Photo: Atlanta Braves
December 4, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-Congratulations to Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos (Montreal, Que.) who has been named Baseball America’s Executive of the Year. “I just view it as an organizational award,” Anthopoulos told Baseball America. “It’s an organizational award because we all know one person is not responsible for the success of an organization. It’s pretty gratifying. Very rewarding. And I’m excited for the scouting department, the player development department, the front office, the business side—the whole organization. I think it’s something that we all share.” It was just over seven years ago that Toronto Blue Jays fans were chanting “Thank you, Alex!” to him, as the club’s GM, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the Blue Jays clinched their first American League East division title since 1993. The Montreal native has since moved on to the National League and his Braves have won a World Series (2021) and five division titles (2018 to 2022) during his reign as general manager.
-On Friday, the Seattle Mariners traded infielder Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.), along with outfielder Jesse Winker, to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielder Kolten Wong. The Brewers will be the third team Toro has played for in his four-season major league career. After three seasons with the Houston Astros, Toro was dealt to the M’s on July 27, 2021, where he spent parts of two campaigns. In 2022, Toro reached double-digits in home runs in a season for the second time, belting 10 in 109 games for the Mariners. The versatile 26-year-old was also one of the club’s top pinch-hitters, going 4-for-12 (.333 batting average) during the regular season.
Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2022 Tip O’Neill Award winner on Tuesday. The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine presents this award annually to the player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals. Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) was the 2021 recipient. Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) is a nine-time winner of the award, while Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) has won it seven times. Others who have won it multiple times are Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) and Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) who are three-time recipients and Eric Gagne (Mascouche, Que.) who captured the honour twice. You can view a full list of winners here.
-The National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results of its Contemporary Era Players Committee voting tonight at 8 p.m. E.T. on the MLB Network. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll know that I’ve been advocating for former Toronto Blue Jays slugger Fred McGriff. He is one of the eight candidates being considered. The others are Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling. I made my case, with help from John Tuberty, of Tubbs Baseball Blog, for McGriff earlier this week. What gives me some hope is that four of the voters on the 16-member Contemporary Era Players Committee have links to McGriff. Longtime Blue Jays president Paul Beeston (Welland, Ont.) oversaw the Blue Jays for McGriff’s first five major league seasons, while Ken Williams is a former Blue Jays teammate. Also, Chipper Jones and Greg Maddux, who were teammates of McGriff on the Braves’ 1995 World Series-winning team, are on the committee.
-After making his major league debut with the Miami Marlins this season, infielder Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) is playing winter ball for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League. So far, he is batting .281 (9-for-32) in eight games. He has three doubles, a home run and six RBIs. Leblanc received his first promotion to the big leagues on July 29 when he was called up by the Marlins. Prior to his call-up, he was batting .302 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 87 games and was leading the triple-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp with 96 hits and a .381 on-base percentage (OBP). With the Marlins, Leblanc played 26 games at second base, 13 at third base and eight at first base. In total, in 48 big league games, he batted .263 with four home runs, 10 doubles and 12 walks. Prior to his tenure with the Marlins, Leblanc spent parts of five minor league seasons in the Texas Rangers’ organization.
-Speaking of Canadians playing winter ball, outfielder Jacob Robson (Windsor, Ont.) is suiting up for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League. In 14 games with them, he is batting .231 (12-for-52) and has two doubles, two home runs and two stolen bases. The Detroit Tigers released Robson near the end of July and he finished up the season batting .288 with nine home runs in 29 games for the Kansas City Monarchs of the independent American Association. Robson made his major league debut with the Tigers on August 12, 2021 and the Canuck outfielder got in four games and scored his first big league run before he was sent back to triple-A. Selected in the eighth round of the 2016 MLB draft, the Junior National Team alum played parts of six seasons in the Tigers’ organization, registering a .283 batting average, .376 OBP, while swiping 111 stolen bases, in 552 minor league games.
-After 32 years with the Blue Jays’ organization, including 17 as an analyst on Blue Jays’ broadcasts, Pat Tabler will not be returning to the club in 2023. Sportsnet issued a statement on Friday, announcing that Tabler and the club had “parted ways.” “For the last 32 years, first as a player for the Blue Jays and then as a broadcaster, it has been my honour to serve you,” said Tabler in a statement issued through Sportsnet. “I hope that I represented you with the class and dignity that you deserve. It was a great run, but all good things have to come to an end.” I wish Tabler the best. He seems like a nice man and I appreciated his analysis. So who will replace him? I can’t help but think that John Gibbons, given his popularity on social media, will participate in some capacity to Blue Jays broadcasts in 2023.
-For those of us old enough to remember new Blue Jays bench coach Don Mattingly as a player, it felt like he was always coming up with a key hit against the Blue Jays. And in reexamining his stats, that does seem to be the case. In Mattingly’s career, he had better numbers at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium than any other ballpark. In 41 games at The Ex, Mattingly batted .389 with 72 hits – including eight home runs. His .419 OBP, .605 slugging percentage and 1.025 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) at Exhibition Stadium are also his highest any at big league park.
-I’m sure you’ve heard that Hall of Fame right-hander Gaylord Perry passed away on Thursday at the age of 84. If not, I wrote about him here. My condolences to his family. Perry and Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.), who were close friends, pitched together in the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation in 1980. They made 53 combined starts and tossed 18 complete games. Jenkins was 37 and Perry was 41.
-The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is holding their annual Holiday Silent Auction. There are dozens of exciting items up for bids, including autographed bats and balls from current Blue Jays and Canadian stars. You can also bid on an opportunity to have dinner with ex-Blue Jays GM Gord Ash or to get pitching lessons from former Colorado Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis. You can view the items and bid here.
-This week’s trivia question: Don Mattingly won his only American League MVP Award in 1985. Two Toronto Blue Jays players finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting that season. Name one of them. Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Right-hander Carl Morton was the first Expos player to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. Who was the second Expos player to win it?) was Andre Dawson in 1977.
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