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No more delays: Blue Jays call up top prospect Brett Lawrie

Aug 4, 2011, 4:31 PM EDT

Brett Lawrie spring training Reuters

Brett Lawrie was on the verge of being called up in May when a broken hand knocked him out for two months, but he’s hit .350 at Triple-A since returning in mid-July and today the Blue Jays officially added their top prospect to the roster.

There are questions about whether Lawrie can stick at third base defensively long term, but he’ll get a chance to play the hot corner for now with Jose Bautista shifting back to right field and his bat is the real draw anyway.

Lawrie, who was acquired from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum this winter, hit .353 with 18 homers and a 1.076 OPS in 69 total games at Triple-A, which is pretty damn impressive for a 21-year-old even at hitter-friendly Las Vegas in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

He didn’t show nearly that much pop at Double-A last season, hitting .285 with eight homers in 135 games, but the 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft ranked 10th on Baseball America‘s midseason top prospect list with the only position players ahead of him being Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Manny Machado, and Jesus Montero.

To make room for Lawrie in the lineup and Bautista in the outfield the Blue Jays demoted Travis Snider to Triple-A for the second time this season. Snider was once a very highly touted prospect himself, but he’s struggled to make consistent contact or control the strike zone. So far a .249 batting average and .308 on-base percentage have offset Snider’s significant power potential, but he’s also still just 23 years old.

  1. dodger88 - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Have to figure Snyder gets at least one more shot in the spring and should Lawrie prove to not yet be ready he may get a chance next month regardless.

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    I’ll give him a whirl on my fantasy team. Ackley worked out well so far, maybe I’ll get lucky twice.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 5, 2011 at 8:22 PM

      First at bat = First hit = First RBI. He also has his first error and his first broken bat.

  3. cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    I thought it would be Thames getting sent or Encarnacion being waived. Glad it’s Snider but not real glad. That young fella has tons of upside. He just needs some tweaking with that swing. He’s really pressing and he’s much better when he’s relaxed.

    I’m glad Lawrie is finally up. About time.

    I’m anxious to see some more production, of course, but what the Beaver Men really need is a CLOSER not another hitter. Watching Jon Rauch & the Bullpen combine to cough up the ball game (again!) is getting ridiculous. Maybe if AJ Burnette gets placed on waivers Anthopolous could grab him as a closer. With his velocity, and only 1 inning to pitch, I wonder if that might not be where he’s best?

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 4, 2011 at 7:02 PM

      Papelbon will be a free agent this winter and will be younger and probably cheaper than A. J. The best relief pitcher on the Jays is Janssen. I wonder why he does not get a chance to save.

    • JBerardi - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:04 PM

      Have you seen their division? They need as many bats as they can get. And a closer. And a couple good setup guys…

      • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:53 PM

        18 blown saves now. Worst or 2nd worse in the league (I’m trying not to keep too close a track of suckitude so I’m refraining form looking it up). Trust me, they need a closer more than they need the bats. Slightly more than half of those blown saves converted and they’re glaring the Yankees in the eye with a league average close %. Mid you, I wouldn’t be saying no to the rest of that little list you threw out there JB.

      • Ari Collins - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:56 PM

        Blown saves don’t always lead to losses, though, and they often happen in the middle innings. It’s really not a telling stat, especially since if you’re a very good team, you won’t be playing as many close games to begin with.

        And expensive closers don’t usually work, since by the time someone hits free agency, their best years are behind them. Most of the top teams have closers they developed themselves.

        Point is, Jays will be fine at closer. It’s a couple more bats and a starter they need.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:29 AM

        Anybody who says the Jays need more hitting hasn’t been watching them much this year. You can talk about blown saves not always leading to losses and being mostly in the middle innings and whatever else you want, but none of that applies to the Jays. Most of theirs have come in the late innings, often the ninth, and have cost them several games. Look no further than to yesterday’s 2 – count ’em 2 – blown saves in extra innings. Right now the Jays’ closer is Rauch, and he seems to only be able to throw meatballs over the heart of the plate. Anybody would be an upgrade so they don’t need to go after a big-money closer, just a guy with good stuff that can get the job done. A starter for the front end of the rotation would be nice but their biggest problem right now is the bullpen and specifically the closer spot

      • cur68 - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:38 AM

        Know what Ari? You state everything like its a fact. That’s your opinion up there ^^^. I disagree with it categorically. Emphatically. Without reservation or regret. What I’ve stated is my opinion. Its based on watching the Blue Jays all season. They’ve get to the 8th inning with a lead 18 times now. 18 times it’s been surrendered by the ineffective bullpen. IMO they need that closer to the tune of 8 or nine more wins. More bats isn’t going to swing as big a change as 8 or 9 saves. They put up 6 runs today. Easily enough to win. Had the lead, what, 3 times? All the bullpen had to do was close it out. No closer = loss.

