Rod Barajas turns 46 today.
Rod was with the Blue Jays for two seasons, 2008-2009, in the middle of a 14-year major league career.
In 2008 Rod was signed to be a backup to Gregg Zaun. Then three things happened all around the same time. The first was Zaun missed about three weeks with an injury. The second was that the Jays fired John Gibbons, and hired Cito Gaston. The third was Barajas hit a little hot streak.
Like many catchers, Barajas was a pretty streaky hitter. In May 2008, Rod hit .370/.424/.630. You can trust me that those numbers didn’t represent Rod’s actual abilities, but the streak came at a good time. Rod had a new manager, first impressions are a big deal, and he played every day for a stretch. So, he impressed Cito. That would have impressed anyone. In July, he hit .179/.188/.269, but by then, Cito liked him. Zaun wasn’t thrilled to lose his job when he was out with an injury.
Rod might have been the better choice anyway; he was an excellent defensive catcher. He threw out 34% of base stealers in each of his two seasons with the Jays. Roc was tough, good at blocking the plate, a good receiver. And he had occasional power. Zaun left after the season as a free agent.
Rod hit .237/.275/.406 in 229 games, over the two seasons, with 30 home runs, 120 RBI, 37 walks, and 137 strikeouts.
Rod played 14 years, hit .235/.284/.407 with 136 home runs and 480 RBI, playing for seven different teams.
Candy Maldonado turns 61 today.
Candy played three seasons for the Blue Jays. He came to us in trade from the Brewers, August 9th, 1991. We sent Bob Wishnevski and William Suero to Milwaukee. If you know who either of those two are, you are a better man than I. He played for us in 1992, our first World Series season. Then he left the team as a free agent. We signed him again at the start of the 1995 season.
The season that counts is 1992. Candy hit .272/.357/.462 with 20 home runs, 66 RBI in 137 games, playing mostly left field. He was never a terrific outfielder, but he did lead the AL in assists that year with 12. In the ALCS, he hit .273/.360/.545 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He wasn’t quite as great in the World Series, hitting .158/.238/.316 with 1 home run and 2 RBI, but we’ve forgiven because we won. That got him his one World Series ring.
I always liked Candy. He wasn’t great, but he had his moments. As a Jay, he hit .272/.363/.462 with 34 home runs and 119 RBI in 250 games. In a 15 year career, he hit .254/.322/.424 with 146 home runs, 618 RBI in 1410 games. He is a member of the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame and the Puerto Rico Hall of Fame.
Happy Birthday to both Rod Barajas and Candy Maldonado. I hope it is a good one.