Monday, December 6, 2010
Pitch Like A Man - Wherever You Are
According to a multitude of published reports like this one, Shaun Marcum is on his way to Milwaukee. the most prevalent reporting is that Toronto will receive in return the Brewer's consensus #1 prospect, 2B Brett Lawrie.
The 20-year-old Lawrie was a target of the Blue Jays in the 2008 draft when the Brewers took him one pick ahead of the Jays' turn to select. He was a catcher then, he was playing 2B (poorly according to reports) for the Brewers AA club in 2010 (and reaching AA at 20 is no small feat) and is reportedly experienced at 3b, though many scouts suggest his future is in LF.
The good/bad about Lawrie, apart from his obviously prolific bat, is his attitude. Apparently he's the sort of guy you hate on the opposing team but love when he's your guy. Imagine Cano's bat, Uggla's D, and Pedroia's attitude.
Lawrie dd an interview with Marc Hulet of Baseball Analysts (and Batter's Box) and he compared himself directly to Pedroia as a "spark plug" type of high energy guy. As much as Jays fans don't care for Pedroia's personality, they will probably love having such a player on their own team.
On an instinctive level, my preference would be to see the Blue Jays try to polish him into a competent 3B since that's the immediate position in need of a long-term fix. alternately, the idea of shifting Hill to 3B and Lawrie playing 2B would be a dead issue but he's going to have to really bring up his defensive game.
There's also unsubstantiated speculation that this deal is a precursor to making a big run at KC's Zach Grienke. In theory Lowrie could be flipped (which seems unlikely given the strengths in the KC system) or Hechevarria could be dealt (since Lowrie in the infield would create perhaps room to deal there) along with probably Drabek and presumably others. the reports, however, suggest that Grienke is wildly overpriced and I, for one, am not at all sure that i think he's worth the price in players it takes to get him, or the contract extension he'll command in a couple of years.
More likely, AA is again focused on the long view more than 2011. I think the Blue Jays will be fine in 2011, but Alex isn't trying to "go for it" specifically next year, if that happens it's gravy. wherever he plays (though it really needs to be the infield unless the Jays are confident in Snider playing right) Lawrie just became another cog in the core of the next great Jays team. of course he could fail, just as any player could - but all you can do with a prospect is assume he will succeed until he doesn't.
Finally, Brewers fans seem to be bent out of shape about getting so "little" for Lowrie. Trust me guys, by mid-season you'll be calling Marcum your ace and one of the better pitchers in the NL (which he will be). Gallardo has better stuff, but Marcum - while pitching in the toughest division in baseball (by far) had a better ERA than Gallardo did. Consider this, in 2010 in all games against opponents other than the Big 3 in the AL East, his ERA was 2.76; that's not to disrespect Gallardo, he's talented - but Marcum is being seriously underestimated in some quarters.
Good luck, Shaun. Pitch like a man, wherever you go.