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…

Grant (Wpg)
Is Adam Lind done? Anything to say on Yan Gomes?
Klaw
Probably, and no.

Bill (NOLA)
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?
Klaw
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?
Klaw
They’ve got less accountability than a member of China’s Politburo.

rob (ontario)
Which of the Blue Jays pitching prospects has the most upside, Sanchez, Nicolino, Syndegaard or Norris
Klaw
Sanchez. I suppose you could argue for Syndergaard, but I have a hard time presuming a breaking ball when discussing ceiling.

MJ (Edmonton)
Hecchevaria’s hitting at AAA: Real progress, Las Vegas creation, or SSS (or a combination of the 3)?
Klaw
Vegas, baby.

Sean (Phoenix)
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.
Klaw
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.

Grant (Wpg)
Instead of blaming Lawrie or Miller – why didn’t the Man in White tell Lawrie what was coming?
Klaw
He’s been busy straightening out Bautista the last few days.

Tom (Windsor)
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!
Klaw
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.”

Comments (59)

  1. I REALLY hope this doesn’t stir the anti-Rasmus sentiment again. Now that Lind is gone everybody will need a new target to pick on, and it’s pretty obvious it’s going to be Colby.

    • Well I am very optimistic still on Colby but the idea of giving Colby a few weeks in the minors and giving Snider a few weeks in the majors is kind of compelling.

      Could be good for both of them.

      (And for once, I find myself in agreement with everything LAw said including the Lawrie stuff)

    • The thing that gets Colby off the hook, I think, is that he is a fantastic CF, something that we really missed the last few years.

      If he can keep that up and get his avg to about 240-250 I think i can be happy.

  2. …except Snider can’t play CF and Rasmus is a plus defender.

  3. With Snider, sometimes I think the organization acts like a jilted lover. He was supposed to be so great but when it didn’t work out right away, they punish him by sending him down. They stick with Lind, Thames, Rasmus, et. al. longer since there is not the same emotional attachment and thus not the same disappointment with their struggles.

    • I think with Farrell’s recent comments about Davis, the writing is basically on the wall for Thames at this point. If Snider hadn’t got injured and subsequently slumped on his return he’d be here right now.

  4. Interesting thing about Colby so far is that his line drive rate is at a record high and his BABIP is at a record low. From the games I’ve seen this year, which is most of them, he’s had a lot of bad luck.

    • Agreed. I’m not a hitting coach, but it seems to my untrained eye as though he’s making remarkably consistent hard contact despite the fact that he’s often swinging at bad pitches early in the count. I thought any issues with Colby were/are approach-based rather than major mechanical flaws.

      • His strikeout rate is actually down this year as well so hopefully we’ll see a turnaround at some point this year.

        • Seems right. Anecdotally, it seems like he’s making weak contact and solid contact in equally high proportions, which would explain a reduced strikeout rate.

    • The thing with rasmus is he’ll have a streak of bad luck for a few games then he’ll go back to sucking and/or making poor contact. I cant remember him hitting a ball hard the whole yankees series.

    • fuck are you stupid

  5. Pretty surprised he’s that critical on Rasmus – didn’t think there was any talk of them sending him to Vegas.

    • Don’t mix critical with critiquing. The stats show pretty obviously Rasmus is struggling. Law was not picking on him to discuss it.

  6. Wow, Law really handled the Lawrie thing well. You know, appreciating both sides and the like. It’s no wonder he’s so well-respected. I searched that entire paragraph for words like “concrete-skulled fuckhead” and “spoiled child” and not one instance of either was found. In fact, he even managed to make it through the entire piece without hurling a single narrow-minded insult at anyone; everything seemed so considered and mindful. What a strange style of writing …

    • Brett Lawrie, the concrete-skulled fuckhead, acted like a spoiled child. This is entirely undeniable except by disingenuous cheapjack homers. Deal with it.

      • Outside of your office, who exactly called Lawrie “childish”? And, again, what exactly was uniquely childish about what Lawrie did as opposed to what other major league players do every day when confronting an umpire?

        A bad luck bounce?

        And by the way. next time Parkes doesn’t want to be accused of trolling…tell him not to write a one-sided article where the majority of comments are about Parkes’ trolling as opposed to, you know, the sequence of events on the baseball diamond.

        • I don’t work at The Score and I think Lawrie was extremely childish. One terrible call and one marginally bad call go against him and he has a tantrum, throwing his equipment around. Childish.

      • Good luck ever getting access to players. Does someone want to tweet this to Lawrie or his roommate Arencibia?

        #Otherwise (semi-) respected blogger commits career suicide?

        • Stoeten has stated in the past, he prefers his blog style to getting direct access to players (or being mixed in with the mainstream media). So I doubt he is losing sleep over you threatening to ‘tell on him’ via Twitter to JP or Lawire.

          Get a life Darnell.

          • Stond Jays Fan – Whether Stoeten likes it or not, this site’s popularity carries with it some responsibility. Posts like this set the blogger way back in the MSM/blogger debate and I know that’s something these guys care about.

