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.