Need + Surplus = Marcum for Lawrie Trade

December 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm 2 comments

Shaun MarcumBrett Lawrie

When news first got out that Shaun Marcum was heading to the Milwaukee Brewers the prospect was rumored to be Brett Lawrie.  I thought to myself that there was no way the Brewers would give him up for Marcum.  Well, I was wrong.  The Brewers, in a desperation move to add a starter because they cannot afford a top free agent, pulled the trigger on Marcum in exchange for their best prospect.  I want to make it clear that I believe the Jays won this trade but I understand why the Brewers made it.

The Brewers 2011 rotation before the acquisition of Marcum would have looked a little like this (with 2010 stats):

 Pitcher  IP  FIP  ERA  WAR
 Yovani Gallardo  185.0  3.02  3.84  4.6
 Randy Wolf  215.2  4.85  4.17  0.7
 Chris Narveson  167.2  4.22  4.99  1.7
 Manny Parra  122.0  4.50  5.02  0.4
 Mark Rogers  10.0  2.08  1.80  0.3

That’s far from a contender’s rotation, especially with the poor defense that plays behind them.  Parra and Rogers both belong in the bullpen, and Narveson is more of a 5th starter with Wolf being a solid #4.  That leaves the Brewers with a heavy need of a #2 and #3 starter, something that will cost you roughly $8-$12M per year in the current market.  The Brewers simply cannot afford that.  When the opportunity to acquire Shaun Marcum came up they felt compelled to make the deal happen.  Here is what their 2011 rotation could look like with Marcum:

 Pitcher  IP  FIP  ERA  WAR
 Yovani Gallardo  185.0  3.02  3.84  4.6
 Shaun Marcum  195.1  3.64  3.74  3.5
 Randy Wolf  215.2  4.85  4.17  0.7
 Chris Narveson  167.2  4.22  4.99  1.7
 Mark Rogers  10.0  2.08  1.80  0.3

Marcum is an instant upgrade to a bleak rotation and allows Parra to move to the pen, where he belongs.   He is also under team control for two more years and will cost much less than a free agent of his caliber.

Toronto makes this trade without blinking an eye.  They acquire Canada-native Lawrie, currently learning secondbase, and could choose to either keep him and develop him or add him to a package and try and land the Royals Zack Greinke.

Lawrie is very raw at secondbase and may end up having to move to a corner outfield position or firstbase, something the Brewers had their own surplus of.  Here is a scouting report from Keith Law on Lawrie:

Lawrie has a good swing, almost a classic left-handed swing but from the right side, with tremendous rotation and raw power. I’ve seen him overstride in BP, but he quiets down a little in games, still taking all-out swings but with such a good swing path that he covers the plate and struggles only with changing speeds. He’s an intense, aggressive, “one-speed” player who might benefit from dialing it down a notch every now and then, and the lack of finesse in his game is part of what holds him back as an infielder.

Lawrie hit .285/.346/.449 with a wOBA of .361 and ISO of .164.  He hit 8 homers, 35 doubles, 16 triples, and stole 30 bases.  His pitch recognition is lacking but he still performed incredibly well for a 20 year old in 604 plate appearances in AA.  If Lawrie can stick to secondbase he could be a star, but the odds seem against him staying there.  I think he can, for what ever that is worth.

The Jays had a major surplus of starters with Rickey Romero, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Marc Rzepczynski all capable of filling out a rotation. 

As the trade stands it made total sense for the Jays to do with their surplus and the Brewers addressed a need that, saved them money, although they still paid a high fee for it.

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