40 years of fan-tastic

The Toronto Blue Jays at 40 and count­ing: Post City chats with for­mer Jays catcher, TV an­a­lyst and all-around dap­per Gregg Zaun about the com­ing MLB sea­son, where he shops and his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Don Cherry

North York Post - - News - By Ron John­son

What grade would you give Jays man­age­ment for their off-sea­son work, los­ing Edwin En­car­na­cion and sign­ing Jose Bautista?

Well, that’s a tough grade to give with­out know­ing the in­ti­mate de­tails of the ne­go­ti­a­tion process. I know they wanted to sign Edwin back and keep the whole team in­tact but were un­able to do that. I think a bet­ter ques­tion is a grade for Paul Kinzer, the agent for Edwin. I know he grossly mis­read the mar­ket and cost his client $20 or $30 mil­lion. In my opin­ion, that’s a fail.

What were your big ques­tion marks with the team head­ing into spring train­ing and the new sea­son?

My ques­tion mark is al­ways the bullpen. It’s a funny thing. You look at those guys, and they are largely dis­pos­able and in­ter­change­able — a funny thing un­less you have guys that are proven closers. All those mid­dle re­lief and eighth in­ning guys, you’re es­sen­tially look­ing for light­en­ing in a bot­tle. That’s why you sign bullpen guys to two-year deals — be­cause they just wear them out, use them and abuse them. My other ques­tion mark: will the Jays find more in­ter­est­ing ways to score runs than sim­ply swing­ing for the fences all the time?

Given the awk­ward way the team re-signed Jose Bautista, will he still lead the team?

First thing, let’s not as­sume Jose Bautista is a club­house leader by de­fault be­cause he’s a vet with a big name. Cer­tainly, he’s a guy who at one point was an up­per ech­e­lon player, but it re­mains to be seen if he’s go­ing to have that kind of sea­son in 2017. But when the lights turn on, it’s all pretty much for­got­ten, and you re­vert to the task at hand, and that’s win­ning ball games. I got a feel­ing that a guy like Jose is prob­a­bly play­ing with a gi­ant chip on his shoul­der and a ton to prove.

Can Kendrys Mo­rales can fill Edwin’s shoes?

I think he can do a lot in that sit­u­a­tion. He put up big num­bers in a non-hit­ter’s ball park. The guy can hit. I played against him when he first came up, and he was hit­ting balls all over the strike zone. He’s a nice ad­di­tion, but you can’t re­place Edwin. He’s too much of a spe­cial tal­ent with a bat in his hand.

Have we seen the best of Aaron Sanchez, or is there still room for this guy to get even bet­ter?

Jamie [Camp­bell] and I don’t throw around “ace” or “num­ber one” very of­ten, but Sanchez is a le­git ace, num­ber one starter and po­ten­tial Cy Young win­ner peren­ni­ally. And he’s only go­ing to get bet­ter. He’ll get a bet­ter feel for his com­mand and bet­ter com­mand of his pitches. Last year, he made it look easy. I saw no stress.

You’ve been de­scribed as base­ball’s Don Cherry. Seems like a com­pli­ment. What do you think?

I think it’s a great com­pli­ment. I con­sider Mr. Cherry a good close friend and a men­tor. I love that he has opin­ions and that he doesn’t re­treat when his opin­ions are un­pop­u­lar, and I love how po­lar­iz­ing he is. To think of me as the go-to guy for base­ball in Canada, that is ex­actly what I wanted when I came back here, to be that go-to guy for the coun­try, not just for a team or a re­gion.

Speak­ing of go-tos, where is your go-to shop for those swanky duds?

There is only one: Gar­ri­son Be­spoke. They make all my suits and are great at what they do. They bring a lot of great ideas to the ta­ble, and they are not afraid to take chances with fash­ion, and they are usu­ally bang on.

What is your favourite spot in town to go to af­ter a game?

Bar­be­rian’s Steak House is one of my favourite restau­rants in the city. It’s prob­a­bly the one I will go to when I do have a night out on the town.

When are you hap­pi­est?

Typ­i­cally, at home, but pro­fes­sion­ally I’m most happy to see the game played the right way, with en­thu­si­asm and hus­tle. Win or lose, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter to me, but the game should be re­spected and played prop­erly.

What is your pas­sion out­side base­ball?

Fit­ness. I’m big into body­build­ing and box­ing, and I like to stay fit. I’m usu­ally at the gym five to six days a week.

What tal­ent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be a great mu­si­cian. Drums.

What’s your trea­sured pos­ses­sion?

My daugh­ter. She’s two and a half.

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