When the Jays signed Adam Loewen with the intention of turning him into an outfielder, it was a win-win scenario. Not only did they troll the OrioLOLes in a big way, they acquired a big giant CANCON reclamation project to market. The upside of the player ranks a solid third, especially when we consider the immensity of his task.
Not only is Loewen’s story inspiring in and of itself, the maple syrup coursed through his veins, giving him superpowers in the eyes of many Jays fans. After 1000 minor league plate appearances, Loewen got his big league shot in September. After a (charitably) mixed bag of results, the Jays removed Adam Loewen from the 40-man roster today, exposing him to the Rule 5 draft among other indignities.
Update: The Blue Jays have given Loewen his full release. He is now a Minor League free agent.
It seems the public opinion on Adam Loewen is rather divided. Some state he “proved” he can play in the big leagues during his September call-up. Others, myself included, feel he proved he did play in the big leagues and not a lot more.
A player of Adam Loewen’s calibre is not a viable Major Leaguer for a developing team like the Toronto Blue Jays. Every at bat given to Adam Loewen comes out of the pocket of a better, higher-ceilinged prospect. That he is Canadian should not obscure his marginal status on the far edges of a Major League roster.
Remember John Hattig? His 2005 cup of coffee was very similar to Loewen’s in that he was a mid-twenties journeyman making his first big league splash. Hattig posted very respectable numbers in baseball’s silly season, drawing many walks without showing much in the way of power. He was never heard from again.
Hattig was born in Guam, the first-such Big Leaguer to claim the island nation has his homeland. Did that grant the well-travelled third baseman any special amnesty or favor among fans? Nope. Gone and instantly forgotten.
On twitter, many fans seem to wonder why the Jays would waste so much time converting and progressing Loewen through the minors only to expose him and, quite possibly, end his time with the team? Let the value of Adam Loewen’s admittedly great story never be understated – it means as much to the Blue Jays brand as it does to fans’ attachment to him.
The Jays are doing a great job of growing their brand within Canada, driving up TV ratings and travelling the nation with their marketable core of young players. The Loewen project is a tidy feather for their cap, providing countless column inches this fall as Loewen and Lawrie took on the world with Maple Leaves flying high.
There is no price for that kind of soft-focus exposure but there is a key difference between the two. Brett Lawrie is a major league talent, an impact player who happens to be Canadian. Adam Loewen, unfortunately, looks like quite the opposite. Hard to blame the team, when you think about it. The world is lousy with replacement-level 5th outfielders; there is no harm in grabbing one with a sweet backstory to soften the hearts of even the most cynical among us.