Last year we waited in breathless anticipation for Keith Law to release a project that had first been pitched to him during a September appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast, bringing to us in early December the top 50 players in the game who had exhausted their rookie eligibility, but had yet to complete their age 25 season. And it was worth the wait, with a top ten ranking for Brett Lawrie, a nice write-up on Colby Rasmus (43), and an admission in the chat that followed that he still wasn’t ready to give up on Travis Snider, and had briefly considered putting him at the bottom of the list as well.

Yeah… about all that…

This year’s version of KLaw’s list hit (Insider Only) today, and it’s been stripped of most of its Jays content, partly by the fact that it’s now been shortened to a top 25, but mostly because, apart from Brett Lawrie, all of the best talent on the club’s big league roster has plenty of experience.

It still feels weird to consider that, huh?

Anyway, Lawrie remains on this year’s list, moving down a peg to number eleven, after having been passed by Mike Trout (who he was somehow one spot ahead of a year ago), Jason Heyward, Manny Machado, and Elvis Andrus.

In the piece Law calls Lawrie’s improved defence a “bright spot” in an otherwise down year, but points to the injuries he suffered in 2012, saying that “when healthy, Lawrie has one of the best right-handed swings in the game along with very good hand speed, and as long as he gets full extension he should have 20-25 homer power, if not more.”

“I’d like to see what Lawrie can do in a full season without injuries,” he says, “but guys who play all-out, all the time, as Lawrie does, often find themselves in the trainer’s room more than you’d like.”

As much as everything this year will be magnified and important, clawing out some of that mentality from inside Lawrie’s head may be John Gibbons’ most¬†crucial task. Certainly Lawrie is young enough to still have time to find precisely where the edge is and to learn to control himself well enough to play right up against it, but he’s too important to the franchise not to have that drilled into him constantly. Last season’s “that’s the way I’ve always played the game” bullshit can’t be allowed to fly again.

But hey, at least– at age 23– he’s no longer a close second behind Jose Bautista as the most visible, marketable player on the team. Maybe he won’t be itching to get back into the dugout so badly without so much of the constant burn of smoke being blown up his ass.

Now, on to today’s accompanying KLawchat! Except… since the Jays are pretty much all veterans (and it was mostly about the Hall of Fame anyway), we’ve only got one Jays-related tidbit:

Rich (New Hampshire)
As a NH Fishercat fan, wondering if you think Marcus Stroman will play here in AA when he gets back from suspension
I do. I’d start him there if they want him to relieve.

Comments (58)

  1. I have high hopes for Lawrie now that Mottola is with the jays. His plate discipline during his call up was incredible and a new mentality at the plate might do wonders for him and the other players. I still can’t believe how few home runs he hit last year. The move down in the lineup should benefit him to.

  2. Holy fuck Romero sucks

  3. Right on

  4. These narratives about Lawrie and “red bull” and “playing all-out” and being a “stupid idiot baserunner” all get so tiresome to me.

    There’s the cliche line about when a black athlete does well, people say “look at that natural talents” but when a white athlete plays well we say “Oooh look at him hustle and work”. Maybe this reminds me a bit of that. Maybe.

    Regardless… if you go around trying to avoid injury, that’s probably the surest way you’ll get injured. And if his face didn’t contort itself so easily I’m sure most of his actions would look much more routine to us.

    He’s a very key acquisition by AA and I think he’ll do well and I’m glad Law agrees. Just tired of hearing the same schtick about him every time.

    • …. or maybe it’s actually just true?

      • Let me back up a bit: yes I agree he looks red-bulled and ran poorly several times and jumped into camera bays a couple times. I just mean that I’m tiring of hearing about it. It’s not terribly insightful commentary.

        Now Law talking about his swing and further power in it that will hopefully develop – that’s more meaningful and interesting.

        • I guess. But remember not everyone reads the baseball news quite as frequently as you or me… things tend to get a bit repetitive on any subject when you spent as much time as we do thinking and reading about it.

        • Yes, but if he’s always injured then his beautiful swing don’t mean shit. The natural black athlete/hustling white athlete bullshit is different because Lawrie noticeably does hustle. He looks like he’s max effort in everything he does. That’s how tossing his helmet aside after a strikeout turns into it bouncing into an umpire.

          The white/black/hispanic athlete narrative bullshit should only piss you off when there’s no apparent hustle but because he’s white they get labelled as such. Lawrie seems to fall outside of that.

          • “Tossing his helmet aside after a strikeout” is probably actually what Lawrie thought he was doing. Obviously, the rest of the world say something very different.

