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Happy Birthday Brett Lawrie

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Brett Lawrie turns 34 today.

It seems so long ago that we were talking about his potential. Then, we thought we had a Canadian-born star in the making.

We picked him up from the Brewers in trade for Shaun Marcum on December 6, 2011. We thought we got the better part of the deal (Brett was #40 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list), but the trade didn’t work out for either team.

Brett came up to the Jays in August 2011 after a couple of injuries in Triple-A, slowing his ascent to the majors (foreshadowing). He was terrific. Playing in 43 games, Brett hit .293/.373/.580 in 43 games. I remember someone arguing that he should have been Rookie of the Year because he had a 3.6 bWAR, and the ROY, Jeremy Hellickson, had a 3.8 bWAR, pitching an entire season with the Rays. I get into the silliest arguments.

The sad part was that that was the best we’d get out of him.

In 2012, he hit .273/.324/.405 in 125 games (the most he’d play for us in a season). 2013 it was .254/.315/.397 in 107 games. Then .247/.301/.421 in 70 games in 2014.

There was so much potential, and we never quite saw it.

Brett’s swing was a mass of tics and bounces at the plate. It isn’t easy to keep your timing straight like that.

And he played full out all the time. He couldn’t gear down. He was Red Bull fueled, go hard all the time, doesn’t worry about walls, football mentality. The thing about football is you get a week off between games. Baseball, you play again tomorrow.

Brett was one of two players I’ve seen who went as hard to first as possible on every play (Vernon Wells was the other). Then, Brett went as hard on everything as he possibly could. No surprise, Lawrie ended up with all sorts of nagging injuries. If only he had learned to pick his spots.

His defense was fun to watch. All out, all the time. Lots of range. Throw hard every time. I liked watching him play third.

I feel Brett is the guy I’d want to sit furthest from in the clubhouse or on the bench if I were a teammate. He doesn’t seem to have an off switch or volume control. I don’t do well around people like that.

As you know, we traded him, Franklin Barreto, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin to the A’s for Josh Donaldson, one of my favourite trades ever.

Brett had an okay season with the A’s, hitting .260/.299/.407, and they traded him to the White Sox. He hit .248/.310/.413 in 94 games there.

2016 was the last season that he played in the majors, or, for that matter, the minors. The Brewers signed him before the 2019 season, saying he’d be working his way into playing shape before starting in the minors. But I guess he never made it into playing form. The Brewers released him in June.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Brett. I hope it is a good one.

Gift Ngoepe turns 34 today. Gift played in 13 games for the Jays in 2018 as a utility infielder. He was fun but not an MLB-level player.

Dave Geisel turns 69 today.

Geisel, a lefty pitcher, played seven seasons in the MLB, two with the Jays. As a Jay, he had a 4.39 ERA in 63 games, 2 starts. He did have 5 saves with the Jays.

The Jays traded Paul Mirabella to the Rangers to get Geisel. A trade of replacement-level pitchers. Neither moved the needle for either team. I remember I had some fondness for Mirabella; he was a first-round draft pick, but looking at his numbers, I don’t know why I liked him.