        If you think blowing teams away is the answer I invite you to put your opinion out there on ALL the threads you comment on and stop nipping at my heels like I’ve done something to you. I can’t recall a single instance where you have gone to comment to agree with me. All you do is disagree and state your opinion as though you speak from Olympus. Once again I couldn’t disagree with you more and I do NOT agree to disagree either. I think you’re opinion is flat out wrong.

      • Mark - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:51 AM

        I’ve watched the same games you have and I agree with Ari. A closer doesn’t magically add 8-9 wins. You can win a game and se till have a blown save.

        No, the problem with this team is the ineffective starting pitching. The bullpen isn’t great, but a closer doesn’t magically add 8-9 wins. At best it’s one win. Especially when you consider that the league average # of blown saves is 13.

        Not that blown stats is really what you should be looking at.

        Just for fun:

        Jays RP: 3.66 ERA
        Jays SP: 4.50 ERA

        So again, the bullpen isn’t really the issue. It’s the fact they gave too many starts to Villanueva, Reyes, and other re-treads while losing Cecil for the bizarre lack of stuff and Litsch to injuries.

        So to recap – the bullpen isn’t great, but it’s not the biggest problem this team has. It’s the lack of any reliable SP behind Romero/Morrow. Even Cecil was pretty lousy today, with 4 K and 3 BB in 6 IP. He’s lucky he didn’t get lit up with the lack of control he showed.

      • cur68 - Aug 5, 2011 at 2:57 AM

        Mark: all you’ve written is that you agree with Ari’s post followed by a lecture on the starting rotation with ERA (which is largely useless when speaking of bullpen pitchers) thrown in. I agreed earlier BTW, that the Jays could use a starter but the notion that a closer isn’t really immediately important to them AS WELL is naive at best.

        This particular loss represented 2 blown saves IN THE SAME GAME. I don’t realistically expect every save converted but since the top 8 teams in the AL save at around 80%, I think, as a fan, I’d like to see my team do that too. I am boggled, that as an ostensible Jay’s fan, you feel different.

        When you own the stat of 55 % of converted save opportunities (23-for-42), the worst save percentage in the American League, AND you play in the AL Beast, then you my friend NEED a closer, not a bat (as much). By even being in the position to blow that many saves indicates you have just enough offence. What you lack is pitching. Short of getting Harry Leroy Halladay III back (which is unrealistic), then a good solid closer is a must to have any chance of competing when your team scores just a hair over 3 runs/game. Man, with Heath Belll, a closer who’s best years are NOT behind him, on the market prior to the deadline, I am simply crushed that my … OUR team missed an opportunity.

      • Mark - Aug 5, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        Actually, no, the point about the ERA difference is quite relevant. The Jays rank 26th in ERA in the majors for SP ERA and 16th in the majors for bullpen ERA. That’s quite a significant difference, and shows that the Jays rotation, and not their bullpen, is what needs to be upgraded.

        The fact that a middle of the pack bullpen is struggling to save games is an anomaly. It’s not something we should expect going forward. A crappy reliever can save 80% of games, you don’t need a “Veteran Experienced Gritty closer” who is paid 10M to do that. Most of those BS can be attributed to Rauch & Fransisco, two guys who, let’s face it, the Jays shouldn’t have had closing after May or June.

        A closer isn’t IMMEDIATELY IMPORTANT as you suggest. A closer is one of the last pieces you look for, because they don’t have as much of an effect as we’re led to believe. I would rather have a dominant top 4 in the rotation than a guy who pitches 60 innings to get 3 outs against guys who usually aren’t the middle of the lineup with a 1-3 run lead.

