SIMMONS: Jays would be foolish to re-sign Donaldson

Has Josh Donaldson played his last game as a Blue Jay?

It is a question now without any answer and open for supposition as this wasted season continues for both the baseball team and what should have been its most valuable player.

You can make the argument that Donaldson’s first two seasons in Toronto were individually equal to — or better than — anything Roberto Alomar brought in his five seasons with the Blue Jays. His third season was great when he played, which wasn’t often enough. And this year has just been a write-off, performance-wise, health-wise and certainly information-wise, trying to determine which injury Donaldson had at what time to what part of his body and what the recovery would be.

Now comes the challenge for management at the time when it has become too late to trade him. The Jays could not possibly have predicted or expected this kind of season for Donaldson. They believed by signing him they would be able to reap some benefit from it, either on the field or by bringing in some prospects via trade.

Now they have another determination to make. Do they sign him again, make him a qualifying offer, or just let him walk away at the end of the season? The difficulty in signing him begins with the cost. If the qualifying offer is $18 million, it’s entirely possible the Jays will have $58 million of basically lost money tied up in Donaldson, Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki. Is it worth $18 million, or the portion of that for more than half a season, to gamble on adding a prospect of two?

His health being a concern, it would make no sense to invest any more in Donaldson, one of only two Blue Jays to win an MVP award and, for two seasons, maybe the best Jays player we’ve ever seen.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson makes an off-balance throw to first but can’t get the out on a soft ground ball hit by New York Mets’ Juan Lagares during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in New York. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Julie Jacobson)

THIS AND THAT

So which Leafs end up in the top 10 in NHL scoring? Auston Matthews, who has never been there before? John Tavares, who has been top 10 just twice in nine NHL seasons and has been 16th, 28th and 16th the past three? Mitch Marner, who scored at top-10 level from the second half of last season and through the playoff round? Or, possibly, none of the above? … Bet you don’t remember that Phil Kessel finished sixth in scoring twice during his time in Toronto and that didn’t mean a whole lot of anything … Does Sidney Crosby care that he received just one Hart Trophy vote after winning back to back Conn Smythe Trophies? Probably deep down he cares. Patrick Roy is the only three-time Smythe winner. The other two-time winners you might have heard of: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr and Bernie Parent … Asked Mark Scheifele on radio to name his top five players in the NHL. One of them, surprisingly, was Roman Josi. No coincidence that Winnipeg played Nashville in the playoffs and Scheifele was often matched up against Josi, who may be the least talked-about great defenceman in the NHL. Josi finished seventh in Norris Trophy voting this past season, with just 86 votes. His teammate, P.K. Subban, was named on 565 ballots.

HEAR AND THERE

Now that Jack Morris and Alan Trammell have taken the circuitous route to the Baseball Hall of Fame, is it time for Dave Stieb to get some consideration from the Veterans Committee? Stieb may have pitched 929 fewer innings than Morris managed in his career, but if you believe in WAR, Stieb was the more valuable pitcher, especially during the 1980s … The player most likely to get Veterans Committee notice: Former Brave Dale Murphy … The best reason the Jays should hang on to Justin Smoak, who cleared waivers this week and can be moved in the next five days, is his glove. With Vladimir Guerrero Jr., likely to be at third base next season and maybe Lourdes Gurriel Jr., at shortstop, having a smoothie at first base will take some pressure off kids not known for their defence … When the Jays traded Joe Smith to Cleveland a year ago in a deal we didn’t pay much attention to, one of the players they acquired was pitcher Thomas Pannone, he of the great first start, albeit against the Baltimore Orioles. When the deal was made, Pannone was not considered one of Cleveland’s top 30 prospects. Pannone may battle for a roster spot next season with the Jays, even though he didn’t have a minor-league win this season … You can probably scratch Sandy Alomar Jr., from the list of potential Blue Jays managers for next season. Word around is that the Alomar family doesn’t get along all that well with Mark Shapiro.

SCENE AND HEARD

You know the world is turning upside down when Eric Lindros is calling for less contact in hockey and Paul Tracy, one of the more reckless drivers in racing history, is calling for more safety in car racing … Hayley Wickenheiser may have been the big name among the shuffling and hiring Leafs GM Kyle Dubas managed this week, but she was just one of three women added to the staff. The legendary Wickenheiser was hired as assistant director of player development, Noelle Needham was added to the scouting department and Dr. Meg Popovic became director of athlete well-being and performance. Making those hires was a large and open-minded determination by Dubas. What’s next for all three: Making a difference in their capacities. Knowing Wickenheiser and all she has already accomplished in hockey, I can see her in the front office of an NHL team in the future … Another thing Dubas is taking advantage of: There is no salary cap for team employees. The Leafs have the largest, most diverse staff in all of hockey. Sometimes that matters. Sometimes not. One of hockey’s thinnest operations, the Nashville Predators, has been one of the NHL’s elite teams in recent years … The Argos lost to Montreal. The Eskimos lost to Hamilton. Can anyone please explain? … As of Saturday afternoon, the Orioles were 54 games under .500. … On draft night 2015, he was deemed two years away from being two years away, which makes this the year for Bruno Caboclo, now with the Houston Rockets … Lookalikes: Pigskin Pete in Hamilton and Neil Young … Just because Jason Witten and Tony Romo played together for years doesn’t mean Witten can walk in and broadcast in his first year the way Romo did.

AND ANOTHER THING

I love the fact that Denis Shapovalov and good buddy Felix Auger-Aliassime are both playing in the U.S. Open. I hate the fact they’re playing each other in Round 1 on Monday … Is there anything more ridiculous than the French Open banning Serena Williams’ tennis outfit? … Might be in the minority on this. but I wouldn’t pay 10 cents to watch Tiger Woods play Phil Mickelson head-to-head on pay per view … Marcus Brady has a tough job. The former Argos quarterback and offensive coordinator on last year’s Grey Cup winning team is now tutoring Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts. And the way Luck has looked upon his return from injury, there’s a lot of tutoring to do … The gamble the Argos have taken on Duron Carter: Once Labour Day passes, Carter’s contract is guaranteed for the rest of the season, which is a roll of the financial dice for the struggling Argos … My favourite Panthers: Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Sasha Barkov, Roberto Luongo and Peter Sellers … The Arizona Coyotes are not as wise today as they were last week: Longtime scout and former Leafs goalie, the highly regarded Tim Bernhardt, has left the team … Happy birthday to Morris Peterson (41), Chris Williams (33), James Harden (28), Stan Van Gundy (59), Tom Heinsohn (84), David Price (33) and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (36) …  And, hey, whatever became of Tiger Jeet Singh?

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The date is almost certain to be Friday, April 12, 2019.

The night Vladimir Guerrero Jr., will make his much-heralded major-league debut with the Blue Jays. The opponent: the ubiquitous Tampa Bay Rays.

The Maple Leafs may have a first-round playoff game that night, if not the next night, but they will already be part way through the opening round. The Raptors will be beginning their playoff season a few days later. The sporting drama around the city, the buzz alone, could be at an all-time April high.

The Blue Jays have never before had a prospect like Guerrero. Carlos Delgado was called up at 21, 22, and 23 before settling in to full-time work with the Jays at age 24. Dave Stieb, who wasn’t considered can’t-miss at all, was first called up at 21 and pitched full-time for the Jays at 22.

Guerrero turns 20 in March. If not for baseball’s rather strange service-time rules, he would be a big-leaguer already. The Jays are playing the long game on his career, but it’s fair to say his debut will be anticipated unlike any before it. When single-game Blue Jays tickets eventually go on sale for next season, the Tampa game should be high on the list of alternatives. With Guerrero joining Auston Matthews and John Tavares and Kawhi Leonard in this city of stars.

There is something wonderfully modern about Erik Karlsson, and his much-discussed state of affairs with the wonky Ottawa Senators.

A report the other day pegged Karlsson as unwilling to sign a contract extension with any Canadian team if he is eventually traded within the country. Rather than let the report sit inaccurately, Karlsson made it clear through Elliotte Friedman’s Twitter reporting that the report was not true. In other years and other places with other athletes, they would not be so quick or definitive about making sure their interests were being properly represented publicly.

Karlsson is well aware of what he means to the struggling Senators and what he could mean should the eventual trade occur. He’s the best player in franchise history and the haul he would bring in may well represent another new beginning for the Senators.

The one thing about Karlsson we can’t be certain of is his health. Before his ankle/Achilles injury, he was right there, on a short list with Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid as the most indispensable players in the NHL. Now McDavid and Crosby remain 1-2 — or is that 2-1? — and we’re left to wonder where to rank Karlsson. He could well return to his place as the most dynamic defenceman in the NHL, the only performer who can play forward and defence at precisely the same time. But how can anyone be certain with Karlsson making sure that all options are available at this sensitive time.

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When Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were winning NBA championships, I don’t remember hearing anyone complaining about the winter weather in Chicago.

When Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons were winning NBA championships, I don’t remember anyone complaining about the winter weather in Detroit.

But hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t mention how frigid it happens to be in Toronto in the winter and how the weather will be among the major reasons why Kawhi Leonard won’t last more than one season as a Raptor.

A not-so-fortunate thing happened in Toronto a few years ago: The city played host to the NBA all-star game on what may have been the coldest weekend in the history of the world. Suddenly, Toronto the Good (an old term) became Toronto the Frozen. The truth: The average high temperature in Chicago in January is 0 celsius. The average temperature in Detroit is also 0. Same as Toronto.

The February temperature is two degrees colder in Toronto than Chicago, without Chicago’s wind, and slightly warmer than Milwaukee or Minneapolis.

But it sure becomes a tiring American refrain to hear Toronto’s weather being considered a  major factor in whether the Raptors maintain or attract players. You don’t like the winter weather? Stay inside.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies