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Tuesday February 26th, 2013

For those of you that follow @mlbmemes, I found this meme very funny. It is a play on the DMX song, "Party Up".

For those of you that follow @mlbmeme, I found this meme very funny. It is a play on the explicit DMX song, “Party Up (Up in Here)”.  (Explicit lyrics – So Parental Guidance is Advised.)

Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):

After the signings and trade this winter, Atlanta Braves fans have a lot to be excited about. The Braves made a big impact by signing B.J. Upton and trading for his brother, Justin. Both young outfielders have tremendous skill and will undoubtedly make an impact on the National League East. The Braves got an early jump on the Free Agent market by signing B.J. Upton early in the winter. The main reason for the B.J. Upton signing was to replace Michael Bourn in Center Field.

Bourn became a Free Agent after 2012 and wound up with the Cleveland Indians. The Braves strengthened their outfield even further with the acquisition of B.J.’s brother, Justin, in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that meant sending utility-man Martin Prado.

Jason Heyward 2012 Highlights Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is Advised:

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Melk! It’s Good For Your Outfield: Where Does Toronto’s New Outfield Stand?

 

Thursday, November 22nd, 2013

Photo Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)

Since the Blue Jays and Marlins blockbuster trade, there has been a lot of discussion about Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.  Jose Reyes is going to have an amazing presence at the top of the lineup, getting on base, steal bases and playing beautiful shortstop on the left side of the infield with Brett Lawrie for the Blue Jays ground ball pitchers. Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle immediately make the Blue Jays rotation a top rotation in all of baseball by being inserted in. Effectively, they got two top of the line starters to create an elite rotation that makes them serious contenders.

Read the rest of this entry

Josh Hamilton Ready to Return to the Tampa Bay Rays?

Thursday November 1st, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  What a great story it would be to see Josh Hamilton return to the team that drafted him. As a free agent this offseason, there is a possibility that this could be the case. Hamilton never played a Major League game with the “Devil Rays”. After he was drafted, he was the number one prospect in the Devil Rays’ organization. He had an extremely bright future, but unfortunately the money from the signing bonus combined with injuries sent Hamilton down the wrong path leading to his drug abuse and decline, eventually sending him out of baseball. Hamilton spent time on the restricted list and was suspended, and was eventually picked by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, subsequently being purchased by the Cincinnati Reds. Hamilton played part of a season with the Reds before being traded to the Rangers, where he was very successful, making the All Star team every year and winning the MVP in 2010.

The Rangers most likely will not pursue Hamilton, leaving him open for any other club. Hamilton would be great for the Rays. With B.J. Upton most likely leaving to free agency, the Rays will need to fill the center field position. Hamilton would bring a lot of excitement to Tampa Bay and would help bring the team back to the playoffs. A former MVP would tremendously improve the Rays’ potent lineup already including Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, and Carlos Pena. Acquiring Hamilton would make a large statement to the rest of the AL East. With the Yankees as the only real threat, the Rays would be sending the message that they are ready to win. The Red Sox are rebuilding, so they probably will not be of worry to the Rays, and the Blue Jays are coming off a disappointing season in 2011. The Orioles could be playoff bound, but with Hamilton, the Rays would have an advantage. With the new Wild Card in play, the Rays will have a good shot of reaching the playoffs even if they do not sign Hamilton. But, signing Hamilton would make the Rays a powerhouse and could give the Yankees a run for their money. Read the rest of this entry

Moises Sierra Has a Future in the Majors: A Blue Jays Work in Progress

Sunday August 26th, 2012

Sam Evans: When Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos traded away both Travis Snider and Eric Thames at the trade deadline, it created an opportunity for unheralded twenty-three year old outfielder Moises Sierra. Sierra has a chance to show Toronto that he should be part of their future in these final couple months of the season. With his 70-grade arm and his ability to produce runs at a solid pace, Sierra could have a job in the majors for years to come. However, Sierra has a lot of work to do to become a candidate for playing time at Rogers Centre in 2013.

Moises Sierra was signed by the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic back in 2005. This was before the Blue Jays dominated the scouting world, so Sierra has never been an “Anthopoulos guy”. From 2006 to 2008, Sierra had some rough numbers for different teams, but he showed enough to be promoted from the DSL, in 2006, to earning a starting job in High-A for the 2009 season. Sierra had a 122 wRC+ at High-A in 2009, but he missed most of the 2010 season due to a stress fracture in his leg and a couple of other minor injuries. Read the rest of this entry

Melky Cabrera out for the Season: Giants’ Outfielder Suspended 50 Games for PED

Wednesday August 15th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Just a little while ago, Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera was announced suspended for 50 games due to testing positive for testosterone—a performance enhancer. This will put him out of action for the rest of the season.

