BWDIK: Bay, Kottaras, Martin, Morneau

Will Colorado Rockies 1B Justin  Morneau (New Westminster, BC)  return to his old stomping grounds in Minneapolis. 

Will Colorado Rockies 1B Justin  Morneau (New Westminster, BC)  return to his old stomping grounds in Minneapolis. 

 

Nov. 8, 2015

But What Do I Know? … Russell Martin, Justin Morneau, Jason Bay

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:

_ Just how good has Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) been in his first 10 big league seasons? His career WAR – an all-encompassing statistic that measures the numbers of wins a player (taking into account their offensive and defensive contributions) adds to their team above a replacement level player (Triple-A player) – is 33.3. Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella’s WAR for his 10-year big league career was 34.2. 

_ Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) doesn’t plan on retiring despite missing close to four months of 2015 with a neck injury and recurring concussion symptoms, according to  Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 34-year-old first baseman had his $9-million option declined by the Colorado Rockies on October 29 and is now a free agent. After winning the National League batting title in 2014, Morneau played just 49 games this past season, but he finished strongly, batting .338 in 22 contests in September. Berardino writes  that there’s a possibility that Morneau could return to the Twins, but with Morneau’s pal, Joe Mauer, now entrenched at first base, the Canadian slugger would likely have to serve as a DH with the club.

_ Eleven years ago today, Trail, B.C., native Jason Bay became the first Canadian to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. The Canuck outfielder batted .282 and clubbed 26 home runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004 to secure the honour. 

_ On Monday, ever-witty, former Kansas City Royal Mark Teahen (Canadian citizen) tweeted out his congratulations to his former team following their World Series victory. “Cheers to my ’04-07 Royals who earned a 245-403 record but secured first round picks Gordon, Hochevar, Moustakas & Hosmer. #TrustTheProcess,” Teahen tweeted.

_ According to a list compiled by Scott Crawford of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, eight other Canadians (aside from Teahen) have played for the Royals. That list includes George Kottaras (Scarborough, Ont., 2013), Jeff Francis (North Delta, BC, 2011), Ryan Braun (Kitchener, Ont., 2006), Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B., 2004 to 2006), Aaron Guiel (Vancouver, BC, 2002 to 2006), Paul Spoljaric (Kelowna, BC, 2000), Andy Stewart (Oshawa, Ont., 1997) and Terry Puhl (Melville, Sask., 1991).

_ If you follow the Cooperstowners in Canada Facebook page, you’ll know that I try to celebrate the birthdays of former Toronto Blue Jays players. Until the past couple of weeks, I had forgotten that the Blue Jays’ multi-talented, mid-’80s outfield of George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield were all born within 14 days of each other in 1959. Bell was born on Oct. 21, Barfield on Oct. 29 and Moseby on Nov. 5. 

_ With the Blue Jays extending a qualifying offer to Marco Estrada, the Mexican right-hander could make $15.8 million in 2016 if he accepts the offer. He has until Friday to accept or reject it. After seven seasons mostly as a spot starter/reliever with the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers, Estrada enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, winning 13 regular season games and two more crucial, postseason contests. According to Baseball Reference, Estrada has made just over $10 million combined in his eight major league seasons, so, at first glance, it might seem like a no-brainer that Estrada would accept the $15.8 million offer. But if rejects the offer, Estrada is almost certain to land a multi-year deal for more money in the long term on the open market.

_ While reviewing the backs of 1983-84 O-Pee-Hockey cards this week, I learned that former right winger Wayne Babych “had an offer to play professionally with the Montreal Expos.” But it seems like the Edmonton native made the right decision to stick to hockey. He tallied 192 goals – including 54 in 1980-81 with the St. Louis Blues – in 519 games in nine NHL seasons.

_ Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog was always good for a quote after the game. In 1973, his Texas Rangers team had the worst pitching staff in the league. A reporter asked him what his team needed to turn things around. “We need pitching – right-handed, left-handed and relief,” he responded.

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Kevin Glew

Regaled with stories about Mickey Mantle by his father, Ralph, when he was growing up, Kevin Glew developed a keen interest in baseball at a young age in Dorchester, Ont. playing against teams from Vienna, Straffordville, St. Thomas, Stratford, Harrietsville, Belmont, London and Sarnia. His interest blossomed into a full-blown fascination after enduring a bone-chilling wind on the bench seats down the right-field line at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on Oct. 5, 1985 to witness the Blue Jays secure their first division title. Though Dale Murphy was his favourite player, the teenage Glew played more like a poor man's Spike Owen - another of his childhood heroes whom he later had the opportunity to interview. When he realized he had no shot at a big league career, Glew focussed his efforts on becoming a sportswriter. During his tenure in the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa from 1992 to 1996, he watched the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx in their glory years and vividly recalls a young Matt Stairs suiting up for the Lynx.With few jobs in sports journalism available upon graduation, Glew entered the financial services industry. But after eight years of writing about RRSPs, Glew decided it was time to write about RBIs again. Since leaving his position in the financial sector, he has had freelance articles published in Baseball Digest, Baseball America and the London Free Press. He has also contributed to CBC Sports, SLAM! Sports, Rogers Sportsnet and MLB.com. In June 2010, he started a Canadian baseball history blog called Cooperstowners in Canada. You can read his blog here. Glew is also a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. He is available for paid writing gigs and can be reached at kevin.glew@sympatico.ca