My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories:
Victoria, B.C., native Rich Harden was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers on October 6, meaning we won’t see him pitch in the post-season for the Rangers. This has to be rock bottom for the 28-year-old hurler who has electric stuff but can’t shake the injury bug. If I’m the Blue Jays though, I’m taking a flyer on this guy and converting him into a closer (a la Kerry Wood).
But what do I know? Obviously not much when it comes to the Minnesota Twins. With home field advantage, a relatively deep pitching staff and a revamped offense, the Twins looked like they were finally ready to defeat an aging, vulnerable Yankees squad. I couldn’t have been more wrong on this.
For masochistic Blue Jay fans, if you want a reminder of the worst trade in franchise history, you can tune into the Rangers/Rays series to watch Michael Young. The Rangers star third basemen, who the Jays infamously swapped for Esteban Loaiza on July 19, 2000, has belted a homer and driven in three runs so far in the series.
For masochistic Montreal Expos fans, if you want a reminder of the worst trade in franchise history, you can watch Rangers ace Cliff Lee in the same series. The former Expos farmhand was shipped to Cleveland on June 27, 2002, along with Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips (playing with Cincinnati in the post-season) for Bartolo Colon. This may go down as the worst trade in baseball history.
Rumors are swirling that the Jays are interested in Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus, who feuded with St. Louis manager Tony La Russa this season. The talented 24-year-old belted 23 homers in 464 at bats this season and is regarded as one of the top young talents in baseball.
Glad to hear that the Jays will be interviewing Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke. Why? Because coaches who have apprenticed under Mike Scioscia have a track record of evolving into great managers. See Joe Maddon and Bud Black for proof.
Bob Elliott, of the Toronto Sun, reported earlier this week that Tim Wallach had signed another contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, thus eliminating the former Expo as a Blue Jays managerial candidate.
Watching the Rays/Rangers series, it’s clear that Carlos Pena, who will be a free agent after this season, is the spirited leader of the Rays. I don’t care if he strikes out 150 times a year or hits .200, if Pena hits 30 homers, plays Gold Glove defense and instills a win-at-all-cost attitude on another team, he has the potential to be an excellent addition. The Jays should have a serious look at him for 2011.
The Rays will likely lose their best all-around hitter (Carl Crawford), their team leader (Pena), their closer (Rafael Soriano) and their top set-up man (Grant Balfour) to free agency in the off-season. This is good news if you’re a Jays fan. I can’t see how the Rays can win more than 85 to 90 games next season.