My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories:
The illness that prevented Joey Votto from attending Baseball Canada’s annual banquet on Saturday – an event at which he was added to the organization’s Wall of Excellence – appears to have been “contractitis.” Reports emerged on Sunday that the Etobicoke, Ont., native had agreed to a three-year, $38-million deal with the Reds.
Montreal native Russell Martin may have inadvertently provided the Blue Jays with some bulletin board fodder when he told reporters at Saturday’s Baseball Canada function that he signed with the Yankees rather than the Jays because he felt the Bronx Bombers gave him the best chance to win.
According to Canadian Press reporter Shi Davidi, the Jays didn’t show any interest in signing Vancouver-born lefty Jeff Francis this off-season. The Canadian hurler finalized a one-year, $2 million deal (plus performance bonuses) with the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
The exodus of players from the Tampa Bay Rays continues. Last week, Rafael Soriano (Yankees), Grant Balfour (A’s) and Chad Qualls (Padres) all signed with new clubs. On a positive note for the Rays, they have stockpiled a number of compensatory draft picks. That said, it’s hard to believe the Rays will be a factor in the American League East in 2011.
Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman is reporting that the Blue Jays are one of five teams still interested in Manny Ramirez. Man-Ram’s love for Toronto is well-known and if the Jays do start Adam Lind at first base, Ramirez would represent an upgrade over their current DH which appears to be Edwin Encarnacion.
I like the idea of the Jays signing Eric Chavez to a one-year, incentive-laden deal. If Chavez is as healthy as he says he is, he could be the experienced third baseman that the Jays desperately need. Plagued by injuries for the past three seasons, Chavez averaged more than 25 home runs a season between 2000 and 2006 and was a six-time Gold Glove Award winner during that stretch.
Kudos to Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos for adding 6-foot-11 right-hander Jon Rauch to the pen. At this point, the giant reliever is as effective as Brian Fuentes, whom the Jays were also rumoured to be interested in. Fuentes recently inked a two-year pact with the A’s.
Rauch played with the Montreal Expos in 2004. If Chad Cordero, signed to a minor league deal by the Jays earlier this month, makes the club, there will be two former Expos in the Jays’ pen in 2011. Cordero pitched for the Expos in 2003 and 2004.