Raul Mondesi turns 52 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 in trade Mondesi from the Dodgers (with Pedro Borbon) in trade for Shawn Green.
The Green trade wasn’t something the Jays wanted to do, but Green demanded a trade when the team hired Cito Gaston as the hitting coach. Green didn’t get along with Cito when he first came up to the team, and Cito was the 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 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. He was making a lot of money, and we had three better outfielders (Shannon Stewart, Vernon Wells, and Jose Cruz). So it could have worked out better.
In Toronto, he hit .251/.328/.470 with 66 home runs in 320 games. Again, these are not horrible numbers, but considering Green hit .284/.375/.543 with 115 home runs in 481 games over those three seasons, the trade looked pretty bad.
Fortunately for the Blue Jays, at the end of July 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 T.V. 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 G.M. 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. Then, at the deadline of the 2004 season, they dumped him on the Diamondbacks. Raul would play for three 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 128 steals in 343 games to this point in his career.
And you likely know that Raul was elected mayor of San Cristóbal, in 2010 and was sentenced to eight years in prison for “corruption and mishandling of public funds in 2017.
Happy Birthday, Raul.
And former radio voice of the Blue Jays, Jerry Howarth turns 77 today.
Howarth joined the Blue Jays broadcast team in 1981, working with Tom Cheek for 23 years and then taking over as the main guy in 2004 when Cheek’s cancer made it too hard to do the games.
Jerry continued to do Jays’ games through the 2017 season.
One of the things that I appreciated about Jerry is he stopped using the Cleveland and Atlanta team names after getting a letter from a listener explaining why the terms were offensive.
36 years of calling Jays’ games is awe-inspiring.
Happy Birthday, Jerry. I hope it is a good one.