Here are some Jays Notes as they head into a road trip in Baltimore and will hopefully begin a long win streak.
The Brett Lawrie Hype
- Fans across Canada have been on pins and needles as they await a Stanley Cup winner to be decided between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. However, anyone and everyone who follows baseball at all knows that the biggest news for the Jays has to do with Brett Lawrie. In the last 3 days, I’ve received more email than ever from fans telling JJ how anxious they were to see him in the lineup. There is now a spot open for him on the 40-man roster, and it seems to be something that could happen any day now. The main question people are now wondering about is, where will he hit in the lineup?
- John Farrell has done a tremendous job making the lineup work with the tools he has on hand. Moving the hot bat into the 4th spot to make Jose Bautista more effective, moving Rajai Davis down in the lineup to not take the bat away from Bautista, and moving J. P. Arencibia – a.k.a the RBI machine – higher in the lineup are just a few of the moves that really make me believe that he “gets it”. He really has made an impact on the club in that sense. So, with that in mind, my thoughts are that Brett Lawrie will hit 9th to start. Why? Well, it allows him a chance to get used to MLB pitching, and ensure that he’ll have Yunel Escobar hitting behind him if he hits 9th. He gets to use his speed on the base paths, knowing that he isn’t taking anything away from Bautista, and can actually cause enough havoc to make Yunel a more effective top of the lineup guy. Once he gets used to things and proves he can knock the ball around, I’m sure he’ll be moved up quickly.
- Eventually, Brett Lawrie seems to be the perfect 2 or 3 hole hitter. I mention the 3-hole because having him hit 3rd – with power and average – ahead of Bautista makes a whole lot of sense. Moving Bautista back into the 4th spot in the lineup would allow the Jays to use either Rajai Davis or eventually Anthony Gose at the top of the lineup – where they should ultimately be – without feeling that they’re taking the bat out of his hands. Jose’s RBI opportunities would climb to where they should be, and the Jays should score more runs as a result. Sounds easy, but obviously it is not easy in the least!
- James R. Chipman wrote an article about Jays prospect Deck McGuire, who he watched pitch recently, for Fansided’s new site: “Seedlings to Stars”. It’s a site that will concentrate on prospects. He says great things about his stuff overall, but does point out that his curve may need some work. It’s a great short read, so take a look!
- To find out more about Deck, you can read a Q&A here, and can visit the post Jared McDonald put up on him within our Top 50 list here. Although we knew that he could start the year in HiA, I don’t think any of us predicted he would be as dominant as he has been so quickly. I say that knowing that he is about to turn 22 years old, so he’s not exactly young for the HiA level. He is a young professional, but he’s about on par with the pace of Kyle Drabek in terms of his ascent to the majors if he continues to pitch well and gets the call for the Jays mid-2012. So, what I’m saying here is let’s wait and see how he does in AA before we expect him to be more than a #3 pitcher in the majors. As we all see with Drabek this season, it’s not easy being a rookie pitcher in the majors!
- Continuing on my point above, Deck has just given up 9 hits and 3 walks, and 8 hits and 4 walks over his last 2 games respectively. They were 5.2 IP and 5 IP respectively, meaning that he has given up 17 hits and 7 walks over his last 10.2 IP, along with 7 ER. I’m not sure if he is just going through a short funk or is just getting a little tired as the season wears on, but it’s a sign that he still has some room to grow. I still expect to see him in AA before July comes around as he is really on par with both Chad Jenkins and Nestor Molina as the best pitchers in Dunedin.
- Speaking of Molina, he’s getting stronger with every start, and just struck out a season high 10 batters while allowing only 3 hits over 6 innings to earn his 5th win of the season on May 25th. He has only allowed more than 2 ER in a start twice this season, and leads Dunedin starters in ERA with a 2.75 total and 0.97 Whip. Meanwhile, he has only walked 5 batters to go with 62 strike outs. Compare that to Deck McGuire’s 25 walks and 52 strike outs, and you see just how impressive Nestor Molina has become. He’s only 7 months older than McGuire, and so should not be counted on as anything less than the big 2010 draftee. That, in my opinion, should give the Jays a VERY impressive group of starters headed towards AA at some point in 2011 and makes Molina a steal as a international signing from the 2006 season, when Molina was only 17 year old.
The Road Trip
- The Jays are at a critical junction in the season. Both the Red Sox and Yankees are getting hotter and hotter, the Rays are still keeping pace, and the Jays are sitting on the edge at .500, 4 games behind the division leaders. The Jays have a chance in their next 2 series against the Orioles and Royals to make up some ground on the leaders. These are already looking like a couple of series that they have to win in order to at the very least keep pace with the leaders. By the end of June to mid0July, the Jays will need to take a long look at where they stand and they could wind up making 2 types of moves. If they’re in the race, they could shore up the bench and the team as a whole for a playoff run. If they’re out of the race, they’ll be supplying those kinds of pieces for other teams. In either case, the time to start winning at an above .500 level begins now, if they’re going to make a run at a playoff spot at all in 2011, that is.
- LHP John Anderson was placed on the 7-day DL in Lansing.
- 1B Ryan Shealy was activated from the 7-day DL in Las Vegas. The 31-year old has played sporadically in 2011, managing a decent .263/.391/.447 line with 4 doubles and 2 HRs thus far in 69 ABs.
- Gregor Chisholm has a draft preview and more in his most recent North of the Border post.
- The draft is just around the corner, and you know what that means! A ton of new Jays prospects to welcome into the family will be announced, and we will finally get a chance to see who begins the year where in short-season play. Getting a chance to see Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, and Dickie Thon – amongst others – will be great and will finally give us a chance to evaluate how they’re progressing as prospects.
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