My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Writers have started submitting their National Baseball Hall of Fame ballots and as in previous years, I would like to strongly encourage them to vote for Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker. So each week until the voting results are announced I’ll feature a tweet that reinforces that Walker, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. This week’s tweet is from Hot Stove Stats.
· Of the 35 players on this year’s Cooperstown ballot, three players – including Walker – have links to the Montreal Expos. Trail, B.C., native Jason Bay was drafted by the Expos in the 22nd round in 2000, while left-hander Ted Lilly began his big league career by posting a 7.61 ERA in nine appearances for the Expos in 1999.
· There are also 10 players on the Hall of Fame ballot that either played for or were drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays: Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Jeff Kent, Ted Lilly, Fred McGriff, Darren Oliver, Scott Rolen, Omar Vizquel, Vernon Wells and Michael Young (drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round in 1997). It’s the first year of eligibility for Halladay, Lilly, Oliver, Wells and Young, while Clemens, Kent, McGriff, Rolen and Vizquel are ballot returnees.
· If you haven’t already done so, please take a few moments to read Jonah Keri’s article about McGriff’s Hall of Fame candidacy and why the left-handed hitting slugger might be the most underrated player in Blue Jays history.
· The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will unveil its Jack Graney Award winner on Wednesday. The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this award annually to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work. For a complete list of past winners, follow this link. Stay tuned to this blog for an article about the winner on Wednesday.
· All of us in the Canadian baseball community owe Bob Elliott a tremendous debt of gratitude for the amount of time and effort he puts into the Canadian Baseball Network’s All-Canadian collegiate team each. He not only gathers and tallies votes from over 50 baseball experts from several provinces and states, he also writes a bio for every player on the three All-Canadian teams and includes their coaches’ names. The 2018 CBN All-Canadian teams were unveiled on Wednesday. You can read about them here.
· On Tuesday, the Blue Jays revealed what minor league players they were adding to their 40-man roster to protect them from being claimed in the Rule 5 draft which will take place on December 13. All five – Trent Thornton, Yennsy Diaz, Hector Perez, Patrick Murphy and Jacob Waguespack – were right-handed pitching prospects. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays did not have room for Canadian Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) on the roster. The 25-year-old righty, who was named the Canadian Baseball Network’s minor league pitcher of the year, was an Eastern League all-star with the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season, posting a 11-8 record and a 4.13 ERA in 25 starts.
· Twenty-seven years ago today, the Montreal Expos traded first baseman Andres Galarraga to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Ken Hill. Galarraga would have one subpar season with the Cards before resurrecting his career with the Colorado Rockies. Meanwhile, Hill blossomed into a top-of-the-rotation starter with the Expos. In three seasons with Montreal, he won 16 games twice and his season ERA was never above 3.32. The 6-foot-4 hurler was leading the National League with 16 wins in 1994 before the strike wiped out the remainder of the campaign.
· I’m reading Lou Piniella’s excellent recently released biography, Lou: Fifty Years of Kicking Dirt, Playing Hard, and Winning Big in the Sweet Spot of Baseball, which is co-written by Bill Madden. One of the most interesting revelations in the book for me came on page 154 which shares the story of how Blue Jays GM and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Pat Gillick wanted to hire Piniella to replace manager Jimy Williams after the Blue Jays got off to a 12-24 start in 1989. At the time, Piniella, who had just finished parts of three seasons as Yankees manager and a short stint as Yankees GM, was doing TV work for the club but was still under contract. Owner George Steinbrenner allowed the Blue Jays to speak with Piniella. “When George initially agreed to let us talk to Lou, I was optimistic we could work something out,” Gillick recounts in Piniella’s book. “But then George turned around and said he had to have our top pitching prospect, Todd Stottlemyre, as compensation, and that was it.” Piniella concedes that the Blue Jays ultimately made the right decision hiring Cito Gaston as the manager. “Cito went on to win back-to-back world championships with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. I can’t count the many times I thought about how that might have been me,” writes Piniella.
· Thirteen years ago today, the Florida Marlins dealt Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Carlos Delgado to the New York Mets for first baseman Mike Jacobs, pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit and infield prospect Grant Psomas. Delgado had left the Blue Jays the previous off-season to sign a four-year, $52-million deal with the Marlins. In his sole season in southern Florida, Delgado batted .301 with 33 home runs and 115 RBI in 144 games. Delgado would play four more seasons with the Mets before retiring.
· Please take some time to bid in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Holiday Silent Auction. There’s lot of fantastic autographed memorabilia and the proceeds will greatly benefit the Hall and its programs. For more information, follow this link.
· This week’s trivia question: Two former Montreal Expos managers have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Who are they? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1978 O-Pee-Chee Jim Rice card, a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Don Sutton card and a 1983 O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who is the only winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Tip O’Neill Award not to play in the major leagues?) was Daniel Brabant (Longueuil, Que) in 1991.