My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• Condolences go out to the family of St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic last night. Reports indicate that the 22-year-old outfielder, who spent his early teen years in Montreal, was driving between Sosua and Puerto Plata with his girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, when the accident occurred. Arvelo was also killed. Ranked the No. 3 prospect by Baseball American heading into this season, Taveras was called up by the Cardinals on May 31 and hit .239 in 80 big league games this season.
• The newly retired Mark Teahen has links to both the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants. The ex-big leaguer, who maintains a Canadian citizenship, played five major league seasons – including his first game – with the Royals and he attended his final big league camp with the Giants this spring before being released. The witty Teahen offered his assessment of the World Series via Twitter on October 21: “Team that gave me 1st shot at @MLB vs. team that gave me first shot at retirement. Clearly I’ll be pro @Royals vs @SFGiants in #World Series2014.”
• If you’re searching for Montreal Expos links in this year’s Fall Classic, look no further than the San Francisco Giants coaching staff. Roberto Kelly (first base coach), Hensley Meulens (batting coach) and Mark Gardner (bullpen coach) all enjoyed playing stints with the Expos.
• Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost also played his final five big league games with the Expos in 1985. Prior to that, he toiled behind the plate for the Milwaukee Brewers (1980 to 1983) and Texas Rangers (1984).
• Speaking of the Royals, the club quietly claimed former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Moises Sierra off of waivers on Friday and designated ex-Blue Jays hurler Liam Hendriks for assignment. Hendriks, who was acquired from the Blue Jays on July 28, along with Erik Kratz for Danny Valencia, made six appearances for the Royals and posted a 4.66 ERA. Sierra, who was waived by the Jays on May 3 and subsequently picked up by the Chicago White Sox, hit a combined .230 with two homers in 96 big league games this season.
• I’ve been a hardcore Blue Jays follower since 1985 and I’ve stored up a lot of mostly useless information about the club’s most obscure players, but for the life of me, I can’t remember Dave Righetti pitching for the Blue Jays in 1994. Maybe it’s because the Giants’ current pitching coach was pretty forgettable (6.75 ERA) in his 13 relief appearances for the club.
• Second base is an issue for the Blue Jays. This is the likely the inspiration behind their efforts to try to convert top outfield prospect Dwight Smith, who turned 22 yesterday, into a keystone sacker. Smith batted .284 and posted a .363 on-base percentage with the Class-A Dunedin Blue Jays in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League this season to earn himself the R. Howard Webster Award as the team’s top player. Last week, Alexis Brudnicki, of the Canadian Baseball Network, wrote an excellent article about Smith’s efforts to learn the new position.
• This past Thursday was the 21st anniversary of Joe Carter’s World Series-winning home run off of Philadelphia Phillies’ closer Mitch Williams. I’ve been watching this year’s Fall Classic and hoping that Carter, who lives in Kansas City, might be present at one of the games. If you’re a long-time Jays fan, you might remember that Carter came very close to signing with the Royals after the 1992 season. The former Blue Jays slugger, whose wife is from Kansas City, was offered a longer and more lucrative deal by the Royals, but he opted to return to Toronto after Devon White appeared in one of his dreams and Carter woke up the next morning and looked out his window to see blue jays in his backyard. If not for that dream and those blue jays, the World Series walk-off homer wouldn’t have happened.
• Congratulations to Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) and Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) who have been named National League Gold Glove finalists. Martin, who won a Gold Glove in 2007, faces off against catchers Yadier Molina and Jonathan Lucroy, while Morneau is in tough against fellow first basemen Adrian Gonzalez and Adam LaRoche. The Gold Glove winners will be announced on Friday, November 11 at 8 p.m. ET.
• Here’s the trivia question for this week: Who is the only Canadian left-handed pitcher to be selected to participate in the Major League Baseball all-star game? Please submit your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to submit the correct answer will receive a 1978 Topps Ernie Whitt rookie card. This card is a “Rookie Catchers” card that also includes photos of Lance Parrish, Dale Murphy and Bo Diaz.
So sad about Oscar. Death of a young person really brings reality back into things.
Go Martin and Morneau!
Wonder if Teahen will get a ring if the GIants win?!
Thanks for the comment, Scott. You should ask Teahen about the ring. That’s bound to generate a witty response.