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Happy Birthday Mike Sirotka

Mike Sirotka poses for a studio portrait.

Mike Sirotka turns 49 today.

If we ever make a list of ‘worst trades in Blue Jays history’, the David Wells for Mike Sirotka deal will be on the list, not that the White Sox got much out of it. You likely know the story, Mike Sirotka was a left-handed starter for the White Sox. From 1998 to 2000 he won 40 games for them. He had his best season in 2000 with a 15-10 record, 3.79 ERA. He didn’t strikeout a lot of guys, 5.8 per 9, but only walked 1.86.

That off-season the Jays traded David Wells (and Mike DeWitt, who we got back in a trade two months later) for Sirotka and three guys that didn’t do much in the majors (outfielder Brian Simmons did play 60 games for us, batting a big .178). Wells won 37 games the two previous seasons for the Jays, but he was turning 38, was rather large, and was a pain in the butt. Trading him for a younger lefty seemed like a good idea at the time.

Sirotka, it turned out, had a damaged shoulder, and never pitched again in the majors. The Jays tried to get Bud Selig to undo the trade or make the White Sox give them another player, but Bud ruled for the White Sox. I thought that teams did physicals on players they are thinking of picking up in trade, I don’t know if the Jays did this time. It wasn’t like Wells was great for the Sox, he only made 16 starts the next year, going 5-7 with a 4.47 ERA. After that season, he signed with the Yankees as a free agent.

It wasn’t an excellent trade for either team, but the Jays had to pay Sirotka $6.8 million over the next years, which was $2.45 million less than what Wells got in 2001 from the White Sox. So even though it isn’t exactly something that wouldn’t be at the top of Gord Ash’s resume, it saved us some money.

Sirotka would never pitch in the majors again.

None of this was Sirotka’s fault, so Happy Birthday Mike. I hope it is a good one.