Brett Lawrie needs to play a little smarter

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The hustle is great, but Brett Lawrie’s tendency to play baseball like a bull in a china shop has hurt the Jays from time to time. Of course, the incident that led to last month’s four-game suspension was the most notable occasion. Saturday’s showing was none too impressive, though.

With two outs in the eighth inning and the Blue Jays down to the Red Sox by two runs, Lawrie was thrown out stealing third base, sending the game to the ninth.

And that’s the kind of play that just can’t happen. It’s a situation in which the runner has to be 100 percent sure he’ll make it if he goes. Lawrie must have seen third baseman Kevin Youkilis pulled over towards shortstop with the left-handed-hitting David Cooper up and figured the Red Sox might not even try the throw. Throw they did, though, and they were able to get Lawrie even though Youkilis fell over trying to make the play.

Lawrie is a terrific talent and is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the league today. He’s also a cocky kid with plenty of growing up left to do. Blue Jays fans better hope that wisdom comes with experience because he’s going to need it to reach his potential.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).