Archive for December, 2007

Mitchell Report

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The much-anticipated Mitchell Report came out Thursday, and it wasn’t pretty. In all, 75 players were named as abusers of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, including former Blue Jay Roger Clemens, who was easily the biggest name on the list.

Clemens, according to Mitchell, began taking steroids in 1998 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The report states that Brian McNamee, Clemens’s personal trainer, injected the pitcher with the steroid Winstrol during the ’98 campaign. The injections took place in the SkyDome Hotel in Toronto, where the two shared an apartment.

“According to McNamee, from the time that McNamee injected Clemens with Winstrol through the end of the 1998 season, Clemens’s performance showed remarkable improvement.”

Clemens went on to win his second straight Cy Young Award at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, it was announced a week ago that current Blue Jay third baseman Troy Glaus managed to avoid discipline from the Commissioner’s Office due to ‘insufficient evidence of a violation of the joint program in effect at the time of the conduct in question’. Glaus is said to have purchased nandrolone and testosterone from an online pharmacy.

The other current Blue Jay named in the Mitchell report was catcher Gregg Zaun. On page 179 of the report, Mitchell states that former pitcher Jason Grimsley referred Zaun to former New York Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski, when the two played together on the Kansas City Royals in 2001.

“Although Radomski never spoke to Zaun about the transaction, Radomski received a check from Zaun for the steroids. Radomski produced that check, a copy of which is included in the Appendix [of the report].

“Radomski confirmed the payment was for Deca-Durabolin and Winstrol. He also stated that he sent the drugs to Zaun at the Kansas City Royals clubhouse.”

The Mitchell report also states that Zaun was one of seven players that was supplied with steroids by Luis Perez, a former bullpen catcher for the Montreal Expos. That was said to have occurred in 2002.

“In order to provide Zaun with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me; he declined.”

Let’s go (powder) Blue Jays!

Monday, December 3, 2007

In a move that is sure to please lifelong Blue Jay fans, Toronto announced today that it will bring back the retro powder blue jerseys from the ’80’s for every Friday night home game in 2008. The powder blues, which were originally worn during road games from 1980-88, will surely be a hit among Blue Jay faithful.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the ‘new’ old uniforms will bring the team success on the field. Here’s hoping that the powder blues have some of this magic left in them …

Oct. 12, 1985 — In Game 4 of their first ever ALCS, the Blue Jays defeat the Royals, 3-1, to take a three games to one lead in the series. We’ll leave it at that.

April 4, 1988 — At Royals Stadium, George Bell becomes the first Major Leaguer to hit three home runs on Opening Day, doing so against Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen during a 5-3 Toronto win.

Sept. 24, 1988 — Pitching against the Cleveland Indians, Toronto ace Dave Stieb falls just one out shy from recording the first no-hitter in franchise history. The ageless wonder, Julio Franco, manages a two-out single to break up the no-no in what turns out to be a 1-0 Toronto victory. Stieb would become just the sixth Major League pitcher to record two consecutive one-hitters on Sept. 30, though this time he would be wearing his home uniform.

and …

July 26, 1982 — Facing Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley, Alfredo Griffin ends the longest home run drought in franchise history, launching(?) a solo shot off the right-hander in the fifth inning of a 3-2 Boston victory. Prior to that homer, Griffin had gone 255 straight games (956 at-bats) without going yard.

Winter Meetings — Rule 5

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The annual Baseball Winter Meetings will take place in Nashville this week, giving J.P. Ricciardi and the Blue Jays’ front office the chance to meet face-to-face with the league’s other general managers. Toronto won’t be looking to make a big splash at this year’s event, but will instead attempt to plug a few holes in the roster; namely, at backup catcher.

Aside from the usual ‘wheelings and dealings’, the winter meetings also feature the Rule 5 Draft. In 2006, the Blue Jays selected infielder Jason Smith, who managed to hit just .212 in 27 games before being released by the Blue Jays in May. Though Smith didn’t pan out, the Blue Jays — historically speaking — have had great success in the Rule 5 Draft. Here’s a look at some of those success stories …

Willie Upshaw — The first ever Rule 5 pick by the Blue Jays, Upshaw made his Toronto debut as a 20-year-old in 1978, batting .237 in 95 games. Upshaw, who played nine seasons in Toronto, had his greatest success in 1983, batting .306 (.373 OBP) with a career-high 27 home runs and 104 RBIs.

George Bell — Plucked from the Phillies in the 1980 Rule 5 Draft, Bell earned a starting role in the Blue Jay outfield in 1984, finishing with a .292 average, 26 home runs and 87 RBIs. In 1987, Bell compiled 47 homers and 134 RBIs en route to becoming the first Toronto player to win the American League MVP Award.

Kelly Gruber — The Blue Jays nabbed Gruber from the Indians in 1983. After spending two straight seasons on the bench, Gruber managed to enjoy seven productive years with the Blue Jays, including a career-best 1990 campaign in which he hit 31 homers and drove in 118 runs. The third baseman also earned a World Series ring in 1992.

Manuel Lee — In 1984, Toronto picked Manny Lee in the Rule 5 Draft from the Astros organization. Lee spent eight seasons with the Blue Jays, splitting time between second base and shortstop. He was the everyday shortstop in 1992, posting a career-high .343 on-base percentage during Toronto’s first World Series-winning campaign.