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Happy Birthday Raul Mondesi

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox

Raul Mondesi turns 49 today.

Raul had a 13-year MLB career, spent mostly with the Dodgers, but he spent 2 and a half seasons with the Blue Jays.

We picked up Mondesi in trade from the Dodgers (along with Pedro Borbon) in trade for Shawn Green.

The Green trade wasn’t one that the Jays wanted to do, but Green demanded a trade when the team hired Cito Gaston to be hitting coach. Green didn’t get along with Cito when he first came up to the team and Cito was manager. Cito liked players to pull the ball and Green preferred to hit to all fields. They clashed a bit, you can read about it in Green’s autobiography. It really wasn’t a good trade for the Jays.

Gord Ash felt that Mondesi’s numbers would improve with the move from the rather large Dodgers Stadium to the far more batter friendly Skydome. It didn’t happen. And Raul wasn’t happy about being in Toronto. Add in that he was making a lot of money and we had 3 better outfielders (Shannon Stewart, Vernon Wells and Jose Cruz) it didn’t work out all that well.

In his time in Toronto he hit .251/.328/.470 with 66 home runs in 320 games. Not horrible numbers but considering Shawn Green hit .284/.375/.543 with 115 home runs in 481 games over those 3 seasons, it made the trade look pretty bad.

Fortunately for the Blue Jays, at the end of July of 2003 George Steinbrenner decided he wanted Mondesi:

As Godfrey tells it, the Yankees were struggling with injuries to their outfield at the time and a play one day led a TV announcer to wonder why Steinbrenner was doing nothing with Mondesi on the market.

”Within minutes of that happening, (Yankees president) Randy Levine calls me and said, he wanted to make a deal for an outfielder,” said Godfrey. “I didn’t think it was Mondesi because we asked everybody about him. So I say, ‘Why isn’t (GM Brian) Cashman dealing with (Jays GM J.P.) Ricciardi?’

”And Randy yells, ‘George doesn’t want those two guys involved, they’ll never get a God damn deal done, I’m on instructions from George to get this God damn deal done now.’”

So Godfrey asked for five minutes, called Ricciardi and explained that he had to do the deal with Levine (to which Ricciardi replied, “I don’t care, get rid of Mondesi immediately”), got a list of prospects to ask for, and eventually settled with Levine on pitcher Scott Wiggins in return.

The Jays sent $6 million along to New York in the deal.

Raul would play a season and a half for the Yankees, he hit .250/.323/.453 with 27 home runs in 169 games. At the deadline of the 2004 season they dumped him on the Diamondbacks. Raul would play for 3 more teams before being out of baseball after the 2005 season.

Career Raul had a .273/.331/.485 batting line with 271 home runs, in 1525 games.

Since leaving baseball, Raul became mayor of San Cristóbal and was sentenced to 8 years in jail for “corruption and mishandling public funds” while mayor.

His son, Adalberto Mondesi, plays for the Royals. He’s not a slugger, like his dad was, but a speedster. He had 43 steals in 102 games last season.

Happy Birthday Raul.