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Happy Birthday Rod Barajas and Candy Maldonado

Candy Maldonado
Candy Maldonado

It is Rod Barajas and Candy Maldonado's birthday today.

Rod Barajas turns 38 today.

Rod was a Blue Jay for two seasons, 2008-2009, in the middle of a 14 year major league career.

In 2008 Rod was signed to be a backup to Gregg Zaun. Three things happened all around the same time. The one was Zaun missed about 3 weeks with an injury. The second thing was that John Gibbons was fired and Cito Gaston was hired. The third was Barajas hit a little hot streak.

Like many catchers, Barajas was pretty streaky hitter. In May 2008, Rod hit .370/.424/.630. You can trust me that those numbers didn't represent Rod's true abilities, but the streak came at a good time, Rod had a new manager, first impressions are a big deal, and he got to play everyday for a stretch. So, he impressed Cito. That would have impressed anyone. In July he hit .179/.188/.269, but by then Cito liked him. Zaun wasn't thrilled to lose his job because of an injury.

Rod might have been the better choice anyway, he was a good defensive catcher. He threw out 34% of base stealers in each of his two seasons with the Jays. He was tough, good at blocking the plate, a good receiver. And he had occasional power. Zaun left after the season, as a free agent.

Rod hit .237/.275/.406 in 229 games, over the two seasons, with 30 home runs, 120 RBI, 37 walks and 137. What does it say about this season that I look at those numbers and I think of this season and say 'if only Rod was our catcher now'.

Rod played 14 years, hit .235/.284/.407 with 136 home runs and 480 RBI, playing for 7 different teams.

Candy Maldonado turns 53 today.

Candy played 3 seasons for the Blue Jays. We traded for him, from the Brewers, August 9th, 1991.  He played for us 1992, our first World Series season. Then he left the team as a free agent. We signed him again at the start of the 1995 season.

The season that counts is 1992. He hit .272/.357/.462 with 20 home runs, 66 RBI in 137 games, playing mostly left field. He was never a terrific outfielder but he did lead the AL in assists that year with 12.  In the ALCS he hit .273/.360/.545 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He wasn't quite as great in the World Series, hitting .158/.238/.316 with 1 home run and 2 RBI, but we've forgive because we won. That got him his one World Series ring.

I always liked Candy. He wasn't great but he was a right-handed power hitting outfielder. In his time as a Jay, he hit .272/.363/.462 with 34 home runs and 119 RBI in 250 game.  In a 15 year career he hit .254/.322/.424 with 146 home runs, 618 RBI in 1410 games. He is a member of the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame and the Puerto Rico Hall of Fame.

Happy Birthday to both Rod Barajas and Candy Maldonado. Hope it is a good one.