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Happy Birthday Ted Lilly and Kevin Pillar

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Toronto Blue Jays’ starting pitcher Ted Lilly pitches agains Photo by Linda Cataffo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Ted Lilly turns 45 today.

Ted had a 15-year career, 3 of them with the Blue Jays. He came to the Jays, from the A’s, in trade for Bobby Kielty. As a Jay, Lilly went 37-34, with a 4.52 ERA in 89 games and a bWAR of 6.0. I think we won the trade.

Ted’s first year with the team, 2004, he went 12-10 with a 4.06 ERA in 32 starts and made the AL All-Star team. 2006 didn’t go quite as well, 10-11 with a 5.56 ERA in 25 starts, and just 126.1 innings. 2006 was back to his norm, 15-13 with a 4.31 ERA in 32 starts, 181.2 innings.

The moment that everyone remembers is his ‘fight’ with John Gibbons. August 21, 2006, after 2.1 innings and 7 earned runs, Gibby figured that Lilly been out there long enough. Managers are funny that way, you give up 7 runs in a couple of innings, and they think you should come out of the game. Our 8-0 lead turned into a 1-run game in a hurry (we ended up losing 12-10

Ted, on the other hand, figured he was just getting warmed up. Lilly had some words for his manager, first on the mound, and then had some more words when they got back to the dugout and still more words in the tunnel to the clubhouse. A moment later, trainer George Poulis (he’s was with the team for a long time) and several team members rushed down the tunnel to break up a fight.

Being fair to Ted, he was having a bad day, so he wouldn’t have been in a good mood, and was likely ready to yell at anyone, it just happened Gibby was there. I think these things talked about too much, really. I bet it happens more than we think, but this one happened in front of the camera.

Here is a video of Gibby and Lilly after.

Lilly had a pretty good career, 130-113 with a 4.14 ERA in 356 games, 331 starts in 13 seasons.

Happy birthday Ted.


Kevin Pillar turns 32 today.

Kevin is one of my favorite streak hitters ever. Kevin hit like either like Mike Trout (without the walks) or Mario Mendoza, and there was never an in between. If he could have found a middle ground, maybe keep the hot steaks, but find a way to mitigate the down times. Maybe be Mike Trout some days and Dexter Fowler the rest of the time.

The one thing that was consistent was his defense. He had no regard for his body. He never worried about the score. Close game or blow out he would run through walls or throw himself into the ground.

Anyway, he was a Blue Jay for 6 seasons, plus about a week. He came up in mid-August of 2013 (Melky Cabrera went down with an knee injury). In 2014, he was called up mid-May, but got banished back to the minors when he got angry when John Gibbons decided to pinch-hit for him on June 24th. One would imagine that a guy hitting .225/.220/.300 (you know things aren’t going well when your OBP is lower than your BA) wouldn’t have been surprised when a pinch hitter came in. Of course, it was Anthony Gose coming in to pinch hit for you would make you seriously question if baseball was really or you.

He was back up at the end of August, with a better attitude (at least outwardly) and a better bat. He hit .289/.333/.447 the rest of the way.

In 2015, he started the season as the left fielder, beside rookie center fielder, Dalton Pompey. By the end of the month, they had switch spots, and Dalton, hitting .203/.276/.354, as well taking his batting troubles into the outfield with him, had played his way back to Buffalo. Pillar, on the other hand, hit .272/.309/.380 in April and played some of the best outfield defense we had seen since Devon White. May didn’t go as well, he hit .225/.250/.351. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Kevin hit like that in April and Dalton had been ok. John Whittler said “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.”

Pillar kept the CF job until April 2nd of 2019, when he was traded to the Giant for three guys, the best of which turned out to be Derek Law (which shows how that trade went).

As a Jay, Kevin hit .260/.297/.396 in 695 games with 82 home run and a OPS+ of 86. But, with his defense, he ended up with a 8.2 bWAR.

Since the trade, Kevin has played for the Giants, Red Sox and Rockies, He’s hit .270/.302/.447. His defense isn’t what it was, though he can still make the highlight reel catches, but the power is nice to see.

He’s a free agent at the moment. There isn’t much or rumors about where he might land. I’d guess that the bigger name outfielders will likely sign first.

Happy Birthday Kevin. I hope it is a good one.