Brett Lawrie and Matt LaPorta | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Judging prospects is really, really hard. I don’t pretend to be very good at it. I rely on the observations of others to let me know how excited I should be getting about a particular prospect. I don’t know if other people think the way I do, but when I’m reading things about how a particular prospect is tearing up the league they’re in, I tend to envision what I think would be their peak at the big league level based on what they’re telling me, and how often I hear it.

What this is bringing me to is Brett Lawrie and how it sucks, just a little bit, to see him absolutely tearing up the big leagues at 21. Going into tonight he was hitting .317/.372/.663 (!), and he hit a walk-off homer in a Blue Jays win today to get to 8 in 120ish plate appearances. The dude is going to be a monster for a long time. When he was drafted, we heard a lot of hyperbole about how his bat was going to be special, and it certainly has been so far. I was disappointed to see him go to Toronto, of course. However, I was fully on board with the Marcum trade, and still am. This is one that’s going to work out for both teams. It’s the same way I feel about the Greinke trade and did about the Sabathia trade. It’s about the philosophy the organization is run by, taking advantage of opportunities to leverage talent in years with the best chances of postseason success. The Brewers are doing it now.

What I want to talk about here, however, is how we, as Brewers fans, deal with Lawrie’s success. The last big hitting prospect to come out of the system that I remember being similarly hyped was Matt LaPorta. LaPorta, by all accounts, had phenomenal control of the strike zone and unbelievable power. He was polished and going to be fast-tracked. People thought he could hit 50 home runs in the majors. His hitting ability wasn’t even in question, in fact, the only roadblock to a long successful career was going to be if he could play defense in the majors.

2008 was the year Mat Gamel really established himself as a legitimate prospect but LaPorta was the one who caught the imaginations of myself and many other Brewer fans. I remember commenting on Brew Crew Ball the day after the trade with something along the lines of “I hope LaPorta becomes a Hall-of-Famer, but we need Sabathia now and I don’t think we’ll ever regret this trade.” That’s how I felt about the Marcum trade, too, and to a lesser extent the Greinke trade (if only because there wasn’t a similarly hyped prospect in it).

LaPorta’s since spent parts of 3 years in the majors, and been given 972 plate appearances. He’s hit .234/.300/.394. With his less-than-stellar defense, he’s been worth a win and a half less than a replacement level player in those three years. Lawrie’s already been worth 2 WAR in about 15% of the playing time.

Heck, I hope Lawrie keeps tearing it up. We have our man Marcum now. To the playoffs!

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Jason says: September 6, 2011

    LaPorta was never the same after getting beaned in the head by Chen Kun during the Olympics.

  2. desertfool says: September 6, 2011

    I cheer for Brett as he was a T-Rat. I try to follow all the guys who come through here.

  3. Connie Litrenta says: September 6, 2011

    I agree with the moves as well. Teams like the Brewers will always have to go with the “all in” approach because they will never be able to get and/or keep enough top talent to consistantly compete for a championship. Therefore, when you have a year where that’s possible, you do EVERYTHING you can to make it happen. Just the cost of doing business for us I’m afraid. Thank God there are guys like Ryan Braun around who see the value in becoming a one-franchise star. He may not win a lot of championships but he can say he was the face of the Brewers for a very long time and it will definitely help in his quest for the HOF and income potential long after baseball is over.

  4. JC says: September 6, 2011

    Both moves were solid from the Brewers standpoint. The Sabathia/LaPorta trade put us in the post-season in 2008. Without that, I would argue that there would not be the same success in 2011. The fans responded so well to that deal, that they showed up in 2009 and 2010 even though the team was not as competitive.

    This gave management the confidence/money to make the Greinke and Marcum trades. Obviously, our strength was position players and our weakness was arms. Hopefully, in the future there will be a better balance of arms and position players developed.

    I hope Brett Lawrie has a great career. I will never wonder ‘what if?’ about him. The way I look at it, he was an asset that we needed to give up to make our ball club better now, and I would argue in the future.

  5. Brewerfever78 says: September 6, 2011

    I was disappointed when the Brewers drafted two pitchers in the first round this year. The Brewers have shown a consistent ability to draft and develop stud hitters. They have shown almost no success in developing starting pitching (Is Gallardo the only success?). I would like to see them draft best available and then use the prospects to acquire starting pitching like they did this off season.

    Lawrie is going to be a stud..you can see he’s got a lot of a young cocky Braun in him. That being said, another bat wasn’t going to win the Brewers their first division title since 1982. Shaun Marcum and Greinke will.

  6. Todd Johnson says: September 6, 2011

    Brewerfever, I don’t know, I think Sheets was pretty decent…HA he was an ace stuck on a bad team with poor management until Attanasio took over. As for Lawrie, I’m glad he’s gone. He had problems with the brass, and even had enough of a gall to deny a chance to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. While Toronto may welcome that type of attitude with open arms, as I Brewers fan, I want nothing to do with him in Milwaukee.

  7. Tim Schaefer says: September 8, 2011

    You know, I hope Lawrie does well. And I think it was a pretty even trade.

    But, on the other hand (like Todd said) he’s tough to root for. Braunie may have bad taste in tee shirts, but really, he’s always seemed like a decent guy.

    I’m pretty sure Lawrie would give me a swirlie without a second thought. The accent would just make it all more humiliating.

  8. Kris says: September 8, 2011

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