        The two blown saves in a single game is something a closer wouldn’t help with. A closer is not infallible – they’re still going to blow saves. If your gritty veteran experienced closer blew a save in the 9th, we still would have lost it in the 11th or 12th when Camp pitched.

        The bigger issue with last nights game was that two of the best 3 relievers for the Jays are playing on other teams. Frasor & Rzep were very effective, and gave the Jays on average 2 relatively shut down innings. Their replacements aren’t capable of doing that. What that leaves the Jays with is one reliable arm in Janssen, and a bunch of guys who need to be used specifically against RH bats (Fransisco, Dotel) or lefties (Miller, Ledezma if he’s still up).

        No, the Jays don’t need a closer. What they need are several reliable arms in the bullpen. Last night was an example of that. The Jays could have gotten their 1-2 shutdown innings from their “closer”, but they still would have eventually had to use Camp or Rauch.

        So if Heath Bell’s best years aren’t behind him, why has his strikeout rated dropped significant (down from 10 and 11 the past few years to 6.9)? He can still be a useful arm in the bullpen, but guys don’t just drop multiple K’s per 9 without raising a red flag.

        So to sum this up – yes, the Jays need bullpen help. But not just one guy. They need multiple reliable arms. For the rest of the season it’s going to be about Farrell showing off if he can really manage, as he’s going to need to put each RP in a situation that fits their skills.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:01 PM

        Mark, the Jays starting pitching has not been great and they definitely need to improve that going forward. Despite this, those starters have left too many games to count in line for a win only to get stuck with a no-decision because the bullpen is atrocious. Again, if you have actually been watching the Jays you’ll know their starting pitching has been adequate but the bullpen makes sure no lead is ever safe. AA doesn’t necessarily need to go out and get Bell or Pap but he needs someone who features more than a 90 mph meatball and can locate it away from the middle of the plate. The rotation needs help but it’s not as glaring a problem as the bullpen

      • Mark - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        First off, I love how every time a fellow Jays fan disagrees with me, it’s because I’m not watching the games. I’m watching the same game you are. First Curr, and now you. Just because I have a different opinion doesn’t mean I’m not watching the games.

        Like I said before – the bullpen is struggling for 2 major reasons. The first is that Frasor & Rzep, the two best guys in the bullpen, are gone. Nobody else in the Jays pen was close to being that good, and it’s forced guys who should be pitching lesser roles in the 6/7 innings into the 8/9 innings where they’re bound to screw up. The second reason I’ll address in the next few paragraphs, which is specifically the rotation issues behind Morrow & Romero.

        And actually, let’s not kid ourselves the rotation is a pretty big issue, because it makes the bullpen worse off. See, all those 5 inning starts by Reyes, Villanueva, etc have pretty much forced the bullpen to throw a ton of innings. Which means guys who shouldn’t be pitching in games when it’s on the line are forced into these situations. It also means the bullpen is drained, so that normally quality arms are too tired because they’re overworked.

        The numbers back this up – the bullpen is 6th in innings pitched in the majors, and the rotation is 23rd in innings pitched.

        So yeah, the SP is definitely the problem. If the non-Romero/Morrow pitchers went deeper into the games, the bullpen wouldn’t throw so many innings, and all the middle relievers who shouldn’t be put in high leverage situations could go back to mop up duty. It would also ensure that the few remaining arms capable of pitching in high leverage spots (Janssen) are rested.

        The Jays need to find a quality SP more then they need a RP. That being said, they still need 2-3 solid BP arms. But there’s no question the rotation is what is holding this team back right now.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:12 PM

        I’m not really disagreeing with you, they need starting pitching. I just don’t understand how you’ve been watching them all season and think their #1 problem isn’t the bullpen and specifically the closer spot

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:19 PM

        And I understand the stats you have to back you up. I can use Google too. Frasor and Rzep could still be here and that wouldn’t stop Francisco and Rauch from doing everything they can to lose us games. Sure the bullpen is taxed because starters haven’t been going deep into games often enough but that’s no excuse for the way they often pitch. It doesn’t matter how rested Rauch is, the fact he can barely top 90 mph and doesn’t realize pitching on the corners is allowed means we need help filling his spot before anything else

