February is creeping along and I’ve still got 13 of these to do. I’m going to have to pick up the pace a little bit!!!
Let’s go north of the border and take a look at the Toronto Blue Jays.
For a while the Blue Jays were the model franchise, producing quality player after quality player and being the only team not called the New York Yankees to win back to back World Series titles in the Free Agency era.
The October games have ended but the Blue Jays have had winning seasons each of the last three years. And they are trying to hold together a nucleus of players to maybe pull off what the Rays did last year.
They brought back Cito Gaston!
Now they need to bring back their old bad ass hats!
As always the rules for the rosters can be found here.
Bring your passport because we are doing a list on international soil!!!
ALL TIME HOME GROWN BLUE JAYS TEAM
He played until he was 42 years old and never was an All Star nor a Gold Glover. But he will always be a hero in Toronto for outshining all of the All Stars and future Hall of Famers on the Blue Jays and Braves during the 1992 World Series.
Borders already had a solid ALCS against the A’s in ’92, going 2 for 2 and driving in a run during the Game 6 clincher. But he saved his best for the Series.
He homered off of Tom Glavine in game 4, giving the Blue Jays the lead for good and singled doubled and was intentionally walked in the Game 6 clincher. He finished with a .450 average and a 1.250 OPS and was named World Series MVP.
I actually had to look up to see if Borders was still playing. I remember he played for the Twins in the 2004 Division Series and I remember thinking “Wait, is that the same guy?”
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
Delgado just missed the World Series party. He was a September call up in 1993 and wasn’t on the post season roster. As a left fielder, he made the team in 1994 and terrorized big league pitching. He homered his first two games in ’94. By April 19, he had 8 homers and a 1.123 OPS and looked like the next Blue Jays star.
Pitchers figured him out and by early June he was batting .215 and was sent down to the minors. I thought he was a classic flash in the pan, especially when he didn’t fare well in 1995 either. Well he made an adjustment… and became a 25 homer slugger.
Then a 30 homer slugger… then a 44 homer MVP candidate. He’s been one of the steadiest sluggers in the game, keeping his home run production in the mid 30s, even after testing! Twice finished in the top 5 for AL MVP while with the Blue Jays and would regularly collect 100+ walks.
Safe to say that Delgado, one of the league’s really good guys, figured the pitchers out!
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
As of this writing, Hudson is still unemployed. Odd isn’t it? He earned his first Gold Glove while with the Blue Jays, has good pop.
According to his website he doesn’t like the water and won’t go near it unless he’s in a boat… which means he is the Amity Chief of Police Martin Brody of Major League Baseball.
If you don’t understand that reference, then please watch Jaws again.
There was a lot of debate in 1987 about who was the MVP of the American League. George Bell won but several thought Alan Trammell, whose Tigers caught and passed the Blue Jays in the last week of the season, deserved it.
Still others argued that Tony Fernandez, who didn’t have Bell’s gaudy offensive numbers, was actually the Blue Jays’ MVP. His .322 average and .805 OPS in the #3 hole were impressive as was his dazzling defense.
When he went down to an injury on September 24th, the Blue Jays had a 1 ½ game lead with 9 games to play. Fernandez didn’t return and the Jays lost their last 7 games, including a 3 game sweep by the Tigers.
He must have been pretty valuable!
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
The 1992 Braves seemed like a team possessed. After their heart stopping (and for Pirate fans devastating) NLCS win capped with the Francisco Cabrera single, they seemed poised to win the World Series they narrowly lost in 1991.
Already up 1 game to 0, they had a lead with newly acquired Jeff Reardon ready to close out game 2. With one out, Derek Bell walked and second year reserve catcher and third baseman Ed Sprague came up as a pinch hitter. He slugged a two run homer that game the Blue Jays the lead and sent the series to Canada tied 1-1.
That homer will never get the credit it deserves for being a clutch classic shot… but make no mistake. It was. If the Braves went up 2-0, they were winning the World Series. The entire aura of the Bobby Cox Braves would have changed instantly and the Blue Jays would have gone into 1993 still in search of a World Series title.
