My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported on Wednesday that Gibsons, B.C., native Ryan Dempster has opted to retire. After helping the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2013, the Canadian right-hander took the entire 2014 season off for personal and physical reasons. If this is the end for Dempster, he finishes his 16-year big league career second in a number of all-time Canadian pitching categories, including wins (132), starts (351), innings pitched (2,387) and strikeouts (2,075). His resume will likely make him a first-ballot Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 2017.
• Victoria, B.C., native Michael Saunders may have played his final game for the Seattle Mariners. This after M’s GM Jack Zduriencik criticized the Canadian outfielder, who has had six injuries over the past three seasons, about his preparation in a post-season press conference. “He was playing well, got hurt, came back, got sick, came back again and did some nice things. But I think what Michael has to do and has to answer this to himself, is ‘how do I prepare myself to play as many games through the course of 162 that I can possibly play without being setback by injury?’” said Zduriencik. “Some are freak injuries. Some are things that just happened. But some of these things need to be handled from a maintenance standpoint where he put himself in a position where he’s able to compete through the course of the season.” Saunders, who hit .273 in 78 games in 2014, and his agent Michael McCann were caught off guard by the comments and were disappointed that Zduriencik didn’t speak with them first before voicing his concerns publicly. According to this detailed article in the Seattle Times, Saunders was also not happy about his playing time this year.
• Right-handers Wade Davis and Greg Holland have rightfully received a lot of praise for their efforts out of the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen this season. But one of the best – and least-talked-about – trades prior to the July 31 deadline was the Royals’ acquisition of ex-Blue Jay Jason Frasor from the Texas Rangers. In 25 games with the Royals, between the regular season and post-season, Frasor has posted a 1.42 ERA.
• Speaking of ex-Blue Jays, Kevin Cash was interviewed by the Texas Rangers for their vacant managerial post on Thursday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Cash, who served as the Cleveland Indians bullpen coach this season, was a standout defensive catcher for parts of three seasons with the Blue Jays from 2002 to 2004.
• And according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, another ex-Jay, Turner Ward is one of five finalists to take over in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ managerial reigns. Ward was a back-up outfielder with the Jays from 1991 to 1993 and suited up on both World Series-winning teams. He served as a hitting coach with the D-Backs in 2014.
• Forty-five years ago yesterday, Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Ron Taylor got Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson to ground out for the last out of the New York Mets’ 2-1 win in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series. This was the final Fall Classic game for Taylor. Between appearances with the World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals in 1964 and with the Mets in 1969, Taylor hurled seven scoreless and hitless innings in World Series play. That save in Game 2 of the 1969 Fall Classic also represents the last time a Canadian has recorded a save in the World Series.
• I’ve learned to embrace baseball analytics. I believe that advanced statistics should definitely be considered when assembling a roster. But – and call me old school – I still I believe there has to be chemistry in the clubhouse. How else do you explain the success of the San Francisco Giants over the past four years? One test I like to give to my fellow baseball-loving friends is to look at the Giants’ starting lineup and name me one player outside of Buster Posey that’s any better than anyone in the Blue Jays’ starting nine? A couple of years ago, you could probably attribute the Giants’ success to pitching. But this year, Matt Cain made only 15 starts and Tim Lincecum had a 4.74 ERA. There’s something magical happening in that Giants clubhouse. Whatever it is, it’s too bad they can’t bottle it up and send it to Toronto.
• This week’s trivia question: Name two Canadians who have played for the Kansas City Royals. Please submit your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide a correct answer will win a 1981 Topps Tim Raines rookie card.