Dave Winfield turns 70 today.
Winfield had a terrific 22 year MLB career, a Hall of Fame career And he had that one season with the Blue Jays.
In 1992, at age 40, Dave signed with the Jays as a free agent. We had a pretty good team, but we were short a DH, and Winfield filled that role and did a great job, hitting .290/.377/.491 with 26 home runs and 108 RBI. He was in an excellent spot to get RBIs. Devon White and Roberto Alomar hit one, two most of the season. They got on base, and Winfield hit cleanup all season. It didn’t hurt that Winfield hit .303/.419/.545 with runners in scoring position.
And he became a vocal leader on the team. In 1992, Jays’ fans were considered too quiet, sober, polite, and Winfield famously asked fans to make more noise. Minor Leaguer wrote about it here.
Winfield had a reputation of not playing well at playoff time. George Steinbrenner called him Mr. April, playing off Reggie Jackson’s nickname as Mr. October. He did have a rough time in the 1981 World Series, going just 1 for 22 in the Yankees’ 6 game loss to the Dodgers.
For us, he did better. In the ALCS, he hit .250/.357/.542 with 2 home runs in 6 games against the A’s. Then, in the World Series, against the Braves, he hit .227/.292/.273 with 3 RBI. And he got his one World Series ring.
Career Winfield hit .283/.353/.475, with 465 home runs in 2973 games. He was a good defensive right fielder and had good speed (he stole 223 bases). He was fun to watch.
Happy birthday Dave.
Darrin Fletcher turns 55 today.
Darrin was a catcher in the MLB for 14 seasons. He spent 5 of them with the Blue Jays (and 6 with the Expos).
He signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays before the 1998 season. In 1997 we had Benito Santiago as our catcher, and he hit .243/.279/.387, so we needed better.
Fletcher, a lefty batter, hit .276/.318/.434 with 61 home runs in 540 games with the Jays. His best season was in 2000 when he hit .320/.355/.514 with 20 home runs. The following season wasn’t as good. He hit .226/.274/.353 with 11 home runs. He played 45 games in 2002 and retired after the season.
Career, he hit .269/.318/.423 with 124 home runs in 1245 games.
He was considered a good bat/poor glove catcher. I’m not sure how fair that was, but he had a below-average arm. It is tough to judge if he worked well with his pitchers.
Fletcher did some analyst work on Jays’ TV broadcasts. I thought he did a good job, but we didn’t hear him do 150 games a year. So maybe I think of him more fondly because we didn’t listen to him enough to tired of him.
Happy Birthday, Darren.
Junior Felix turns 54 today.
Well, he turns 54ish. There are rumors that he was older than he said he was. Back in the day, you could get fake birth certificates reasonably easily in the Dominican. Of course, saying you are younger than you are, gives an advantage as a prospect. Saying you are 17, but having the body and ability of a 22-year-old makes you look like a much better prospect. You expect a 17-year-old to put on muscle, maybe gain speed/power. At 22, they don’t expect as much growth.
Some feel he might be as much as ten years older than he said he was.
So it might be his birthday, or it might not.
Junior was an outfield prospect with the Jays. We traded Jesse Barfield to the Yankees for Al Leiter at the end of April 1989, making room for Junior’s outfield.
In 1989 Junior hit .258/.315/.395 with 9 home runs (8 triples), 18 steals in 110 games playing primarily right field. The Jays made the playoffs, and Junior went 3 for 11 in our three-game series loss to the A’s.
In 1990 he hit .263/.328/.441 with 15 homers and 13 stole bases in 127 games. He was just 22 (or so we thought), and I figured we had an outfielder for years to come. I had high hopes for Felix. It’s funny how a player can become a favorite in such a short time.
After the season, the Jays traded Junior to the Angels with Luis Sojo for Devon White, Willie Fraser, and Marcus Moore. I remember not being pleased. White was 28 and, in 6 seasons with the Angels, he had hit .247/.295/.389. Even with his defense and speed, I didn’t see him as an upgrade. I was wrong.
Felix would play four more MLB seasons, hitting .266/.313/.408 with 31 home runs in 348 games. White would win two World Series rings. I think it is safe to say we won the trade.
Happy Birthday, Junior.