Sprague, who went on to have a good All Star career and win another ring in ’93, changed the complexion of the series with one swing.
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
Looking up Shannon Stewart on the internet can be hazardous to a married man like myself. Most of the times when you punch in the name of a baseball player it doesn’t bring up a Playboy Playmate.
Miss April was never named “Harmon Killebrew.”
But I typed in Shannon Stewart and got a clip from No Boys Allowed 4.
I’m lucky my wife didn’t look over my shoulder at that moment.
“Honey! Honestly, I was looking up info on the other Shannon Stewart! The steady leadoff hitter for the Blue Jays in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The guy who stole 51 bases in 1998 and hit over .300 every year from 1999 to 2003. I swear I wasn’t watching No Boys Allowed 4!”
Besides, I haven’t seen the first 3. I wouldn’t be able to follow the plot.
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
If the Blue Jays are going to be a successful team in the AL East any time soon, they are going to do it with Vernon Wells. He had several All Star seasons, including three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger award and the former 5th overall pick in the 1997 draft looked like he was becoming MVP material.
Instead of letting him skedaddle or even sniff Free Agency, the Blue Jays locked him up to a 7 year contract that would keep him in Toronto until 2013. He rewarded the Blue Jays with the worst season of his career.
But he rebounded with a good 2008 and the home grown Wells will be the key to bringing Toronto back to glory. That and getting rid of those awful new hats.
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
How did Jesse Barfield only get two Gold Gloves? I guess they are called Gold Gloves and not Gold Arms… but COME ON! He was a force to be reckoned with defensively. Who would be crazy enough to run from first to third on a hit to right field with Barfield out there?
Oh he could hit too, winning the 1986 Home Run crown. But apart from Dwight Evans in his prime, nobody played right field and put fear into the baserunners quite like Jesse Barfield.
STARTING DESIGNATED HITTER
When the Blue Jays seemed like they were on the cusp of being a playoff team in the late 1990s, Green and Carlos Delgado had a wonderful “anything you can do, I can do better” friendly rivalry on the club.
Green blossomed into a 30 and then a 40 home run threat. In 1999 he won the Gold Glove, the Silver Slugger, crushed 42 homers and led the AL with 87 extra base hits.
He then left for Los Angeles but reunited with Delgado with the 2006 Mets.
He was a 15 homer a year guy until 1998 when he suddenly became a 30 homer a year guy. He had a new teammate named Jose Canseco that year. Those are just two facts and all I’ll say on the subject.
THE STARTING ROTATION
Have you looked at Roy Halladay’s stats? He’s played 10+ seasons for the Jays and has been pretty damn good.
The 5 time All Star already has a Cy Young on his mantle and three more top 5 finishes. He led the league in wins in 2003, three times led the AL in innings pitched, twice had the best strikeout to walk ratio, is always among the league leaders in strikeouts, ERA, WHIP…
In other words he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball by whatever standard you use.
And if he keeps this level up for the next five seasons… it might be time to start talking about the Hall of Fame.
Is Dave Steib one of the most underrated pitchers of all time?
Did he pitch in that era of stud aces that just didn’t put in enough ace seasons to get into the Hall of Fame?
Is he on the Bret Saberhagen/Fernando Valenzuela/Jack Morris/Doc Gooden/Orel Hershiser/Dave Stewart list of great pitchers who will always be on the outside of Cooperstown looking in?
Steib had 4 or 5 Cy Young worthy seasons, was a seven time All Star, once led the league in ERA, once led the league in shutouts, finally threw a no hitter after several near misses and consistently found himself among the league leaders in strikeouts. Not a Hall Famer perhaps, but there’s no shame in being called one of the best pitchers of his time!
Jimmy Key always was so quiet and unassuming that his terrific career always seemed to fly under the radar. He lost out on the Cy Young vote in 1987 to Roger Clemens and in 1994 to David Cone. In both years he had terrific enough numbers to earn the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year.
He consistently finished with a win total in the teens. He consistently kept his ERA in the 3’s. He consistently gave the Blue Jays 200 innings despite arm trouble.
And in the 1992 World Series he came up big first as a starter winning game 4 and then coming out of the bullpen to win the clinching game 6.
All the while pitching great without fanfare and under the radar. Even when he was with the Yankees where they hype up everyone… Key slips under the radar.
Just another quiet guy with two World Series rings and millions of dollars.
There is a site called Stock Twits that I swear isn’t paying me anything to plug them. Evidently it’s a community of people who talk about stocks and investments etc. One of their frequent contributors is former Blue Jays pitcher Todd Stottlemyre.
So if you want to find out what Mel Stottlemyre’s son, the one who won 15 games for the 1991 Division winners, the one who said Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell can kiss his a—after the 1993 World Series, thinks about stocks… then I have found the place for you!
When Jimmy Key, David Wells and David Cone all left the Blue Jays via free agency after the 1992 World Series and Jack Morris went down to injuries, you’d think the Blue Jays starting rotation would be a weak spot.
Pat Hentgen made sure that wasn’t the case. He filled in more than ably in 1993, winning 19 games and logged 216 1/3 innings, winning game 3 of the World Series for good measure. He was an All Star in 1993, 1994 and 1997 but had his best season in 1996. He won 20, was second in the league in ERA and led the AL in shutouts.
He beat out Andy Pettitte for the Cy Young and a lot of Yankee fans cried “the anti New York bias in the media.” You don’t hear about that much anymore.
Koch had that 100 MPH stuff that made scouts drool and teams spend their first round picks. He came out of the minors to have three straight 30 save seasons from 1999 to 2001 (including a 2000 season where he went 9-3 with 33 saves and a 2.63 ERA).
Like so many relievers, he flamed out and he pitched his last big league game in 2004, giving his best years to the Blue Jays.
Eichhorn was part of the Blue Jays’ insanely deep bullpen of the late 1980s. He won 14 games and saved 10 with a 1.72 ERA over 157 relief innings in 1986, earning him both Cy Young and Rookie of the Year votes.
At the end of the 1986 season, he was 5 innings shy of qualifying for the ERA title. He would not go out and throw 5 meaningless innings to clinch the title. I would have, but I’m a shallow person.
He continued his solid relief into 1987 and after some years in Atlanta and California came back to the Jays in time to pitch in the 1992 and 1993 World Series.
Most kids imagine hitting the game winning homer in the World Series and I did too. But I usually pretended to be a reliever coming out to clinch the World Series. The scenario would be an extra inning game with a team on the verge of clinching the Series. But the other team is rallying and the manager has run out of options and he needs to give the ball to an inexperienced middle reliever… Paul Sullivan.
Sullivan would get the last out and the team would rush the mound.
That’s what happened in 1992. In the 11th inning of game 6 Cito Gaston had to hand the ball to young Mike Timlin. He got Otis Nixon to end the World Series.
And I remember watching the game on my little TV in my NYU dorm room thinking “He lived out my scenario!”
It’s easy to forget that David Wells only pitched 4 seasons with the Yankees. Doesn’t it seem like he was there for a lot more years than that?
It’s also easy to forget that David Wells spent many many more seasons in a Toronto uniform. First he was an effective long reliever and spot starter. Then in the rotation became a 15 game winner for the 1991 Division champs before moving back to the bullpen in the 1992 World Series year. He pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings in the World Series.
After stops in Cincinnati, Detroit, Baltimore and of course the Yankees, Wells returned to the Blue Jays in the Roger Clemens trade where he won 17 and then 20 games before bolting once again.
Not that he was a choir boy in Toronto, but he never claimed to be drunk while throwing a perfect game there nor did he write a book alienating the team. Also he never had gout in Toronto nor was too fat to go two innings in a World Series game.
Escobar has had terrific success in his career as both a reliever and a starter… and back to relieving and back to starting.
He began as a solid reliever, getting the win in his debut on June 29, 1997.
After 14 appearances in the big leagues he had a 2-0 record with 10 saves and a 1.40 ERA. He finished the season with 14 saves.
