43 Years Ago
Blue Jays shortstop Alfredo Griffin win the AL Rookie of the Year. Or co-Rookie of the Year, he and John Castino of the Twins tied in the voting.
Griffin hit .287/.333/.364 with 21 steals (16 times caught) in 153 games and had a 2.5 bWAR. It was a bit of a light year for AL Rookies. In the NL, Rick Sutcliffe won the award with a 17-10 record and a 3.46 ERA in 39 games, 30 starts and 242 innings.
Griffin would play eight seasons with the Jays, hitting .249/.280/.327 in 982 games. He’d have an 18-year MLB career, which is pretty decent for a guy with a 67 career OPS+.
25 Years Ago:
Jays signed lefty reliever Randy Myers to a 3-year, $18 million contract. It was a curious signing (curious is a nice way of saying stupid). In 1997 the Jays were 76-86, finishing in 5th place in the AL East, 22 games back from the Orioles. It seemed that a high-priced closer wasn’t the thing that might push them over the top.
But there were many other changes too. Darrin Fletcher was signed to catch, and we made a trade for Jose Cruz Jr. the season before.
We had a good 1998 season, going 88-74, finishing 3rd. Better but still well short of the playoff playoffs.
Randy? Well, he wasn’t great. By early August, he had a 4.46 ERA in 41 games (with 28 saves and just 5 blown saves).
This is where the story gets interesting. The Jays suddenly realized they were paying a ton of money for a reliever who wasn’t going to get them to the playoffs, who was 35 years old and who we would be paying for two more seasons. So Gord Ash put him on waivers. His going on waivers wasn’t surprising. Back in those days, most players ended up on waivers in August.
The Padres claimed him. They didn’t want him, but they didn’t want the Braves to get him. So they figured if they claimed him, The Blue Jays would pull him back, and they would have stopped him from getting to the Braves.
But Ash fooled them. He let the Padres have him and saved the team roughly $14 million over the next two seasons and two months.
Myers had a rough time over the last two months of the 1998 season, putting up a 6.28 ERA (with no saves) in 21 games. He wouldn’t pinch in the majors again, and the Padres would pay him for the next two years.
Randy had a 14-year career, 347 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 728 games. He was a good pitcher. We just bought in at the wrong point in his career.
17 Years Ago
We signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez (our second shortstop named Alex Gonzalez) to a 1-year $2.5 million contract, with an option for a second year. I wasn’t thrilled. I didn’t see him being a big upgrade from John McDonald.
Alex had a nice start to the 2010 season. He was hitting .259/.298/.447, with 17 home runs, when we traded him, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky to the Braves for Yunel Escobar and Jo-Jo Reyes.
Jo-Jo wasn’t great. He had a 5.40 ERA and a 5-8 record in 20 starts before we gave him to the Orioles off waivers.
Escobar? Well, he was more complicated. He hit .272/.335/.373 in 338 games over three seasons with the Jays. He played decent defense.
And then he....well, you know the story, wrote something foolish on his eye black, made a less than convincing apology and was traded off to the Marlins in a huge trade. We sent him, Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis and Justin Nicolino to Florida for Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes.
Yunel was flipped to the Rays. He played there two seasons, spent one with the Nationals and the last two with the Angels. After leaving the Jays, he hit .282/.345/.382 in 650 games.