clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Fall of Brett Lawrie

New, 6 comments

The Brewers’ former top prospect has burned through four organizations in seven years and is again looking for work.

Chicago White Sox Photo Day Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Brett Lawrie is an okay baseball player and a bad baseball teammate.

Well, at least that's a conclusion plenty of people seem to be coming to after Lawrie looks to be on his way to being released by the Chicago White Sox -- the fourth organization he's gone through in the past seven years, and the third in three.

Lawrie's gone from the top prospect in the Brewers system (and one of the best prospects in the game) to being out of work all before his age 27 season. You almost have to try to wear out welcomes that quickly.

To be fair, it appears his departure from the South Side of Chicago has to do more with health and circumstance than anything he's said or done in the past year. He only played in 94 games last year, missing most of the second half with a mystery leg injury that apparently still had him feeling not right this spring. The impending promotion of Yoan Moncada meant there was no long-term future for him with the White Sox.

Still, Lawrie has earned a reputation for being anything from a general pain to a flat-out jerk, depending on which former teammate you ask, and anytime four teams cut ties with a reasonably priced, league average player some eyebrows are going to be raised.

Before the start of last season, Billy Butler told the media at an A's FanFest event that "people who are not here anymore were part of the issue" for Oakland in 2015, with the heavy implication he was talking about Lawrie.

Then there's the time where Lawrie gave a death glare to Adam Lind after Lind decided not to attempt to score on a sacrifice fly hit by Lawrie. He then got into a screaming match with manager John Gibbons, which was caught on camera during the game.

Then there's the time he spiked his helmet into an umpire arguing a called third strike call.

There's probably more, but you get the idea. When I Googled "brett lawrie attitude," 76,400 results came up, so you can take your pick on other incidents.

When the Brewers traded Lawrie for Shaun Marcum, there were plenty who were a little disappointed Milwaukee was parting with a prospect of Lawrie's caliber for someone like Marcum, who was a good-not-great starting pitcher. But there were a few who weren't totally sold on the young Canadian, due to concerns about his makeup.

It's extremely easy to roll your eyes whenever a scouting type says a player drops the vague "makeup problems" on a player, considering it could mean anything from a bad group of friends to struggling to pass classes at Cal-Berkeley, like Lucas Erceg. But guys like Lawrie tend to pop up just enough for those scouts to justify the label.

It wasn't so much about the Edward 40-hands photos or acting like a tool on Twitter, but more about not being able to keep his emotions in check on the field and letting it affect his play. Screaming at umps and staring down people is more tolerable if you're Bryce Harper. It doesn't fly when you're struggling to crack a .700 OPS.

Lawrie's career probably isn't over. He'll still only be 27 this year, and guys with former top prospect billing tend to catch on somewhere else. But many of those guys don't have the reputation of being a pain to deal with, and you could forgive a number of teams if they didn't feel like dealing with headaches from a backup infielder.

For that reason, he may find it more difficult than he thinks to find work, and he might have to consider minor league offers just to catch on somewhere — at the very least, he'll have to take a cut from the $3.5 million he was supposed to make in Chicago. There’s still time for him to turn his career around, but situations like this that can test a person’s maturity. To this point, he hasn’t shown it.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference