BWDIK: Tim Raines, Bartolo Colon, and John Olreud

By: Kevin Glew

Canadian Baseball Network

My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:

·         If you’re not convinced that Tim Raines should be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after reading this Sporting News article, you’ll never be convinced. This story shares many of the former Montreal Expo’s supporting statistics that were up dug up by Ryan Spaeder and shared on Twitter (@the aceofspaeder). Spaeder notes that Raines is the only player in major league history to record at least 100 triples, 150 home runs and 600 stolen bases. He also points out that of the top 18 big leaguers to register at least 2,600 hits and 1,300 walks, Raines and Pete Rose are the only two that do not have plaques in Cooperstown. By sharing these facts on Twitter, Spaeder hopes to persuade more baseball writers to vote for the underrated former leadoff hitter. Raines was named on 55 per cent of ballots in 2015, but he requires 75 per cent support to be elected. Last year represented Raines’ eighth year on the ballot and unfortunately, with the Hall’s new rules, he can only remain on the ballot for two more years.

·         But there’s good news so far for Raines in the Hall of Fame voting. Ryan Thibs tracks the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballots for 2016 that have been made public (tracker). So far, 77 writers’ ballots have been made public and Raines has been voted for on 79.2 per cent of them. Here are the top five 2016 Hall of Fame candidates in the voting so far and the percentage of ballots they have been named on: Ken Griffey Jr., 100%; Mike Piazza, 90.9%; Jeff Bagwell, 83.1%; Raines, 79.2% and Trevor Hoffman, 64.9%.

·         Speaking of former Expos, at least one of them will still be playing in Major League Baseball in 2016. Forty-two-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon, who posted a 10-4 record and a 3.31 ERA in 17 starts for the Expos in 2002, has signed a one-year, $7.25-million deal to return to the New York Mets. The ageless right-hander recorded 14 wins and posted a 4.16 ERA for the surprising National League champs in 2015. He now has 218 victories in his 18-year big league career. While Colon pitched well for the Expos after they acquired him, the price the Expos paid for him was steep. The Expos shipped then prospects Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore, along with first baseman Lee Stevens, to the Cleveland Indians to complete the deal.

·         It was 19 years ago today that the Toronto Blue Jays dealt first baseman John Olerud and cash to the New York Mets for right-hander Robert Person. After winning a batting title and knocking in 107 runs in 1993, Olerud’s production had tailed off in the ensuing three seasons. But the sweet-swinging first baseman would jumpstart his career in the Big Apple, before becoming an all-star and Gold Glove Award winner with the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile, Person was never consistently effective for the Blue Jays. He was 5-10 with a 5.61 ERA in 23 games in 1997 and his era rose to 7.04 ERA in 1998, before he was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for Canadian Paul Spoljaric (Kelowna, B.C.) the following May.

·         In case you missed it, two Canadian players have signed minor league deals with new teams. The Chicago White Sox inked 6-foot-7 right-hander Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, Que.) to a minor league deal on November 23 and the New York Mets signed 6-foot-5 righty Jim Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) to a similar pact on December 3.

·         Hull, Que., native Luke Carlin turns 35 today. A veteran of 14 seasons in eight big league organizations, this hard-nosed catcher has spent the bulk of his professional career in the triple-A ranks. He split 2015 between the A’s and Cubs’ triple-A affiliates. The veteran receiver has also played parts of four seasons in the big leagues with the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians and has suited up for the Canadian national team on several occasions.

·         In ex-Blue Jays news, catcher J.P. Arencibia finalized a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday, while outfielder Rajai Davis signed a one-year, $5.25-million deal with the Indians two days later. Meanwhile, right-hander Brandon Morrow has re-signed with the San Diego Padres on a minor league deal, while Jeff Mathis has accepted a one-year, $1.5-million deal to return to the Miami Marlins.

·         The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame could use your support in its year-end fundraising drive. The St. Marys, Ont.-based shrine is a non-profit organization that does an excellent job of promoting the history of baseball in our country. For information on how you can donate, please visit.

 

·         Mickey Rivers was a quirky fleet-footed, lead-off hitter with the New York Yankees from 1976 to 1979. Rivers and Reggie Jackson often ribbed each other in the Yankees clubhouse. One day Rivers was walking through the clubhouse when he overheard a teammate say that Jackson had an IQ of 160. Rivers stopped in his tracks and looked at the teammate that made this statement and quipped, “Out of what? 1,000?”

                                          

 

 

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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