Big names will be traded in the major leagues soon, and the Blue Jays are hoping A.J. Burnett is among them.
Burnett has been a bust since joining the Jays’ pitching staff for megabucks a few years ago, but the Jays are hoping that neither his salary nor his ineptitude will turn off other clubs before the rapidly approaching trade deadline next month.
Indeed, the Chicago Cubs have interest.
And, no, I don’t understand it, either.
• Perhaps the most attractive player on the MLB trading block these days is a Canadian.
And I’m not talking about attractive, as in looks.
I’m suggesting B.C. native Jason Bay is attractive in baseball terms because he is not yet 30, ranks 12th in the National League in on-base and slugging percentage and qualifies as a bargain at $5.75-million U.S. this season and $7.5 million in 2009.
And the Pirates, I’m told, are willing to unload the outfielder for cheap prospects.
• The Blue Jays – let’s face it – aren’t good enough this season, but you haven’t heard that on the airwaves much in Canada, and I can only assume that this is at least partly because the team’s main broadcasters on television and radio are owned by the same people who own the club.
That would be Ted Rogers and his men. Rogers et al own the Jays as well as Rogers Sportsnet, which televises most of the Toronto games, and The Fan 590, which broadcasts all their games on radio.
But credit Mike Toth for having the guts to discuss the Jays on Sportsnet’s web site without fear of reprisal.
Toth, who is a wonderfully witty and clever chap, writes in his latest column that Jays manager John Gibbons ought to be fired. He’s even critical in the piece of The Fan’s Mike Wilner, who has consistently claimed on the air that it’s too early in the season to feel panicky about the Jays.
“I've been calling for (Gibbons’ firing since April),” Toth writes. “But obviously inspired by my "Get Gibby" movement, the Jays had a marvelous May and completely foiled the plan. Since then, however, the team has tumbled back to earth and even managed to lose a series to the worst squad in baseball, the Seattle Mariners.”
Toth lobbies in the piece for the Jays to replace Gibbons with – brace yourself – Gary Carter.
“Carter was a legend with the Montreal Expos and is enshrined at Cooperstown wearing the team's famous tri-colored cap,” he writes. “However, it's a long way from Cooperstown to Orange County, California, where Carter is managing the Orange County Flyers in an independent minor pro circuit known as the Golden League. Carter has made no secret of the fact that he'd love to manage in the majors and actively campaigned for a job with the New York Mets earlier this year when it was rumoured that Willie Randolph was on his way out.
“Speaking of the Mets, Carter and Gibbons were teammates on the club that captured the 1986 World Series. But who do you think has the brighter baseball mind? Carter, an all-star catcher who drove in 105 runs in '86? Or Gibbons, a backup catcher with 19 at-bats that season?
“Now, of course, their roles have been reversed. Gibbons is ordering room service and flying first class in the big leagues while Carter is in the minors riding the bus and balancing a post-game pizza on his lap. There's something seriously wrong with that picture.
“The Jays are grossly underachieving and a big name with a big personality would give them a boost.
“Gary Carter? He's the full meal deal and the perfect remedy for a half-baked ball club.”
Give Toth points for coming up with something new and interesting. Forget the Carter idea, though. The man has a history of upsetting men in his own clubhouse. Just ask Andre Dawson, or Tim Raines, or Keith Hernandez or. . .
• While they are attempting to obtain reliever Brian Fuentes from the Colorado Rockies, the New York Yankees are trying to dump reliever LaTroy Hawkins and his 6.08 earned-run average.
Question is, will anyone want to take his $3.75-million, one-year contract?
• The Chicago White Sox surprised many in and close to baseball by transforming Nick Swisher into a centre fielder after they obtained him from the Oakland A’s in the off-season.
Swisher was a first baseman with Oakland. Well, since becoming a centre fielder, Swisher has lost about 11 pounds since spring training.
“I haven't lost a ton of weight, but I have lost a ton of fat," said Swisher, who said he now weighs 209 pounds. "I look a lot leaner. I feel better.”
• How bad are the Washington Nationals?
Ryan Zimmerman, their No. 3 hitter, still leads the team in home runs (eight) and runs batted (27) despite not playing since May 25.
• And here’s a nice story from the Milwaukee Brewers:
Beginning with their game Friday night, assistant general manager Gord Ash and other senior team executives, armed with freebies and goodies, will start mixing it up with fans at the ballpark. In a good way. The new Fans First initiative is a way of increasing the connection between the execs and fans.
"The (executives) will go around and interact with the fans and provide them with food and beverage vouchers, baseballs, little things like that,” said Rick Schlesinger, Milwaukee’s vice president of business operations.
Here’s hoping other MLB organizations follow in the Brewers’ footsteps.