The Blue Jays are thinking about Johnny Damon

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MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that the Blue Jays are interested in Johnny Damon and have spoken to Scott Boras about him.

GM Alex Anthopoulos said the team was really more in the “information-gathering stage” for Damon, which can probably be translated to “we’re waiting to see how cheap we can get him,” but unlike the Reds and Tigers, there appears to be legitimate interest on the part of the Jays.  Not speaking specifically about Damon, Anthopoulos said that if the Jays go after any free agents, one of the considerations would be whether they could unload them in the middle of the season for some value, which is pretty smart.

It’s going to be a rough year for the Jays, but I have to say that I’ve liked just about everything Anthopoulos has done. He’s realistic about where his team is on the success cycle. And while it may be some time before anything great happens in Toronto, I like how he has approached the rebuilding process in his short time at the helm.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.