          • For those who think he doesnt learn from his mistakes here’s something the “narrative” is missing. Lawrie hasnt done it since the suspension and hasnt had any confrontations with any umpires since. And Farrell thought nice fatherly talks were sufficient. Obviously you have to get his attention first.

    • I really don’t think the criticism of Lawrie being too ‘all out’ is like the black player’s natural talents vs white player’s hustle thing.

      Lawrie was regularly taking crazy injury risks (falling into the camera bay at Yankee stadium) and running wild on the bases.

      You appreciate his effort, but I think he’ll become a more successful player if he can tone it down here and there.

    • What are you on about here, sons?

      You keep hearing about it BECAUSE he’s such a key player, and his tendency to play recklessly might keep him off the field, which is a bad thing.

      And no, people aren’t just mistaking routine plays for recklessness.

      • It just seems picky and the legend of it all seems to grow each time people repeat it. It has to be an awfully fine line between “good ol Pete Rose hustle” and “red bull induced psychosis”. I’m sure he’ll find the middle ground as he matures.

        IMW made a good point though – I’m reading up on Jays every day. The casual fan and the non-Toronto fan is still saying “Lawrie? Oh the guy with tattoos, right on, what about him?”.

    • Ya I kinda agree with you on that. Like I understand all the talk about his recklessness and mistakes and shit, but I think it’s been a little overblown because of the hype surrounding him. He’s still young, let’s give him at least another year before we decide that he’s never going to change the way he plays

  5. I think a lot of the bad base running was as much the fault of Farrel then as Lawrie so with Farrel gone you’d think that should improve immediately without Lawrie having to chang anything.

    • What makes you think that?

      • I think its a combination of Farrel liking steals and aggressive baserunning so much and being easy with the green light and Lawrie’s red bulled up attitude so he took every opportunity and then some to run so he ended up making too many mistakes. So if you add a more conservative guy in Gibbons who tells Lawrie to cool it on the super aggressive base running then you are going to have fewer mistakes.

    • I’m guessing Farrell didn’t give Lawrie the green light to steal home with Bautista up to bat.

  6. Lawries gonna have a huge year!! Nailed it on the fact he wont be walking back to the dugout with smoke being blown up his ass.

  7. Romero haters are the worst. guy had one down year. He is only been in the league for 4 years and has 1 losing season. Did he eat shit last year, yes. Can he help our club win this year, yes! give the guy a fucking break. He was 10th in AL Cy young voting and a god damn all star in 2011.

    • People always want something to complain about.

      I say we have a team CAPABLE of winning it all. Let’s cheer them all on and see what happens. Moaning about single players at this point is kind of pointless. Like yeah JPA is not a great catcher. But once the season starts, might as well cheer him on and hope he does great. I feel like bashers (here and elsewhere) get SO worked up against guys like Lind and JPA and Romero that they would actually be mad if they did well.

      • sometimes when I read the commentary on here, both the articles and comments, I wonder if these people actually like the jays, or even baseball at all.

      • Agreed. Having become so good at whining, some people will persist in it because it’s easier than doing something else. This is a solid team with a bona fide chance to win the division. That’s all you can ask.

        And speaking of JPA: maybe nobody remembers much about Pat Borders, but he too was a very average catcher without whose contribution, esp. his huge WS, the Jays would’ve certainly had a different outcome in 92. JPA has a much scarier bat and certainly has the potential to play over his head for a good month or so, maybe even in October. Perhaps he could duplicate Borders and catch a no-hitter too. But even if he doesn’t do any of that, I have no problem with him on this team with this lineup.

        PS: Borders had his best season by far at age 27. So there’s that.

    • Well, I think he has nowhere to go but up because he cannot possibly be as bad as he was last year (I hope). I do like him though and he has the ability to be a very adequate pitcher.

      I think since the spotlight has been on Johnson, Buerhle and Dickey lately, people are forgetting that both Morrow and Romero are very decent pitchers who have showed flashes of brilliance for us in the past couple of years. With all the moves this offseason I’m really excited to see the new lineup in action, but the new rotation is probably what I’m looking forward to most.

    • Don’t think there will be any 20 game winners on the Jays rotation this year, but if there’s one, my first pick would be Romero. He had 15 wins as the top dog in 2011 going up against opponents’ #1 or #2 guys. If he gets his head screwed on and back to the mindset of the guy in 2011, he could very well win 20 as the #5 guy going up against other teams’ #5 (or #4) guys.

      • rather than wins, i’d like to see a jays rotation that led the league in innings pitched

        • Agree and hope that Dickey’s and Buerhle’s work ethic and mentality rubs off on the other 3 guys. I’m just saying that the Jays have the potential to really dominate the 5th starter matchups this year as Romero has been healthy for the most part (i.e will eat up innings) through his career and also has the ability to win a lot and turn in a lot of quality innings.

      • You do realize that probably only his first 2 starts will guarantee him pitching against opponents #4 or #5 pitchers, right? With the way the schedule is with off days different for all teams, he could very well pitch mostly against every teams #1 or #2, it all depends on how it falls together. But again, who cares about wins for pitchers!

    • dude, peripherals.

  8. Suck it Farrell

  9. I agree in that Romero is still a core piece and giving up on him is idiocy. But lets not call 2012 a “bad year.”

    He was, I believe, the worst pitcher in baseball with qualifying innings. Thats a little worse then a “down year”….its a pretty unorecedented fall, lets hope he can bounce back.

    Also, i disnt realize Andrus was so young. For some reason I had him as older.

  10. May I humbly suggest that just as Olney articles are labelled “Insider Olney” Law articles be labelled “Insider Onlaw”

  11. If arencibia has a huge year this lineup will be the best in the bigs

    • I think it is very possible that we get better overall offensive production out of: Lawrie, JPA, Lind, whoever plays 2B. Lawrie because he can be better. Rasmus because he was injured and can’t do worse. 2B because Johnson was atrocious. Lind because he can’t get worse and they’ll hopefully sit him against lefties.

      Then we went and added a SS and LF that are top of the order stars. Got to expect more production there.

      Our biggest potential drop-offs are Bautista and EE. But they could also both hit 45HR.

    • I believe Arencibia still has loads of untapped potential. As a high power-low obp type player he can more easily improve his overall offensive value than a Josh Thole (disclaimer: I have never seen this guy bat) player who is sort of the reverse, as It’s typically easier to improve an .obp than to add power.

      JPA definitely shows dedication to improvement (training away from family in nashville during offseason) and seems to really immerse himself in the sport. Even just glancing at his twitter shows he is passionate about the sport and winning. Furthermore, as a catcher he has a bit more of a nuanced experience when it comes to approaching opposing batters, which hopefully gives him a bit more insight into how opposing teams are approaching him as a batter.

      Although these factors are no substitute for natural talent, I hope given time, and experience, he can make the necessary adjustments, to boost his obp up to at least a respectable level. He did manage a .350 obp (.300 avg, 8.3% walk rate) in his final down at the launching pad over 459 AB’s. The parks he was playing in definitely boosted these stats, however they were significantly (!) better than his previous year (.284 obp / 5.2% walk rate over 500 AB. Whether he will continue to improve and how much is obviously to be seen, as there is definitely a ‘wall’ of kinds that players hit where they remain constrained by their natural talent (hence typical career arcs).

      I think it will be very interesting to see how his career develops, as I believe he has the potential to turn into one of the Jays most significant home-grown players.

      I’m a relatively young fan, so I don’t have much anecdotal evidence, and am feeling far to lazy to try and dig up some statistical evidence to back a few of my assertions (ie catchers have greater chance to improve obp over time). It’d be fantastic if anyone has some evidence to back up my over-qualified ramblings (channeling my inner AA I guess).

      • Ivan Rodrizuez had the following OBP’s in his first ten years: 276/300/315/360/322/342/360/358/356/375. Note the steady improvement in years 1-3, big jump forward in year 4, followed by some regression in years 5& 6 and a return to, or near, the top in years 7-10. It is almost like the profile of a thoroughbred race horse. JPA is no Pudge, but there is no reason he cannot improve in his third and fourth full years. As little as one extra hit and one extra walk every two weeks would make a heck of a difference. No reason that improvement cannot be forthcoming. If it does not, he probably won’t be in Toronto for year five.

    • If Dickey, Morrow and Johnson each win 25 games they’ll be really good.

  12. R.A. Dickey is heading to India for a little trip with his daughters. Hopefully, he’s getting Lawrie a nice t-shirt and some soothing Darjeeling tea.

  13. Dear Klaw:
    Stop beating around the bush.
    Just come out and say you support doping.

  14. I wonder if AA can make a package deal with Oliver and Lind to the rangers :)

  15. Perhaps Dickey could take Lawrie fishing or something. Sick out on a dock somewhere and talk about Zen and the Art of Baseball.

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