Brett Lawrie: Second Baseman? Blue Jays Positioning For Stretch Run


May 23, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman

Brett Lawrie

(13) bunts for a single against the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

During his current rehabilitation assignment the Toronto Blue Jays have once again decided that it would be good fun to send the Blue Jays fan horde into a tizzy by experimenting with Brett Lawrie at second base.

This isn’t the first time the Blue Jays have trolled us with such a manoeuver, earlier this season, after his first foray onto the DL, the Blue Jays did the same only the abandon the project when things became dire with the big club.

After being drafted as a catcher by the Milwaukee Brewers, Lawrie was moved to second when it was clear that his defense behind the plate wasn’t going to cut it. After being traded to the Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum the Blue Jays once again shifted the uber-athletic Lawrie, this time to the hot corner.

In the minors Lawrie’s defense was often questioned, and many considered it not a question of if but of when Lawrie would go the way of Ryan Braun into left field. This from the good folks at Prospect Project is a 2011 scouting report on Lawrie’s defense:

"I watched and recorded nearly every ground ball that he took during batting practice and came away unimpressed.Lawrie’s hands are improving and he has plenty of range to cover ground. His throwing however is less than desirable. At times he looks very awkward throwing the baseball. There are times where Lawrie looks like a natural fielder and then there are times where he looks uncomfortable and awkward on routine ground balls."

If you had read this back in 2011, then stopped watching or reading anything about baseball for 2 years before suddenly being drawn back into the game by the juicy gossip of yet another possible Lawrie position change, you’re probably not terribly surprised.

If however you have watched the Blue Jays, and in turn Brett Lawrie play baseball for the past two years, you are probably very aware that Lawrie has defied all expectations with his defensive play.

In fact as opposed to the liability expected, his glove work at 3rd base (in particular his range which gets even more impressive each and day as I watch Mark Derosa and Maicer Izturis man the hot corner) has been his greatest asset.

So since Lawrie is a third baseman that has derived most of his value thus far in his career from his outstanding defense, but has had some injury trouble it makes total sense to move him away from that position he excels defensively in to a new (old) position that is widely regarded as being rather tough on a player’s body…right?

Clearly a man with this temperament will do well with opponents sliding at his knees/ankles trying to break up double plays.

The move to second for Lawrie is one that I just cannot wrap my head around. The move isn’t due to Lawrie blocking another third baseman in the system from getting at bats, and the two players that have been playing third the most in his absence (Derosa and Izturis) are a noticeably less awful when playing second.

With the non-waiver trade deadline looming at the end of the month, one has to wonder if there are some moves on the precipice of happening that may add some clarity to the logic behind this positional transition.

If Lawrie does in fact become the Blue Jays everyday second baseman, I think it’s safe to assume that the Blue Jays are out of the Chase Utley sweepstakes (if there ever were any sweepstakes to begin with), which may be the best considering his advanced age, declining play, and bad knees on the Rogers Centre SkyDome “turf”.

One thing that should be noted is that the Toronto Blue Jays have a large number of highly intelligent, exceptionally talented, and well compensated individuals in their employ whose sole job is to evaluate and recommend these types of moves. No matter what us fan/blogger types like to think or say, they probably know better than us. If Brett Lawrie is being moved from third, there is very likely a good reason for it….right???

In the all too apt words of Getting Blanked Editor Drew Fairservice #BlessThisMess