Zacked

This is Buck Rodgers. He was always finding something useful from the scrap heap. Honestly, he was the best scavenger in baseball for awhile.

As an Expos fan, you always had to be on your guard. Rodgers built his outfield around Tim Raines and fringe guys who could run, and damned if it didn’t do the job. They got Mitch Webster for a load of hay, Otis Nixon for a plane ticket and on it went. Rodgers had a way of working players into the lineup slowly. Nixon would come in late in a close game as a pinch-runner and then play the outfield at the end of the inning. As time went on the club found he could play more of an everyday role and Nixon eventually went on to a solid mlb career.

Guys like Nixon, Webster and Casey Candaele owed a lot of their success to Rodgers. I bet many big league managers would have looked at pedigree and then performance, but Rodgers had a bunch of lunch bag characters on every team that played for him.

Craig MacTavish was like that too. First round picks came and went (Riesen, Rita, Mikhnov, Niinimaki, Schremp) during his time as Oiler coach and never made a dent. In fact, if you were a 1st round pick there was a better chance to make MacT’s club if you’d had some hard knocks along the way (Daniel Cleary).

MacT’s strength–I believe–was in finding useful hockey players from the clay that arrived each training camp. Men like Fernando Pisani, Kyle Brodziak, Marty Reasoner, Toby Petersen.

Tom Renney’s bottom end forwards–the ones he selected at the beginning of the season–were a curious bunch. Colin Fraser was supposed to be a FO and PK option and the club wanted some muscle on that line so they kept Steve MacIntyre, JF Jacques and Zack Stortini. Ryan Jones would supply the energy and chip in some goals.

Halfway through the season, Stortini has been waived, Fraser is playing 4.5 EV minutes a night, JF Jacques treats the puck like a grenade and MacIntyre can’t get into games. Ryan Jones has played well enough to earn a contract for next season, but the rest have been passed by the callups like a house on the side of the road.

Coach Renney kept Liam Reddox today. My guess is he’s looking for a Reasoner, a Brodziak, a Mitch Webster. I think he may have found one.

Lots of talk today about the Stortini decision. He wasn’t close to being the worst player on the roster and I think he played well enough over the last few seasons to be given the benefit of the doubt today. It didn’t happen, and I don’t think we should overblow the transaction: this was a player who could be replaced and we know the coach had issues with his skill set.

Still, it’s impossible to argue he was the best candidate for the flush.

JF Jacques remains. Either there’s an ongoing injury issue or a lack of confidence or something, because based on performance he should be down the road today. Maybe it’s confidence; there was a time when Jacques looked like a solid big league prospect but that’s a distant bell.

Jacques popularity among the Oilers management group today is probably the same reason that got him drafted: hockey men can’t resist a combination of size and speed. If he could take a pass and make one, we’d be in business.

I think he’s still got back problems. They’re nursing him along. They see light at the end of the tunnel. No other answer is available.

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