Blue Jays & Brett Lawrie: Did They Give Up too Soon?
A while ago, I wondered if Brett Lawrie would be the next Eric Hinske. Basically, the premise was that Hinske broke on to the scene, struggled, got hurt, was moved around and then out of Toronto. I wondered if the same could happen to Brett Lawrie. With all his hype, he has underperformed, been hurt (A LOT) and was moved around (A LITTLE) and then sent out of town in the big deal with Oakland that landed the Blue Jays Josh Donaldson.
Now, the timeline of Brett Lawrie does not follow quite the same as that of Eric Hinske. In fact, Lawrie’s was condensed. It happened much quicker. Which leads me to this question:
Did the Blue Jays give up on Brett Lawrie too soon?
Brett Lawrie showed flashes of brilliance at the plate. The problem is that he wasn’t able to show it consistently enough. Mostly, that is caused by his missing so much time. As I stated in the Hinske piece, Lawrie has only averaged 86 games per season.
It is hard to develop your stroke with consistency when you play half a season. The consensus is that if he could stay on the field, he would be able to produce.
Yet, oblique injuries, leg bashings and hit by pitches limited him. Injuries have had their way of finding Lawrie. Some of them may not be his fault. Getting hit by a pitch in Cincinnati certainly wasn’t. His oblique injuries have been a head scratcher. Lawrie is a famous gym rat. We know he works out and is in great physical shape. Wouldn’t hot yoga help with strengthening the core? I wouldn’t know…
Many have questioned the “all out style of play” that landed Lawrie in a camera bay in Yankee stadium.
Did the Blue Jays decide that they had had enough of hoping he’d last on the field? Was his style of play a liability? We certainly know that his glove was an asset. Whether, they put him at second or third, the club knew that Lawrie would be hustling for every out. He has tremendous athletic ability. So, why would they part ways with him?
This question is furthered by looking at Lawrie’s contract situation. He is under team control for 3 more years. He would become a free agent at 27. He made $516K last season. His injury history would certainly keep his salary affordable. It would make sense for the Blue Jays to hang on to him. They wouldn’t even be forced into a decision for another 3 years. So, why the rush?
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There have been rumblings about clubhouse chemistry and a need for a change behind those closed doors. Some have suggested that Adam Lind‘s departure had something to do with that. Lind and Lawrie were thick as thieves. Were their attitudes part of the problem? GM, Alex Anthopoulos went into the off season with a goal of roster turnover. He went so far as to say he was excited about it. Was he looking to get rid of some ‘bad seeds’? Was he ready to move on from Brett Lawrie?
I think our answer lies within the conference call with Anthopoulos that came after the Donaldson trade. AA says that they had checked in on Donaldson, but were promptly rebuffed. But, The Ninja GM didn’t give up. He circled back and pushed the issue. He really wanted Donaldson. And, who could blame him? He had to include Lawrie to get the deal done. It wasn’t until he did that things started to take shape. Now, one could say it is just lip service, but it seems like the goal was to bring in Donaldson without giving up the young Canadian and move Lawrie to 2B.
Perhaps the cost of Lawrie can be seen as the Blue Jays giving up on an embattled commodity. He was certainly not living up to the hype or the potential he possesses. Josh Donaldson IS what Brett Lawrie COULD BE. The Blue Jays need what IS. At the end of the day, it looks like giving up Brett Lawrie may actually just be the cost of doing business.