After a few up and down seasons as a starter he went back to the pen and nailed down 38 saves for the 2002 Blue Jays before heading back to the rotation in 2003 where he won 13 games.
He missed the 2008 season with the Angels after a stellar 2007 campaign in the rotation. Maybe they’ll put him in the bullpen.
I’m not sure which Alex Gonzalez this is without looking it up.
I know he played in the 2003 NLCS, but was he the shortstop named Alex Gonzalez who played in the 2003 NLCS for the Marlins and eventually hit a walk off homer in the World Series?
Or is it the shortstop named Alex Gonzalez who played in the 2003 NLCS for the Cubs who made that critical and underrated error in the “Bartman inning?”
I’ll have to look it up.
It’s the guy who booted the ball on the Cubs!
He had power and speed for the Blue Jays in the mid 1990s but had the misfortune of playing in an era where people compared him to Jeter, Tejada, Garciaparra, A-Rod and Vizquel… not to mention Alex Gonzalez! The other one.
The emergence of Aaron Hill made Orlando Hudson tradable and the Blue Jays like what they see. He has some good speed, plays a good defensive second base and turns the double play well.
The Blue Jays rewarded his good play by giving him a 4 year contract extension before the 2008 season.
Naturally he got hurt and missed most of the season.
Moseby, along with Barfield and George Bell, was part of possibly the most talented outfield in the 1980s. Where Bell had the all around offensive numbers and Barfield had the power and the cannon for an arm, Moseby could do a little bit of everything.
He had pop, speed and was a tremendous defensive centerfielder (making up for Bell’s uninspired defense.)
His last game with the Blue Jays was game 5 of the 1989 ALCS. He homered in his last at bat against Dave Stewart.
The Blue Jays will go into 2009 with some super talented players including Halladay, Wells and Hill. But probably nobody has the all around talent of Alex Rios.
He has enough power to participate in the home run derby, is a 30 stolen baseman, bats in the high .290s and made a pair of All Star teams.
The Jays signed him to a multiyear extension. Hmmm… what are these Blue Jays up to?
If Ed Sprague didn’t move to third base, this would probably be his spot.
Instead I had to choose between Greg Myers and Randy Knorr.
Myers had a nice long career which started with 7 games on the 1987 Blue Jays, ended with 6 games on the 2005 Blue Jays and along the way was a solid back up and played in a pair of World Series.
At age 37 he had his best season with the Blue Jays, batting .307 with 15 homers in 121 games.
It’s not exactly the problem I had with the Yankees choosing between Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Bill Dickey, Jorge Posada and Thurman Munson.
Olerud went right up to the bigs after being drafted out of Washington State. And nobody can deny he had a terrific career.
He flirted with .400 in 1993 and won the batting title. He made Fred McGriff expendable and had some big post season hits. He won a pair of World Series rings, became an All Star and was as reliable a hitter as you could find in his 16 full seasons in the major leagues.
But I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the Blue Jays let him pitch.
He was an All American pitcher as well. Could he have been like Ruth and excelled at both?
We’ll never know will we?
That’s the home grown roster. I guess the best word to describe that team would be “not spectacular but steady.”
They’d be good defensively, their starters would eat up innings and David Wells would eat everything else.
So let’s take a look at the acquired team… a squad not exactly lacking in star power!
ALL TIME ACQUIRED BLUE JAYS TEAM
I’ve had some people criticize my criteria for home grown vs. acquired. Someone said that if a player was acquired through the expansion draft then they should considered home grown.
I don’t agree with that. A player picked in the expansion draft is by definition acquired from another team. Take Ernie Whitt for example. He’s possibly the best catcher in Blue Jays history. He was a beloved player who made the All Star team, was the regular catcher in Toronto for 10 years and homered in the 1989 ALCS.
But he made his debut with the Red Sox. He played in the majors with another team before becoming a Blue Jay. He was acquired.
Besides I can’t afford to have flexible “Home Grown/Acquired” rules. I have 30 of these to do, and after this one I still have 12. I need iron clad rules or I won’t be done before the All Star break!!!
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
One of these days I’ll write up a list of all the solid players the Yankees traded away in the 1970s and 1980s. McGriff would have been a terror in Yankee Stadium.
As it stands he was pretty dang good in Toronto! He led the league with 36 homers in 1989, the same year he had the AL’s top OPS.
I’ll get to that Yankee prospect list… let me finish one insanity first!
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
Dennis Eckersley was invincible in 1992. Oh he was good in each of the A’s pennant winning seasons of the 1980s and 1990. But his 1992 was the crowning achievement of his career. He would win the Cy Young and the MVP.
And in game 4 of the 1992 ALCS he was about to put a nice bow on the game. The A’s were going to tie the series up 2 games a piece… and they had Dave Stewart on the mound for game 5. No doubt the A’s were going back to Toronto where they would need just one win in two games to wrap up their 4th pennant in 5 seasons.
And the Blue Jays were going to once again going to lose the pennant.
The A’s were up 6-1 in the 8th, but the Blue Jays rallied. But Eckersley struck out Ed Sprague to stop the threat and he gave a fist pump in celebration.
In the 9th with the A’s still up by 2, Eck let Devon White single. No worries… Eck was super human and certainly was not going to cough up a lead. He was invincible after the Gibson homer.
And then Alomar stepped to the plate and homered… tying the game.
The Jays would win in the 11th and change the complexion of not only the series (Stewart was now needed to keep the series alive) but also the routes of the two franchises.
The A’s mini dynasty was over. The Blue Jays would go on to do what LaRussa’s A’s could not do: Win back to back World Series.
And it all turned with Alomar’s homer, one that I think is one of the most underappreciated homers of all time.
When Joe Carter’s homer ended the 1993 World Series, Griffin was on deck. With one out and two strikes on Carter, no doubt Mitch Williams thought if he could get past Carter, Griffin would be an easy final out there’d be a 7th game.
Well that didn’t happen of course and instead Griffin watched the ball leave the yard and ending his career (he retired after the series ended.)
He was a steady defensive shortstop who was Co-Rookie of the year for the 1979 Blue Jays after being acquired as a minor leaguer from Cleveland. He had 20 stolen base speed but mainly had a steady glove and it earned him a trip to the All Star game.
And who knows? Maybe if he faced Mitch Williams he could have come through!
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
One of the Kathy and Cathie sketches on Kids in the Hall had Kathy obsessing over Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber.
I often wondered what the former Gold Glove All Star who slugged a key homer in game 4 of the World Series thought about being the subject of affection of two comedians in drag.
I bet he thought it was funny.
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
The Blue Jays used that strange rule 5 draft to pick up a free swinging short tempered power hitter from the Dominican. As of this writing, he is the only Blue Jay to ever win the AL MVP. Now if he was indeed the MVP is up for discussion. Some thought Alan Trammell or Tony Fernandez deserved it.
But what is not debatable is how great a year he had. He led the league in RBI, was second in homers, had an OPS of .957 and had a flair for the dramatic.
Plus did YOU want to be the one to tell him he didn’t win the MVP?
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
I have argued for instant replay in baseball. I want the calls RIGHT! And during controversial plays, managers and umpires argue on the field slowing down the game… all the while everyone else on the planet has watched the play over and over again and know if the call had been blown.
It makes zero sense to me!
One such call that was blown was the amazing catch by Devon White in game 3 of the 1992 World Series.
There were no outs and no score in the 4th inning. Deion Sanders and Terry Pendleton were on base. The series was tied at 1. David Justice hit a long drive to center that Devon White caught, leaping, with his back to the plate.
Sanders saw the ball was caught but Pendleton didn’t. Pendleton ran past Sanders and was called out.
The relay came back into the infield and Kelly Gruber chased Sanders back to second.
EVERY SINGLE REPLAY showed that Gruber tagged Sanders to complete the second triple play (and first since 1920) in World Series history.
So of course he was called safe! And of course the call stood. The universe saw he was out, but we need that “human error” on the field.
Not that a tied game in a tied World Series is important or anything!
In the end the Blue Jays won in the bottom of the 9th… but imagine if Sanders scored on the next play.
Oh but we can not have instant replay. (Slapping forehead.)
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
I was rooting for the Phillies in the 1993 World Series so I was disappointed when Joe Carter hit that home run.
But over the years it has become one of my favorite clips to watch.
First of all Joe Carter seemed like such a likable guy.
Secondly he pulled off the childhood scenario of hitting the home run in the bottom of the 9th to win the World Series.
But most importantly, he understood it. His celebration around the bases was so sincere, such a celebration of “I Can’t Believe I Am Not Dreaming!” that unless you are a Phillies fan it becomes impossible not to smile when watching it.
It wasn’t choreographed. It was him jumping up and down, losing his helmet and realizing he has done something that will make him an immortal.
He gets it. He was a little kid.
STARTING DESIGNATED HITTER
I found the post 1993 World Series celebration to be fascinating to watch. Of course at first the attention was on Joe Carter who just hit the biggest home run in the World Series since Bill Mazeroski. (Yup, even bigger than Carlton Fisk’s, Reggie Jackson’s and Kirk Gibson’s.)
But then attention shifted, both with the players and the CBS cameras, to Molitor. He left Milwaukee to replace Dave Winfield and hopefully get a World Series ring. And he did everything they could ask from him.
He had an MVP caliber season (finishing second to Frank Thomas.)
He hit .391 with a 1.777 OPS in the ALCS.
In the World Series he played DH, 3B and 1B, hit .500 with a 1.571 OPS with 2 homers and was named MVP.
Each player took their turn hugging the teary eyed future Hall of Famer.
I also remember seldom used rookie outfielder Rob Butler hugging him tight and holding one arm up in the air. Molitor broke the hug off well before Butler was done.
I’m sure part of Molitor was thinking “Kid, I have Jack Morris, Tony Fernandez, Joe Carter, Alfredo Griffin, Dave Stewart and Rickey Henderson to hug. Let go!”
Can you blame him?
THE STARTING ROTATION
Guzman came up as a rookie in 1991 and lost his first two starts. He won his next start, and then his next.
And he won 10 decisions in a row and finished the season 10-3 and looked like an ace in the making. He became one of the most reliable pitchers for the 1992 and 1993 World Champs, and compliled a 5-0 record in 5 ALCS starts.
Also evidently was courted by teammates Kelly Gruber and David Wells to act in a disco movie they wanted to produce. Sadly that film was never made.
I would own the Criterion Collection DVD of it.
Red Sox GM Dan Duquette thought Roger Clemens was in the twilight of his career. He was in his mid 30s, and while he still put up impressive strikeout totals, he had gone through injury plagued seasons and was no longer a Cy Young contender. So why should he sign him to a long term contract?
Well, it’s safe to say this got Clemens all pumped up.
This gave him an injection of motivation.
It was the shot in the butt he needed.
He needed to enhance his performance by all means available.
He needed a boost to his numbers that just seemed almost unnatural.
And he gave Toronto some juicy numbers and two Cy Young seasons.
Nothing at all suspicious.
Stewart tormented the A’s in the 1989 and 1992 ALCS. He went 3-0 in four starts over those series… pitching into the 9th inning of the clinching game 5 in 1989 and throwing a series saving complete game victory in 1992.
So when the Jays suddenly had a hole in their pitching staff after the 1992 World Series, who better to fill it than the biggest big game pitcher in baseball?
His 12-8 record and 4.44 ERA were hardly up to his Cy Young caliber numbers and his best days were clearly behind him… but he turned it up in the playoffs. He won both of his starts against the White Sox in the ALCS, earning him his third post season MVP award. It’s a shame Stew wasn’t a dominating force earlier in his career. For a seven year period he was the man you wanted on the mound in October.
Evidently there is a character on Ghost Whisperer named Jim Clancy. I wonder if mentioning the former Blue Jays pitcher on this list will divert some Ghost Whisperer traffic to Sully Baseball.
Clancy was a super durable pitcher who consistently gave the Blue Jays 200 some odd innings. In 1982 he started 40 games, completed 11 and won 16 of them to be named to the AL All Star Team.
His win totals weren’t always sterling but he also had a ton of bad luck. In September 27th 1987 he started a critical game against the charging Tigers. He gave the Jays 7 shut out innings in a duel with Doyle Alexander. The Tigers tied the game in the 9th and Alexander pitched into the 11th and the Jays lost in 13. Tough no decision!
(Now that I think of it, I bet I would get more traffic if I mentioned The Ghost Whisperer and actually say Jennifer Love Hewitt. If I said she was nude, my traffic would go off the chart! But I won’t.)
Weren’t we just talking about Doyle Alexander?
Or were we talking about Jennifer Love Hewitt?
I almost put Jack Morris here. I’m a big Jack Morris fan and I think his arriving in Toronto and winning 20 games changed the expectations in Toronto for 1992. But truth be told he was no longer the dominating ace he was in Detroit and Minnesota and by 1993 he was dead weight.
Alexander had a much harder role. He was not a big time borderline Hall of Fame ace and the Blue Jays were not an established playoff team.
Alexander was cut by the Yankees and joined the Jays in 1983, their first ever winning season. And along with Dave Steib turned the Blue Jays into a potential contender. He won 17 games in 1984 and again in 1985. He haunted the Yankees by throwing a complete game 5 hitter against the Yankees to clinch the AL East on the second to last day of the season.
He then was traded twice, helping both the Blue Jays and Braves World Championships.
The Blue Jays dealt him to Atlanta and got Duane Ward.
The Braves dealt him to the Tigers and got John Smoltz.
There was something so unassuming about Tom Henke and so consistent that I think people took him for granted. How else could it be he was only selected to one All Star team as a Blue Jay while giving them amazing seasons year in and year out. Posting triple digit strikeout totals in less than 100 innings. Keeping his ERA in the 2’s and in 1989 under 2.
And in 1992, got Ruben Sierra to fly out and clinch the Jays’ first ever pennant.
He was never flashy and never got Hall of Fame consideration.
He was just super dependable… which isn’t bad in a bullpen closer.
There was a strange exodus of playoff heroes who left the Blue Jays after finally winning the World Series.
Jimmy Key, Kelly Gruber, Manny Lee, David Wells, David Cone, Dave Winfield, Candy Maldonado and Tom Henke all skedaddled.
The Blue Jays responded by winning it again in 1993. Duane Ward helped keep the Jays repeat by moving in seamlessly from the set up role to the closer role. He led the AL in saves and made the All Star team, clinching the pennant in Chicago.
He also had impeccable luck with decisions in the post season, getting 3 World Series wins including after the Joe Carter homer.
Injuries shut down his career and he only pitched 4 more big league games since the 1993World Series.
B. J. RYAN
For a while, B.J. Ryan was the highest paid reliever in baseball history. That surprised me that a player with as many post season appearances as me would reach the top of the pay chart.
But ever since he took over the closer role in Baltimore and then moved north to Toronto, Ryan showed great ability to close out games and use his slider against right handers.
And he had Tommy John surgery in 2007 but returned in time to pitch in the 2008 season.
For the record his name is Robert Victor Ryan Jr.
Shouldn’t his name be R. J. Ryan?
Or R. V. Ryan?
Quantrill, who was once a big Red Sox prospect, was one of those steady dependable relievers who never got many wins nor many saves. He just would come in, keep the other team off of the board and hand the ball off to the closer who would get the sexy saves.
In 2001, he pitched so well that nobody could ignore him. He won 11 games and was a surprise selection to the All Star Game.
He later would help the Red Sox win the 2004 pennant, but not in the way he would have hoped for. He let up David Ortiz’s walk off homer in game 4 of the ALCS.
When the Blue Jays dealt away Jesse Barfield to the Yankees in 1989, they thought they were getting a potential ace from the Yankees.
Leiter got hurt but the Jays showed some patience with him when he appeared in a total of 8 games over three seasons. In 1993 the patience paid off as Leiter became a reliable spot starter and reliever. He was the winning pitcher in game 1 of the 1993 World Series and smacked a double in game 4.
He rewarded the Blue Jays faith in him by signing with the Florida Marlins and is now hated by Blue Jays fans. Like THEY would turn down $2.7 million a year.
(That’s $2.7 million AMERICAN.)
My my my… another Yankee farm hand that flourished elsewhere. To be fair the Yankees did get Rick Cerone in the trade with the Blue Jays (and the Jays also got former star Chris Chambliss.) AND he probably wouldn’t have played much with the Yankees with Willie Randolph at second base.
Still, Garcia was a two time All Star and a Silver Slugger winner at second base.
I can’t think about that Yankee prospect list! I got too many of these Home Grown/Acquired rosters.
Now in looking back at his career, I see Manny Lee hit a key two run triple in game 3 of the 1992 ALCS against the A’s. I actually didn’t see this game. I was working on a student film that day at NYU, ergo I don’t have my photographic recall of the game.
According to baseball reference, the greatest website in the world, it was “Triple to 1B.”
Not a single and a two base error.
He his an infield triple.
Now Lee was fast, but I think Barry Allen would have trouble making it to third on an infield hit.
I’ve been looking up on line for stories or clips of the game. I’ve come up with gotch.
So Blue Jays fans, if you remember that event, please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org and fill me in.
Believe me it makes me sick to put Dave Winfield on the bench. Winfield is one of the most talented players I have EVER seen play… possibly one of the most talented players of all time. As I wrote in my Padres entry, he was drafted into the NBA, ABA and NFL. He’s a Hall of Famer with 3,000 hits, 400 home runs and seven Gold Gloves.
Plus in 1992, his lone season with the Blue Jays, he batted .290, hit 26 homers, had his final 100 RBI season and finished 5th in the MVP race.
And in the World Series, he smacked the two run double in the 11th inning of game 6 that gave the Blue Jays the lead and ultimately the World Series.
But who was I supposed to bench? I couldn’t bench Bell nor Carter in the corner outfield spots… and I couldn’t bench Molitor at DH.
So Mr. Winfield, I apologize profusely.
When Maldonado slumped through 1989 with the Giants and made a key error in the 1987 NLCS, he did not exactly become a fan favorite in Candlestick.
My friend Greg Lee called him “Candy I’ll Do Nada.”
Needless to say my Giants friends were not pleased when he became a 22 home run hitter with the Indians in 1990. He joined the Blue Jays in 1991 and continued some good hitting. He singled and homered in the Jays game 3 win in the 1992 ALCS and later homered in the Game 6 clincher. In the World Series he hit a walk off single to win game 3 and homered in game 6 which for a time gave the Blue Jays the lead.
Candy did a lot more than Nada for the Jays title run.
All Bengie Molina did for the Angels was be their catcher for their only World Series title and be a one man wrecking crew against the Yankees in the 2005 Division Series. The Angels didn’t bring him back and the Blue Jays picked him up.
He set a career high with 19 homers, continued his solid hitting with a .284 average and gave the Jays a steady force behind the plate.
He went 2-4 in his first game back in Anaheim.
I decided to put Upshaw in the 25th man spot over such possibilities as Jack Morris, Rance Mulliniks, Rickey Henderson or Bob Bailor.
Upshaw was yet another Rule 5 pick and once again a player the Blue Jays stole from the Yankees. He was their first MVP candidate, their first 100 RBI man and one of the key players in their first division title in 1985. And he singled and scored in the first rally in the first playoff game ever played in Toronto.
He got squeezed out of his job because of the emergence of Fred McGriff and Cecil Fielder, but as one of the players who helped lay down the ground work for better days, we salute Upshaw.
WHO WOULD WIN A HEAD TO HEAD SERIES?
The home grown team would be a steady and professional team, but there is so much firepower on the acquired club. Hell, Dave Winfield is off the bench!
VERDICT: THE ACQUIRED TEAM WINS… AND THERE IS ENOUGH TENSION WITH DAVE STEWART AND ROGER CLEMENS IN THE SAME CLUBHOUSE TO LIGHT THE SKYDOME
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NEXT ALL TIME HOME GROWN VS. ACQUIRED TEAM:
THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS