Brett Lawrie

Blue Jays GM: decision coming soon on top prospect Brett Lawrie

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10:50 p.m. EDT update: Amid speculation that Lawrie could be called up to make his major league debut Friday, he was forced to leave Tuesday’s game with Triple-A Las Vegas after being hit on the hand by a pitch.

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With two months down, we’re nearing the point at which teams can call up their top prospects without having to worry about them becoming super-two arbitation eligible after 2013.  One everybody is watching is Brett Lawrie, and Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said Tuesday that a decision on the 21-year-old can be expected soon.

Lawrie, who was switched from second base to third after the Blue Jays acquired him from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum over the winter, is hitting ..354/.413/.677 with 15 homers and 11 steals for Triple-A Las Vegas.  That’s an outstanding environment for offense, but he’s been even better on the road than at home, hitting .375/.436/.663.

Lawrie’s defense remains rough, though.  Or as Project Prospect’s Adam Foster told me last week:

I’ve seen Lawrie twice in person. His hands would be among the worst of any big
league infielder if he remains at third. The scout who caught him for me last week confirmed that his stiff hands, difficulty throwing and lack of focus on defense don’t project well for his future as an infielder.

The Jays, though, badly need some help at third base and may soon give him a try there anyway.  A switch to left field could come later down the road.

For more on Lawrie, go check out Project Prospect’s latest scouting report, which comes with a couple of video clips.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.

Reds hire Lou Pinella as a senior advisor to baseball operations

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The Reds announced on Twitter that the club has hired former manager Lou Pinella in a consultant capacity as a senior advisor to baseball operations. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds that Pinella will also spend time with the team at spring training.

Pinella, 72, was last seen with the Giants in 2011, also in a consultant capacity, but he spent only the one season there. He has 23 seasons of experience as a manager, with his most recent four coming with the Cubs between 2007-10.