        • Smart, insightful, candid commentary lead to the kind of killer numbers that brought The Score to DJF, not the other way around. Fucker.

        • I give the man credit for speaking his mind. That’s what this site is all about. And if he started getting all soft just for interviews, we’d all fuck right off.

      • You’re really having a tough time with Lawrie being the fan favourite. I sense a difficult few years ahead for you.

      • While this may be true, it’s also true probably the majority of MLB players would have reacted more or less the same way. Maybe not thrown the helmet at the ump, but just as outraged, and in many cases, more so.

        I don’t think it’s an age thing. I shudder to think what Bautista or Youk would’ve done in the same scenario.

        • That’s true, with Bautista, Miller’s head would’ve landed in the second level of left field.

          And with Youk, Miller’s head would’ve rolled softly towards third…

      • Stoeten, you’re really getting a lot of mileage out of this troll.

        It’s pretty Wilneresque.

      • You are pulling a Wilner defending your position so hard.

        Lawrie stayed very calm after the one brutally bad call. Then he lost his head for about one and a half seconds after the second, nearly as bad, call. He didn’t chase the ump out in the parking lot. Didn’t pull an Ozzie Guillen in front of the media. Didn’t spit on the ump and didn’t intend to have his helmet hit him. Didn’t attack the ump on twitter.

        He got RIGHTFULLY mad in the heat of the moment but went a little too far for one and a half seconds.

        By the way if you were paying attention it was kinda an important point in a one run game. Not like it was the 5th inning with a 6 run lead.

        Meanwhile everyone here thinks it’s funny to call Colby Cletus and make fun of Lind for not looking too terribly animated. So I guess there is an in-between point where you will accept people’s personalities. Maybe we could introduce some eugenics into our deep deep farm system and grow players that fit everyone’s cliche stupid mold.

      • You beat that horse, Stoeten!

      • I also feel you wouldn’t be so militant on this if you didn’t have to defend Parkes.

    • Next time, Mr Dustin Parkes, who fashions his snarkiness after gentlemen like Keith Law, should wait to see how his mentor has answered a question before paraphrasing.

      At times, Law’s snark is quite entertaining. Other times, it’s a bit much. But I think we can agree he is knowledgable enough to be snarky. He actually adds something unique to the discussion without just regurgitating Fangraphs & Baseball Reference. Mr Parkes…not so much.

      • There’s a huge difference between calling someone a concrete-skulled fuckhead and criticizing their actions.

        There aren’t very many people here defending Lawrie’s actions.

        • Lawrie’s the most precocious rookie in the league right now. The kid’s over the top dick shifting, base running, nut bar batting stance is ripe stuff for parody. I’m glad he’s on our team, but it ain’t hard to believe that he rubs more than a few people the wrong way.

    • So if Dustin Pedroia or Alex Rodriguez or Kevin Youkilis had done the exact same thing, you’d be defending them too, right? And all the other people defending Lawrie would definitely NOT be calling those guys “whiny bitches” or anything like that, because their behaviour would be totally justified, and the team they play for would have no affect on public response! Yup, sounds about right to me.

      • You’ve already apparently given my answer for me (“Yup, sound about right to me”), but perhaps you’ll allow me the chance to speak for myself …

        None of those players are 22 years old and in their first full-year in the majors. They’re all veteran players that should know better, so the situation is a little different. If, however, a Yankees or Red Sox player that is a direct comparison to Lawrie (say, Will Middlebrooks, for example) had the same incident happen to them, I would obviously be happy that the call went that way; I’d not so emphatically defend the actions; but all said, I would still think it was at least a somewhat justifiable reaction that was blown out of proportion purely because of a bad bounce of a helmet. And I definitely wouldn’t call anyone a “whiny bitch” except for maybe the blogger that hurled the original insults. But even then, I don’t really use the word “bitch” so I’d likely lean more on twat or something of that ilk.

      • I would never complain about someone getting animated over 2 straight blown calls like that.

        His age and the helmet bounce are the only reason anyone is still harping on this.

    • Well said. Law’s response to the whole situation in comparison…to well…everyone, is much more measured & reasonable…..no thundering, sanctimonious rebukes. A much, much fairer take IMO.

    • The fact is a lot of Jays fans (many of whom comment on this blog!) will never see Lawrie fairly due to his Canadian-ness. See also: Joey Votto pipe dreams, and the idea that Scott Richmond will be a quality MLB pitcher. Give Stoeten credit for keeping his maple-dick in control.

    • Why read this blog, if you don’t like the ‘writing style’. Go read Steve Simmons fool!

  7. My patience with Rasmus has been wearing thin. Although he is fantastic defensively, his bat has been about the same as Lind’s, albeit for a shorter time (depending on when you start the shitty-clock on Lind). My prediction is that Rasmus is going to start getting the brunt of the fans’ discontent.

  8. I love this quote:

    “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.”