For the Giants, this is catastrophic. They lost a .346 hitter in the middle of the lineup. They just acquired Hunter Pence and got Pablo Sandoval back from the DL, and the lineup was stacked. They got through one game with the best possible lineup, and then this. As a Giants fan, I can’t even think of the words to describe this situation. Apparently the testing was during the All Star Break. The Giants now have a tougher road to the playoffs, but I’m not sure their goose is cooked. Buster Posey has been on fire recently, and the return of Sandoval should provide a large boost. The major problem with Cabrera’s absence is the loss of a high-average hitter. Now the Giants will need to work harder in order to get runners on base for the power hitters. Cabrera was having his best season—even better than last. Now the Giants must hope to scrappily win enough games to snag a wild card. Gregor Blanco will be expected to fill in for Cabrera. The Giants recently signed Xavier Nady, so he might play a part too.

Read the rest of this entry

Jay Bruce: The Reds Have a Young Budding Superstar in the Outfield

Wednesday May 30th, 2012

Brendan Henderson:  Jay Bruce, the 25-year-old right-fielder for the Cincinnati Reds is quickly making a name for himself in the baseball world. Bruce is from Beaumont, Texas and he was selected as the 12th pick in the 2005 amateur draft by the Reds. Bruce is under contract with the Reds until 2017.

Bruce made his MLB debut with the Reds in 2008 at the young age of 21 years old. He batted .254 that year with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs. Jay Bruce finished 5th in Rookie of the Year voting that year, just behind his teammate, Edinson Volquez who finished 4th. Volquez has since moved on to San Diego, in a package for top starter Mat Latos.

Many people might be wondering at this point in his career: “Is Jay Bruce the next great MLB superstar?” I will answer why he may or may not be below. Read the rest of this entry

Steven Bumbry Interview: The Baseball Story of an Orioles Prospect

Saturday January 21, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Imagine this scenario. Your dad played fourteen seasons in the big leagues, all but one with the Baltimore Orioles. Now you get to play pro ball as a second generation player, working your way up the ladder for that same big league organization. Welcome to the world of Steven Bumbry! When Manny Ramirez calls you to wish you a happy birthday at 11-years old, you know that you are strongly linked to the game. You may know the last name “Bumbry”, but today you get to learn about the man known as Steven Bumbry.  The Killer B has been around the game is whole life. From growing up in clubhouses and baseball diamonds, Steven is a member of the Baltimore Orioles organization as an outfield prospect. He completed last season playing for the Frederick Keys of the Carolina League. Steven will be 24 by opening day and looking to make the climb up to Baltimore in the future. Today we sat down with the Killer B to discuss his baseball life and story. From the baseball he equipment he uses- to autographing strange body parts.  Today on MLB reports, we are proud to present the Killer B- Steven Bumbry:

MLB reports:  Welcome to MLB reports!  Steven- you play professional baseball for a living.  Has that sunk in yet?

Steven Bumbry:  During my first offseason: when all of my college teammates were heading back to school and I literally had nothing on my plate besides keeping in shape. While they were worrying about going to classes and study hall, is when it really sunk in. Although I haven’t completed my degree yet, I wouldn’t trade anything for the time and experiences I’ve had since I started my pro career.


MLB reports:  What is your brand choice for bat and glove?

Steven Bumbry:  I prefer to use a Rawlings glove with the H-Web. My first two years I stuck to the good ‘ol Louisville Slugger bats. But in the middle of 2011, I was introduced to an up and coming company called DS Wood Bats. They are made outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and this offseason they gave me the opportunity to visit their factory and customize a model bat for myself.  So I have made the switch to them and I feel that they are very comparable, if not better than what I was getting from Louisville Slugger. I hope to continue to grow my relationship with them as I continue my career.


MLB reports:  Did you have a favorite player growing up?

Steven Bumbry:  Manny Ramirez was by far my favorite player and still is at the top of the list today.  When my father was coaching with the Cleveland Indians in 1998, I had the chance to visit and travel with the team during the summer when I wasn’t in school.  I was only 10 at the time and all of the guys treated me so well, giving me gloves and bats all the time. But Manny was one of the guys who I could stand with during team batting practice and we would play shagging games in the outfield. I thought that was the coolest thing until April of the next year when the phone rang on my birthday and it was a call from Manny personally wishing me a happy birthday.  I don’t think there was anything in the world when I was 11-years old that would have been a cooler birthday present.


MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Steven Bumbry:  I admire the hard work and the type of game that Justin Morneau plays. I have the opportunity of working out with him and about 15 other current major leaguers in the offseason here in Phoenix and I enjoy picking their brains about the game. I think that Justin is a great role model both on and off the field.


MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?  

Steven Bumbry:  My number one goal is to stay healthy, I don’t want to miss a game. Unfortunately I haven’t had a season in the last 4 years where I didn’t miss any time.  While fighting off the injury bug, I have taken some encouraging steps in my game both offensively and defensively. So when healthy, I will put it all together and hopefully have a break out season in 2012.


MLB reports:  You were drafted by the Orioles in the 12th round of the 2009 draft.  Tell us about that process.

Steven Bumbry:  I first started to realize that I would have the opportunity to play professionally my senior year of High School because Dean Albany (the scout who signed me with the Orioles) had been asking me to play with his summer wood bat team in the Cal Ripken League. After going undrafted in High School, I moved on to Virginia Tech and he continued to show a lot of interest in me, asking me back to play with him after my freshman and sophomore years there. The attention continued throughout my Junior year and I had been in pretty frequent contact with the Orioles and a handful of others in the months leading up to the draft. I eventually went to a couple of pre-draft workouts, one being at home in Baltimore for the Orioles.  Then two weeks later, it was draft day and we had calls going back and forth between two teams and it was kind of a roller coaster ride back and forth. But it ended up being the Orioles who called my name and myself and my whole family were ecstatic.

 

MLB reports:  You just finished your third full professional season, playing mainly for the Frederick Keys.  How did you find your season overall?

Steven Bumbry:  I learned a lot about myself and the game this past season.  The game really tests you every da. You have to be able to handle the successes the same way you handle the adversity that happens in this game.  The game really humbles you and teaches you to stay level-headed.  As far as on the field- I think it was a pretty big success. Our team won the Carolina League Championship and I had some career highs in a couple of categories offensively.

 

MLB reports:  You have played every outfield position in your career.  Is the outfield your long-term position?

Steven Bumbry:  I think that will be my home for the rest of my career. Being left-handed limits me to only a few positions and I have never really pitched seriously. I am also a little undersized for the typical first baseman.


MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Steven Bumbry:  My defense is something that really stands out when you look at my game. I can play all three outfield positions interchangeably and my arm is one of my best tools. I also think that with more experience at the plate, my offensive tools will continue to develop. It will be interesting to see how they pan out and what type of player I become as I continue to mature and learn- as I get the opportunity to play.


MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Steven Bumbry:  I think the most successful players in the game are also the most consistent at everything they do. If I continue to learn the game and about myself, I think that my consistency will improve and that is something that I want to continue to work on each and every day.


MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Steven Bumbry:  I don’t necessarily like putting time frames on things… because I know anything can happen. I don’t want to be caught off-guard with any moves or decisions that are made because ultimately, they are really out of my control. I just like to focus on doing what I have to do and I know that if I do that and take care of myself and continue to work on my game, that things will happen when they’re supposed to happen.


MLB reports:  When did you sign your first autograph?  What is the strangest autograph request that you have ever had?

Steven Bumbry:  I think I probably signed my first autograph when I was in middle school tagging along with my dad when he was still coaching. I don’t exactly remember the story behind it but I know it was long before I knew that I would be playing baseball as my career. But the strangest request probably had to be these three sisters that all wanted me to sign their arms, but to personalize them with each of their names. I just had to laugh and smile and go along with it. I’m still not sure that they have washed that part of their body.


MLB reports:  Final Thoughts?

Steven Bumbry:  Thank you for selecting me to be a part of this piece and your website. Let’s go O’s!


***Thank you to Steven Bumbry for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports (and for most of the pictures used in todays’ feature)!  You can follow Steven on Twitter (@SBumbry). Please feel free to send Steven any questions/comments you have- he would love to hear from his fans!***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Interview with Jaff Decker: Padres Prospect and Future MLB Superstar

Wednesday December 14, 2011

 

Jonathan Hacohen:  Get ready folks, as you are in for a big treat today.  Exclusively on MLB reports, we have one of the top prospects in the game, outfielder Jaff Decker of the San Diego Padres.  Jaff was recently featured by us prior to this interview.  As a former 1st round pick of the Padres (2008 draft, 42nd overall), Jaff came to professional baseball as a very highly touted talent.  After working hard and improving every year in the minors, Jaff is on the verge of cracking the Padres lineup in the near future.  I had a chance to take some time to speak with Jaff recently.  We discussed his childhood, learning the game of baseball, getting drafted in the 1st round, his career to-date and future plans in baseball.  Despite being featured in many baseball publications and rated as a top prospect in the game, it was refreshing to find that Jaff has not allowed his notoriety to get to his head.  He is a down-to-earth person, who genuinely works hard and takes nothing for granted.  He believes in himself and his abilities, but with a strong sense of humor and humility.  I project that Jaff will have a long and productive career in the big leagues.  He has the talent, work ethic and focus to succeed in baseball.  Attention Padres fans: Jaff Decker is knocking on the doorstep and will be a big part of your Padres team very soon.   

