Jays Journal Notes: Brett Lawrie Thunder (BLT), Dustin McGowan 1-Hitter, and More


There is so much to cover from a busy Wednesday for the Jays that I could decide what to focus on, hence the JJ Notes. I do hope that everyone got to watch the Jays game last night, as there was a special moment for one Canadian kid and quite a decent performance from Henderson Alvarez as well. Overall, it was a very successful day for the Toronto Blue Jays organization. That was a welcome change after they had to deal with the absurd and unfounded claims from ESPN that the Jays had assigned a white shirt man with stealing signs from the OF. What a load of…. If you watched Alex Anthopoulos and his reaction, read Tweets on the subject, or listened to players being interviewed on the subject, you know that this is purely a hoax meant to beat down the outstanding performance of players like Jose Bautista and also that these allegations are completely wrong. That’s all I’m going to say about the subject, now on to the good stuff!

When the Jays called Brett Lawrie up at 21 years old and put him in the lineup’s 9-hole, I’m fairly certain they had no idea that his start would be this great. Not only did he get his 1st hit and HR out of the way early, but he has already knocked in the 1st Grand Slam of his extremely short career. With the majority of players never achieving the feat, it’s simply exciting to see him have such a major impact on the lineup as a whole. I can tell you one thing for certain, opposing pitchers will now be tip-toeing a lot more through the bottom of the Jays lineup now, as he and J. P. Arencibia can really change a game’s outcome with 1 big swing of the bat! I was already a huge Lawrie fan before he showed up and started hammering the ball and running/playing hard ALL of the time.

All he has brought to the Jays so far has been THUNDER!! From now on, when I write about his outstanding hitting performances, I will simply type in BLT. BLT: BRETT LAWRIE THUNDER!!! Conversely, a BLT is also a sandwich which begins with the best part – Bacon, which just happens to be something that many people call “Canadian Bacon”. So, to me at least, the title fits.

Henderson Alvarez got the start and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about the start. Don’t get me wrong, he made a great impression on me and was 1 out away from achieving a “Quality Start” before being taken out. The speed on his pitches was excellent, his poise on the mound and his presence were both well above-average, and he certain can get movement on his pitches. All are great things for a pitcher to have. But, there is one majr reservation I have about his stuff: the lack of side movement on his pitches. I know that coaches have been working with him on a slider, and I can definitely see why. Every pitch, whether a fastball or change up, sits on the same line of sight. All the hitter has to do when this is the case is get his timing right and swing at the right elevation. The result is a lot of hits and drives since it takes a lot of guess work out of the minds of major league hitters.

In fact, I’ll venture out to say that if he had been facing the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, or another great hitting club, he would have been crushed as hitters made adjustments to his arsenal. As it was, versus a weaker Athletics club, gave up 8 hits over his 5.2 innings of work – as well as 1 BB which is very encouraging – and was able to strike out 4 hitters. I do look forward to seeing whether the Jays make some alterations to his approach and ask him to throw more sliders his next time out. I’m not sure how many more starts he’ll get with the Jays before either Carlos Villanueva or Dustin McGowan grab the spot in the rotation, but there’s also a chance that the Jays could go to a 6-man rotation for a while to allow their younger guys the chance to get more starts while also keeping the wear and tear on their big guys down to a minimum. Just a thought.

It would be wrong for me to desregard the fact that the Jays faced Canadian RP Trystan Magnuson last night, a reliever they sent to Oakland in order to acquire Rajai Davis. So far through 10 IP, he owns a 7.20 ERA and he allowed 1 more ER last night against the Jays. He joins Royals RP Tim Collins as ex-Jays RP prospects who were traded and have made the jump to the majors.

Meanwhile, Jesse Litsch earned the save for the Jays after throwing 2.2 innings in relief. He did allow 1 ER to cross the plate, but was also able to allow for the rest of the pen to rest after both Casey Janssen (4-0) and Trever Miller made brief appearances (1 batter each). The Jays now have a well rested pen to work with tonight and should have no problem supporting LHP Brad Mills who goes up against RHP Guillermo Moscoso.

I’d like to point something out right now, very quickly. The Cleveland Indians currently have the exact same winning percentage as the Toronto Blue Jays (.509), this despite the fact that the Jays are forced to play the A.L. East beasts more often than the Indians. Unlike the Jays who are 11.5 games back of the Yankees and 13 games behind the Red Sox, the Indians are 2 games back from the A.L. Central leading Detroit Tigers. Ugh. It’s to to make conferences in each league. This who divisional thing has to go ASAP.

Somebody on another Jays site, and I’m not going to say who, since it’s not the focus on my point, decided to throw Ricardo Nanita’s name into the mix for future OF callups for the Jays. The individual points to his .370 average and .412 OBP as evidence that the 30 year old may have earned a shot at The Show. While I don’t want to seem heartless, I also am forced to point out that he is 30 years old, and that he should not even come close to taking any playing time from Travis Snider in The Show. While Nanita’s stats are nice, Snider is now hitting .538/.600/.795 over his last 10 AAA games with 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 SBs. The day Nanita approaches these numbers, we can talk. Until then, Snider belongs in the majors, playing full-time and getting the experience he needs. In fact, I’d say it’s time to swap him and Eric Thames in LF.

On a side note about the Jays LF, or the ex-LF, Juan Rivera – who was “beloved” by Jays fans (and me) as someone who we could point to as a reason the Jays were struggling in the 1st half of the season, has now hit .414 over his last 10 games with the Dodgers and has also chipped in with 10 RBI and 4 BB while only striking out 5 times. Thankfully for Jays fans, he didn’t perform like this for the Jays, because if he had, neither Eric Thames or Travis Snider would be getting the experience they need in the majors. Instead, both would either be spending too much time on the bench or in AAA.

The New Hampshire Fishercats managed 14 hits in their 8-0 rout of the Erie squad. Anthony Gose hit his 12th HR of the year, Moises Sierra went 3 for 5 and hit his 16th HR of the year, and Rey Gonzalez earned the win to go 7-1 overall. But, none of those were the big story for the game. Instead, the big story was Dustin McGowan’t outstanding outing as he lasted a season long 4 innings while only allowing 1 hit, 2 BB, and managing 4 Ks during his 2011 AA debut outing. He induced 4 ground outs and 1 fly out, indicating that he kept the ball down in the zone. If this is an indication of what’s to come between now and September, there is no doubt in my mind that all Jays fans will get the chance to give him the ovation he deserves for the hard work and determination it is taking for him to rehab his injuries. Great stuff!

Some more big notes for the majors include the fact that Nestor Molina has been selected, and promoted, as the person to take the spot in the New Hampshire rotation vacated by Henderson Alvarez! It’s nice to see him get his due after going 10-3 in HiA with a 2.58 ERA over 108.1 IP. Most impressively, he gave up 102 hits and only 14 BB while striking out 115!! The 2006 non-drafted free agent signee is definitely making noise as he climbs the ranks and could be in play at some point in 2012 for the Jays, whether in the pen, the rotation, or as a trade piece.

Some other brief minors notes:

  • The Jays signed 17th rd pick RHP Brady Dragmire. The latest signing means that the Jays have now signed 10 of their top 30 picks, all of which were taken in the top 25 rounds of the 2011 draft.
  • RHP Deivy Estrada was dominant for Bluefield (5 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks)
  • OF Dalton Pompey had a great debut while leading off in Bluefield (3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, and 1 RBI)
  • RHP Yefry Del Rosario (17) was dominant in the DSL (5 IP, 1 hit, 0 BB, 6 Ks)

– MG

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