Archive for the ‘Jayson Stark’ Category

Fresh from a high-profile appearance on the Getting Blanked Podcast, Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors has a tidy roundup of a few Jays related rumblings that are out there for us to dismissively turn our noses up at, yet silently wonder if there may realistically be something to them.

In the post he passes along Jayson Stark’s latest at ESPN.com, wherein we’re told that the Jays could be interested in Randy Wells, who is two years removed from a 3.94 xFIP season with the Cubs… and one year removed from a 4.45 xFIP season… and currently sitting at 6.22, with a walk rate of 16.8%.

Um… more interestingly– that is, infinitely more interestingly–¬†he echoes what we heard earlier from Ken Rosenthal, which is that the Jays are still very active in their search for pitching.

“Officials of three different clubs described the Blue Jays as being, in the words of one exec, in ‘a full-court press for starting pitching,’ ” he writes. But, apart from the fact that teams with available pitchers are probably reluctant to make a deal until more bidders materialize, you can see why maybe nothing has quite happened yet, as he quotes an AL executive who says that the Cubs are aiming for a Ubaldo Jimenez-type return, should they deal Matt Garza. “Translation: It’s going to take two young, controllable players with big upside.”

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Fresh off practically inducting Brett Lawrie into Cooperstown, Jayson Stark of ESPN has come with another epic tome of Blue Jays optimism. Or… at the very least one third of a 1200 word blog post.

In his latest– or thereabouts– for the “Worldwide Leader,” he lays all kinds of positivity on us:

“I’m ready to predict the Blue Jays are going to shock the world and make the playoffs, as the second wild card, for the first time since Joe Carter’s home run returned to Earth 19 years ago,” he says, taking a shot in the dark with the hopes of being the one guy who got it right when the AL East dust settles six months from now.

“The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Blue Jays are the first team to win 23 of its first 28 spring training games in 15 years, since Jim Leyland’s 1997 Marlins did it,” he reminds us. “And you know where they ended up.”

“Over the past 20 years, only two other teams have won more than 75 percent of their spring training games, according to Elias,” he adds. “The other was the 2009 Angels. Their spring record: 26-8 (.765). They then went out and won 97 games for only the third time in the history of the franchise, and swept the Red Sox in October.”

So… it’s destiny? Apparently. Y’know, according to a pattern culled from a tiny sample size of an arbitrarily end-pointed meaningless number. PLAN THE PARADE!

He’s not wrong, of course, that the Jays are going to be a difficult team for anybody to beat on any given night when Brett Cecil isn’t shitbagging meatballs down the upper third of main street. “Scouts and executives around Florida continue to buzz about how this is one of the best lineups in baseball, from top to bottom,” he says. “Heck, a guy who had an .859 OPS two years ago (Colby Rasmus) is probably going to hit ninth.”

But pulling a 2008 Rays-esque year-too-early steamrolling on the flawed deities of the division? Yeah… probably. PLAYOFFS!!!!!1!

There are many interesting things in Jayson Stark’s ESPN.com piece on Brett Lawrie– among them an attempted explanation of how the Milwaukee organization soured on his brash personality, and a dubious listing of the 13 players who, at age 21 or younger, OPS’d (in must larger sample sizes, most time) as high or higher than Lawrie’s .963 last year, which comprises eleven men enshrined in Cooperstown (Mel Ott shows up twice!), Albert Pujols, and “Hal Trosky, whose spectacular career path was cut short by migraines.”

Most interesting of all, however, are the plaudits reserved for the Jays young third baseman by Stark and the people he spoke to for the lengthy feature.

“Wow,” said one longtime scout.

“Oh my God,” said another.

“Speed, power, attitude, hustle — and he’s got every intangible you could ever want in a player,” said another.

“He’s going to be a great offensive force,” said yet another. “And defensively, I don’t know what quality you’d want in a third baseman that he doesn’t have.”

And then you run across Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez, a man who has seen many a ballyhooed young player hit the radar screen in his 45 years in professional baseball. But want to know where Brett Lawrie ranks? Here were the first words out of Buck Martinez’s mouth when we asked him about the new third baseman in Toronto:

“He’s got more ability than George Brett, and I was George’s roommate in Kansas City,” Martinez said. “Now obviously, he doesn’t have 3,000 hits or batting titles or an MVP award, so he’s got a long ways to go. But he runs and he plays with the same kind of intensity as George did. And that’s as high a compliment as I could pay any player.”

Oh, and there’s more.

Stark himself says Lawrie’s is “another name that should never again be left off your handy dandy list of Baseball’s Brightest Phenoms.”

Jays manager John Farrell says that he’s “part of the heartbeat of this team,” noting that “Leadership, to me, doesn’t have an age.”

“In time,” Farrell says, “as long as health is on his side, he’s going to put himself in position for everybody to take notice of who Brett Lawrie is.”

Even¬†Lawrie himself seems to understand that he’s got something special.

“It felt like I was trying to be changed,” he says of his time in the Brewers organization, “like they were trying to change me, like I was the same as everybody else. I’m not the same as everybody else. I’m Brett Lawrie. It’s like, everyone’s different. You can’t try and make everyone be the same.”

Stark writes:

Asked if the success he had surprised him in any way, Lawrie replied, almost casually: “Not really, because I just knew that it’s baseball. I wasn’t worried about who was throwing against me or whether we were playing the Yankees. It wasn’t about that. It was like, ‘We’re playing in a big league stadium. We’re playing on TV. Let’s go have some fun.’ And that’s what it was about to me. It was, like, let’s go play.”

Asked again if he’d ever wondered, just a little, whether he could do what he did at that level, Lawrie responded, remarkably matter-of-factly: “No. I’ve always known that I could play up there. It was just about me getting the opportunity to. I’ve never questioned myself about playing at the big league level because all I’ve ever wanted to do my whole life is play against the best. And when I get put up against the best, I turn on my jets.”

Holy fuck yes.