2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
But What Do I Know? … Carlos Delgado, Jordan Lennerton, Randy Johnson
By Kevin Glew
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
_ ESPN’s Jayson Starkwrote an excellent piece in which he states that Carlos Delgado is the best player not to receive enough votes to make it past his first year on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Delgado, whose resume boasts 473 homers and ten consecutive 30-home run campaigns, was named on just 3.8% of Baseball Writers Association of America ballots. A candidate must be named on at least 5% to stay on the ballot for another year. The long-time Blue Jay was a victim of a stacked ballot and a system that limits writers to voting for 10 players. I’m sure Delgado is a bigger person than I am, but if I’m him, I’m still cursing Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod edged out Delgado for the American League MVP Award in 2003, a season in which Rodriquez has since has confessed to using steroids in. Would an MVP Award have helped Delgado reach the five per cent that he needed to stay on the ballot for another year? Who knows? But it certainly would’ve helped his case.
_ In case you missed it, Langley, B.C., native Jordan Lennerton re-signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers on New Year’s Eve. After belting 17 homers and posting a .382 on-base percentage (OBP) in triple-A for the Tigers in 2013, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound first baseman slumped to 10 homers in 2014 but still managed a .382 on-base percentage (OBP).
_ Sympathies go out to long-time Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Pat Hentgen, whose father is also named Pat, passed away last Sunday at the age of 71. Hentgen, who was the Blue Jays bullpen coach in 2013, took the 2014 campaign off to spend time with his ailing father. You can read the senior Hentgen’s obituary and leave condolences.
_ So how did newly elected National Baseball Hall of Famer Randy Johnson get the nickname “The Big Unit”? Well, it turns out that Montreal Expos great and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines is responsible. The story goes that, in 1988, the 6-foot-10 Johnson, then a rookie with the Expos, was shagging fly balls during batting practice when he collided with Raines, prompting Raines to exclaim, “You’re a big unit!” The nickname has stuck.
_ Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs tweeted on Tuesday that the Toronto Blue Jays will ink 16-year-old Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. to a contract that includes a $3.2-million signing bonus when this year’s international signing period begins on July 2. McDaniel writes that the younger Guerrero’s bat speed and raw power are his biggest assets, though he doesn’t have the arm strength of his father.
_ Stu Miller, who won 16 games for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class-D PONY League affiliate in Hamilton, Ont., in 1950, passed away on Jan. 4 at the age of 87 in Cameron Park, Calif., after a brief illness. Miller also pitched in parts of 16 big league seasons with the Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York/San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves between 1952 and 1968. But he is, perhaps, best remembered for the balk he committed during the 1961 all-star game when a gust of wind blew him off the mound at Candlestick Park. In all, Miller won 105 games and posted a 3.24 ERA in 704 major league appearances. He’s survived by his wifeJayne, two daughters, four sons and five grandchildren.
_ Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported on Friday that the Diamondbacks have talked with the Blue Jays about catcher Dioner Navarro. The D-Backs are in the market for a catcher after dealing Miguel Montero to the Chicago Cubs on Dec. 9. Navarro requested a trade after the Blue Jays signed Canadian backstop Russell Martin to a five-year, $82-million contract on Nov. 18.
_ Canadian reliever John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) confirmed to reporters prior to Saturday night’s Baseball Canada banquet in Toronto that the Blue Jays are one of the teams that has expressed an interest in him this off-season. The 6-foot-5 right-hander split 2014 between the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates and posted a 3.95 ERA in 62 appearances. Axford was one of the National League’s best closers from 2010 to 2012 with the Milwaukee Brewers.