3 Up 3 Down: Lawrie, an Organist and the Bullpen
Perspective is an incredible thing. Through the first 25 games of the season, the Toronto Blue Jays own an 12-13 record. At this point last season, they owned a 9-16 record and finished April at 10-17.
At the end of May 2013, the Blue Jays win-loss record tumbled to 23-33 and they sat 10 games under .500 to begin the month of June. Last year, the Blue Jays essentially buried themselves just two months into the season.
So to be a mere game under .500 at this point is quite an improvement. The Blue Jays could have easily converted a few of those losses into wins, and nearing the end of the first month of the season, they aren’t even really playing their best baseball yet.
Lawrie Launching Longballs, Not Line Drives
It’s fair to say the early part of 2014 has been feast or famine for Brett Lawrie. He’s currently hitting below the Mendoza line at .179 and yet has a team-leading 20 RBI’s and six home runs. When Lawrie connects, he definitely makes it count.
Aside from his six home runs, I think the main concern with Brett Lawrie right now is it appears he really isn’t hitting the ball that hard or squaring it up that well. Most of the singles Lawrie has collected early on have been opposite field hits.
Field Rush picked up on this last week, and noticed this is kind of out of the norm for the Blue Jays third baseman. Brett’s spray chart from FanGraphs pretty much speaks for itself.
He continues to pull the ball on the infield, and yet for some reason has trouble pulling the ball for line drives. Aside from the double in yesterday’s game versus the Red Sox (not pictured above), Brett Lawrie has not hit another line drive to left field this season.
Plenty of ground balls are indicative of a player that’s swinging on top of the ball, meaning that Lawrie is likely swinging on a downward angle through the zone, rather than driving through the ball.
So long as he keeps hitting home runs at this pace, it’s a not a tremendous amount of concern. However, once Lawrie cools off once again, this apparent flaw or hitch in his swing will need to be addressed.
Welcome Back, Mr. Organist
If you were in attendance for yesterday’s game or happened to catch it during the broadcast, the Blue Jays brought back something that has notably been absent from the Rogers Centre for years; an organist.
Apparently, famed organist Ken Kaufman was on loan from the Buffalo Sabres for the day, and according to @OrganistAlert, he’s here to stay for the remainder of the season.
Guess he passed the audition! The Blue Jays have announced organist Ken Kaufman will remain with the club for the remainder of the season.
— Organist Alert (@organistalert) April 27, 2014
It’s funny how small things like that really make a difference and suddenly make the Rogers Centre feel like a good old fashioned ballpark.
The Blue Jays Redundant Bullpen
How do you define a redundant bullpen? How about having four long relievers on the same team? That’s exactly what the Blue Jays accomplished by calling up Chad Jenkins on Saturday and sending Neil Wagner back down to Buffalo.
Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, J.A. Happ and Chad Jenkins make four long relievers in the Blue Jays bullpen. That’s not to say they’ll all be used in multiple inning situations, but wouldn’t you rather have a hard-throwing Neil Wagner than say a Todd Redmond.
For a team that was praised last year for constructing an effective bullpen, the Blue Jays certainly have four guys who don’t have defined roles on this team right now.
Again, a lot of this comes back to Alex Anthopoulos’ bad habit of hanging onto players who have no options left. If the Blue Jays are to stay competitive, it doesn’t make sense to hang into fledgling relievers in fear of losing them to another team.
The Blue Jays are one of very few teams I’ve ever heard make roster moves based solely on whether a player has options or not. Honestly, I’d rather the Blue Jays carry guys like Neil Wagner, John Stilson and Chad Jenkins than Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers.
In the event of another poor start by Dustin McGowan, I imagine the plan is to either move J.A. Happ back into the starting rotation or possibly even give the innings to Chad Jenkins. And with McGowan complaining of fatigue, that move is likely coming very soon.
Image courtesy of AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn