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Today in Baseball History

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A bad trade, and Yankees sign Jays free agent pitchers.

ALCS - Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Today in Blue Jays history:

9 Years ago:

A.J. Burnett, who had opted out of his Blue Jays contract, signed with the Yankees for 5 years and $82.5 million.

At the time, we thought it was a lot of money to spend on someone with his injury history. As it turned out, it wasn’t his injury history that the Yankees should have been worrying about, it was his inconsistency. He would pitch 98 games, over the next three seasons with the Yankees and put up a 34-35 record and a 4.79 ERA. He wouldn’t become a fan favorite in New York.

After the third season, the Yankees sent him (and a fair chunk of cash) to the Pirates, for two guys that we’d never here of again. In Pittsburgh he remembered how to pitch, going 35-28 with a 3.34 ERA in 87 starts over 3 seasons.

The deal did give me one of my favorite baseball memories: A Burnett/Halladay pitching duel, which the Jays won 5-1, back on May 12, 2009. Doc would pitch a complete game, allowing 5 hits. Burnett did pitch deep into the game too, going 7.2 but getting out pitched by our Ace.

We could have told the Yankees it wouldn’t turn out well:

19 Years ago:

Jays Trade for Joey Hamilton

Back in 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 numbers 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. 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. He finished his career with a 132-116 record and a 4.19 ERA in 424 games, 330 starts.

In return we got Joey Hamilton. 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 wasn’t someone that would do well in the AL East.

25 Years ago:

Yankees sign Jimmy Key as a free agent.

That was a sad thing, Key was a favorite of mine. He pitched for us for 9 seasons, putting up a 116-81 record and a 3.42 ERA in 317 games, 250 starts. He came in second in Cy Young voting in 1987.

The Yankees gave him a 4-year contract for about $17 million, a fair bit of money back then. He would get a third World Series ring with the Evil Empire, to go with the two he earned with the Jays. He would go 48-23 with a 3.68 ERA over the 4 seasons.

Key sits fourth on our all-time wins list and high up many of the other spots on pitcher leader board.