Featured on MLB reports, I am absolutely thrilled to present my interview with Jaff Decker.  Former 1st Round Pick.  San Diego Padres Outfield Prospect and Future MLB Superstar:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 MLB reports:  Welcome to MLB reports Jaff.  It is a pleasure to be speaking with you.  As you are a highly rated prospect in the game, do you receive many requests for interviews at this stage of your career?

Jaff Decker:  It has definitely started to pick up more and more as I have moved up each year in levels, especially with the teams I have played on the last couple of years.  Winning 2 championships out of 3 years has really helped the interviews out.

 

MLB reports:  It is impossible to have a conversation about Jaff Decker without first discussing the walks.  You had 85 walks in 2009 and 103 this past season.  How did you become a walk/obp machine?  At what age did you develop your strong batting eye?

Jaff Decker:  I would have to say it is pretty hard to go without talking about the walks I have had the past couple of years. Good and bad. My dad has taught me everything I know about the game of baseball and the hitting aspect of it. He has always taught me great fundamentals and has preached to me that “a pitcher has 3 pitches to get you out.  As the pitchers pitch you, work the count. A walk is just as good as a hit.”  But I am also learning to be a little more aggressive in the count as well, which I have worked real hard on by watching film and working on pitches.

 

MLB reports:  I often use Nick Swisher and Adam Dunn as comparisons to you.  What current and former players did you grow up idolizing and/or patterning your game after?  Have the names that I mentioned come up before?

Jaff Decker:  Yes, actually Nick Swisher has come up a lot.  I really enjoy watching how hard he plays the game and how much he enjoys playing this great game. Growing up though the years, it was always Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Tony Gwynn. I had so many opportunities to watch them play being from Arizona, so I always watching them during the spring. Funny story: when I was about 5-years-old, I caught a home run ball over Tony and actually got the ball signed by him after that inning.  That will always be a great moment in my mind.

 

MLB reports:  You were a 1st round pick in 2008.  One of the highest honors a young player can experience in the game.  Did you know that you would be drafted that high going into the draft and were the Padres the team that you expected to take you?

Jaff Decker:  Being drafted where I was a great accomplishment.  We had a huge party at my house during the draft and all my family and friends were there to experience it with me.  When my name finally got called, it felt like the house was shaking (laugh).  To answer your question, I actually had no idea that the Padres were going to pick me there. There were many teams that had talked to me before. But they (the Padres) kind of flew under the radar and I couldn’t be happier with this organization.

 

MLB reports:  What was the first “big” purchase you made after signing with the Padres?

Jaff Decker:  My first and only purchase was a car. Everything else has been put away. But I did have to promise my mom who is a teacher that I would go back to school after I was done playing (grin).

 

MLB reports:  You started off the first two seasons of your career with a bang.  How did you find your 2010 season?  What was that season like and tell us about your strong finish that year.

Jaff Decker:  I had battled an injury during the first half of 2010 and I struggled a little bit.  It (the injury) did get to me a little bit, as I was not helping the team like I knew I was capable of doing. So I had a few days off at the all-star break that year and went home.  Just like when I was younger, my dad spent those 3 or 4 days putting in many hours in the cage with me working on the fundamentals and just the mental side of hitting.  When I came back, everything fell back on track. The big thing was not trying to do too much at the plate and just trusting myself and to start using the whole field again.

 

MLB reports:  Your 2011 season was magical in my eyes.  You crossed the magical 100 walks plateau, while flashing strong power, driving in and scoring runs at a healthy clip.  Looking back on this past year, what are your feelings?  Satisfied?  Areas of improvement?

Jaff Decker:  I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% satisfied.  I felt that I had ups and downs all year and my struggles related to being too patient at times at the plate.  There were points that I would know when I was getting pitched around.  No excuses at all, but I became a little complacent with what I call “maybe pitches”, that were called strikes by the umpires, but in my eyes were balls.  We also didn’t play in the most hitter-friendly ballpark.  I did feel though that I came up with some big hits at times during the season. But I still need to work on different parts of my game to get to where I want to be and stay there.

