Three Things From Week Seven

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Well that was quite a week in Blue Jay land, one of the wildest we’ve seen in a long time.  It started with two brutal losses to a division rival, moved into a mini-sweep of the evil Yankees, and ended with a series victory over the Metropolitans, proving (at least for one weekend) that we can handle interleague play.

Along the way we saw all of the following:

– one young star player lose his mind on an umpire

– our catcher continue his resurrection from the baseball dead

– our team MVP remember how to hit

– the debut of baseball’s first ever Brazilian born player

– the demotion of a former Silver Slugger award winner

– the most unlikely two-HR game ever (I’m looking at you Rajai!)

Amongst that whirlwhind, the Jays actually finished above .500 for the week and despite all of the team’s early season struggles, currently reside in a playoff spot.  Happy times!

Here are three things from week 7:

Week 7: May 14 – May 20

Record: 4 – 3

1. So Long Lind

To say 2012 has been a tough year for Adam Lind is an understatement.  In 34 games, the Toronto 1B was – for lack of a better word – horrendous.  He was hitting .186, slugging only .314, and the defense that was so reliable in 2011 was declining rapidly.  We all know that Lind has struggled badly against left-handed pitchers, and this year was no exception as he posted a .129 average and .382 OPS against them, with 1 HR and 6 K.  But most worrisome were his numbers against righties: .207 average, .655 OPS, 2 HR, 18 K.  Not what you’d expect from a cleanup hitter.

So Toronto, in a somewhat unexpected move, demoted Lind to the minors, then followed that up by placing him on outright waivers.  The move means that any team has the right to claim his contract.  If nobody does, he will be removed from the 40-man roster, the likeliest scenario given the size of his contract.

At the time of his demotion Lind was underperforming badly – a quick look at all other AL 1B will tell you that.  At this point in the season, 20 AL 1B have recorded a minimum of 80 at bats.  Lind ranks 18th in average (.186), 16th in OBP (.273), 16th in OPS (.586), T-12th in HR (3), T-16th in RBI (11), and T-14th in extra-base hits (9).  In other words, he was vastly underperforming his contract and offering no lineup protection to Jose Bautista what-so-ever.

Who knows – maybe a trip to Vegas will straighten Lind out and help him rediscover his 2009 form.  We can always hope.  However, there is a very real chance that we have seen the last of Adam Lind in a Blue Jays uniform.

2. JPA To The Rescue!!

Remember April 17th?  I’m sure J.P. Arencibia does.  That day the Blue Jays beat the Rays 7-3, but JPA went 0 for 4 to drop his season stats to rock bottom levels: .063 average, .274 OPS.  Toronto’s notorious bandwagon fans were calling for his head, practically demanding that Alex Anthopoulos promote Travis d’Arnaud to the big show.

Lucky for all of us, that didn’t happen.

Since that day Arencibia has been on an absolute tear, culminating in him being named the American League player of the week – the first Toronto catcher to ever achieve that feat.  The numbers show that he definitely deserved the honour: 9 for 25, .360 average, .385 OBP, .920 SLG, 1.305 OPS, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R.  His season stats now sit at .256 AVG / .777 OPS, basically in an entirely different stratosphere since the dark days of April.

What is so important about his resurgence is the ability it has given John Farrell to reconstruct the middle of the batting order.  With Lind gone, Edwin Encarnacion has slid into the cleanup spot to protect Bautista, with Arencibia moving into the #5 spot, giving Toronto some actual pop in the meat of the lineup. 

JPA has always been a streaky hitter so this tear will likely come to an end at some point.  But at least the cries for d’Arnaud have been quieted for now.

3. Lawrie Goes Nuts

We all know the kind of player that Brett Lawrie is.  He is fiery, passionate, and wears his heart on his sleeve.  That is why we all love him.  But last Tuesday night he let his passion boil over in a very public way. 

By now everybody knows the story, how Lawrie thought that home plate umpire Bill Miller squeezed him on a few pitches.  Judging by the replay and the Pitch F/X  it looked like he had a case, and it certainly appeared that Miller might have had a personal agenda.  But arguing with an ump is one thing – throwing your helmet is another. 

It looked obvious to me that Lawrie had no intent on hitting Miller with the helmet, and that probably explains why he only received a four game suspension.  But that is not what bothers me about the whole ordeal.  Lawrie had a golden opportunity to redeem himself in a very public manner on Wednesday night, when Miller was the 3B ump.  I was hoping to see Brett take his position in the top of the 1st, then make a very public apology by shaking Miller’s hand.  Neither man had to admit that he was the aggressor, rather it would have been a gesture that the incident was a mistake and it was in the past.

But that moment never took place.  I know an apology did take place behind closed doors, but I think Lawrie had a golden chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the media, the fans, and the umpires by making a public display of it. 

Let’s hope his failure to do that doesn’t come back to haunt him.

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