Random thoughts on the eve of Blue Jays camp #34
A few things struck me after that short, happy trip from Clearwater's Star Central headquarters to visit Roy Halladay at his new spring home on Friday.
But no team in my 37-year major-league memory makes its best player declare his intentions to re-up or not a year-and-a-half before a contract expires. What you do if you are playing the game the proper way is try and get your team competitive before your most valuable player's contract end. Show him you mean business and convince him to stay. It's disingenuous and rotten to twist words and pass the blame of failure to the player.
As Doc smilingly left the news conference I quietly told him that Brian Butterfield since Halladay left told me he can now come in 45 minutes to an hour later and still be first in the weight room. Doc's response was: "What, he's going to come in at 3:30 (a.m.) now?"
On another point, I think Charlie Manuel is the perfect manager for Halladay. In Charlie's own words he loves guys that play "country hardball" and even though he wouldn't go so far as to say it publicly, he believes he has the better pitcher in Halladay and if it came down next October to having a guy pitch on three days rest, he would throw Doc out there in a heartbeat. It may be necessary.
JOHNNY MAC IS BACK
One can't help but smile when listening to the humble John McDonald talk about himself and apologize for thinking that anyone possibly even knows who he is. J-Mac just moved to the Boston area with his wife and daughter and made it down for the physicals. He was airing out his arm on the small football field designed for conditioning and agility drills early on Sunday afternoon with non-roster newcomer, outfielder Jeremy Reed. As J-Mac tried to reach the clubhouse, he was cornered by local media after answering contract and playing role questions, he spent most of his time talking about fatherhood. He believes that none of his young teammates are aware of who he is and that's why he can't be a mentor on the Jays' without crediting lessons learned from Omar Vizquel and Robbie Alomar, his own mentors in Cleveland.
McDonald at the end of his current two-year Jays' contract will max out his major-league pension, which is the best pension plan in the history of organized labour. It's a big part of the reason he re-signed with the Jays. In this case, the Jays deserve credit for taking care of one of their own. Loyalty breeds loyalty.
FLASHBACK FRIDAY DONE THE RIGHT WAY
On Monday, Pat Hentgen will be in uniform as a guest coach and on Tuesday, Dave Stieb will join him -- or at least, as the Jays put it in a release, is scheduled to join him. One never knows about Stieb. However the point is that the Jays should continue the repatriation of their former stars in meaningful roles as instructors and executives rather than flying them in for a meaningless Friday introduction in the on-deck circle and embarrassing the current players by this constant dwelling on the past.
I can't understand why manager Cito Gaston did not put in an early appearance to mingle with the early arriving players in his final season as manager of the Jays. If I'm wrong about that I apologize in advance. But talking casually with newcomer Brandon Morrow every day this week in the near-empty spring training clubhouse it's clear that he doesn't really know many people here and that new pitching coach Bruce Walton is the only major-league coach that came early. The talented but unproven Morrow is being counted on as a mid-rotation starter, but has likely heard nothing encouraging from anyone in charge since phone conversations with GM Alex Anthopoulos as he now works out with virtual strangers. Perhaps Cito had visa problems. Oh wait, he lives at EastLake Woodlands about a 15-minute drive from the Bobby Mattick Training Centre. Maybe I'm overreacting but I don't think so and it's not right.
I wrote in an earlier column that the Jays have 37 pitchers on the roster or invited to camp and that of that number, 28 of them accumulated major-league service in 2009. I wrote that the Jays' 28 MLB pitchers had accumulated a total of 64 victories in 2009. What I didn't say was "Yikes!!" Meanwhile, upon visiting Yankee camp last Thursday to see A.J. and the defending champs, the Bombers have 18 pitchers in camp that had major-league time in 2009. Their cumulative victory total is 111. That is a big hill to climb. You've got to love baseball as much as you love the Jays in order to keep the faith in 2010.