Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two Thoughts Brett Lawrie, and a Spare Thought for Henderson Alvarez

1. Brett Lawrie Looks Like He Belongs
We just stopped ourself here. We were going to talk about the apprehensions that some may have had about calling the kid from New Whereeverthehell, B.C., to the big leagues, when it came to us that we couldn't think of anyone (well, Dustin Parkes aside) who had any hesitation about bringing the lad up. So, never mind, really. Just to say that Lawrie looks as though he fits in, and doesn't seem trepidatious at all to be at this level.

2. Brett Lawrie Doesn't Look Like a Third Baseman
You know how people have said for years that Travis Snider looks like a fullback? Well, Brett Lawrie looks like a strong safety: Jacked up and ripped and wound tight. And that all seems to work fine when it comes to unleashing that sheer physicality in a swing or getting out of the box.

But playing the field (especially the infield) requires a level of relaxation, and the ability to remain physically loose. We're not sure that Lawrie has it in him to be either of those things (which is what y'all seem to love about him anyhow, so don't get upset.) When watching Lawrie transition from fielding a ball to throwing it, you can visually see the effort that he requires in order to quiet himself and get the ball across the diamond without throwing it into the second deck.

And here's the thing about Lawrie's impending fielding struggles: Fans are going to have all sorts of patience with these sorts of errors, because it will look like HE'S TRYING SO DAMN HARD TO MAKE THE PLAY. But an E5 is an E5, no matter how it comes to be.

3. Henderson Alvarez Is Finally Here
Okay, so maybe there are more people expressing their concern that the young Venezuelan hurler has made it to the big leagues before he's ready. But as for us: This is a long time coming. We remember the first time that we saw the strikeout-to-walk ratio that Alvarez posted in Low-A Lansing in 2009 - which finished at 92/19, but was even more brilliant early in the season - and we pondered how long we might have to wait to see that arm in the big leagues. We figured the end of 2012 would be the earliest that the occasion would come along. Now that it appears that he'll get his first kick at the rubber this week, we couldn't be more thrilled.

We're not entirely sure that this means that Alvarez will stick, though given the choice between sending him to Las Vegas next year to refine his game or bringing him directly to Toronto, we'd choose the latter. (Which speaks to the pressing need to get the hell out of the PCL, but that's another post for another day.)


Kathryn said...

Real comment bait would have had you disparaging Lawrie's attitude rather than his 3B abilities, and calling Adrian Gonzalez the MVP over Bautista - but I digress :)

Lawrie is going to get a lot of grace from the fans - you're right, hypocritical as it is after jumping on EE - and not just because he's the 'second coming'. Outside of stats geeks/hardcore fans though who can make the seperation easier, so much of appreciation of baseball players is perception by the masses.

I mean, Juan Rivera might have been trying his damn heart out on the basepaths - but he didn't look like it so everybody's (read: me) much more quick to condemn. Plus, well, he and EE have never had the ripped maple syrup fueled physique to help either.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

That's a good analogy that Lawrie is a baseball player that plays like a football player. I have my doubts about him at third, but heck, the Blue Jays can't convert every player they have to the outfield.

Anonymous said...

Brett Lawrie has the athletic skills to become a brilliant third baseman. He just needs more experience to develop that muscle memory. In just 3 games, he has already made himself a player to watch.

Anonymous said...

The TORONTO BLUE JAYS have selected the contract of right-handed pitcher HENDERSON ALVAREZ from New Hampshire of the Eastern League (AA) and have outrighted left-handed pitcher WILFREDO LEDEZMA to Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League (AAA). ALVAREZ will make his Major League debut on Wednesday, August 10 at 7:07 pm, starting against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre.

Ice Cream Jonsey said...

Lawrie will get grace as long as he's taking care of things at the plate. If he maxes out as a 109 OPS+ guy like Encarnacion has (complete with absolutely brutal stretches with the bat) while being an abomination in the field, welp.

But let's be honest, most of the reason we hate Encarnacion so much is that the entire league passed on him and members of the media were STILL banging the ridiculous "He'll decline arbitration and net us a pick!" drum for so long and so hard.

muckfest said...

Are you kidding? you dont know anything about what it takes to be a third basemen and three games from a green 21 year old cant show you that he is not "fluid" enough to be good defensively. absolutely ridiculous, stick to writing about things you can truly quantify

Tao of Stieb said...

I dunno. I've watched a lot of third basemen over the years, and my observation over those first three games of Lawrie is what it is.

And yes, I think I know what it takes to be a good third baseman:
It takes good feet, balance, courage, and a strong, accurate arm.

I'm not saying I could do it, but I know what it takes.

@NorthYorkJays said...

Very with you on Lawrie in the field. I look at that body and it's just so hard to think of a comp, and I tend to agree with scouts who seem to believe in a consensus that his ultimate position is not 3B. That could be because they only see him a game or 2 at a time and are prone to seeing games like his MLB debut, but in scouting the rule usually is that if there's talk a player needs to move off a position, the player needs to move off the position. The Blue Jays development team know better than anyone what Lawrie's abilities are though, and the fact they seem intent on trying him at 3B has to be worth something.

Jose Bautista has all the necessary tools for 3B, and would probably be pretty good there (read : better than Lawrie) if given every day reps there. He also isn't nearly as good as he thinks he is in RF and is a fucking hazard on every ball hit into the Bermuda Triangle - one day he's going to kill Rasmus or Hanley (our future 2B) going after a ball.

We're all rooting for him to show he can handle 3B at the MLB level but I hope the Jays wouldn't hesitate to switch Bautista back into the infield if Lawrie has a poor 2 months and there's a 2nd wild card introduced in 2012.

And really, who cares - have you seen Gordie Dougie at the fuckin plate?

Anonymous said...

Best 3B comps I can think of watching Lawrie play 3rd - Carney Lansford and Ken Caminiti. Don't ask me why.

Dainer's Hubris said...

I doubt Lawrie Bossman will ever be confused for Brooks Robinson. I expect improvement over time, and he seems to have the athleticism, arm and work ethic to become above-average at 3rd. I don't write a blog, so while I'm refraining from a rush to judgment, I'll forgive you yours.

That said, it seems to me that his apparent lack of grace in transitioning from fielding to throwing might be due to the fact that he had plenty of time to make his 6 plays in Sunday's game. The sample size is tiny right now; hot shots handcuffed him in Game 1, and routine GB's for even E.E. in the last game. When he actually has to handle some balls that require some displacement and strong, quick throws to beat out speedy runners, then you'll have some examples to make a judgment.

I'm all for tempered enthusiasm, and your fears may in fact prove to be prescient, but at present your argument rests solely on the facts he doesn't have a prototypical baseball body (he reminds me of a stouter Lenny Dykstra) and he hasn't really been tested.

KissMyPurpleButt said...

He's here to hit. If he plays even marginally below average defense that will be great.

www.tuweb.biz said...

I completely agree with the post.