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The Phillies are in town for the weekend, but due to injury and scheduling Toronto only gets one of Philadelphia's big 3, Cliff Lee. Lee is winless in 10 starts despite ERAs and FIPs right around 3; though the Phillies offense really isn't that bad for the NL, it's no longer the juggernaut it once was. Philadelphia and Toronto are actually in pretty similar positions as we speak, albeit on differing sides of a curve. Toronto's been a game better, but both teams are hanging around just under .500, with positive run differentials, and yet both reside in the cellars of their tough respective divisions, 6.5 and 9 games out with lots of teams to catch. At some point in the next month both teams are going to have to decide whether they should go for it, whether they're going to just hold on, or whether to pack it in for the season. I say that both teams are at differing points in the curve because for Toronto this was supposed to be their first season on the cusp of something; they have a young team, plenty of talent in the minors, and look to be on the way up. The Phillies are the mirror image of this. This year or the next might be the last in which they can realistically hold things together. They're old, and in the offseason they're going to have to pay Cole Hamels $20 million a year, at least. Much of their young talent has been used up bringing players like Hunter Pence or Roy Halladay over, and these guys are only getting older.

So, what to do?
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April 15, 1947 -- the most inportant, significant debut by a rookie player in Major League Baseball history took place as the Boston Braves visited Ebbets Field to take on the Brooklyn Dodgers. Attendees at the game saw a lot of notable ballplayers that day -- Johnny Sain, Mort Cooper, Sibby Sisti, Tommy Holmes, Earl Torgeson, Bobby Bragan, Pee Wee Reese, Hugh Casey, Carl Furillo, Arky Vaughn, Dixie Walker, Pete Reiser, Eddie Stanky - plenty of All-Stars with a few future Hall of Famers mixed in. But none more significant than the young fella playing 1B and batting second for the Brooklyns.

Kid named Jack Roosevelt Robinson. Jackie.  #42 ... a number that, after this season, will never be worn by another major league baseball player again. After Mariano Rivera, perhaps fittingly the greatest closer to ever play the game, hangs up his spikes, that number, the one Douglas Adams once wrote was the answer to the great question of  Life, the Universe and Everything, will fade into retirement as well, to honor Robinson, not the greatest, but absolutely the most significant player ever to wear a big league uniform.

To mildly misquote the renowned Simon and Garfunkel tune, So here's to you, Mr. Robinson ...

Thank you, Jackie.

Wow. At 49 he has made the Rockies rotation and will start the 2nd game of the season for them.
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Casey Blake was cut by the Rockies on Tuesday. Suffering from nagging injuries and nearing 40, it might be the end of the line for him. So, it’s time to pay a little bit of appreciation to a man who deserves to be known as the man who was traded for Carlos Santana
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The Jays currently sit second in the American League spring training standings and second in all of baseball with an .846 winning percentage. There is no correlation between spring training success and regular season results, so instead we are left to ponder the scraps of information fed to us by media sources, while waiting for the regular season to begin.
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Yeah, my bad puns are no better than anyone else's. The newest info - an announcement tonight at roughly 8/9 PM EST from Japan. Hopefully they will not just say 'we accepted the deal' but actually say who won it.
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Canada's first baseball Hall of Famer, Ferguson Jenkins, turns 69 years old today. The Chatham, Ontario native  used pinpoint control and effectively changed speeds to win 284 big league games. Fergie is, I think we can all agree, the greatest (or at least most successful) native Canuck to ever play the game.
 
So today's two-part QOTD acknowledges the recipients of the unofficial Ferguson Jenkins Award ...
  1. Who is the second-greatest Canadian in MLB history? (Or, if you can make the argument, who surpasses Fergie as #1?)
  2. Who is the greatest active Canadian in the major leagues?

Ready? Set? Go, eh?

Today, legendary Cinicinnati Red backstop Johnny Lee Bench is 64 years old. In celebration of this day, here is a challenge I put down to all Bauxites ...

Johnny Bench is the greatest catcher in major league history. In fact, he is the only player at any position where there is no question this is true. For instance, at short you might promote a Wagner, a Ripken, a Banks -- all these and others are defensible nominees. This is true at every position -- except behind the plate. Sure, there are greats -- Berra, Campanella, Piazza, Rodriguez, Hartnett and more. But for the perfect combination of defense (one of the top five defensive catchers of all time), arm strength (perhaps the very best) and bat (a cleanup-type power threat for a team that won five division titles and two World Series in a seven-year span), not to mention intangibles like leadership and charisma ... Bench is, without question, the greatest catcher ever to play the game. (Sorry, Yogi! Especially sorry, Josh Gibson!)

The gauntlet is thrown. Magpie, others? Whatchagot?

The new CBA is out via MLB while Ryan Braun wins the NL MVP (332/397/597 in LF) over Matt Kemp (324/399/586 in CF, HR & RBI titles, 3rd in Avg).

Edit: Kelly Johnson to be modified type A - Jays get pick before team that signs him (if the Jays don't).
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MLB owners add two playoffs teams for 2013
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The hot stove will warm up some this week.  Both the team owners and general managers hold meetings this week in Milwaukee, I am sure the trade talk will heat up.  I assume major media will be in attendance giving us updates on the latest rumours.

In addition award season starts today with the AL and NL rookies of the year.  JP Arencibia is not expected to win the AL rookie of the year but he might get some votes.

We do also have some Blue Jay news, through Bob Elliott.

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Last week we found plenty of topics to kick off the first week of the winter, winter being that time of the year when baseball is not played. This week threatens to be a quiet week on the baseball front but who knows? Award season doesn't start until next week so baseball news will have to be generated by the general managers.
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The World Series is done and we are officially in hot stove league time.  Free agents are filing, trades and signings are starting, so let the speculation begin.

Latest News: The Jays have announced they will be picking up Edwin Encarnacion's 2012 option and have declined the 2012 option on Jon Rauch's contract.

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Behind the fearsome bat of Albert Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals tied the NLCS at 1 game apiece. Earlier in the day, the Nelson Cruz continued his attempt to pry the “Mr. October” nickname away from Reggie Jackson with the first walk-off grand slam in postseason history. The Rangers now head to Detroit with a 2-0 lead in the ALCS.
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The Toronto Blue Jays weren't at their most memorable in 2002. I wouldn't even bring them up if it weren't for a few series they won in July. They lost the first game to the Red Sox in SkyDome on July 11th (10-3, with Pete Walker taking the loss), and then won the next three. On the 17th and 18th, Baltimore was in town, and the Jays took both games, and then beat the Orioles again in Baltimore on the 22nd and 24th. (What happened on the 23rd? Rainout?)

Here's why I bring that up.
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