My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
• Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported on Monday that Mark Teahen (Canadian citizen) had retired. This came three months after I reported it here. Apparently, I need a better marketing plan for my blog. This belated retirement report prompted the ever-witty Teahen to tweet, “Happy to see I retired again today.”
• As reported here last week, the Miami Marlins were interested in acquiring New Westminster, B.C., native Justin Morneau, who’s fresh off of winning his first batting title with the Colorado Rockies. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that a deal between the two clubs for the Canadian first baseman fell apart when the Rockies asked for former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Henderson Alvarez or Jarred Cosart in return. On Tuesday, the Marlins signed Michael Morse to be their starting first baseman.
• North Battleford, Sask., native Andrew Albers officially signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. The 29-year-old southpaw posted a 5.88 ERA in the hitter-friendly Korea Baseball Organization in 2014 after recording a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts with the Minnesota Twins in 2013. Albers will compete with fellow Canadian lefty Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.) for a spot on the Jays big league staff next spring.
• Former Toronto Maple Leafs infielder Herb Plews died of natural causes in Boulder, Colo., on December 12 at the age of 86. The Helena, Mont., native played a combined 100 Triple-A games in Toronto in 1960 and 1961, following four years in the majors in which he hit .262 in 346 contests for the Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox. Plews was predeceased by his wife, Shirley (2009), and is survived by a son and two grandchildren.
• London, Ont., native Jamie Romak told the Canadian Baseball Network’s Dan Haugh that the Toronto Blue Jays were one of the teams interested in him this off-season before he signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks on November 22. After 12 seasons in the minors, the 29-year-old Romak made his big league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. In Triple-A this past season, he belted 24 homers and registered a .538 slugging percentage in 108 games for the Albuquerque Isotopes.
• Former Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians on Saturday. Downs posted a 4.97 ERA in 55 games with the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals in 2014. The 38-year-old southpaw, who also pitched parts of three seasons with the Montreal Expos (2000, 2003, 2004), will be entering his 14th big league season in 2015.
• Fifty-seven years ago today, Toronto Blue Jays legend Tom Henke was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Originally selected by the Texas Rangers in the fourth round of the 1980 MLB amateur draft, Henke pitched parts of three seasons with the Rangers before being chosen by the Blue Jays as a free agent compensation pick (for Cliff Johnson) on January 24, 1985. Over the next eight seasons, Henke racked up a franchise-best 217 saves and compiled a 2.48 ERA. At 6-foot-5 and wearing large-rimmed glasses, the hard-throwing right-hander was an imposing figure on the mound. His best season with the Blue Jays was in 1987, when he topped the American League with 34 saves. In 1992, his final campaign with the Jays, he registered two saves in the World Series against the Atlanta Braves to help lead the club to their first Fall Classic title. He finished his career with the Texas Rangers (1993, 1994) and St. Louis Cardinals (1995). He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.
• This week’s trivia question: With 217 saves as a Blue Jay, Tom Henke holds the franchise record, but what reliever did “The Terminator” pass in 1986 to become the Blue Jays’ all-time saves leader? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct response will receive a 1977 Topps Rusty Staub card and a 1978 Topps Ernie Whitt rookie (this card also features Dale Murphy and Lance Parrish).