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Happy Birthday Ted Lilly and Kevin Pillar

The Toronto Blue Jays took on the Detroit Tigers in the Jays Home Opener. Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Ted Lilly turns 48 today.

Ted had a 15-year career, 3 of them with the Blue Jays. He came to the Jays in trade for Bobby Kielty from the A’s. Lilly went 37-34 as a Jay, with a 4.52 ERA in 89 games and a bWAR of 6.0. I think we won the trade.

Ted’s first year with the team, 2004, he went 12-10 with a 4.06 ERA in 32 starts and made the AL All-Star team. 2006 didn’t go quite as well, 10-11 with a 5.56 ERA in 25 starts and just 126.1 innings. 2006 was back to his norm, 15-13 with a 4.31 ERA in 32 starts, 181.2 innings.

The moment that everyone remembers is his ‘fight’ with John Gibbons. August 21, 2006, after 2.1 innings and 7 earned runs, Gibby figured that Lilly had been out there long enough. Managers are funny that way; you give up 7 runs in a couple of innings, and they think you should come out of the game. Our 8-0 lead turned into a 1-run game in a hurry (we ended up losing 12-10

On the other hand, Ted figured he was just getting warmed up. Lilly had some words for his manager, first on the mound, then some more words when they got back to the dugout and still more words in the tunnel to the clubhouse. A moment later, trainer George Poulis and several team members rushed down the tunnel to break up a fight.

To be fair to Ted, he was having a bad day, so he wouldn’t have been in a good mood and was likely ready to yell at anyone. It just happened Gibby was there. These things are talked about too much. It happens more than we think, but this one happened in front of the camera.

Here is a video of Gibby and Lilly after:

Lilly had a pretty good career, 130-113 with a 4.14 ERA in 356 games, 331 starts in 13 seasons.

Happy birthday, Ted.

Kevin Pillar turns 35 today.

Kevin is one of my favourite streak hitters ever. Kevin hit like Mike Trout (without the walks) or Mario Mendoza, and there was never an in-between. If he could have found a middle ground, keep the hot steaks, but find a way to mitigate the downtimes, his career would be much better. Possibly be Mike Trout some days and Dexter Fowler the rest of the time.

One consistent thing was his defense. He had no regard for his body. He never worried about the score. He would run through walls or throw himself into the ground in a close game or blowout.

He was with the Blue Jays for six seasons, plus about a week. He came up mid-August 2013 (Melky Cabrera went down with a knee injury). In 2014, he was called up in mid-May but got banished back to the minors when he got angry when John Gibbons decided to pinch-hit for him on June 24. One could imagine a guy hitting .225/.220/.300 (you know things aren’t going well when your OBP is lower than your BA) wouldn’t have been surprised when a pinch hitter came in. But, of course, it was Anthony Gose coming in to pinch hit for you that would make you seriously question if baseball was really for you.

At the end of August, he returned with a better attitude (at least outwardly) and a better bat. He hit .289/.333/.447 the rest of the way.

In 2015, he started the season as the left fielder beside rookie center fielder Dalton Pompey. They had switched spots by the end of the month, and Dalton, hitting .203/.276/.354 and taking his batting troubles into the outfield with him, had played his way back to Buffalo. On the other hand, Pillar hit .272/.309/.380 in April and played some of the best outfield defense we had seen since Devon White. Unfortunately, May didn’t go as well. He hit .225/.250/.351. What would have happened if Kevin hit like that in April and Dalton had been okay?

Pillar kept the CF job until April 2, 2019, when he was traded to the Giant for three guys, the best of which was Derek Law (which shows how that trade went).

As a Jay, Kevin hit .260/.297/.396 in 695 games with 82 home runs and an OPS+ of 86. But, with his defence, he ended up with an 8.2 bWAR.

Since the trade, Kevin has played for the Giants, Red Sox, Rockies, Mets, Dodgers and Braves.

In his career, he has a .257/.294/.409 line with 106 home runs in 11 seasons and 1114 games. His defense isn’t what it was, though he can still make the highlight-reel catches. He only played four games in 2022.

He is a free agent at the moment.

Happy Birthday, Kevin. I hope it is a good one.

It is also Chris Michalak’s birthday. He is 53.

Michalak had a four-year MLB career; half of one of those seasons was with the Jays. He pitched in 24 games, making 18 starts, before being lost on waivers to the Rangers. He had a 6-7 record and a 4.62 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 49 walks in 115.0 innings.

Career, he was 10-15 with a 4.70 ERA in 61 games, 24 starts.

I’m sorry to say I don’t remember anything about Chris other than he was left-handed.

Happy Birthday, Chris.