Sick, miserable, and unable to concentrate all day, but there are a few recent news items I want to comment on.
***James Paxton signed with the Mariners yesterday for a reported $942,500. He supposedly turned down $874,000 from the Blue Jays in 2009. Was sitting out a year worth that extra $68,500? It hardly seems like it to me. One of the things I am planning on studying soon is the fate of these "get drafted, don't sign, go to independent ball and/or sit out most of a year" guys. Does it impact their development?
***Lots of buzz revolving around Toronto Blue Jays prospects Brett Lawrie and Eric Thames. Lawrie is the bigger name, of course, acquired from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum over the winter. He's reportedly looking good in his switch over to third base, and he's hit well thus far (6-for-18, .333 with a homer and a double). There's been considerable internet chatter recently about Lawrie's "red-ass" personality and how it could impact his career. I've heard mixed things about it from baseball people. Some really like his intensity on the field and high-energy style of play, while others say he's immature off-the-field, volatile on it, and doesn't work enough on defense. I've tended to be pro-Lawrie but we'll see how that pans out. I can think of examples of similar players who channeled their energy in a positive way, and others who didn't. Makeup is a tough thing to assess in the present and even harder to predict for the future. Lawrie seems to have a sense of fearlessness which will be helpful for the future, but eventually he will fail. How will he handle that?
Thames, meanwhile, is 6-fo-19 (.316) with two walks, three strikeouts, a double, triple, and homer thus far. He looked good to me when I saw him in the Arizona Fall League, as a guy with solid across-the-board tools, power from the left side, and good-enough plate discipline. I've heard knocks on his defense and complaints about his handling of inside pitches, but my observations and instincts are that these issues are overblown. I don't think he's a future star but I do think he will be a good player.
***Lefty Scott Diamond has pitched four scoreless innings in Twins camp, albeit with four hits allowed and a 1/2 K/BB. Rumors indicate that the Twins like this Rule 5 pick and will try to work out a deal with the Braves to keep him if they can't fit him on the major league roster to begin the year. Diamond is like a stereotype of a Twins pitcher: he doesn't have super-blazing velocity, but he keeps the ball down, changes speeds, and throws strikes. I can see him being a successful fifth starter or long relief type. He could be a useful source of filler innings for fantasy players.