My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories (My apologies for the wonky spacing. I can’t figure out how to adjust this):
- Nobody loves Dustin McGowan’s comeback story more than me, but the Blue Jays’ decision to sign him to an extension is baffling. Perhaps the memory of J.P. Ricciardi low-balling Chris Carpenter out of town in 2002 still haunts the club. I know the Jays haven’t committed a lot of money ($1.5 million for each of 2013 and 2014 and a $4-million team option for 2015) to McGowan, but given that the right-hander has only pitched in five games since 2008, I don’t understand the Jays’ eagerness to offer him long-term security.
- Devon Teeple of The GM Perspective recently reported that Cambridge, Ont., native and former Braves first-round pick Scott Thorman has signed with the independent American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes. The 30-year-old slugger spent last season with the Detroit Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, where he belted 13 homers in 109 games.
- As promised, here’s a link to Tom Hawthorn’s excellent obituary about former Vancouver Capilanos hurler Ernie Kershaw, also a legendary teacher, who died on February 13 at age 102: http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20120316.OBKERSHAWATL/BDAStory/BDA/deaths
- One name that Blue Jay fans should remember is Evan Crawford. The 25-year-old southpaw reliever pitched four innings without allowing a hit or a run this spring. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on Crawford being the first player the Jays recall in 2012.
- Canadians Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) and Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.) have been named the Opening Day starters for the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates respectively.
- The most pleasant surprise of the Blue Jays’ training camp has to be the hitting heroics of Yan Gomes. The 24-year-old catcher, who likely ranks as the sixth-best catching prospect in the organization, is hitting .400 in 16 games. Of his 12 hits, two came off of Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels on March 18. While Gomes is a long shot to see any big league action this season, he has certainly made an impression this spring.
- Some shameless self-promotion here, but here’s a link to my article for Sympatico on Edmonton native Mike Johnson, who has pitched in 16 cities and five different countries in a 19-year professional career: http://sports.sympatico.ca/home/thesaturdayticket/opinions/the_incredible_journey_of_a_canadian_pro_baseball_player/cd5b3c84