 

MLB reports:  In my estimation, you clearly put yourself in the driver’s seat going into 2012.  You are turning 22 in February.  What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Jaff Decker:  I would have to say my goals would include coming to spring training in better shape again. I love proving people wrong and to show them that I can be a five-tool player, even without being 6 feet and built like a specimen. But I want to work hard to prove them (the critics) wrong and I just try to soak everything I can in.  I work out at a place with many proven big leaguers. I just can sit and listen to what they say for hours because I know they have been there and who better to learn from than them.

 

MLB reports:  Have you watched and/or read Moneyball?  You have been labelled a Moneyball-player throughout your career.  Thoughts? 

Jaff Decker:  Yes I have seen the movie (big laugh) and I loved it.  I love seeing that a ballclub can be put together that is not based on how you look, but how you control the game of baseball.  Because by no means when you look at me, am I built like a brick house.  But I’ve been taught how to play the game the right way and I think it’s helped me get to where I am today.

 

MLB reports:  Is conditioning a strong concern for you, either as your own goal or anything communicated by the team?

Jaff Decker:  Conditioning is huge for me.  Like I said earlier, I am no way a guy you look at and say he could be a model (chuckle).  I do have to work harder than some other guys and be smarter how I treat my body.  I am learning how to do that and love seeing everyone’s faces when I show up after a long hard offseason of workouts and preparation.

 

MLB reports:  You hit .236 this past season, but have a career .273 AVG.  You also have a .411 lifetime OBP.  How do you view OBP, strikeouts, batting average and home runs as part of your game?  If the walks and home runs remain consistent, is there any concern that your average needs to be raised?

Jaff Decker:  I believe that I had a slight down year in the average department, but I know I can hit a whole lot better than I did.  I felt like I came through with runners in scoring position and by walking, I got on base for the middle of the lineup behind me.  Getting on base equals scoring runs (laugh).  But my power was there throughout this year.  It was just about taking what the pitcher gives me, even if it’s a single the other way instead of a double in the gap.

 

MLB reports:  Long-term, do you project that you will remain in the outfield?  How important is defense to your overall game?

Jaff Decker:  I believe I can handle my own in the outfield. I have worked very hard every year and tried to learn a lot from other guys.  A big part of my game on defense is getting good jumps and routes on balls, because I can run well- but not blazing.  I need that to become a great outfielder and that is what I have worked very hard on every year to become better at.  I love being able to take hits away from opposing batters, especially if they (the other team) are taking them away from me (big laugh).

 

MLB reports:  The MLB reports crystal ball sees you arriving in San Diego as early as this upcoming year and latest 2013.  When do you see yourself arriving in The Show?  What do you need to do to get there?

Jaff Decker:  That is great to hear (big grin).  I know I can play this game with the best of them.  I always have and when the chance comes, I don’t plan on missing it.  I have some things to iron out and I am working day and night to become that complete player that I know I can be.

 

MLB reports:  Did you always know that you would be a professional baseball player?  What would you be doing right now if you weren’t playing ball?

Jaff Decker:  Honestly I get that question a lot. I have asked my mom and dad the same thing.  They said they knew the time I first stepped on the field and was diving for balls, throwing guys out and just had a natural feel for the game.  Even when I was 4 or 5, I was playing with older boys and having to lie about my age so I could play with them.  I have always loved this game since I can remember.  I was constantly standing in front of the television and mimicking all the big leaguers stances.  I was even sleeping with my new bats or gloves.  There is honestly nothing else I could be doing right now… or ever.

 

MLB reports:  Last question Jaff:  What legacy do you want to leave in baseball?  What do you need to do to have a successful baseball career?

Jaff Decker:  I want to be remembered as the guy that played this game to the fullest, had fun doing it and played the best I could every time I stepped in-between the lines. Even if I didn’t have my best stuff every game, you can always say that I went out there with everything I had to be great.

 

Jaff Decker:  Thanks again Jonathan and I look forward to being back on MLB reports soon. Thanks for everything.  I have really enjoyed speaking with you!

 

Thank you to Jaff Decker for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Jaff.  You can also  find Jaff Decker on Twitter (@JaffDecker22).  He may be a top MLB prospect, but yes- he does answer back!

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

On the Verge: Brett Lawrie Call Up by Jays is Imminent

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.

Yunel Escobar - SS
Colby Rasmus – CF
Jose Bautista - RF
Adam Lind - 1B
Edwin Encarnacion - DH
Travis Snider – LF
Brett Lawrie – 3B
J.P. Arencibia - C
Aaron Hill -  2B

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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