    Some people are ripping Lawrie for his trot after the delayed strike 2 call. On a CLEAR ball. As if this doesn’t happen in a game every single motherfucking day.

    If someone wants to bitch at a guy who does this constantly (I’m looking at you Bautista), that’s fair. But showing up the umpire hasn’t been a part of Lawrie’s game at all.

  9. Great read. Targeting players with a reputation for having a bad make-up is AA’s version of moneyball.

  10. This is a great post, its very informative and interesting.

  11. Rasmus will be fine. His BABIP may be going up a bit, but I can’t even count how many balls he’s smoked right at guys. It’s highly doubtful that he’ll wind up with a .300 average, but a .250/.330 average/OBP isn’t out of the realm of possibility for this season. It may be just a matter of feeling more comfortable at the plate with his new-found mechanics.

    If people really have some weird desire to turn on somebody, then they’re just pseudo fans who need to be ignored.

    • A .250/.330 Avg/OBP would be fairly underwhelming. I would expect more from him than that. Eric Thames can get you that. I’d say at least a .270/350 Avg/OBP for him to be considered as having a good season. This was one of the best prospects in baseball 3 or 4 years ago. So, the talent should be there.

      • Well, remember that we’re about 1/4 way through the season, so if he hits .270/.350 the rest of the way (which is pretty close to what most people think he is/should be), he’ll end up around the .250/.330 range for the whole season.

      • yeah but eric thames can’t give you adequate defense in left. let alone + defense in center.

  12. the thing about sending Rasmus down to the minors is that he’s already on track to be an above replacement level player based on his defense alone. he’s at .4 fWAR right now and ZIPS projects him to be 2.4.

    so it actually might hurt the team in the short term to send him down and be of debatable long term impact.

    Thames is still the weak link (-.4 WAR). He’s got to be the one to go.

    • I am sure it gives the pitchers a lot more confidence to know a defender like Colby is out there compared to what they had last year. If the pitcher doesn’t want to give in and walk a guy he can throw one of those batting practice fastballs up there and let the D do the rest.

  13. what people completely forget about the lawrie bad call is that it is assumed that the umpire made the call out of spite when in fact it probably was just another insane molina framing call.

    take a look yesterday at agon striking out on a ridiculous low ball called strike 3. agon didn’t argue violently but clearly it wasn’t some spite call, just stupid umpires once again

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?c_id=mlb&content_id=21528661&query=game_pk%3D318299

    • You’d think with all this framing information being out in public now that the umpires would know which catchers make them look stupid on a regular basis and do something about it.

      After a while if I was umpiring a lot more close calls would be going against whoever guys like Molina were catching. It’s very easy for the other umpires to see who’s doing it and all they need to do is let the home plate umpire know.

  14. What I don’t under stand about the lawrie incident is even if the ump called the last two pitches a strike, they were borderline strikes. why is he giving the benefit of the doubt to pitcher who’s recent pitches weren’t close. He basically threw 5 balls in that at bat.

    Then Colby comes up and swings at the first pitch he sees, a ball down. rasmus is still my favourite player on the team.

  15. There was also a bit of Hutchison talk at the end of the podcast. This was before his start last night against NY so I don’t know if his stance has changed at all but Law still thinks it’s too early for Hutchison to be starting in the big leagues but says he has upside but “would have been better served with more time in the minors”

  16. Rasmus has hit into hard luck this year. What is also true is that he is swining at a ton of balls outside of the zone and making weak contact or no contact on those pitches.

    last night with the man on second and nobody out, he swung at a pitch that was almost in the dirt (and no, it wasnt a breaking ball that dove down, it was a fastball that was low straight from the pitchers hand) and hit the weakest of grounders to the pitcher.

    his other issue is how pathetic he looks at curveballs in the dirt from RIGHT handers. You dont really see this too often..he actually looks better vs lefty curves down and away.

  17. Here goes another rant. This one is about the strikezone. Why dont they just call the strike zone as it is written? There are clear boundaries for the umpire to use. Im sick of hearing this shit about framing and hitting the catchers glove etc etc. either the ball crosses the plate in the zone or it doesnt. why does a player with more tenure or even better control get more strikes called? this is insanity accepted.

    can you imagine a play in football where Larry fitzgerald catches a ball with one foot in bounds and the other out of bounds, but heck.since its Fitz, the refs just called it a good catch and we all move on ?

    Parkes said something about not wanting robot umpires because their is some innate entertainment value in viewing the umpire/strikezone interactive. What the fuck does that mean ? I dont want to see the strike zone as a living breathing entity. It should be completely static and boring, only changing in the verticle plane based on a batters stance/height.

    • It’s been that way forever. Used to be that if Pete Rose didn’t swing at it they wouldn’t call it a strike. Didn’t matter if it was right down Broadway.

      Umpires have never had any accountability.

    • In a couple decades, we’ll be looking back and it will seem unfathomable that baseball was once played with a human subjectively calling balls and strikes on every pitch.

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