My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories:
Information travels at light speed on the Internet these days. But just when I thought I couldn’t add anything more to the story of Joey Votto becoming the third Canadian to win a big league MVP award (Larry Walker 1997, Justin Morneau 2006), Tom Valcke, president of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, shared the following story. “Back about seven or eight years ago, I picked up Hall of Famer Tommy Burgess, as we were the guest speakers at a fundraiser for the Hamilton Thunderbirds minor baseball organization,” recalled Valcke. “At the conclusion of the banquet, a kid came up to myself and Burgess, asking about hitters having a plan, and how to approach various hitter’s counts and pitcher’s counts. Burgess was in heaven, and I knew by the sincerity of the kid and the depth of Burgess’s knowledge that we were in this one for the long haul. It was a kid who cared, and it was genuine, and Burgess had all night for any kid like this one. We didn’t know the kid. There were no reporters around. Honestly, by the time our conversation ended, the hall was empty, cleaned, and the staff had gone home. The kid saw a source of knowledge in Tommy Burgess and he wasn’t going to let it pass him by until he got everything out of him he could. It was impressive. Tommy Burgess has since passed away, so only two people alive can corroborate this story, myself and Joey Votto. Nobody could have predicted that night that we were talking to a future MVP, but nobody should be that surprised either.”
Scott Crawford, director of operations at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, informed me today that five Canadian catchers played in the big leagues in 2010. Russell Martin, George Kottaras, Mike Nickeas, Luke Carlin and Max St. Pierre were the five Canucks who donned the tools of ignorance in 2010. Justin Morneau was a catcher in the Twins organization before becoming a first baseman.
The good news about Jays outfielder Rajai Davis is that he swiped 50 bases in 2010. The bad news is he only walked 26 times and had a .320 on-base percentage. Let’s hope he can adopt a more patient approach at the plate with the Jays this season.
As much as I’ve slammed Lyle Overbay over the years, the thought of Adam Lind playing first base next season is frightening. Yes, I wanted to throw my remote at the TV whenever Overbay would watch a called third strike or not run hard, but there’s no denying he supplied Gold Glove calibre defense. With that said, Carlos Pena would be an upgrade offensively and defensively at first base for the Jays.
Reliever Joaquin Benoit’s three-year, $16.5 million deal with the Detroit Tigers is not good news for general managers. Sure, Benoit had an excellent season in 2010, posting a 1.34 ERA out of the Rays pen, but let’s not forget he missed the entire 2009 season and that he owns a 4.47 career ERA. If he’s worth $5.5 million a season, how much is Scott Downs worth?
Glad to see that good guy Eric Hinske is generating some interest on the free agent market. The Brewers and Braves are reportedly interested in signing the ex-Jay. Hinske was always one of the friendliest Jays, always willing to sign autographs for the fans. That’s why I was ashamed to be sitting in the stands when Hinske was struggling in Toronto and fans were taunting him about his weight. But Hinske has had the last laugh. He now owns two World Series rings (Boston 2007, New York 2009) and has played in the playoffs for four consecutive seasons.
I love that story about Joey Votto, especially the image of the kid hungry for knowledge, and the veteran eager to share what he’s learned over the years. It reminded me of baseball as I remember it, and the stories I read as a boy.
“The tools of ignorance.” Any idea who came up with that expression? I bet it wasn’t a catcher — or a pitcher.
Thanks, Kevin, for another excellent post.
I’m open to the possibility of Adam Lind being more than capable of playing well at first base. If his bat returns to 2009 productivity, or something closer to that than his 2010 numbers, then league average defence is alright by me.