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Happy Birthday Raul Mondesi

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox

Raul Mondesi turns 50 today.

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

We picked up Mondesi in trade from the Dodgers (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 the 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. Green also wanted to be closer to his home in California and was likely to leave when he made it to free agency.

It wasn’t a good trade for the Jays.

Gord Ash felt that Mondesi’s numbers would improve since Rogers Centre is a much better hitter’s park than Dodgers Stadium. 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 three 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 Green hit .284/.375/.543 with 115 home runs in 481 games over those three 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 Paul 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 has 113 steals in 308 games to this point in his career.

Happy Birthday, Raul.