My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• New Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has been traded twice during his big league career and both times it was for a Canadian. The Blue Jays, of course, acquired him from the Oakland A’s on Friday for a package highlighted by Brett Lawrie (Langley, B.C.), while six years earlier (July 8, 2008), Donaldson was swapped to the A’s by the Chicago Cubs in a package for right-hander Rich Harden (Victoria, B.C.).
• Speaking of Rich Harden, today is his 33rd birthday. Selected by the A’s in the 17th round of the 2000 MLB amateur draft, Harden pitched parts of three seasons in the minors before making his big league debut with the A’s on July 21, 2003. He toed the rubber with Oakland for parts of six seasons prior to being dealt to the Cubs. His 2008 season was his best in the majors. In a combined 25 starts between the A’s and Cubs, he posted a 10-2 record, a 2.07 ERA and struck out 181 batters in 148 innings. The 6-foot-1 right-hander was on the mound again for the Cubs in 2009 before spending injury-shortened seasons with the Texas Rangers (2010) and the A’s (2011). In all, in nine big league seasons, he has posted a 59-38 record and a 3.76 ERA. He has spent the past three seasons attempting to come back from a shoulder injury.
• The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2014 Tip O’Neill Award winner on Wednesday. The Hall presents this honour annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals. Etobicoke, Ont., native Joey Votto has won the award the past four seasons. For more information on the award and a list of previous winners, follow this link.
• According to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, Burnaby, B.C., native Jim Adduci has signed a one-year, $650,000 contract with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization. The 29-year-old outfielder/first baseman, who was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers on November 20, hit a combined.189 in 148 plate appearances with the Rangers in 2013 and 2014.
• So who do you think is the best Toronto Blue Jays outfielder of all-time? Joe Carter? George Bell? Vernon Wells? Well, if you’re a fan of advanced statistics, the answer is Jesse Barfield. The rifle-armed, former Jays right fielder owns the best Wins Above Replacement – an all-encompassing statistic (that takes into account offensive, defensive and base running contributions) that measures how many wins a player is worth above what a Triple-A replacement at his position would contribute – of any Jays outfielder. Barfield’s WAR in nine seasons with the Blue Jays was (29.4), better than Wells (28.7), Bell (21.1) and Carter (8.3).
• Art Quirk, who pitched 19 games for the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 1963, passed away on November 22 in Stonington, Conn., at the age of 76. Signed by the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent in 1959, the 5-foot-11 right-hander, who hailed from Providence, R.I., pitched in the minors for parts of five seasons. He also enjoyed big league stints with the O’s in 1962 and Washington Senators in 1963. When his playing career was over, Quirk, who had a daughter with special needs, helped found Horizons Inc., a program and camp in South Windham, Conn., whose goal is to create opportunities for people with special needs. The program is still going strong. Quirk is survived by his wife, Kathleen, three children and five grandchildren. You can read his obituary and leave condolences here.
• Just a reminder that nominations for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame are due by midnight tonight. For more information on how you can nominate someone, click on this link. The 2015 inductees will be announced in February and the induction ceremony is set for June 13.
• This week’s trivia question: Josh Donaldson is the latest in a relatively long list of players with the first name “Josh” that have played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Name the last player with the first name Josh to hit a home run for the Blue Jays, as well as the last pitcher with the first name Josh to win a game for the Blue Jays. Please submit your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will receive a 1988 Fleer Update Roberto Alomar rookie card.