My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• Most Seattle Mariners fans regard the February 8, 2008 trade in which the Mariners shipped Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and two other players to the Baltimore Orioles for Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.) as one of the worst in franchise history. But at that time, the 28-year-old Bedard was fresh off a season that saw him post a 3.16 ERA and fan 221 batters in 182 innings, so the Canadian southpaw was coveted by a number of clubs. Among the other teams that were interested were the Cincinnati Reds. What did the Orioles want from the Reds in return for Bedard? Well, according this January 10, 2008 article on MLB Trade Rumors, Baltimore wanted a package that included Homer Bailey, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto. Can you imagine if the Reds had made that deal?
• Speaking of Bedard, don’t be surprised if the Jays sign him or fellow Canadian John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) to a minor league deal. The right-handed Axford, who has closing experience, might be the more likely to sign. If that does happen, the Blue Jays would have five Canadians – Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.), Michael Saunders (Victoria, B.C.), Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) and Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.) – with legitimate shots at cracking the big league roster in 2015.
• Given the outcome of the last pitch of the 1993 World Series, it’s not surprising that the Philadelphia 76ers are 2-18 with a point guard named Michael Carter-Williams.
• For a wonderfully detailed account of the life of Quebec baseball legend Jean-Pierre Roy, who died at the age of 94 on October 31, I strongly recommend this piece by The Globe & Mail’s Tom Hawthorn.
• In case you missed it, Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) retired on Friday and joined the Chicago Cubs front office. After helping the Boston Red Sox win a World Series in 2013, the Canadian right-hander took 2014 off and worked as a commentator with the MLB Network. Dempster, who pitched for 16 big league seasons, retires second amongst Canadian pitchers in a number of all-time, statistical categories, including wins (132), innings pitched (2,075), games started (351) and strikeouts (2,075). He’ll be eligible for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017. In his new role with the Cubs, he’ll serve as a special assistant to president Theo Epstein.
• On this day 22 years ago, the Blue Jays signed Paul Molitor to a three-year contract. The future Hall of Famer replaced fan favourite Dave Winfield as the club’s DH and proceeded to enjoy his finest all-around season in 1993, batting .332, racking up an American League-leading 211 hits and a career-high 22 homers. He was at his best in the Fall Classic when he went 12-for-24 and drove in eight runs, earning himself the World Series MVP Award. Molitor played two more years with the Blue Jays before finishing his career with three seasons with the Minnesota Twins.
• You have until noon E.T. on December 15 to bid in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual Christmas Silent Auction, which includes game-used items from the Blue Jays. You can view the items and follow the bidding here.
• This week’s trivia question: With former Blue Jays catcher Kevin Cash being hired as the new manager of the Tampa Bay Rays this week, there are now four ex-Blue Jays players who are currently big league managers. Can you name the other three? Please submit your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person with the correct answer will win a 1981 Topps Tim Raines rookie card and a 1982 Fleer Fergie Jenkins card.