Laird promotion to AAA leaves gaping hole
Winning a third Eastern League championship since 2007 became even more difficult for the Thunder following Sunday’s night’s 10-4 loss to New Hampshire when all-star third baseman Brandon Laird was promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Laird received the news after going 1-for-2 to raise his batting average to .291.
“It’s well-deserved,’’ said Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who will receive Class-A Tampa second baseman Corban Joseph for tomorrow’s doubleheader against in Reading, but admitted he has yet to figure out what to do at third base going forward.
Backup infielder Matt Cusick (.223, 1 HR, 17 RBIs), who began the season as Triple-A, replaced Laird midway through Sundays game. Joseph played mostly second base at Tampa.
“The kid was putting together a fine season and he deserves to go. You would hope that you can lose four or five guys having those types of season. We are in the business of getting guys to higher levels as quickly as we can. With what he was doing here it was hard not to notice.’’
Laird, 22, already has established career highs in home runs (23), runs batted in (90) and total bases (214) and led the Thunder, who slipped into second-place after losing three out of four to the Fisher Cats over the weekend, in every major category.
With Laird not coming back to Double-A this season, it appears Raul Gonzalez’s franchise record of 103 RBIs in 1999 is safe.
And Scranton may not be Laird’s final stop this season.
Although he was able to land Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood in deadline trades, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was unable to secure a backup infielder with power to spell Alex Rodriguez at third base.
Should he keep hitting, the Yankees may make room for the 22-year-old Laird on the 40-man roster and give him some at bats, or wait for rosters to expand Sept. 1.
If Laird is not a member of the 40-man roster by December, he will be exposed and likely claimed by another club in the Rule 5 Draft.
Room was made at SWB when former Thunder infielder Reegie Corona suffered a broken arm and Chad Tracy utilized an opt-out clause in his contract to trigger his release from the Yankees.
Laird, a 27th round draft pick out of Cypress (Ca.) Community College in 2007, said he was excited to get an opportunity, but regrets not being able to be part of Trenton’s push for a third title.
“I’ve been here the whole year and we’re a close team,’’ Laird said. “I wish I could be here to help them get to the playoffs and hopefully win it. I hope they do when I’m gone. But now I have to go up (to Scranton) and help them try to win because they are in a pennant race, just like us.’’