On Friday, Ashby resigned from his position with Sportsnet The Fan-590 in order to take a television analyst and play-by-play position for the Houston Astros. Ashby and his family make their home in Houston, where the former Major League catcher spent 11 seasons as a player and was voted as the starting catcher on the team’s All-Time 25-Man Roster last year.
“I feel blessed and fortunate to be able to come home, giving my wife and me a chance to live at home now and work here in Houston,” Ashby said in a telephone interview.
“But – and the ‘but’ is huge – my six years in Toronto were absolutely the best, and I appreciate everybody, all the fans, everybody I was associated with at the ballpark. It was just the greatest experience.”
The attention in Toronto now turns to finding a replacement for Ashby. As of this writing, there are no current candidates for the position, although three candidates could be seen as fan favorites to take over the role.
The former Blue Jays catcher has worked for Sportsnet as a studio analyst since his retirement following the 2011 season. He has a solid fan following and would instantly add some color to the broadcasts. That said, Zaun is also somewhat polarizing and controversial at times, so giving him a live microphone may not be in Sportsnet’s best interest.
Hayhurst is perhaps the perfect choice for radio. He has a quirky personality and has identified well with fans, through his radio appearances on both TSN Radio 1050 and Sportsnet 590, as well as on Twitter where he has amassed 20,000 followers.
Wilner currently hosts JaysTalk on Fan 590 and like Hayhurst, has a dedicated Twitter following of 21,000 fans. While he is a solid insider for the Blue Jays, he is most famous for an argument with then-manager Cito Gaston in 2010. The disagreement lead to Wilner being suspended temporarily and a subsequent protest against media censorship by the Toronto chapter of the BBWAA. For that alone, Wilner may be a great addition, simply because he will not pull any punches.