But What Do I Know? . . . Chris Robinson, James Paxton, Larry Johnson

Canadian Baseball Card of the Week: 1985 Leaf Canadian Great Dave Stieb. An All-American outfielder when the Blue Jays selected him the 1978 amateur draft, Dave Stieb would evolve into the most successful pitcher in franchise history. With his focus solely on the mound, Stieb rocketed through the Jays system and made his big league debut on June 29, 1979.   After winning 17 games and setting club records by tossing 288.1 innings, 19 complete games and five shutouts, Stieb was named The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year in 1982. The intense righty would top the American League in innings (267) again in 1984, en route to a 16-8 season. Embracing his role as ace on the Jays’ first division-winning squad in 1985, Stieb topped the American League with 2.48 ERA and started three games in the American League Championship Series. He would follow that up with three more seasons of 15 or more wins.   In all, Stieb was selected to seven all-star games and was named the Blue Jays Pitcher of the Year five times. After several near misses, the workhorse hurler tossed the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history on September 2, 1990. Stieb is also the Jays’ all-time leader in numerous pitching categories, including wins (175), innings pitched (2,873), strikeouts (1,658), complete games (103) and shutouts (30). For his efforts, he’s the only pitcher honoured on the Blue Jays Level of Excellence.

Canadian Baseball Card of the Week: 1985 Leaf Canadian Greats Dave Stieb. An All-American outfielder when the Blue Jays selected him the 1978 amateur draft, Dave Stieb evolved into the most successful pitcher in franchise history. After winning 17 games and setting club records by tossing 288.1 innings, 19 complete games and five shutouts, Stieb was named The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year in 1982. The intense righty would top the American League in innings (267) again in 1984, en route to a 16-8 season. Embracing his role as ace on the Jays’ first division-winning squad in 1985, Stieb topped the American League with a 2.48 ERA and started three games in the American League Championship Series. He followed that up with three more seasons of 15 or more wins.
In all, Stieb was selected to seven all-star games and was named the Blue Jays Pitcher of the Year five times. After several near misses, he tossed the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history on September 2, 1990. He was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):

– After being called up by the San Diego Padres for two days in mid-August without seeing any game action, Dorchester, Ont., native Chris Robinson was promoted again by the club on September 1. So far, the gritty 29-year-old catcher has played in two games, but is still looking for his first big league hit.

– Another Canuck getting his first taste of big league action this September is left-hander James Paxton. The 6-foot-4 lefty from Richmond, B.C., has won both of his big league starts with the Seattle Mariners and owns a tidy 0.75 ERA. If you’re a Jays fan, you might remember Paxton’s name. He was one of the Blue Bird’s supplemental first-round picks (37th overall) in 2009, but they were unable to sign him.

– And yet another Canadian has quietly made his big league debut this month. After 10 long seasons in the minors primarily in the Marlins and Cubs organizations, 28-year-old Jim Adduci (Burnaby, B.C.) made his big league debut on September 1 with Texas. In 12 games since his call-up, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound first baseman/outfielder has impressed, notching eight hits in 20 at bats.

– And while these Canadians are starting their big league careers, you have to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Jason Bay. The Trail, B.C., native, who will turn 35 on Friday, was released by the Seattle Mariners on August 6 and hasn’t latched on with another club. There’s been no official word from Bay on his future plans, but if this it, Bay should be proud of his big league career. A 22nd round pick of the Montreal Expos in 2000, Bay has suited up for parts of 11 big league seasons and has walloped 222 home runs – the third most by a Canadian. He should be a first-ballot Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer.

– Condolences go out to the family of former Montreal Expos catcher Larry Doby Johnson. Johnson played seven of his 12 major league games with the Expos in 1975 and 1976 and recorded his sole big league RBI and his only two doubles with the Expos. Johnson also played briefly with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. Johnson died suddenly on May 26 at the age of 62. His son, Josh, split the 2013 season between the Washington Nationals’ Double-A Harrisburg Senators and Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.

– I hate to say it, but a trade involving a Canadian might go down as the worst in Seattle Mariners history. On February 8, 2008, the Seattle Mariners shipped Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill and two other prospects to the Baltimore Orioles for lefty Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.). Jones, a Gold Glove centre fielder who has 31 homers this season, is an MVP candidate, while Tillman has won 16 games and has evolved into the O’s ace. Bedard, meanwhile, was not healthy for the bulk of his tenure with the Mariners and has struggled with the Pirates and Astros over the past two seasons.

– My vote for Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award, which is awarded primarily for a player’s humanitarian efforts and community work, would go to Justin Morneau. I had an exhaustive interview with Morneau at the Metrodome in May 2008. We talked about everything from growing up in Canada to his favourite hockey players to his life off the field. And not once during that 30-minute-or-so conversation did he boast about his charitable efforts. It was only after I ran into a Twins’ front office employee that I learned that the list of charities that Morneau had contributed to was close to three pages. I also learned that Morneau is the only Twins player ever to buy the entire Twins’ office staff Christmas gifts. Morneau,of course, didn’t tell me that either.

– Whenever I watch the Tampa Bay Rays, I wonder how they can contend with a lineup that features Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson and Jose Molina? I know the Rays have better pitching than the Blue Jays, but Joe Maddon does more with less than any manager I’ve ever seen.

– Up to five former Montreal Expos could be participating in the 2013 MLB postseason: Bartolo Colon (Oakland), Scott Downs (Atlanta), Luis Ayala (Atlanta), Bruce Chen (Kansas City) and Jamey Carroll (Kansas City). Last week, I listed some players from the 1981 Expos who are now coaching and managing that we could see in the 2013 postseason.

– If you haven’t already done so, please “LIKE” the Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page. I update this page regularly with links to Canadian baseball stories. Thanks again for all your support.

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4 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Chris Robinson, James Paxton, Larry Johnson

  1. Kevin: I love it when you come up with a potpourri of interesting items like this edition of Cooperstowners in Canada. As Vancouver Sun sports columnist sometimes says about miscellanea, “These items could grow up to become columns.”
    I saw all the of Canada’s exhibition and World Baseball Classic games in Arizona in February and Chris Robinson really impressed me. He threw out runners, he hit well and he was a take-charge guy, so “gritty” really describes him well. I hope he does well
    Note: Yes, James Paxton was born in Richmond, but he grew up in Ladner which is part of Delta which, like Richmond, is part of Greater Vancouver.

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