      • Mark - Aug 6, 2011 at 9:17 AM

        I know their number one problem isn’t a closer because I understand baseball in addition to watching it. A closer is never a priority on a 500~ team. Let alone a contending team. It’s the last piece of the puzzle. And the Jays still have other issues (2B, DH, SP) to solve before they worry about getting a closer.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 6, 2011 at 12:30 PM

        You understand baseball but seem to have a difficult time with English. I said the ENTIRE BULLPEN is the number one problem, but within the bullpen the biggest issue is finding a guy we can give the ball to in the 8th or 9th with a lead and not be subjected to several heart attacks as he tries to close it out. The Jays’ top priority is bolstering the bullpen and that includes finding a solid closer. I’m not saying they need a closer and then the bullpen will be sound

      • Mark - Aug 6, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        Ah I see. Now it’s turned into insults because I disagreed with your premise.

        No, I understood you said that you believe an overhaul of the bullpen is important. Once again, I said I disagree with that. The rotation is struggling much more then the bullpen is, and unlike you I’ve already posted the stats that show this to be the case. There isn’t a reliable arm behind Romero or Morrow. If you want to argue Cecil that’s fine, but he’s more like a back end starter on a competitive team. Let’s face it, they didn’t end up being the 26th worst starting rotation (by ERA) by accident. I prefer FIP/XFIP over ERA but I’m short on time.

        So yes, while the bullpen needs to be overhauled (something I already stated and agreed with), I do not believe it is as important as fixing the rotation.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 6, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        Well I guess we have to agree to disagree because to me watching the bullpen pitch is much more painful than watching the 3 – 5 starters

  4. Ari Collins - Aug 4, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Weird that it’s Snider. He doesn’t have anything more to learn at the minor league level, and the Jays aren’t playing for anything, so why you’d play Edwin “E5” Encarnacion over him is a mystery to me.

    But regardless, the Lawrie Era has begun, and it’s yet another reason for Jays fans to be excited. Rasmus, Escobar, Bautista, Lind, Lawrie, and d’Arnaud. That’s a pretty good lineup right there.

    • phillychzstk2012 - Aug 4, 2011 at 6:29 PM

      his mechanics go to sh*t after a while. He’s going back down not only to allow Bautista to move back to RF and Lawrie to come up but to work out the kinks he always seems to get whenever he’s had a hot streak.

      • Ari Collins - Aug 4, 2011 at 6:35 PM

        But is he really going to work out those kinks in the minors? He dominates down there, all that remains is to get him enough major league time where he either makes adjustments or doesn’t.

        I’m not sure honestly where to play him with Lawrie at 3rd and Bautista in right, but he’d make a better DH than E5. And (I think) a better LF than Thames, no matter Thames’ early success.

      • Mark - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:45 AM

        It’s such a fucking embarrassment that they’re sending him down to the minors. Again. He needs 400-600 at bats in one season to show whether or not he’s a major league hitter. This yo-yoing crap between AAA and MLB is such a waste of everybody’s time.

        I mean fuck, he’s got nothing to prove in the minors. He’s hit 274 and shown some power since his recall in July, so it’s not like he’s been god awful either. Yeah, he’s struggled lately, but guess what? He has to learn to adjust at the major league level. Can’t keep sending him down to the minors to fix every little problem.

        And yes, Ari, Snider should be in LF with Thames DHing. Snider’s a pretty above average defender and Thames is best suited to DH.

        I do find it amusing at all the Snider sucks crap, especially when you consider that the Jays recently picked up a former top prospect who was struggling for pennies on the dollar. He’s been around in the majors for a while, but he’s 23. Most guys his age are in AAA or just breaking in.

    • cur68 - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:45 AM

      Ari, I disagree again and you are lurking close to contradicting yourself now. E5 can hit. Certainly better than Snider. Thought it was all about the bats with you Ari. What? Don’t want a hitter now? Thames is the better hitter of the 2 and his defence is just about as good (probably give Snider the edge there, though). He’s had his chance and isn’t getting it done. Lawrie might be able to. Of all the Jays in this discussion the best bats are Thames & Encarnacion with a wait-and-see on Lawrie.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:47 AM

      As brutal as E5 is on the field he has been hot at the plate. Snider is stuck in a perpetual cycle in which he starts in the minors, gets called up and rakes, falls off a cliff, then gets sent back down to start again. Jays fans have been waiting for his emergence but it’s starting to look as though waiting time is over and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets dealt in the offseason for some pitching

