Results tagged ‘ 1990s ’
Two days ago, Brett Lawrie was facing Fernando Rodney and had worked the count to 3-1. Rodney threw the fifth pitch of the at bat, which was, according to PitchFX data, was slightly more than one foot outside. Lawrie, assuming the pitch would be correctly called, dropped his bat and began trotting to first base. Buck Martinez, the Blue Jays’ play-by-play announcer stated “ball four.” Alas, home plate umpire Bill Miller had other ideas, calling the pitch a strike. Lawrie returned to the batter’s box with an astonished look on his face. Martinez stated “Wow!” in astonishment after the call.
Rodney fired again, throwing a high change-up which, again, Lawrie took and headed to first base. Again, Miller called the pitch a strike, thereby causing Lawrie to strike out. At that point, Lawrie absolutely lost his mind. Lawrie protested, screaming at Miller and threw his helmet against the ground, ricocheting off the dirt and hitting (it did more than graze) Miller in the leg. The video says it all:
Of course, while his reaction was inexcusable, the last two pitches were not strikes, at least according to MLB’s own PitchFX data.
Lawrie’s reaction was not particularly surprising, as reports of his attitude have been split, with some praising his intensity and desire to succeed while others have questioned his maturity and desire. Of course, it all goes back to the beginning, when Brett Lawrie was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Brett R. Lawrie, a catching prospect out of Langley, British Columbia, was viewed as one of the top prospects in the draft. Lawrie’s exploits were legendary: plus hit tool, plus raw power, plus arm, and plus athleticism. Lawrie was drafted with the 16th pick of the 2008 Major League Baseball Rule IV Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Prior to the draft, Lawrie was awarded the Top Hitter Award (.469 batting average), Home Runs Award (3), and Most RBI in the Tournament (16), while playing in the 2008 World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton, Alberta. Lawrie was named the starting catcher on the tournament All-World team and joined the Canadian National Baseball team to prepare for the Beijing Olympics. Lawrie was not as successful in Beijing, going 0-10 in six games, with two strike outs and two RBI.
Lawrie signed with the Brewers for a $1.6 million signing bonus and the accolades began rolling in. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein called Lawrie “an excellent natural hitter,” in ranking him the #2 prospect in the Brewers’ system, behind Alcides Escobar, and #57 overall, between Jordan Zimmerman and (fellow Brewer farmhand) Mat Gamel. Baseball America ranked Lawrie The #3 prospect in the Brewers’ system, behind Escobar and Gamel, and the #81 prospect in all of baseball. Baseball America, clearly impressed with his time on the Canadian Junior National team, named Lawrie the “Best Power Hitter” in the Brewers’ system prior to a single professional at bat.
Lawrie was assigned to the Full Season A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Brewers’ affiliate in the Midwest League, where he put up a respectable 274/348/454 line in 105 games before being promoted to the Huntsville Stars, the Brewers’ AA affiliate in the Southern League. Lawrie struggled in his 13-game trial at AA, putting up a 269/283/308 line while getting caught stealing twice and striking out 14 times. Despite being drafted as a catcher and the Brewers publicly stating they wanted to keep him behind the plate, Lawrie exclusively played second base in 2009. Despite the on-field success, there were many small clashes behind the scenes as Lawrie felt that the Brewers were trying to reign in his personality.
After the season, the accolades poured in, with Lawrie being named the #2 prospect by Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus (again behind Escobar) and #99 overall. While Goldstein praised Lawrie’s offensive abilities, there was much consternation over Lawrie’s defense at second base. Baseball America was more optimistic, also ranking Lawrie the #2 prospect in the Brewers’ system, but ranking Lawrie the #59 prospect in all of baseball. Baseball America called Lawrie the “Best Hitter for Average” and “Best Power Hitter” in the Brewers’ organization, along with the #4 prospect in the Midwest League for 2009.
In 2010, Lawrie returned to the Hunsville Stars, putting up a 285/346/451 line as the 10th youngest player in the Southern League. After the season, Lawrie felt that he deserved a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues when rosters were expanded in September, but the Brewers asked Lawrie to go to the Arizona Fall League for additional playing time. Lawrie declined. The Brewers tried to encourage Lawrie to go to Arizona, dangling the carrot of an invitation to Spring Training, but Lawrie again demurred.
In December 2010, the Brewers, in full “win now” mode and looking to bolster their starting pitching depth, dealt Lawrie to the Toronto Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum. SBNation’s Brew Crew Ball viewed the trade positively, calling Marcum “easily #2 caliber, if not a borderline #1″, stating that the trade is one that’s “going to work out well for the Crew.” While the writer at Brew Crew Ball, Jordan M, was clearly a fan of Marcum, he underestimated how good Lawrie would become and severly overstating the value of Mat Gamel.
