Monday, 25 February 2008

Morning Roundup

The major papers are pretty much all in lockstep this morning on Shannon Stewart as serious competiton for Reed Johnson. The more learned sources have a predictably nuanced view. Let's bang into it, shall we?

"Team's former top pick adds drama to camp" screams the Sun, adding one interesting nugget: JP doesn't automatically discount the notion of going North with both Sparky and Stew. Say what now?

"Outfielder's days in a Jays uniform could be numbered with signing of Shannon Stewart" says Zwolinski at the Star. The outfielder in question being Sparky... He adds a short blurb later speculating on how we get rid of him:

If Johnson becomes expendable – something that will be decided during the Grapefruit League schedule – Toronto would likely seek to trade him to another club.

Johnson's salary – one year at $3.275 million (all figures U.S.) – makes a trade prohibitive.

A final option is not exactly appealing: termination of his contract, which comes with a pro-rated payout of 45 days salary.

Yowza! Everyone is getting wwwwwwaaaaaayyyyyyy ahead of themselves. Though I do like speculation, it's not a foregone conclusion that Stew displaces Sparky this spring.

What does the venerable Globe have to say? MacLeod does a Sparky-centred piece that emphasizes his competitive nature and ability to come back from adversity. To date, every question about Sparky's health has met with a somewhat terse "better" response, but Mac goes into greater detail:

Johnson now says that he never got back into a comfort zone last year after his surgery.

When he went home to Las Vegas in the off-season, Johnson was evaluated by his physical therapist and discovered he still had some weakness in his left leg, a residual effect from his back surgery.

Johnson said he tailored his workouts to address that weakness and it has been years since he has felt so good.

“I feel I'm back stronger now than I was even before the surgery, even two years before the surgery,” Johnson said.

This is what the ever-solid Bastian says:

Basically, I view this Stewart signing as an insurance policy. Next year, Toronto will be going with Adam Lind in left field. Johnson's a free agent after this year and he's coming off a major back injury. He's says he's healthy, but if there's any issues or the Jays aren't convinced he's back to being the old Reed, they have Stewart in place as a fallback option.

Or, let's say someone gets injured this spring (honestly, with all these healthy guys running around, there's nowhere to go but down), the Jays have some more options in place that can help the club avoid dipping back into the Minor Leagues, unless absolutely necessary.

Pretty much what we've been saying... high five!

Wilner compensates for taking a week between posts by writing a rambling 60,000-word piece on... well, I really don't know what it was about, but I think there was some mention of The Copacabana Club. He's unimpressed with the signing, for very good reasons I might add.


* Bob Elliot says the Jays will be looking to draft more high-upside high schoolers and sign more international players this year. The high school vs. college player issue has been a serious bugaboo for JP bashers over the years...

* Blair has a budding bromantic relationship with Dodgers all-star Canuck backstop, Russ Martin. In addition to being one of the great young players of the game at a physically demanding position, he's bi-racial and speaks both official languages. It's only a matter of time before he becomes Governor General. We love you here, too, Russ!

* Bartolo Colon signed a minor league deal with the Bosox. Who cares? He's done.

-- Johnny Was

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