Former Jay, Mariner, Diamondback, Dodger, Ray, Giant, Padre, Astro....I’m sure I’m missing someone, right Red Sox, Jose Cruz, Jr turns 45 today.
Jose was a good player but never became the star we figured he’d be. Considering we picked him up, from the Mariners, for a couple of middle reliever types, Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric, he did pretty well for us. He was a 30/30 guy in 2001, with 34 homers and 32 steals, then the next year he dropped to 18 homers and 7 steals.
With the Blue Jays he played 698 games, hit .250/.331/.462 with 122 home runs (good for 12th on our all-time list).
He had a decent eye at the plate, he took 102 walks, in 2003, with the Giants, but he never hit for as high an average as we expected and he never had the consistent power that we hoped would develop. Two seasons or 30+ homers and then back to the 18 to 20 level for the rest of his career as a full time player.
He had the blood lines, his father, Jose Cruz, was a great player for the Houston Astros, back in the Astrodome days.
Junior finished his career with 204 home runs, 624 RBI, 113 steals, and a .247/.337/.445 line. A pretty good , but not great, and we were expecting great.
Happy Birthday Jose.
There are a couple of other birthdays:
Curtis Thigpen turns 36 today. Thigpen was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft and was one in the long line of ‘catchers of the future’ who really didn’t turn out for us. He played 47 games, with a .238/.294/.287 line, in 2007 and then 10 games in 2008, for the Jays. He was picked up by the A’s in March of 2009 and released by them in April of 2010 and, as best I can tell, has been out of baseball since.
Willis Otanez turns 46 today. Otanez played 42 games for us in 1999, hitting .252/.307/.433 with 5 home runs. We picked him up off waivers from the Orioles at the end of May that year. He played third, first and DH in his 2 MLB season. I can’t say I have any real memory of him.
And Frank Viola turns 59 today. Frank played for the Jays in 1996, his last season in the MLB. He went 1-3 with a 7.71 ERA in 6 starts. Frank had a very good MLB career, playing 15 seasons, finishing with a 176-150 record in 421 games, 420 starts. He threw over 230 innings 9 times, which might be why he didn’t do wo well after his 30th birthday. He won the AL Cy Young in 1988 with the Twins, when he had a 24-7 record and a 2.64 ERA in 35 starts.
Happy Birthday to all three, hope you each have a good one.