      • cur68 - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:03 AM

        1943: Agree. Turn the kid into some pitching. Gotta be some offence poor team out there who’d take a flyer on him for a starter or a closer type in the off season. In a few years he might figure out how to relax and hit consistently but right now? Not so much. I feel bad for him; he seems like a nice kid. I want him to succeed but he’s just not there yet.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 5, 2011 at 10:03 AM

        I think I know why Encarnacion is still with the Jays. I believe that in the off season when he agreed to take a pay cut to resign with the Jays the team made a commitment to him that he would get a lot of at bats. Initially he was going to split the first base and DH positions with Lind; however due to ther factors hed started several games at third. He is now the primary DH because the Jays are honouring the commitment they made to him. This is similar to last year when the Jays made a commitment to Buck that he would be their primary catcher. Consequently, Arencibia had to wait until this season before he took over. Sinder has been his own worse enemy. When he was recalled from the minors he hit extremely well. Unfortunately in recent weeks, he regressed to his old bad habits and began to strike out too many times. He still needs to work on his swing. He will be back in September.

  5. mvpolamalu - Aug 4, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Ima pick him up to. I like picking up prospects. Altho ive been unlucky with rizzo and moustakas i have been lucky with jennings and ackley

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 5:47 PM

      Jennings has been nasty.

  6. natstowngreg - Aug 4, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    The Brett Lawrie Watch comes to a merciful end. Hallelujah.

    On to the Jesus Montero Watch. Or is it the Devin Mesoraco Watch?

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 4, 2011 at 6:58 PM

      Just remember that Montero’s last name is not Christ.

      • JBerardi - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:24 PM

        And yet, I worship him.

      • macjacmccoy - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:32 PM

        I justed realized like a year ago that Jesus last name was Christ I never put 2 and 2 together

  7. jaysfan64 - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    E5 has the right attitude for a DH – seems as though he’d rather do that than play the field – we had 1st base tickets for that awful game against Tampa where he played first and was only charged with 2 errors (should have been minimum 3)…his head was not in the game and he just looked like he’d rather have been anywhere else…as for Snider, I think by next spring at the latest he’ll be gone – traded away as part of a package for some pitching help or maybe a second baseman (he’s also out of options after this season)….seems as though Thames is better liked by the brass….

  8. jaysfan64 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    We had BJ Ryan here a couple years ago, and his presence didn’t translate into that many more wins (and the club was half decent!)….what this club needs is: to see if Lawrie is the real deal; a second baseman; a rebuilt bullpen with solid eighth AND ninth inning guys; a solid veteran fifth starter; possibly a veteran catcher if Molina isn’t re-signed; and MAYBE one more season to make the pieces fit completely as things didn’t pan out this year the way we all thought they would….

  9. dirtyharry1971 - Aug 5, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    cool another overrated jays prospect, i wonder if he will be as good as snider is, LOL

  10. jaysfan64 - Aug 5, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    proudly canadian could be on to something….you just might be right….still say the “closer” is somewhat overrated – look at the great closers on teams that have sucked…saw a stat somewhere that claimed Mo was actually only worth maybe 4 to 5 wins per season….and that’s the greatest closer ever….you have to get to the ninth with something for that closer to protect and I love my Jays but they just aren’t quite at that point yet….they still need at least one starter (maybe two – possibly McGowan will step up?), two or three good solid bullpen guys (maybe Litsch has found his niche there?), a second baseman (Hill is not a championship calibre player), a replacement for Molina if he isn’t re-signed…..then maybe you could look at buying or otherwise getting your fire-breathing, smoke-blowing closer…..remember AA is going about this the smart way – unlike some of his predecessors…..

  11. jaysfan64 - Aug 6, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    He had a pretty good start – did not look out of place at all…..error is understandable….really hope this kid does well…..

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 6, 2011 at 4:17 PM

      Me too. If he does well it will be easier to forgive him for being the biggest douche on the team (

  12. jaysfan64 - Aug 7, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    Ha ha we all do “questionable” things when we’re young and indestructible and don’t know any better (Alomar cones to mind)….. I imagine several people in and out of the organization have already spoken to him…..let’s see where things are in 3 to 4 yrs time…..

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