Photo credit: Trey Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Trade deadline day felt a great deal like watching overwrought undergrads turn in their final papers with only a few minutes to spare. For a long time there was mostly frustrating radio silence, the only sound the constant click of our Twitter feeds being endlessly refreshed. Then, all of a sudden, there was a dizzying frenzy of activity, making it hard to keep track of the overall who and what of the day’s acquisitions.
When the smoke cleared, I was really hungry, and the Jays were decidedly better off than they were the day before. Though for a moment it looked like we’d come up empty, those who hoped for a few reasonably good arms (with not too much handed over in return) got their wish. We said a solemn goodbye to Hutchinson and Chavez, and took stock of our new additions.
One of our rather pleasant and promising acquisitions was Scott Feldman, a 33-year-old Hawaiian-born RHP who, with a 2.90 ERA going into last night, has been having a rather solid season with the Astros. Monday, as Toronto faced Houston in what was the first of a four game series, Feldman needed only to walk from one clubhouse to the other to complete the down-to-the-wire trade. And when that first exhausting game reached its 14th inning (I don’t know about you but I am so over extra innings and sleep deprivation,) Feldman was cruelly called to the mound to face Astros hitters that were his teammates only a few hours earlier.
Given the circumstances, I’m more than sure we can find it in our hearts to forgive him for giving up that awkward walk off double.
If you believe the sound bites, Feldman seems pretty enthused to join the currently-one-game-out-of-first-place Jays and to be cheered on by our rejuvenated fan base. Feldman, who is no stranger to the trade, has also played for the Rangers, Cubs, and Orioles in his eleven years as a major leaguer, and as a result notes that there are some familiar faces waiting for him with Toronto. (Benoit, Dickey, Smoak, and Barney have all been past teammates.) As Feldman himself puts it, he sees himself in a “utility pitcher role, if there is such a thing”—he can be a starter and he can be in the pen, and likes to be prepared for whatever ask may come his way. That’s likely to come in handy given some of the Jays widely debated pitching uncertainty.
So what else do you need to know about Scott Wynne Feldman beyond his buoying stats, initial optimism, and admirable flexibility? I did my usual internet deep dive to uncover what limited factoids were available on the swingman in question. At an incredible 6’7”, the College of San Mateo graduate is the third tallest pitcher in Astros history, and apparently was on the tall side even from a very young age. According to Scott’s parents, an elementary school teacher once made an Alice in Wonderland comparison when he failed to fit properly into his grade two desk.
Because of Feldman’s connection to California, he has in the past said that his favourite teams are the Giants and the 49ers, and that a career highlight was pitching against San Francisco with his family in the stands. In 2003, he had reconstructive elbow surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament (the very same ligament that Dickey is missing, by the way.) Six years later Feldman went on to be named Rangers pitcher of the year, and in 2014 received the “Darryl Kile Good Guy Award,” an annual honour voted on by Baseball Writers Association of America members, and given to an Astro or Cardinal who best exemplifies traits of “a good teammate, a great friend, a fine father, and a humble man.” Hunter Pence is also a notable winner. (Hey, I’m a real fan of acquiring players who also seem to be genuinely good-natured guys, so that detail is one I’m particularly fond of.)
One of forty-one players born in Hawaii to make it to the major leagues, and with Kevin Pillar, one of nine current Jewish MLB players, Feldman grew up in the Bay Area, where as a teen he pitched a no-hitter for the Burlingame High School team. Like many a baseball narrative, Feldman’s father—an FBI agent who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006 and recently passed away in 2014—was his very first tireless baseball supporter.
“He was my coach from the time I was four years old until I was 11 or 12,” Feldman told MLB.com of his dad in 2008. “When I was little, he was always playing baseball and stuff with me. We lived right across the street from a park next to my elementary school and when he would come home, I would be all over him to hit me fly balls or throw me batting practice. If he couldn’t do it, I’d go find one of my buddies, but whenever he was around, he would go over there for me.” It’s worth noting that the week of his father’s death, after missing a series in Toronto, Feldman pitched a seven scoreless gem against the Texas Rangers.
Most fans will enthusiastically agree that Feldman represents a nice bullpen upgrade from Jesse Chavez, and the fact that he can both start and relieve is a flexible feature that may come in handy in the coming months. As much as I’m loath to quote Greg Zaun on anything, I will concede that, “it’s almost like they’re adding two players.” Whether you approach this via baseball stats or via baseball feelings, Feldman feels like a genuinely good get.
And when asked by Sportsnet about his future with the Jays, Feldman was clear. “I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.