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.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.