Triple Play Podcast #19: Bryan Curtis Of Grantland.Com Joins The Big Ticket Show To Talk About A – Rod + Cooperstown
Bryan Curtis of Grantland.com Follow @curtisbeast joins a solo flying Patrick to talk about Cooperstown, Pete Rose, PED’s and Ryan Dempster becoming MLB’s enforcer.
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Tuesday April.30, 2013
Stephon Johnson ( Baseball Writer and Mets Correspondent): Follow @stephonjohnson8
Forget what you heard about his last few starts in Triple-A Las Vegas. It’s time for the New York Mets to bring up pitcher Zack Wheeler.
Forget about the 5.79 Earned Run Average in Triple-A or the 15 Walks in 23.1 Innings playing in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Wheeler needs his shot in Flushing and he needs it now…and so do Mets fans.
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Friday January 4th, 2013
Jonathan Hacohen (Baseball Writer and Website Founder): Follow @Jhacohen
Living in Toronto, I have watched MANY Adam Lind At-Bats in my time. Watching Adam Lind recently, I start to ponder back to the days of Russ Adams and Josh Towers. Watching each of these players (hit and pitch respectively), I continually asked myself one question: how do these guys still have jobs? Perhaps the manager really likes them. Perhaps the organization sees immense potential. I am not really sure, but eventually the Adams and Towers bubbles came to burst. In 2013, I sense the same thing will happen to Adam Lind.
Thursday November 15th, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)
Last week Jonathan Hacohen, the founder of MLBReports.com called to my attention that the Tampa Bay Rays are an anomaly. Ultimately, if you look at the way their team is structured and where their talent lays, and the kind of game that Joe Maddon manages the Rays are ultimately a National League team; displaced in the AL East. The Rays greatest strength is their depth of pitching that they can reach into the bowels of an amazing farm system ripe with young talent. But from there on out, they rely on an offense that generates runs due to other inefficiencies.
With B.J. Upton leaving town, and Carlos Pena only a carcass of what he once was, there is ultimately zero power left in their lineup. Their DH for the past two years have been the likes of an aging Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Luke Scott. Ownership is constantly complaining about attendance and looking for bargain free agents like Johnny Damon to bring in at the end of their careers and hopefully attract some Yankees and Red Sox fans to the stadium.
At this point, the Rays power hitters are Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist. They have an amazing nucleus of pitching talent, including David Price who just won the AL Cy Young, and they are mentioning trading almost all of their starting pitchers. This is understandable, as you have to dish out talent to bring back offensive talent that they are in great need of. But I still have major gripes with the way owner Stuart Sternberg has approached the past 4 seasons in St. Petersburg, and I will get into more detail about this in a little while. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday August 4, 2011
Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports): The Brett Lawrie rollercoaster started December 6th, 2010. Lawrie was sent to Toronto in exchange for Toronto’s incumbent ace, Shaun Marcum. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos immediately said that Lawrie would be working out at third base, switching from second base. This would be Lawrie’s third major position change in 3 years. He was drafted out of Langley, BC by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st round (16th overall) of the 2008 MLB draft. That year, Toronto held the 17th pick, and it was said that they coveted him greatly. They instead had to settle for college first baseman and current AAA prospect, David Cooper.
Lawrie hit .293 in spring training this year, while playing decent enough third base to warrant a discussion of keeping him on the roster. However, Anthopoulos deemed he was not ready to play in the Major Leagues, and the fans in Toronto grumbled as the Blue Jays consistently put Edwin Encarnacion at third base to start the year. Lawrie started off hot in AAA Las Vegas, and played good defense. This still wasn’t enough, as the Jays asked him to be more patient and change his approach. Lawrie did just that, and by May 31st, was hitting over .350 with power and walking more often than he had in the past. When the Jays were on the brink of calling him up (see our Report from June 2nd), Lawrie was hit by an errant pitch on the back of his left hand. Blue Jays fans collectively held their breath, and Lawrie declared it was a bruise. Two days later when swelling subsided, it was found out that Lawrie had a non-displaced fracture.
When he finally returned to Las Vegas in the middle of July, Lawrie came right back to where he left off. He is now hitting .352 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI. More importantly, he has 26 walks and is playing much improved defense. Now, the Jays’ faithful are continuing to call for him. Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell have repeatedly said “he’s close” and that they want to get him everyday at bats before rosters expand in September.
Now, when Lawrie gets the inevitable call (my guess being Friday, August 5th, before the beginning of a road series in Baltimore), where will he play? The Jays have Jose Bautista, one of the top three players in baseball at third base. Well, the plan that Anthopoulos has set out is that Bautista would shift back to his preferred right field, creating a logjam of young and talented outfielders. Travis Snider is 23 years old and he will play every day at one of the corner positions. Colby Rasmus is 24 years old and will be in center for the foreseeable future. That leaves Eric Thames, also 24, the corner outfielder who came out of seemingly nowhere to win the love and admiration of many fans, on the bench. You could say that Thames can just DH because he isn’t the best fielder of the bunch (although more than adequate and constantly improving), but where does Edwin Encarnacion play then? Encarnacion is one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball since the beginning of July. He has 9 doubles, 4 home runs, and 14 RBI with 12 walks in 25 games over that span. Thames most likely gets optioned to AAA to get every day at bats until rosters expand in September. Here is how that lineup stacks up.
If one of these players is traded, then there won’t be a problem. The only other option barring a trade, is something that Anthopoulos has stated adamantly will not happen. Moving Lawrie to second base and sitting former Silver Slugger Aaron Hill on the bench. This could possibly be the best option available for both the short-term and long-term. With Hill underperforming (ranked 20th out of 21 qualified 2nd baseman in WAR), and his $8M option for 2012 likely to be declined, Lawrie could slot into that spot for a very long time. Anthopoulos has preached having talent and skill “in the middle of the diamond” and second base is a spot that sorely needs some stability after Hill’s last two years. The only thing that could stop this movement is if Anthopoulos sees Hill, who is a good defender, as a guy who can turn his career back around. If Hill were placed in the 9 hole, and changed his approach, he could be a very serviceable player there. One idea that has been bandied around is that the Jays decline the option on Hill, and sign him to a much smaller deal to bring him back as the second baseman.
I honestly believe that Anthopoulos has the wheels turning, and with Encarnacion being so hot, many teams would love to take him on to make a push for the playoffs. If Encarnacion is not in the picture, there is a spot for Thames as a full-time player. He and Snider would probably split time between left field and DH, with Bautista in right, and Lawrie at third.
What gets lost in all of this, is that the Opening Day center fielder, might become a 5th outfielder. Rajai Davis has 33 stolen bases, and is playing better in a part-time role since Rasmus joined the team. He will be reserved to being a pinch runner, and possibly a late inning defensive replacement for Thames.
The odd man out for this year seems to be Thames, even though the Blue Jays see him as a valuable asset for the long-term. Whether that means for him to be on the field, or using him as a trade chip remains to be seen. Lawrie will likely end up playing third base every day, proving why the Jays gave up Marcum for an unproven “troubled” prospect.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland. We highly encourge you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
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