It is a well known fact that I have a bit of a man-crush on Brett Lawrie. It is not unhealthy or inappropriate, but he does grab my attention. Needless to say, I had high hopes for him in 2014.
“It is a well known fact that I have a bit of a man-crush on Brett Lawrie”
For 3 years now, we’ve been waiting for the Langley BC kid to live up to the hype that preceded his debut. When he’s been on the field, he’s exhibited the type of energy and drive fans can’t help but fall in love with. Coming in to 2014, the criticisms on Lawrie were that he needed to learn to harness his wild enthusiasm and stay healthy. We don’t need him going all crazy to catch a foul ball and land in a camera bay again. Could he learn to play his Gold Glove caliber defense at 3rd while staying on the field?
As 2014 began, signs pointed to a new found calm in Lawrie’s approach. His stance in the batter’s box was more quiet.
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His on field presence was much more quietly intense. There were no helmet throwing tantrums. Many attribute Lawrie’s zen to 2013 team mate,Mark DeRosa
. Things were looking promising for Lawrie. By the beginning of June, he had tied his career high of 11 home runs. He’d finish with a new high of 12. He was contributing with the bat. But, where he really shone was with the leather.
Lawrie was playing Gold Glove defense on third. Just ask J.A. Happ:
Lawrie showed his defensive versatility when, in order to get the most production out of the lineup, John Gibbons moved him to 2nd. His athleticism was put on display there as well:
Injuries. Plain and simple. When he was hit on the hand by a Johnny Cueto pitch, Lawrie was on his way to being a healthy contributor. With him in it, the lineup was deep. But, the fracture cost him a month of the season. This type of injury obviously cannot be avoided. It is part of the game.
It is tough to fault him for that. He returned at the beginning of August and played all of 3 innings. In his first at bat, Lawrie went the other way (something he’d done well this season) and rounded first awkwardly. He was removed in the next half inning and hasn’t been seen since. He was diagnosed with YET ANOTHER oblique injury.
The oblique issue was Lawrie’s 3rd in 3 years. It prompted Alex Anthopoulos to tell us all in his end of season address that the club is looking into Lawrie’s conditioning and training. Lawrie is super fit and does not appear to have an ounce of fat on that chiseled physique. His on-field intensity also follows him to the workout room. Both he and the Blue Jays are going to have to figure out the right type and amount of training to keep Lawrie on the field.
The immediate future of Brett Lawrie in Toronto is an interesting one. They claim he is their everyday 3rd baseman. And rightfully so. However, it is no secret that the club needs to solve their giant hole at 2nd. The Blue Jays have two ways they can do this. They can actively seek a 2nd baseman to plug in that hole. Or, they can look for a 3rd baseman and move Lawrie over to 2nd. Either way, Brett Lawrie will serve his purpose admirably. That is IF he can stay healthy. Regardless of what the Blue Jays do, it won’t work if Lawrie misses 40-80 games like he has over the last 3 seasons. Otherwise, we’ll be subject to another season of unfulfilled potential and the frustration that comes with the myriad of replacement players they will try to piece together.
In the long term, the Blue Jays should be looking to lock Lawrie up for a long time. His ability has never been in question. If he (and they) can get his health under control, he’ll be a huge part of their future success. It would behoove them to consider this and at least consider an Evan Longoria type contract. That being said, if Lawrie can’t get it together, the club may be forced into considering other options.