But What Do I Know? … John McDonald, Pat Gillick, Frank Thomas

My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories:

 I’m not writing this to bash Derek Jeter, but those of us who follow the Toronto Blue Jays know that John McDonald is the best fielding shortstop in the American League.

 If reports that the Padres will listen to offers for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and closer Heath Bell are true, then I hope Alex Anthopoulos is on the phone to San Diego GM Jed Hoyer. Two of the Jays’ most pressing off-season needs are a first baseman and a closer.

 I’m sick to death of listening to Blue Jays fans describe Frank Thomas’s tenure in Toronto as a complete bust. People forget that in The Big Hurt’s first season with the club, he hit 26 homers, knocked in 95 runs and owned a .377 on-base percentage – all of which led the Jays. He had 11 RBIs in 16 games in 2008 before the Jays released him. I’ve never been more disgusted with Jays fans than I was in Spring Training 2008 when Thomas was booed relentlessly, yet when he left the Spring Training games in the fifth inning (as is customary for regulars), fans would run down to ask him for his autograph. The hypocrisy was stunning. Despite the cat-calls from the stands, Thomas obliged autograph seekers, signing longer than any other Jay. As far as I’m concerned, Jays fans missed a chance to embrace a legend. When baseball pundits reflect on the steroid era, Thomas, the only player who agreed to be interviewed for The Mitchell Report, will be remembered as one of the top players. In my book, he’s a surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer.

 Aside from his 54 homers in 2010, the remarkable thing about Jose Bautista is that if the Jays had left him in right field for the entire season, he might have won a Gold Glove. He is that good defensively.

 Has there ever been a better ambassador for the Blue Jays than Pat Hentgen? This man will do wonders for the young pitchers as the Jays new bullpen coach in 2011.

 I was happy to read that former Jays GM Pat Gillick and former Expos Al Oliver and Rusty Staub will be considered for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the veterans committee that is looking at expansion era candidates.

 Sad to hear about the passing of longtime Yankees executive and George Steinbrenner confidant Clyde King. King also pitched for the Montreal Royals from 1948 to 1950. He won 17 games for the club in 1949.

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7 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? … John McDonald, Pat Gillick, Frank Thomas

  1. Johnny Mac just needs to hit more and stay away from Morneau’s head!!!

    I agree about Thomas. I was all over him in a good way the year before when Oakland got him for $1M. They got the deal of a lifetime.

    Let’s hope all 3 make it to the Hall of Fame, but I think Gillick is the most deserving.

    • I agree with you about Gillick. I believe he is the only GM to lead four different teams to the post-season (Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle, Philadelphia). By my count, I think Gillick would be the seventh individual inducted into both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

  2. I also agree about Frank Thomas. He has the numbers. I think Rusty Staub does, too, but his production really dropped off over the last five years of his career. Had he retired sooner, he might already be in.

    Another excellent post, Kevin. Keep it up!

    • Thanks very much. I was too young to remember Staub in Montreal, but I’ve heard stories of how he immersed himself in the culture and attempted to learn French. To this day, when he comes to Montreal, they still call him “Le Grand Orange.”

  3. I agree totally about Frank Thomas being a first ballot Hall of Famer. One of the things I always consider is whether a player was, for a period of time, (minimum five years), the dominant player at his position, as well as putting up great overall career numbers. The Big Hurt certainly qualifies, because there was no more feared 1B in baseball during his big years.

    His adamant stance against steroids makes him almost a hero during that era. I’m sure there were plenty of other players not juicing, but it took guts to buck the Players Union and Frank was the only player willing to put his career on the line to protest the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs.

    Kudos to you, FT.

    Cheers.

    • I agree with you. When the dust settles on the steroid era, I think people are going to say that Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas were the best two “clean” hitters of that time frame. I feel like Jays fans had a chance to embrace a legend and they missed out on it.

  4. From Devon Teeple:

    Nice job again!

    I have to say I really appreciate these updates.

    There are numerous outlets that can give updates on the game, but your insight gives us fans a different point of view on topics that do not get much attention.

    Keep up the the great work Mr. Glew!

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