22 Years Ago
January 14, 2001, the Blue Jays traded 37-year-old David Wells and Matt DeWitt to the White Sox for Mike Sirotka, Mike Williams, Kevin Beirne and Brian Simmons.
The only two that mattered were Wells and Sirotka.
DeWitt and Williams were traded back for each other before the season started. The Jays released DeWitt after the season. He had a 3.79 ERA, with 22 hits and 10 walks in 19 relief innings for the Jays in 2001. Williams never did make it to the majors.
Beirne pitched 7 innings, with a 12.86 ERA, for the Jays, and then we let him go after the season was over. Simmons was a good glove/no-bat outfielder, hitting .179/.239/.280, with 2 home runs and 8 RBI, in 60 games, mainly as a defensive replacement. The White Sox took him back after the season as a waiver claim.
Sirotka was the guy Gord Ash wanted. He was a 29-year-old left-handed pitcher who won 40 games the three seasons before the trade and went 15-10 with a 3.79 ERA, with 69 walks and 128 strikeouts, in 197 innings in 2000. That strikeout rate should have been Ash’s first clue.
When Sirotka got to spring training, the Jays discovered that he had a shoulder injury, a torn labrum (things you should check on before finalizing a trade is ‘Is the pitcher’s arm attached to his shoulder). So he went off to see Dr. James Andrews (who must have a yacht paid for by the Blue Jays). The Jays appealed to Bud Selig to overturn the trade since we received damaged goods. But Selig was good friends with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf:
”After careful consideration of all the information before me, I uphold the transaction and deny the Toronto club’s claim for relief,” Selig said. “Although there is a dispute about whether certain facts about Sirotka’s condition were disclosed before the clubs agreed to the trade, the Toronto club talked directly to Sirotka about his health on the day of the trade and believed it had the opportunity to make the trade conditional,” Selig said. “The Blue Jays never elected to do so.”
Gord Ash should have been more careful. Instead, we paid $6.8 million over the next two seasons for a pitcher who never threw a ball for us. There had been some hope that Sirotka would be the piece we needed to get ourselves back into the playoffs. If it is any consolation, we finished 80-82, 3rd in the AL East. If he had pitched, we wouldn’t have been able to make up the 16 games we finished behind the Yankees.
Not that David Wells was great for the White Sox. He went 5-7 with a 4.47 ERA in 16 starts, missing a lot of time with back troubles. And the White Sox paid him $9.25 million for those 5 wins, so it was cheaper for the Jays to pay Sirotka not to pitch. After the season, Wells signed with the Yankees as a free agent.
Gord Ash didn’t have a terrific track record as Blue Jays GM, but this trade might have been about the last straw for the Jays. They fired him after the 2001 season.
It seems like forever ago.