By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My regular roundup of former Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos news:
– The National Baseball Hall of Fame released their 2021 ballot on November 16. There are 25 notable ex-players on the ballot, including seven former Blue Jays. Four ex-Jays – Roger Clemens, Jeff Kent, Scott Rolen and Omar Vizquel – are returning to the ballot, while three new former Jays have been added: Mark Buehrle, A.J. Burnett and LaTroy Hawkins. The results of the voting by eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) will be announced on January 26.
– The last Montreal Expo would like to continue his major league career. MLB Insider Hector Gomez tweeted on Wednesday that right-hander Bartolo Colon, now 47, wants to play one more year and retire with the Mets. Colon, who’s the last player still active to have competed for the Expos, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since he posted a 5.78 ERA in 28 appearances for the Texas Rangers in 2018. In his 21-season major league career, Colon has 247 wins and a 4.12 ERA in 565 appearances. In 17 starts with the Expos in 2002, he registered a 10-4 record and a 3.31 ERA.
– Earlier in the month, the Chicago White Sox declined their $12-million option on Edwin Encarnacion for next season, which made the former Blue Jays slugger a free agent. The 37-year-old Encarnacion, who clubbed 239 of his 424 big league home runs with the Blue Jays from 2008 to 2016, hit just .157, but belted 10 round-trippers in 44 games for the White Sox in 2020. According to a tweet from Jon Heyman, from the MLB Network, Encarnacion plans to play next season.
– It was 50 years ago today that Expos right-hander Carl Morton was voted the National League Rookie of the Year. In 1970, Morton posted an 18-11 record and a 3.60 ERA in 43 appearances, including 37 starts, spanning 284-2/3 innings. He tossed 10 complete games and four shutouts. By taking home this honour, Morton became the first Expo to win a major league award. The Kansas City native pitched two more campaigns with the Expos and finished off his big league career with four seasons with the Atlanta Braves. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 1983 when he was just 39.
– The Minnesota Twins have signed former Blue Jays reliever Derek Law. Law, himself, made the announcement on Twitter on Wednesday. It’s believed to be a minor league deal. Law, who came to the Blue Jays from the San Francisco Giants as a part of the package for centre fielder Kevin Pillar at the beginning of the 2019 season, recorded a 4.90 in 58 appearances for the Blue Jays that season. The 30-year-old righty did not pitch in the major leagues in 2020.
– The Expos may have played their last game in 2004, but it’s great to see that Topps is still churning out Expos cards like this one (above) of Vladimir Guerrero that’s included in the first series of one of their 2020 offerings. I love that this card employs the 1985 Topps design.
– Former Blue Jays infielder Miguel Cairo has been named Tony La Russa’s bench coach with the Chicago White Sox. After being acquired from the Seattle Mariners, Cairo batted .222 in his first nine big league games with the Blue Jays in 1996 before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs following that season. Cairo proceeded to bat .264 and rack up 1,044 hits in 1,490 games in parts of 17 big league seasons.
– Former Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale will replace ex-Expo Brad Mills as the Cleveland Indians’ bench coach in 2021. The Indians made the announcement on Monday. Hale, who will work closely with Indians manager and former Expo Terry Francona, has served as a special assistant to player development with the Braves for the past two seasons. Prior to that, he had spent six seasons as Blue Jays’ bench coach.
– When the Blue Jays acquired Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins from the Colorado Rockies on July 28, 2015, they parted with shortstop Jose Reyes and three prospects, the most highly touted of which was right-hander Jeff Hoffman. The Blue Jays’ first-round pick in the 2014 MLB draft, Hoffman was considered a can’t miss big league starter. But Hoffman has struggled in parts of five seasons with the Rockies, posting a 6.48 ERA in 68 appearances. The Rockies finally gave up on the now 27-year-old and traded him to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday for right-hander Robert Stephenson and outfield prospect Jameson Hannah.