asking “where’s Josh Thole?”  It appears the Jays are feeling more and more comfortable starting Thole in triple-A despite his chemistry with Dickey.  Thole has minor league options and the Jays are feeling good about Arencibia’s ability to catch Dickey’s knuckleball.  The two will play together for team USA in the World Baseball Classic and will also have time to work together in Spring Training.  It’s actually been reported that Arencibia and Dickey, who both reside in Nashville, TN in the offseason, have already gotten together to get work in.  I prefer Thole to Blanco, but the Jays want to veteran presence in the club house that 41-year-old Blanco brings.  Look for Arencibia to play major innings if healthy (think Pat Borders in 1992 – most innings played of any MLB catcher).

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Jays designated right-handed pitcher, Sam Dyson for assignment.  Dyson, 24, made his MLB debut this past season. He appeared in two games at the MLB level but spent most of the season in the minor leagues. In 74 innings at Class A and Double-A, he posted a 3.04 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.  Dyson must now clear waivers.  Look for another team to pick him up.

IHRTBJs

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