But What Do I Know? . . . Justin Morneau, Ryan Dempster, John Axford

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Thirty-seven years ago today, Canadian baseball legend Fergie Jenkins was traded back to the Texas Rangers. More details are below.

My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:

• For Blue Jay fans lamenting the fact that Melky Cabrera has reportedly signed a three-year, $42-million contract with the Chicago White Sox, consider this, Cabrera’s 2014 WAR (an all-encompassing statistic that measures the number of wins (taking into account both offensive and defensive contributions) a player is worth above what a Triple-A replacement player would provide) was 3.1. Victoria, B.C. native Michael Saunders, who will replace Cabrera in left field for the Jays, had a 2.4 WAR in 2014 while playing in 61 fewer games. It’s also worth noting that Saunders’ projected 2015 salary ($2.9 million) is about one-fifth of what Cabrera will earn next season.

• New Westminster, B.C., native Justin Morneau may have won a batting title with the Colorado Rockies this past season, but that hasn’t stopped his club from listening to trade offers for him. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reported on Wednesday that the Miami Marlins were “hot in pursuit” of Morneau, but Frisaro’s MLB.com colleague, Tom Singer, tweeted on Thursday morning that talks between the Marlins and Rockies seemed to have fallen apart. Morneau’s affordable $6.75 million salary in 2015 appeals to the budget-conscious Marlins, who are in the market for a starting first baseman.

• On December 6, Canadian baseball legend Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) tweeted his congratulations to fellow Canuck Ryan Dempster (Gibsons, B.C.) on the right-hander’s recent retirement. “Congrats to Ryan Dempster on an awesome career!” wrote Walker. “Was a joy to watch you pitch! Not quite as much joy stepping in the box against you though!” For the record, it couldn’t have been that bad. Walker was 5-for-14 with two home runs off of Dempster.

According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, the Cincinnati Reds are interested in free agent reliever John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.). The Canadian right-hander posted a 3.95 ERA in 62 appearances with the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates this past season. La Velle E. Neal, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, reported that the Minnesota Twins are also interested in Axford.

Neal also reports that the Twins have expressed interest in free agent right-hander Dustin McGowan, who recorded a 4.17 ERA in 53 games – including eight starts – with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014.

• In other soon-to-be ex-Blue Jay news, Brandon Morrow has been offered a one-year, incentive-laden deal by the San Diego Padres, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The oft-injured right-hander, whose $10-million option for 2015 was declined by the Blue Jays after the season, has reportedly received offers from multiple clubs. Morrow’s preference, reports Rosenthal, is to remain a starter.

• The most surprising revelation on Twitter this week for me was that Brett Lawrie is an Elton John fan. “Great way to kick off the day #SirElton #1,000,000$Piano #VeryCool, ” Lawrie tweeted on December 7. I pegged Lawrie as a speed metal fan all the way.

• On this day 37 years ago, one day after his 35th birthday, Fergie Jenkins was traded back to the Texas Rangers by the Boston Red Sox for John Poloni and cash. Jenkins, who had won 25 and 17 games for the Rangers in 1974 and 1975 respectively, posted an 18-8 record for Texas in 1978 and pitched for three more seasons in the Lone Star State, before returning to the Chicago Cubs for his final two big league campaigns. Ninety-three of his 284 career wins were registered with the Rangers.

• You have until noon E.T. tomorrow 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: The Blue Jays didn’t select anyone in this year’s MLB Rule V draft, but early in the franchise’s history, they selected several key players in this draft. In fact, five players that saw action on the Blue Jays’ 1985 division-winning squad were Rule V draftees. Can you name three of these players? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide a correct answer will receive a 1961 Topps Reno Bertoia card and an autographed Jose Vidro card.

9 thoughts on “But What Do I Know? . . . Justin Morneau, Ryan Dempster, John Axford

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  1. Devon Teeple – Highly motivated and hard-working professional offering solid business skills in both baseball and corporate enterprises. Lifetime’s experience in athletics, culminating with a pro contract in 2001. Intimate knowledge of the athletic industry from the inside, with specific knowledge of what it takes to win, on the field and in the back office. Outgoing and extremely hard working with a passion for athletics and an ability to contribute immediately.
    Devon Teeple says:

    Gonna be tough for Saunders to produce anywhere near what Melky did.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for the comment, Devon. If Saunders can stay healthy, I think he will be in the same ballpark (value and stats wise) as Melky.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Great work, Alicia! You have actually identified one player (Jim Acker) that I forgot was a Rule V pick. Lou Thornton is the fifth player I was thinking of, so there were actually six players. Excellent job. Send me an e-mail at kevin.glew@sympatico.ca with your mailing address and I’ll mail the cards out to you. Thanks again.

  2. Saunders is younger, better athlete, 20-20 potential (already went 21-19) and way cheaper. Allows for Toronto to spend money on some pitching.

    Morneau is cheap this year. Teams should grab him quick as in 2016 his price will go back up.

    Axford will no doubt sign. I hope Bedard does too.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for the comment, Scott. I think Morneau has a $9-million option for 2016 – which is still cheap!

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