Jays Talk: Making a Case for the Promotion of Third Baseman Brett Lawrie

Brad LeClair@beerad87Correspondent IApril 18, 2011

After 16 games, the Blue Jays have had an up-and-down, roller coaster like start to the season. Sitting at 7-9, the Jays have done a lot of good things on the field that are showing fans and management alike, that there is some hope for this team, despite not having the financial freedom that a team like their division rivals Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have.

However, after 16 games, one thing that is apparent is that Juan Rivera just plain doesn't want to be here. His demeanor, attitude and body language at the plate screams "I'm just going through the motions."

Currently batting .111 in 36 at bats, Rivera has the worst average on the team, and to be honest, looks like he doesn't even want to be here.

That's where Lawrie comes into the minds of many Blue Jay fans.

Lawrie so far is mashing the ball down in AAA in Las Vegas, where he is sporting a .426 average, good for sixth in the Pacific Coast League. Top 15 Jays Prospect Eric Thames is right behind him with a .419 average, good for eighth in the Pacific Coast League.

It's clearly evident, even though its only been 47 at bats, that Lawrie can hit the baseball. His attitude and cocky attitude may be drawbacks to his game, but the Jays in my opinion need more players with confidence.

Out of the 20 hits he has the season, Lawrie has belted out a home run, a triple and six doubles, giving him a ridiculous 1.140 OPS—the new favorite statistic of Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez.

Using another player as an example, Kyle Drabek last season made the jump from AA New Hampshire to the big leagues, and this season has pitched pretty well, holding down the number two starting spot on the squad.

Drabek, who battles control issues from time to time, has been pretty consistent this year, and hasn't pitched once in AAA.

You could argue Drabek could have used a year in AAA to refine his skills and pitch to near major league talent, but do you risk him getting ripped apart by the hitter happy Pacific Coast League baseball parks?

The Jays decided to have him just skip AAA altogether.

Could Lawrie use more time for seasoning in AAA? Probably, but when you look at who is getting playing time over him in Toronto, would the Jays be better off just calling Lawrie up and letting him play through his mistakes, much like they did with Drabek?

Currently, the Jays have a rotation of three third baseman in Edwin Encarnacion, Jayson Nix and John McDonald.

Encarnacion has been pretty brutal defensively to say the least and hasn't really brought his claim to fame power to the table as of yet. Lawrie, who is also struggling defensively in Vegas, is mostly there to improve his defence and get used to playing at third.

Both Nix and McDonald are super-utility guys who probably shouldn't be playing everyday. Nix has been fairly steady this year with the bat and his glove hasn't been that bad, but do you want to be giving regular playing time to journeymen players, when you've got hot prospects hitting beach balls in Vegas?

My call to Jays management is simple, release Rivera and call-up Lawrie to save some money.

With Corey Patterson back and hitting well, and Rajai Davis on the mend, I would hazard to believe Rivera would not get the nod ahead of either of these guys too.

Imagine a Jays lineup like this:

CF Rajai Davis/Corey Patterson

SS Yunel Escobar

RF Jose Bautista

1B Adam Lind

2B Aaron Hill

C JP Arencibia

LF Travis Snider

DH Edwin Encarnacion

3B Brett Lawrie

Lawrie will struggle defensively, that's for sure, but his bat is major league ready. Let him work with Brian Butterfield and the Jays team, and get the ability to at least DH some days when the Jays want to opt for a more defensive lineup if they opt to use Jayson Nix or McDonald in that spot.

Here's hoping we see Brett Lawrie in a Jays jersey soon.


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