Blue Jays fans were excited at the prospect of rooting for their native-born son as he played in Toronto. About the prospect of being dealt to Toronto (which is actually farther from his B.C. home), Lawrie said:
It was very exciting for me being a Canadian kid. It’s a great feeling to come back to Canada and have the Canadian flag on my chest again. It’s the first time I’ve felt welcome in a long time.
Lawrie also indicated that the Blue Jays did not view him as a second baseman, saying that he’s been working out at third base at the direction of the Blue Jays, with the idea being a move to third base permanently. As occurred twice before, the accolades rolled in with Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus saying Lawrie “has the tools to be a star,” who is “an excellent pure hitter with plenty of strength,” while highlighting Lawrie’s 60 extra base hits, but dinging Lawrie for his defensive woes and refusal to go to the Arizona Fall League while ranking Lawrie the #3 prospect in the Blue Jays’ system (behind Kyle Drabek and J.P. Arencibia) and the #57 prospect in all of baseball (between Braves flamethrowers Craig Kimbrel and Randall Delgado). Baseball America ranked Lawrie the #2 prospect in the Blue Jays organization (behind Drabek) and the #40 prospect in all of baseball.
Lawrie spent spring training with the Blue Jays, putting up a 293/326/488 line and fueling speculation that he would open the season in the Majors. Instead, Lawrie was sent to the Las Vegas 51s, the Blue Jays’ AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. Lawrie opened the season by absolutely smoking the ball, putting up a 361/371/588 line in April and sitting with a 354/388/677 line at the end of the day on May 30. The buzz was building, with Blue Jays’ GM Alex Andropoulos hinting that Lawrie’s call up would be imminent, stating “Yeah, he’s close,” when asked if Lawrie would be up soon. Then, on May 31, Lawrie was hit on the back of his hand with a pitch, causing swelling. X-rays, taken at a local hospital only revealed a bruise, but Lawrie had difficulty gripping a bat and further tests indicated a broken bone in his left hand. Lawrie missed the next six weeks, making his return during a rehabilitation stint with the Dunedin Blue Jays in the High A Florida State League. Lawrie then returned to Las Vegas, where he put up a 348/410/609 line in 17 games before being called up to the Blue Jays.
Upon his call up, Lawrie became the starting third baseman for the Blue Jays, mashing to a 293/373/953 line with an impressive 151 OPS+ in 43 games, hitting eight doubles, four triples, and nine home runs. Lawrie also showcased his speed and talent on the base paths, stealing seven bases and only getting caught once. Lawrie hit an 11th inning walk-off home run on September 5 against the Red Sox, becoming the first player born in the 1990s to hit a walk off home run. Lawrie’s season was cut short when he broke his finger while taking infield practice prior to a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (which is in California) on September 21.
Lawrie began the 2012 season as the starting third baseman for the Blue Jays and was having a slow start, putting up a 281/325/384 line (92 OPS+) when the incident with Bill Miller occurred. The following day, it was announced that Lawrie would be suspended for four games for his actions.
But what will happen with Lawrie? Outside of the fine and suspension, nothing will happen to Lawrie. There are ample examples of players losingtheir minds while playing baseball, from George Brett
to the oddly-similar Jermaine Dye to the absolutely insane Izzy Alcantara video (I’m calling the video insane, though it appears the same could be said for Alcantara):
The only player who got anything worse than a few days off and it appears that George Brett was not even suspended for his attempt to kill Tim McClelland.
Will this impact Lawrie in the future? I doubt it will have any impact. Lawrie has always been viewed as an intense competitor with an unyielding desire to win at everything and beat everyone who gets in his way. Lawrie is, in short, the type of player who has an unyielding desire to be the best and has the #want to do everything he can do in order to succeed (legally, of course – I wouldn’t go all Pedro Gomez and suggest that he does anything illicit).
Was Lawrie’s reaction reprehensible? Yes; he acted like a petulant child. Does every fan want a player who wants to win that badly – and show that desire? Yes. Does this incident hurt Lawrie’s long term value? Not in the least bit.
Frankly, I think writers should stop being so hard on Lawrie; imagine if your boss made you do something and then told you it was terrible and that you’re being demoted even though you did a great job.
Also, in case you’re wondering, I think the Blue Jays absolutely fleeced the Brewers in the trade, as, while Marcum is a nice #3 pitcher, Lawrie has the talent and desire to become a superstar.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.