• Stroman not short on talent, but short on tweet sense
• Blue Jays should consider trading Donaldson this winter
• Becoming clearer bombastic Burke bombed in Toronto
Marcus Stroman needs a change-up.
Stroman, who has spent the past two seasons coming up with imaginary enemies at every turn, took to Twitter this weekend to criticize the Toronto Blue Jays for not giving him a heads-up before announcing they were non-tendering his good friend Ryan Goins.
Perhaps Stroman is chiding Goins for not reaching out to him, but it sure seems as if it’s aimed at the team and this is, of course, abject silliness. The Blue Jays don’t owe Stroman or any player any advance warning of any move, let alone one involving the 23rd man on the roster, especially given Stroman’s tendency to, ah, think things through on Twitter.
Stroman is verging on becoming a cartoon character. The chip on his shoulder is tiresome, and needs to go away for the benefit of all. As far as I can tell, nobody writes or says any more that he’s too small to succeed. Nobody doubts that “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart.”
If Stroman would just take a deep breath and forget about any branding exercises, he’d realize that the fact that Stephen Souza, Jr. tweeting out that he can’t believe Stroman wasn’t in the All-Star Game is a profound sign that he is accepted; almost as much as winning the Most Valuable Player award in the World Baseball Classic.
Look: I have no problem with Stroman taking to social media to rip media members, whether they work at Sportsnet or elsewhere, and I sure as hell don’t care whether or not he likes me. As long as he is a good teammate who delivers on and off the field and treats fans with respect, well, I’m cool with everything else. I’d prefer he not show up opposing players, but that’s not a deal-breaker as far as I’m concerned. I covered Pedro Martinez in his first years with the Montreal Expos, and I get it. I really do. But Pedro knew when he’d proven his point, and learned to pick his spots, because he realized that at some point you move ahead and we all have to get along. Time for Stroman to do the same.
QUIBBLES AND BITS
• Gary Bettman and the NHL owners will look even smarter for avoiding the mess that is the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics if the IOC does the right thing and hands down its version of the death penalty on Tuesday to Russia for that international sports pariah’s systematic state-sponsored doping of athletes. Whether the IOC actually bars Russian athletes from competing or merely elects to prohibit Russian flags and symbols from being displayed during the opening and closing ceremonies or during competition – a decision that the Russians say will lead them to consider boycotting the games – these Olympics seem destined to be consigned to the scrap heap of sports history. NHL players will eventually be pleased they’re not a part of this.
• Between Japanese free-agent Shohei Ohtani whittling down his list of teams to a handful – no surprise that the Blue Jays aren’t one of them; major surprise that neither are the New York Yankees – and reports that Giancarlo Stanton is deciding between a trade to the San Francisco Giants or the St. Louis Cardinals while hoping the Los Angeles Dodgers are ready to make a play, it seems if baseball’s off-season log-jam may soon be broken. And with the winter meetings due to start next weekend, keep an eye on whether any third basemen get shuttled around, especially after free-agent Mike Moustakas makes his call.
As Fangraphs managing editor Dave Cameron told Stephen Brunt and myself, it seems as if every contending team will go into the regular season set at third base, which means barring injury and with Manny Machado’s free agency next winter there might not be a lot of teams hankering for Josh Donaldson’s services at the trade deadline should things go pear shaped for the Blue Jays. The upshot? The Blue Jays should not dismiss out of hand the notion of seeing what they can get for Donaldson this winter.
• As for Ohtani? Like most observers I’m surprised he has spurned the Yankees, with his representatives telling the club their market is too big and that their client prefers the west coast, and if the New York Daily News headline Monday morning is any hint, that first trip to New York – whichever team he’s with – could be something else.
At any rate, the most a Blue Jays fan can do now is hope the winning team is an NL club – c’mon you Padres. But isn’t it something seeing bitter rivals the Dodgers and Giants going toe to toe for the two most prized possessions of the off-season?
Here’s a question for Brian Burke: if Toronto’s media is so difficult, why is Drew Doughty all but crawling on broken glass to lay the groundwork for a return to his hometown as a free agent in the summer of 2019? My guess is it’s because the guys who replaced you succeeded where you bombed: they’ve created a sense that the dressing room is a safe haven and are better judges of character and talent.
Yeah, the constant questions about linemates for Mitch Marner and William Nylander get old, but that’s part of work being performed. And, your successors were smart enough to hire as guy like Mike Babcock who can put out those fires, unlike Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle who’d come into each post-game media availability carrying cans of gasoline. Seems pretty obvious that the Leafs didn’t have a media problem when you were here: they had a Brian Burke problem.
Jeff Blair hosts The Jeff Blair Show from 9 a.m. to noon ET on Sportsnet 590 The Fan