Thoughts on Balls
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I was talking with a friend yesterday about the Phillies and their amazing pitching rotation, headed by Clif Lee and Roy Halladay.  This inevitably got us talking about the Blue Jays (being Halladay fans, Toronto fans and both of us being Canadian).  My buddy said that losing Halladay was the biggest blow the Jays have experienced in our time (let's say the last 20 years).

Letting a perennial Cy Young candidate go for a "rebuilding" trade isn't that bad, especially given that we aren't going to win any time soon in the AL East.  It hurts, but I wouldn't really call it a big blow.  So what is the biggest blow to the Jays over the past 20 years?  In my eyes, it would be the promise of greatness that was never met.  I'm talking about two players in specific, both of whom started playing for the Jays at the same time.  After their rookie years, I was deluded into thinking we might have the cornerstones of the franchise.

I'm talking about Eric Hinske and Josh Phelps.  Hinske is widely known now as a utility player and journeyman with stops in Boston, NY, ATL and PIT to name a few.  Most people won't even know Josh Phelps.

Hinkse won Rookie Of The Year in 2002.  Here are his stats:

99 Runs, 38 Doubles, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 13 Steals, 77 Walks, .845 OPS and 119 OPS+

In 2002 Phelps only played the 2nd half of the season, showing up for 74 games.  He still managed to finish 6th in ROY voting, even with the winner being on the same team and playing half a year.  In those games:

41 Runs, 20 Doubles, 15 HR, 58 RBI, .309 AVG, .925 OPS, 138 OPS+

If you look at his first half year and his next full year, here are the full season averages:

98 Runs, 38 Doubles, 35 HR, 124 RBI, .866 OPS, 123 OPS+

These guys were rookies capable of playing 3B, 1B, C, DH and even some field if needed.  They were young and they could mash.  I mean are you kidding me?  I'd love for Elias to look up the stats and find me another team in the last 20 years that had 2 rookies with these stats in the same years.

Sadly, Phelps completely fell off the map.  He played 3 seasons with Toronto but couldn't keep up his torrid place and became a backup nobody after 4 seasons.  Hinske has had flashses of greatness and has had several clutch hits for various teams.  He is a respectable ball player, but is nowhere near the guy he was in his first few seasons with Toronto.

The failure of these two players to launch themselves into greatness is the biggest blow in my time as  Jays fan.  I don't ever remember being so excited by a team (other than the Championship teams) that we had.  I was sure we were going to become a great team once we got pieces to surround these budding stars.  Sadly, the "stars" never became stars and the pieces were few and far between.

With NY and Boston perennial big spenders and contenders, I fear that I won't be excited by a Jays team for years to come.

 

January 13, 2011  03:37 PM ET

Trading Michael Young for Esteban Loaiza still makes me singh the proverbial blues

January 13, 2011  05:05 PM ET

I agree Kasper. The Jays should be looking at teams like the Twins as a model to see how to remain competitive year-in year-out with the big boys.

Even with Halladay, the Jays were a 2nd tier team. There was no downside to trading him other than a slight drop-off in attendance for the games he would have pitched.

It takes a lot more than one elite pitcher to even make a dent. The Jays have another decade of struggles ahead.

Fortunately, it doesn't bother me much. I grew up an Expos fan.

January 13, 2011  08:26 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

The Jays have another decade of struggles ahead.Fortunately, it doesn't bother me much. I grew up an Expos fan.

Ha ha. Shall we talk some of the trades the Expos made? They have had some great talent, but let it all walk for little in return. Their moves hurt my brain.

January 14, 2011  08:33 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Ha ha. Shall we talk some of the trades the Expos made? They have had some great talent, but let it all walk for little in return. Their moves hurt my brain.

Yeah, that Randy Johnson for Mark Langston trade, really made the Expos contenders.

January 14, 2011  04:14 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Ha ha. Shall we talk some of the trades the Expos made? They have had some great talent, but let it all walk for little in return. Their moves hurt my brain.

It was soul crushing.
The Expos had the best farm teams and the best scouts. They'd find All-Star after All-star only to let them get stolen by other teams.
They had some of the most exciting teams in the 80s and 90s - with 5 guys at a time in the lineup that would steal bases.
Ugh - Yeah, lots of mismanagement --- combined with being in a city where most of the population is French and don't give a crap about any sports outside of hockey.
I liked their gear though. There used to be bus tours from Ottawa for the weekend Expos games. And in Montreal, they'll serve you beer as long as you look 14 or older.

January 14, 2011  04:36 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

It was soul crushing. The Expos had the best farm teams and the best scouts. They'd find All-Star after All-star only to let them get stolen by other teams. They had some of the most exciting teams in the 80s and 90s - with 5 guys at a time in the lineup that would steal bases. Ugh - Yeah, lots of mismanagement --- combined with being in a city where most of the population is French and don't give a crap about any sports outside of hockey. I liked their gear though. There used to be bus tours from Ottawa for the weekend Expos games. And in Montreal, they'll serve you beer as long as you look 14 or older.

The Expos had a great team in '94 and could have won it all...(strike year)

January 14, 2011  05:08 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

The Expos had a great team in '94 and could have won it all...(strike year)

The 1981 Split Season playoffs...

Blue Monday.

January 14, 2011  05:10 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

The Expos had a great team in '94 and could have won it all...(strike year)

On a positive note, their manager in the 80s was Buck Rodgers from the 25th Century.

January 14, 2011  05:11 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

On a positive note, their manager in the 80s was Buck Rodgers from the 25th Century.

Way ahead of his time.

January 14, 2011  05:11 PM ET

Tim Raines used to slide head first so that he wouldn't shatter the coke vial that he kept in his back pocket.

January 14, 2011  06:32 PM ET

C-L-I-F-F

January 14, 2011  06:32 PM ET

Good blog, Kasper....

 
January 21, 2011  11:31 PM ET

I'm happy with the way the organization is going. Love AA, and every move he has made. Love how the Jays scouting is expanding massively, and love how they are pilling up the picks, signing them all, and signing international free agents. This Jays team will be dangerous within the next three seasons.

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