I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Jays were kinda in the news this week, which means they’re being talked about nationally in the States quite a bit, and this impromptu newsworthiness has gifted us a mountain of Jays-related nuggets from ESPN’s Keith Law, both in yesterday’s Keith Law chat at ESPN.com, as well as on yesterday’s edition of ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast– and, I’ll have you know, he’s a lot softer on Brett Lawrie than what you’ve been reading around here, so you’re probably going to enjoy it…
From the Chat…
Is Adam Lind done? Anything to say on Yan Gomes?
Probably, and no.
Are you really so pro-robot umpires that you’d be willing to use incidents as ugly as the Lawrie one as a catalyst for change?
Ugly incidents become publicized and cause change. Everyday offenses never spark real change, not in sport, not in life.
David (Bethlehem, PA)
Why wasn’t the umpire team in the Lawrie game not suspended for DUCKING THE PRESS? How do they get away with that?
They’ve got less accountability than a member of China’s Politburo.
Which of the Blue Jays pitching prospects has the most upside, Sanchez, Nicolino, Syndegaard or Norris
Sanchez. I suppose you could argue for Syndergaard, but I have a hard time presuming a breaking ball when discussing ceiling.
Hecchevaria’s hitting at AAA: Real progress, Las Vegas creation, or SSS (or a combination of the 3)?
Did you see Jansen’s strike call against Goldschmidt in the 9th on Monday? It was a foot in and a foot up and the Ump called it a strike several seconds after it his the mitt. Umps need to be quality checked.
The delayed call is another thing that MLB needs to stamp out. The sequence of non-call/player assumes ball four/ump calls him back for strike/vengeance call should never happen. Zero tolerance.
Instead of blaming Lawrie or Miller – why didn’t the Man in White tell Lawrie what was coming?
He’s been busy straightening out Bautista the last few days.
At what point do the Jays realize that Thames, even though he is batting better than most guys on the team, needs to be replaced with Snider. I mean the guy is horrible in the field!
I don’t quite get their fascination with him. The bat is nothing special either.
From the Podcast…
KLaw and Eric Karabell went deeper on the Jays than just the Brett Lawrie stuff, but they began by discussing the story of the week.
“While you can’t justify his actions, you’ve got to at least put them in their proper context, and there’s at least the possibility– I would say the strong possibility– that Lawrie was victimized by a spiteful call by the umpire,” Law says of the incident. “Now, again, that doesn’t excuse completely losing your stack on the field, but, to me there are two separate incidents here. MLB has to adjudicate both of them, and I think it’s reasonable for them to evaluate Lawrie’s actions in the context of what came before. Again, you don’t let him off scot-free, but I wonder if the fact that he got four games, rather than five or six, maybe is a reflection of MLB saying there may have been a slightly mitigating circumstance. But you still have to keep your cool, no matter what goes on on the field.”
Asked about Lawrie having a reputation for being a hothead when he was in the minor leagues, Law says yes. In fact, ”it was much worse,” he explains. “When he was in the Milwaukee system, he had a reputation for being uncoachable. There’s a widely circulated story that, shortly before he was traded, the Brewers front office– Doug Melvin– called Lawrie and said, ‘We want you to go play in Fall League,’ and Lawrie hung up on him– and may have said some things he shouldn’t have said. There are different versions of the story out there, the one part that is consistent is that Lawrie was not receptive to the organization’s request that he go play in the Arizona Fall League.
“Then he was traded to Toronto, he changed representatives– which I think actually made a huge difference. You really didn’t hear a lot of issues– I don’t think we’ve really heard anything like this with Lawrie since those two things took place. Some of that may just be growing up, some of it may be getting to an organization that’s handling better, some of it may be that he’s working with different representatives now, who are helping him off the field more– who knows? But we haven’t heard anything– I haven’t, at least– heard anything like this about Lawrie in a year-and-a-half. So I don’t know this is a– I don’t think this is going to be a chronic issue going forward. Again, it was a pretty lousy circumstance for a player. It doesn’t forgive what he did, but I can almost understand it more than a player who’s just reacting to a general third strike. Or the players who react to every third strike as if someone just shot their dog. This was a particularly– in the spectrum of third strike calls, this was a bad one.”
Karabell then slightly– adeptly, even– switches gears to the subject of the Jays collecting guys with not the best reputations– Escobar, Lawrie, Rasmus, Drabek– which is a strategy Law approves of.
“I think what you’re seeing is Toronto’s front office saying implicitly, through their actions, ‘we think that bad make-up stuff is usually overblown,’ ” he says. “And a player with ‘bad make-up’ is often simply an opportunity to buy low on a talented player who would not otherwise be available. To me it’s a great strategy, because I think you’re seeing a lot of organizations drift towards trying to acquire only better make-up players. And the fact is, ‘bad make-up’ is a huge, broad, very vague tag. It can range from guys with very serious emotional issues, like Milton Bradley, it can range from guys with drinking or substance abuse problems, or it can be a guy who just doesn’t respond that well to coaches, or a guy who’s got a particular– Colby Rasmus’s case; a guy who doesn’t seem to get along with one particular coach, and it’s possible that Colby’s problem is actually much more of a Colby’s dad’s problem than it is a problem with the player himself. The Blue Jays don’t seem to be acquiring the guys with serious psychological issues, or substance abuse issues, they seem to be acquiring the players who just in general don’t get along with the coaching staffs in their current organization– and that’s when you get to the situation where a front office will look at one of its own players and undervalue him, where ‘I’m sick of dealing with this guy,’ or ‘He’s just never going to work out with our coaching staff.’ To me, you’ve got a talented player like a Lawrie or a Rasmus, you get rid of the coach before you get rid of the player. The player is more valuable– harder to replace– than the coach. Very few, if any, Major League front offices look at player-manager conflicts in that fashion, but the Blue Jays are at least looking at this as, ‘Hey, this is an opportunity. It gives us a chance to go get a player for maybe 70 or 80 cents on the dollar.’ ”
Then came the most interesting Jays-related exchange of all, as Law was asked about what’s still wrong with Colby Rasmus, and whether what we see now is him, and that maybe we’ll never see the 2010 version of him again.
“He’s still got a lot of those mechanical issues to work out,” Law says. “I thought that Snider– I was actually surprised that Rasmus made the club and Snider went to Triple-A. I thought, if one of those guys was going to go to Triple-A– I did a piece on potential bounce-back candidates, and I had Snider on it and not Rasmus. Part of that was, Snider’s mechanical adjustments that he needed to make were smaller than the ones that Rasmus needed to make, particularly Rasmus’s lower half– just the way he, really from his stance, and from how he uses his legs, through his swing, he’s– I think– still got quite a bit of work to do. And I’m surprised– not necessarily questioning it, just surprised that they chose to send Snider, who had quite smaller adjustments to make, and it looked like he’d made them in Spring Training, and kept Rasmus up. I think Rasmus is much more of a long-term project for the Blue Jays. They weren’t going to fix what was going on with Rasmus in an off-season– there was a better chance they’d fix what was going on with Snider in an off-season.”