Feb
14

Being Brandon Laird

By

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Being an infield prospect in the upper levels of the Yankees’ farm system is a tough life these days. You know you’re not going to take a job from Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, or Mark Teixeira, so the only way you’re going to make the show is as an injury replacement, a bench piece, or through a trade. Eduardo Nunez has handled the bench player thing reasonably well, but he has the advantage of being a middle infielder. Corner guys like Brandon Laird aren’t so lucky.

The 24-year-old Laird briefly made his big league debut last July before getting an extended stay in September, reaching base seven times (four singles and three walks) in 25 plate appearances. He had a disappointing year with Triple-A Scranton, producing just a .310 wOBA and 16 homers in 489 plate appearances after winning the Double-A Eastern League MVP Award in 2010 (.383 wOBA and 23 homers in 454 plate appearances). Right-handed power (career .189 ISO in the minors) is his offensive calling card, not patience (6.4 BB%). Unless he stops chasing pitcher’s pitches, he’ll have a hard time tapping into that power at the big league level.

Defensively, Laird has made huge strides since being drafted and is considered a third baseman for the long-term. He’s also played plenty of first base, and the Yankees have had him give left field a try over the last 18 months or so. The increased versatility helps his cause, because like I said, serving as a bench player is one of the few ways he’ll be able to crack the big league roster in the foreseeable future. With Bill Hall signed and Eric Chavez potentially on his way back, the Yankees don’t have any room for Laird at the moment. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, he could use some more regular playing time at Triple-A to work on his selectivity.

The Yankees lack impact position player prospects at the Double and Triple-A level, but they do have a fair amount of infield depth with Laird, Ramiro Pena, Corban Joseph, David Adams, and minor league signing Jayson Nix. They have options if someone gets hurt at the big league level, and alternatives if they choose to trade Laird. He’s a lesser version of Kevin Kouzmanoff, or at least the Kevin Kouzmanoff that came up through the Indians system a half-decade ago. The Tribe traded that Kouzmanoff with a handful of MLB at-bats to his credit because he was blocked at third by Casey Blake, receiving another blocked prospect in return (Josh Barfield, Jesse’s son).

Given Alex Rodriguez’s increasingly problematic lack of durability, it certainly makes sense for the Yankees to keep Laird around as insurance. Unlike the Penas and CoJos and Nixes of the world, he can at least hit for some power. Pulling the trigger on a blocked prospect-for-blocked prospect trade isn’t a terrible idea either, but those deals aren’t exactly easy to come by. Good luck finding a club in need of a third baseman with an outfielder to spare. Laird is stuck in a weird spot because of the players ahead of him on the depth chart, but he’s got a few years to go before having to worry about Dante Bichette Jr. or Tyler Austin coming up behind him.

Categories : Minors

36 Comments»

  1. Plank says:

    Brandon Laird looks like he borrowed his dad’s hat for that picture.

  2. Monterowasdinero says:

    I think Laird may be slower than Swisher. Fwiw.

  3. jsbrendog says:

    laird as utility backuo 3b? i mean he cnt be worse than chavez. he sucks

    • Slu says:

      I agree 100%. I don’t get the facination with Chavez. He can’t stay healthy and he sucks when he is healthy. He is nothing more than a sexy name. Let’s see what Laird can do, with Bill Hall as insurance.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Except Laird could probably start on another team by next season. Laird is tradebait, to me. Too close to the show to keep around as the 3B of the future, and better off being used to fetch a needed piece, whatever that piece winds up being.

        • Havok9120 says:

          Not to mention that the guy is still something of a prospect. If he can get his feet under him in a second tour of AAA, that’ll go a loooong way toward proving that the guy is a For Relz MLB 3B.

          If ARod falls off a cliff defensively (which I honestly don’t suspect. He’s been very good when he plays), Laird might step in for a season or two if we go down the 189 million route for 2014.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Not sure how much trade value Laird has.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I can’t imagine he’d get something other than a lateral move as a primary piece. By the time Alex is pried off of 3B, guys like Bichette and Austin may even be in AAA, if they make it that far.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              I certainly think they should keep their eyes open to see if a good trade emerges. There is value in having him as a depth piece, though, especially since A-Rod’s expected games at 3B have to be like 80-100. I’m not sure the value he returns in a trade would be any greater than that. Maybe if he has a good start in AAA.

              • DM says:

                “There is value in having him as a depth piece, though, especially since A-Rod’s expected games at 3B have to be like 80-100. ”

                The Ted creepy crawl continues. Now A-Rod’s down to 80-100 games at 3rd??? At the rate you’re going he’ll be more a DH than a 3rd baseman by the start of the season. You started with him needing to DH only 10-15x — then you adjusted up to 20-40x. How many DH games would he have if he could only manage 80 games at 3rd? And how could Montero have possibly fit in with that scheme? You’re a buffoon who talks out both sides of his mouth as well as his rear.

  4. A bird into feathers says:

    Is it just me or have the Yanks been training all of their corner prospects to play both 1B and 3B? Laird and Vazquez come immediately to mind. Will they keep flexibility for Bichete and Austin too? That would be pretty well handled if they could replace both A-Rod and Teixeira from within and by shuffling the right guys into the roles. Look how valuable Youkilis has been.

    • Monterowasdinero says:

      I think ARod could play first if he had to and Tex could play 3rd. Youk has been needed for both-our guys haven’t.

      Heck-even Chato Vasquez plays both positions.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I think that the majority of 3B can play 1B as well.

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        TBH I can’t think of anyone that can’t.

      • Havok9120 says:

        Them and every other player on the field.

        There’s a reason teams, especially NL teams, often use it as a DH. And it isn’t because its a high skill position.

        Which is their loss in my opinion. I think we’ve seen the value of a stud defensive first baseman since the Tex signing.

        • A bird into feathers says:

          Teixeira isn’t close to a stud at anything, unless you’re referring to his horse face.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          3B skills are pretty similar to 1B skills. Arm is less valuable at 1B and footwork is different… but otherwise as corner IF spots they’re more similar than other positions.

          1B defense is nice to have, but as one of the easier positions to fill defensively it makes sense to park a bat there as much as any position. It would be great to have nothing but freaks like Teixiera, but he’s a pretty rare talent. Sometimes you’re going to have to sacrifice in one area or another. Of course saving runs on defense is good, but you have to decide whether it’s more valuable than the run differential on offense.

  5. Gerald Laird says:

    play him in RF this year , if he can handle it and hit like 2010 then he can give a backup plan if swisha leaves

  6. Jimmy McNulty says:

    The Angels would be an interesting fit, as would the As, and the Phillies. Maybe Laird/Hughes for Dom Brown wouldn’t be a terrible deal.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      For the Phillies I think that would be a pretty terrible deal…

      • Thomas Cassidy says:

        If I was the Phillies, I’d do Brown for Hughes.

        Hughes ceiling>Brown’s ceiling
        Pitching>hitting

        Brown has been terrible at the ML level, at least had a good year as a starter, and half of a year as a reliever. Hughes will have a bounce back year. A big one.

        16-7
        3.45
        165ks

        • Save a 'Stache says:

          Homer much?

          • Thomas Cassidy says:

            No, just ranking on what Hughes has done at the ML level, and what Domonic Brown hasn’t: some form of success.

        • Jesse says:

          Dom Brown has 280 career plate appearances at the major league level, while Hughes has provided an ERA+ of 100 in 120 games. I think you can make more of a negative conclusion on Hughes than you can on Brown, and honestly, I’d do a Hughes for Brown trade if I’m the Yankees in a heartbeat.

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