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Happy Birthday Dan Plesac

Dan Plesac

Former longtime MLB reliever and former two-term Blue Jays lefty Dan Plesac turns 62 today.

Plesac had an 18-year MLB career, pitching in 1064 games (all but 14 as a reliever). He finished with a 3.64 ERA and 158 saves. Dan spent five seasons as a closer for the Brewers at the start of his career. In 1989, he set a career-high with 33 saves and a career-low with a 2.35 ERA.

He didn’t get any Hall of Fame votes, but there should be some award for pitching in over 1000 games. Dan is number seventh all-time in games pitched. And if you asked me to list the top 20 or so in games pitched, I’d have gone days before I came up with Dan’s name, but then lefty relievers can pitch forever; four of the top seven on the list are southpaws. If you want to guess who the #1 guy is, use the comments. He’s a lefty, too.

He was a setup man or a LOOGY for most of his career. He played five seasons with the Jays from 1997 to 1999 and 2001 to 2002. He had a 4.21 ERA in 262 games with the Jays, with 6 saves. However, his first go was the interesting one or the trade that brought him to us.

On November 14, 1996, the Jays traded for Plesac, Carlos Garcia, and Orlando Merced from the Pirates. Going to Pittsburgh were Brandon Cromer, Jose Pett, Jose Silva, Mike Halper (none of whom turned out to be major leaguers), Abraham Nunez, and Craig Wilson (who did turn out to be major leaguers, good significant leaguers). In 1996, the Jays finished 74-88, good for 4th in the AL East, 18 games back. GM Gord Ash figured the way to jump that team into contention was to grab a rather average second baseman, a slightly above-average right fielder/first baseman, and a lefty reliever.

It didn’t work (surprise). In 1997, we finished 5th, 22 games back. Garcia didn’t turn out to be the second baseman we needed. He played 103 games and hit .200/.253/.309 with 3 home runs. Baseball Reference had him at a -2.0 WAR. It’s not the season you want just before becoming a free agent. After the season, he signed with the Angels and would play 25 more MLB games.

Orlando Merced would be better (it’s tough to be worse). In 98 games playing right field, he hit .266/.352/.413, good for a 2.5 bWAR. After the season, he signed with the Twins as a free agent. He’d play six more seasons.

Plesac didn’t want to come to the Jays and threatened not to report (can you imagine preferring Pittsburgh to Toronto?), but the team finally talked him into it. Perhaps someone explained that they would pay him a lot of money. Dan had two good seasons with us, pitching in 151 games, almost half of our games, putting up a 3.68 ERA in 100.1 innings, with 116 strikeouts and 35 walks. Unfortunately, he had a bad start to 1999, putting up an 8.34 ERA in 30 games with us, and we traded him for Tony Batista and John Frascatore (a much more successful trade).

He’d come back signing as a free agent before the 2001 season. He pitched in 63 games in 2001 with a 3.57 ERA. 2002 started well. He had a 3.38 ERA after 19 games, and then we traded him to the Phillies for Cliff Politte, a right-handed reliever. The guys going to the Pirates? As mentioned above, four of them didn’t make the majors. The other two:

Wilson played seven MLB seasons and hit .262/.353/.474 with 99 home runs in 698 games, for a total of 3.5 bWAR. He played corner outfield, first base, and catcher. Nunez played 12 MLB seasons, eight of them with the Pirates. He hit .242/.313/.314 in 1030 games, split evenly between third, short, and second.

It wasn’t a good trade, but then we didn’t trade away future Hall of Famers, so that’s a plus. It was one of those rather silly trades that never had a chance of working. And we moved prospects for players who wouldn’t move us up the standings even if they had their best possible seasons. We should have been rebuilding. Instead, we sent off seven prospects for two guys going into their free-agent seasons and a 35-year-old lefty reliever.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Dan. I hope it is a good one.

Former Blue Jays right-handed reliever John Frascatore turns 54 today. As mentioned, John came over from the Diamondbacks (along with Tony Batista) for Dan Plesac on June 12, 1999. John was a right-handed reliever.

He spent three seasons with the Jays, pitching in 105 games. He has a 10-5 record and a 4.42 ERA. After the 2001 season, he was out of baseball. In all, he pitched seven seasons in the majors. 274 games, 5 starts, 4.00 ERA. I remember him being a favourite of mine. In 1999, he had a 7-1 record with a 3.41 ERA, gotta love vultured wins) in just 33 appearances. We had a lousy team, and they used John in games we were losing.

Brad Cornett turns 55. You can be forgiven for not remembering him. He pitched in 14 games, split between 1994 and 1995, and had a 7.00 ERA in 36 innings.

Gary Allenson turns 67 today. He was a free-agent signing before the 1985 season. He played in 14 games, and we released him with a .118/.118/.147 batting line. That was the end of a seven-year career. He played for the Red Sox in his other six seasons. He hit .221/.307/.325 as a (mostly backup) catcher in his career. As you might have guessed by his batting line, he was a glove-first catcher.

Happy Birthday, Brad and Gary.