Toronto Blue Jays Banking on the Great Canadian Hope

Will he be the next Joey Votto?

On paper it doesn’t make much sense. The Toronto Blue Jays recently traded starting pitcher Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers for 20-year-old infield prospect Brett Lawrie. Last year Marcum, 28, anchored one of the best young pitching staffs in the league (top 10 in virtually every major category and third in strikeouts). The best news for the Blue Jays is that the average age of their main starters at the end of the 2010 season (Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, Mark Rzepczynski, and Kyle Drabek) was 25 years old.

The fact that the staff was so young and so successful would lead one to believe that the Blue Jays would want to keep around a consistent, veteran presence. And that’s exactly what Marcum was. He was their Opening Day starter last season and went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA. For his career, he is 37-25 with a 3.85 ERA in 120 career appearances, all with Toronto. Doesn’t get much more solid than that. Seems like the kind of guy you would want to keep around on a staff that is sure to go through many ups and downs in the next couple of years.

So why did the Blue Jays get rid of him?

Maybe the hope is that the oft-injured flamethrower Dustin McGowan, also 28, can come back healthy and take the reigns as the leader of the staff. Given his mechanics and the fact that he throws every pitch 98+ mph, however, I can’t say that scenario is too likely. The other is that Romero, 26, can blossom into the ace everyone hopes he will become. But he was wildly inconsistent last year and may be too young to be a rock in that #1 spot.

So that leaves just one answer: the Jays thought that Lawrie was too good to pass up. By all indications Lawrie was the top prospect in the Brewers organization, but there’s one fact about him that may have persuaded the Jays to make the deal. Lawrie was born and raised in Langley, British Columbia.

Stuck in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, the Blue Jays may have made more of a PR move here than anything else. After watching Joey Votto take home NL MVP honors this year and Justin Morneau win the AL MVP a few years ago, the Jays may not want to see another Canadian pass them by.

But it’s possible that this is more than just a way to get Canadian butts in the seats. Is it possible that players flourish when playing in familiar surroundings? Now, I know that BC is a long ways from Toronto, but the Canadians love any form of Canuck when it comes to baseball. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some recent successful teams and see just how many players came from the area.

Turns out…not much can be proven. We’ll certainly keep an eye on Lawrie in the coming years and see whether he flourishes in the Canadian summer. If he turns out to be a stud, I’m guessing nobody will be lamenting the departure of solid 2-3 starter Shaun Marcum.

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @CWARDHENNINGER

Advertisements

Fat Is The New Skinny

 

If this is plus sized, i am in trouble

If this is plus sized, i am in trouble

Last night, Whitney Thompson was named the winner of cycle 10 of America’s Next Top Model. She was the first “plus-sized” model (meaning she weighs more than 100 pounds) to win the crown since the show began in 2003. It was seen as a monumental step for the modeling industry, according to the show’s creator, Tyra Banks.

This got me thinking that it was about time “plus-sized” athletes got the recognition they deserve. The following athletes have managed to succeed in their sports despite weighing nearly as much as an 18-wheeler. In no particular order, here are three of the best “plus-sized” athletes of all time.

 

 

 

mmmm....hot dogsCecil Fielder: Cecil, also known as “Big Daddy” is one of the largest men ever to grace the baseball field. His listed weight on baseballreference.com is 240, but the 6-foot-3 first baseman was pushing 300 by the time he retired in 1998. Fielder excelled despite a penchant for hot dogs, making the All-Star team 3 times and leading the Major Leagues with 51 homeruns and 132 RBI for the Blue Jays in 1991. Fielder is unique in the fact that his girth wasn’t a result of getting out of shape in his later years. He was fat when he came into the league and fat when he left it. Oh, I’m sorry, “plus-sized.”

P.S.- Cecil’s son, Prince, is not afraid of the cheeseburgers either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

who ordered the Duck?Kevin Duckworth: This guy, again under-listed at 275 pounds , made an immediate impact in the league as a true center for the Portland Trailblazers in 1987-88. The 7-footer averaged over 15 points per game for four straight years until the Cinnabons got to him. As his scoring average went down over the next six years, his weight went up, leading to this flattering picture in his final year in the league with the lowly Los Angeles Clippers.

 

 

 

 

 

William “The Refrigerator” Perry: One of the most popular “plus-sizers” of all-time, the Fridge embraced his hefty nature from Day One, using his considerable size to become an effective player on both sides of the ball. He was also on the 1985 Superbowl Champion Chicago Bears team who entered into legendary status with the greatest sports-related rap in music history. (Yes, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to put this video up, the Fridge blesses the mic around 4:42)

 

 

 

Congratulations to Whitney and the three athletes above for opening doors for “plus-sized” people in both the sports and modeling world. Hopefully these two worlds never collide, although it would be interesting to see a spread of Big Daddy, The Duck, and The Fridge in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. I’ll start a petition.

%d bloggers like this: