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Today in Blue Jay History: Jays Trade Woody Williams For Joey Hamilton

Today is the anniversary of one of the poorer trades in Blue Jay history.

Joey Hamilton
Joey Hamilton
Getty Images

Back on December 12, 1998, the Jays traded Woody Williams (and Carlos Almarzar and Peter Tucci) to the Padres for Joey Hamilton. Not one of our better trades.

The guys we gave up:

  • Peter Tucci never made it to the majors, though he had pretty good number in the minors. In 1998, playing in A-ball at Dunedin and Double-A Knoxville, he hit .318/.376/.602 with 32 home runs, 112 RBI in 130 games. He was a corner outfielder.
  • Carlos Almanzar was a right handed reliever. For the Padres he pitched in 28 game 1999, posting a 7.47 ERA, but was far better in 2000, a 4.39 ERA, in 62 games, 69 innings, 25 walks, 56 strikeouts, but 12 home runs allowed. After that season he was traded to the Yankees for David Lee, another reliever, who pitched one season with the Padres, 3.70 ERA in 41 games. Almanzar
  • Woody Williams went on to have a pretty good career and is on the Hall of Fame ballot this year (not that he should get any votes). He pitched for the Padres for the next 2.5 seasons, going 30-28 in 79 starts with a 4.35 ERA. In August of 2001 he was traded to the Cardinals for Ray Lankford.

In return we got Joey Hamilton. Joey didn't do all that much for us. He was pretty awful. In 1999 he pitched in 22 games, 18 starts, going 7-8 with a 6.52 ERA. I'm not sure how you can get 7 wins with an ERA 6 and a half. The next season the Jays started him in Triple-A , and he missed some time with injuries, finally getting 6 starts at the end of the season, posting a 3.55 ERA. In 2001 Joey started the season in our rotation, and made 22 starts, with a 5.89, before we finally released him in early August.

Why did it take so long before we released him? Gord Ash signed him to a 3 year, $16.5 million contract, a fair bit of money for a 14-17 record, 5.83 ERA and 0 WAR.

Gord traded for him and signed him to the big contract on the recommendation of Dave Stewart, who we hired as assistant GM, after his playing days were over. Stewart had played with Joey and saw something in his eyes or some stupid thing like that, and figured he would be a star. It does explain why Stewart wasn't promoted to GM.

This one would rank near the top on the list of top bad trades in Blue Jay history, though, at the time of the trade, it didn't look that bad. Joey had averaged over 200 innings a season the 4 seasons, with the Padres, before the trade and had a 55-44 record with a 3.83 ERA with them.

On the other hand, the season before the trade, Joey led the NL in walks, and he never did strikeout many. Ash should have been able to see that a pitcher that had a 1.39 strikeout to walk ratio didn't suggest someone that would do well in the AL East.