My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Burnaby, B.C. native Jim Adduci signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs this week. The 33-year-old first baseman/outfielder enjoyed his longest tenure in the big leagues in 2018, batting .267 in 59 games for the Detroit Tigers. He also hit .309 and socked seven home runs in 70 contests for the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. The 6-foot-2 Canadian previously played parts of three major league seasons with the Tigers (2017) and the Texas Rangers (2013-14). Selected by the Florida Marlins in the 42nd round of the 2003 MLB Draft, he has now suited up for parts of 15 professional seasons. This is his second tenure in the Cubs’ organization. He also played in the Cubs’ system from 2007 to 2012.
· Congratulations to Maple Ridge, B.C., native Tyler O’Neill who was named the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year on Tuesday. The muscular 23-year-old split 2018 between triple-A Memphis and the big league Cardinals. In 64 games in triple-A, O’Neill batted .311 with 26 home runs and 63 RBI, while in 61 big league contests, he hit .254 with five doubles, nine homers and 23 RBI.
· The Texas Rangers believe that 2018 Canadian Baseball Network minor league pitcher of the year Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) can earn a spot in their bullpen in 2019. The 6-foot-4 right-hander was selected by the Chicago White Sox from the Toronto Blue Jays in this year’s Rule 5 draft and then flipped to the Rangers for cash. “He has started, but we’re going to give him an opportunity to win a bullpen spot,” Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told Roberto Angotti in an article that was published on the Canadian Baseball Network on Tuesday. “He is certainly capable of being stretched out and giving multiple innings. We have seen him in shorter stints, and his stuff has played up.” As Angotti notes in his article, Romano, who posted a combined 12-8 record and a 4.11 ERA in 26 starts between double-A and triple-A last season, must crack the Rangers’ 25-man roster next spring and be active for at least 90 days of the regular season. If Romano does not make the Rangers’ roster, he will have to clear waivers or be sent back to the Blue Jays for half of the $100,000 Rule 5 draft price.
· Somehow I missed this transaction last month, but the San Diego Padres dealt North Vancouver, B.C., native Rowan Wick to the Chicago Cubs on November 20 for minor league infielder Jason Vosler. Following a strong showing with the Padres’ double-A and triple-A affiliates that saw him register 14 saves, post a 2.67 ERA and strike out 64 batters in 54 innings, the hard-throwing right-hander was called up to make his big league debut on August 31 this year. He tossed a scoreless ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies in his first taste of big league action. In all, in 10 appearances with the Padres, Wick toed for the rubber for 8 1/3 innings and struck out seven, while registering a 6.48 ERA. The 26-year-old Canuck, who was converted from a catcher and outfielder to a pitcher while in the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 2015, has played parts of eight minor league seasons since being selected by the Cards in the ninth round of the 2012 draft.
· Below is a tweet that I sent out about Canadian baseball legend and Chatham, Ont., native Fergie Jenkins on Wednesday. In his 1971 Cy Young Award-winning season with the Cubs, Jenkins won 24 games, tossed 30 complete games and also belted six home runs. His salary for that year was $90,000. One Twitter follower asked me what type of money I thought that performance would command today. My estimate is $25 to $30 million per season.
· Happy 81st Birthday to former major league first baseman and long-time scout Tim Harkness! Born in Lachine, Que., Harkness played parts of four major league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets from 1961 to 1964. His best major league campaign came with the Mets in 1963 when he belted 10 home runs in 123 games. After his playing career, Harkness become a highly respected scout and also managed the Intercounty League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
· This is my new favourite Canadian baseball photo (below). Montreal Royals (@Royals_46season on Twitter) posted this on Wednesday. This is a young Jackie Robinson signing autographs for his fans when he was with the Montreal Royals in 1946.
· With baseball writers in the process of completing and submitting their Hall of Fame ballots, I would like to strongly encourage them to vote for Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker. 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 again from Hot Stove Stats.
· This week’s trivia question: Fergie Jenkins had a career-high 30 complete games in 1971. Remarkably that’s not the record for most complete games in a major league season by a Canadian pitcher. What Canadian pitcher holds this record? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Ken Griffey Sr., 1982 O-Pee-Chee Dennis Eckersley, 1983 Donruss Carlton Fisk and a 1989 Upper Deck Tony Gwynn.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Lee Smith is set to become the third former Montreal Expos pitcher to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Who are the other two?) was Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.