Munenori Kawasaki turns 40 today.
Kawasaki played with the Blue Jays for two seasons, plus a few games of a third. He hit .242/.326/.301 in 201 games. It added up to a 1.6 bWAR.
He also played a season for the Mariners and Cubs. And, of course, played 12 seasons in the Japan Pacific League.
Of course, it wasn’t his play that we loved. It was his personality.
He gave up, perhaps, the most famous post-game interview in Blue Jays history.
And, as always, was a fan favorite.
And he could dance.
I liked that he reminded me that baseball is entertainment. He was entertaining.
Happy Birthday, Munenori.
Jose Molina turns 46 today.
Molina was your basic good glove/bad bat type catcher.
He played 15 seasons in the majors, playing for five different teams. Two of the seasons, 2010 and 2011, were with the Jays. He played 112 games with the Jays, hitting .263/.323/.396 with 9 home runs, which isn’t bad. He hit better with the Jays than any other team, a 94 OPS+, when his career number was 64. Maybe it was Cito’s coaching.
Career, he hit .233/.282/.327 with 39 home runs in 947 games. He played for the Cubs, Angels, Yankees, Jays, and Rays. It was his glove that kept him in the game all those years. He threw out 37% of base stealers, and his pitchers talked highly of him. And his brothers Yadier and Bengie were also caught in the majors. Bengie (who I think lost out when handing out names) spent a second with the Jays.
Happy Birthday, Jose.
Nelson Liriano turns 57 today.
Nelson was a Blue Jay from 1987 until halfway through the 1990 season.
He played 37 games for us in his rookie season, hitting .241/.310/.342, and somehow he earned Rookie of the Year votes. Well, Rookie of the Year vote, he got one. He must have saved some Writer’s cat from a tree or something.
In 1988 he played 99 games, hitting .264/.297/.333. He played 132 games in 1989, plus 3 games in our ALCS loss to the A’s. In 1990 he played 50 games for us, and then, at the end of July, he was traded to the Twins for John Candelaria.
In total, for the Jays, he played 318 games, hit .251/.311/.345 with 11 home runs and 44 steals, good for a 2.2 bWAR.
After Toronto, he played for the Twins, Royals, Rockies, Pirates, Dodgers, and Rockies. In total, he played 11 seasons, hit .260/.324/.366 with 25 home runs, 26 triples (how many guys play 11 seasons and have more triples than homers?).
He was pretty much replacement level for his career. He was fairly average defensively and, well, somewhat less than average with the bat. But he played 823 games, so he had something that managers wanted.
We had a stretch of weak-hitting second basemen there for a while: Garth Iorg, Manny Lee, Nelson, which makes you understand why we traded for Roberto Alomar.
Happy birthday, Nelson.