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Mets almost traded for Jose Cruz Jr back in 2002 for......


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most important is in bold. other has nothing to do with Mets.


In late July of 2002 the Blue Jays were nearing the end of the line with outfielder Jose Cruz Jr.


Cruz owned a .227 batting average at the break with 13 homers and 45 RBIs.


Finally, they found someone with interest in Cruz.


The New York Mets said they would take Cruz, offering a minor-leaguer playing his first full season at class-A.


Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi decided against taking the minor-leaguer for Cruz. The Jays also refused the Seattle Mariners' offer of prospect Rafael Soriano for Cruz, after the Mariners refused to move reliever Clint Nageotte.


The Jays held on to Cruz, who finished the 2002 season with a .245 average, 18 homers and 70 RBIs. After the season the Jays decided not to tender Cruz a contract and he signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants.


That class-A kid? Well, it's tough evaluating 19-year-olds as the kid was at the time.


That season at class-A Capital City the kid hit .266 with 11 homers and 93 RBIs. He had 76 walks, 114 strikeouts.


The kid? You may have seen him at Tuesday's all-star game -- and on a hundred or so highlight clips -- as he grew up to be all-star third baseman David Wright.


Wright's 2006 stats: A .315 average, 20 homers and 75 RBIs.


As Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story.


Bad moves


If National League manager Phil Garner said it once this week in Pittsburgh, he said it 10 times: He was "playing to win."


No wonder the Houston Astros are struggling.


With a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning, most managers would have their best defensive team on the field. Garner did not. Especially with a ground ball pitcher such as Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres on the mound.


As ESPN's John Kruk pointed out, Paul Konerko's leadoff single to left, which slithered past third baseman Miguel Cabrera, would have been hoovered by Gold Glover Scott Rolen of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was sitting on the bench.


Kruk also said if Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves had been in left rather than Carlos Lee of the Milwaukee Brewers, the 0-1 changeup hit by Troy Glaus for a ground-rule double is caught.


Jones is better than Lee, but no one was going to catch the Glaus drive.


Still, Garner had a chance to give his team a better opportunity to win. With men at first and second he allowed Hoffman to face Michael Young, who hit an 0-2 pitch for a game-winning triple. He could have walked Young intentionally, allowing Hoffman to face Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.


During interleague play just before the all-star break, the Padres and the Rangers hooked up and Young batted against Hoffman. Mauer never had faced him.


Since the start of the 2005 season no major-leaguer has a better average than Young, the former Jays farmhand, with two out and men in scoring position. He owns a .430 average (40-for-83) in that situation.


Hoffman, who had converted 24 of 25 save opportunities in the first half of the season, blew the save -- with help from Garner.


Hoffman's overall all-star ERA, over five appearances, is 12.46.


Unanswered questions


The Jays' middle infield? Just as it was in spring training. They now have their fourth different combination ... Can commissioner Bud Selig suspend Barry Bonds if he's charged with with tax evasion and perjury? Not until he's found guilty ... The toughest thing for a scout? "Deciding whether what you see in a player now is what he is and not thinking back to what he was before they began steroid testing."


Longest homer I ever saw


"Dick Allen. At old Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia, corner of 21st and Lehigh, it was either 1963 or 1964. It was 457 feet to centre, he hit it over the first deck, over the second deck, over the third deck and over a 30-foot Cadillac billboard." -- Marlins broadcaster Cookie Rojas.


Northern light


Our Canadian minor-leaguer of the week is righty Adam Hawes of Penetanguishene, who pitches for class-A Beloit (Twins).


The former Ontario Blue Jay had a two-win week. First, he beat Peoria 8-3 pitching 62/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs and struck out four.


Then, he beat Quad Cities and his Canadian counterpart, lefty Adam Daniels of Vancouver. Hawes pitched six innings, allowing one run and striking out two.


The runners-up: Brooks McNiven, of Vernon, B.C. who won twice for class-A San Jose (Giants); reliever T.J. Burton of Ottawa, who saves three games to give him 15 this season for class-A Kinston (Indians) and Taylor Green of Courtenay, BC, who hit .370 (10-for-27) for rookie-class Helena (Brewers).


Lined up


Padres general manager Kevin Towers has as many as 15 teams calling for set-up man Scott Linebrink. They have talked to the Indians about third base prospect Andy Marte. They have looked at either Corey Koskie or Billy Hall of the Brewers and are hoping that the Cubs decide to move Aramis Ramirez. They have talked to the Braves about Wilson Betemit too.


The Jays should be in the chase for Linebrink, who is 6-2 with a 2.68 earned run average, or ex-Jay Scotty Cassidy (5-4, 2.79), who the Padres just demoted and have to deal.


In a package for a third baseman, the Padres might part with triple-A catcher George Kottaras of Markham. He hit a home run and double in the Futures Game on Sunday.


Hats off


New Era caps will have its Authentic Fit tour trailer at the Rogers Centre today. A nostalgic and historical look at the baseball cap can be found inside the semi-truck trailer, as well as the 22-step process of making MLB caps.


Fans can see memorabilia and create their own baseball card. New Era's charity, Caps for Kids, benefits from the tour, providing children undergoing cancer treatment a cap or scarf autographed by the celebrity of their choice.


Local heroes I


Team Ontario won two titles at the Ohio State Buckeye Elite Showcase tournament in Columbus, Ohio.


Team Ontario 17s won the 60-team, 18-year-old division beating the Ohio Yankees 7-0 in the final at Cooper Stadium, home of the triple-A Columbus Clippers.


Newmarket's Daniel Lazarou, who pitched six innings, and Toronto's Brandyn Agnew, who pitched the seventh, combined on a two-hitter and their seventh win.


Mississauaga's Jonathan Slattery knocked in three runs.


Niagara Falls righty Colin Buckborough has worked 13 scoreless innings in his previous two outings against the Brentwood (Tenn.) Bulldogs and the Cincinnati Flames, striking out 12 and allowing five singles. His fastball has been clocked regularly in the 90-92 mph range.


The 16s edged the Ohio Warhawks 7-6 for the title in the 24-team grouping. Sarnia's Nick Bucci took over for Guelph's Nathan Linesman and worked two scoreless innings, getting a double-play ball to end the game.


Local heroes II:


Sarnia righty Dan Laviolette allowed two hits in six innings to lead the Canadian Thunderbirds 18s to a 1-0 win over the Intercounty Terriers at Bernie Arbour Stadium in Hamilton to win the 12-team Can-Am Classic international tourney.


Tyler Graham singled home the game's only run and Chris Plummer worked the seventh to send the T-Birds to Nashville, Tenn.


Memorable inning


Cleveland's entry in the rookie-class Gulf Coast league possibly played the inning of the year against the Tigers. The game was scoreless through seven innings. In the eighth, the Indians sent 15 men to the plate, scoring 10 runs on seven hits, four walks, five wild pitches, one passed ball and one error.


The inning unfolded like this: Single, passed ball, wild pitch, walk, single, wild pitch, walk, force out (one out), triple, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, error shortstop, home run, fly out (two out), double, single, single and a strikeout (three out).




When we wrote about Padres prospect Kottaras of Markham last week, we mentioned his former coaches and we had one wrong: It should have been John Blair.



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