My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories:
Blue Jays fans: The good news about Juan Rivera, acquired in the Vernon Wells deal, is that he hits like George Bell. The bad news is that he also fields like George Bell.
In reading Larry Millson’s 1987 book, Ballpark Figures: The Blue Jays and the Business of Baseball, I discovered that the Jays attempted to sign Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage prior to the 1984 season. The team later settled for journeyman reliever Dennis Lamp when Gossage signed with San Diego.
Watch out for the Cincinnati Reds in 2011. On top of signing Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto to a three-year, $38-million, Reds GM Walt Jocketty is quietly assembling a powerhouse club with a reasonable payroll. Aside from Votto, cornerstones Jay Bruce, Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto have all been locked up in long-term deals this off-season.
I always marvel at the list of players that late Blue Jays executive and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, Bobby Mattick, scouted and signed. Frank Robinson, Curt Flood, Vada Pinson, Rusty Staub, Don Baylor, Gary Carter, Dave Stieb and Jesse Barfield are among the players he signed.
I must have missed this last week, but former Montreal Expo Orlando Cabrera has signed with the Cleveland Indians, where he will reportedly compete for the team’s second base job.
Chuck Tanner, the World Series-winning manager of the 1979 “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates, died last week. While remembered as the consummate players’ manager, Tanner was also a solid outfielder, who hit .313 in 1,454 minor league games. His minor league resume includes 98 games with the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 1960 and 1961.
Gino Cimoli, one of the longest tenured Montreal Royals players, passed away on Saturday at the age of 81. The first batter in Los Angeles Dodgers history, Cimoli, a versatile outfielder, suited up for Montreal from 1949 to 1952 and then again in 1954 and 1955.