If you're a real Toronto Blue Jays fan, a true lifer who's suffered through two decades of misery, this season has been extra special for you. After a mediocre start, the Jays added Troy Tulowitzki and David Price before the July 31st trade deadline and haven't looked back since. Not only are the playoffs a near certainty at this point, the Jays are in the driver's seat in the AL East and have a good shot at taking the division and avoiding a one-game playoff.
The feeling that comes with success has been long forgotten by lifelong Jays fans, who are basking in their teams current glory and putting up with the bandwagon hoppers who've invaded their stadium for the past two months. It's all worth it, they'll say, if it means the Jays are winning - because winning isn't something they've done much of since the early 90s.
Part of the reason for the long drought has been repeated instances of mismanagement, underachieving and unmotivated performances by big-headed starts, and general bad luck that has seemed to follow the Bluebirds since the Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar days ended all those years ago.
While this season is about celebrating the recent successes of Canada's lone baseball team, a quick glimpse into the past will serve as an important reminder of what the alternative was to any Jays fan who gets greedy in the final two months of the season.
15 Frank Thomas
Frank Thomas finished 23rd in MVP voting in 2007 and after a fantastic debut to his Blue Jays career, many expected that The Big Hurt would improve upon those numbers in 2008. Things didn't exactly go as planned, as Thomas, who was albeit a notoriously slow starter, slumped to a .167/.306/.333 slash line in his first 72 at-bats, prompting former/current manager John Gibbons to bench the veteran. The Jays released Thomas after he struck back through the media, angry at the decision. It turns out Gibbons and the Jays were on to something, as Thomas retired following that season. Thomas was essentially done and it showed during his final days as a Blue Jay. By no means was Frank Thomas a poor player in his career, but in that year as a Blue Jay, he was one of the worst players in their history.
14 Kerry Ligtenberg
Kerry Ligtenberg was one of the many failed big-name, big-money free agents who never panned out in Toronto. Ligtenberg had carved out a niche as a solid reliever during his time in Atlanta and during his one season in Baltimore, but his performance dipped severely when he came north of the border. Ligtenberg's ERA ballooned to 6.38 while his WHIP rose to 1.782. Ligtenberg had reached his career's end and it showed during his penultimate season in the Majors as a member of the Blue Jays.
13 Corey Koskie
It's always exciting when a team can bring in a big-name, coveted free-agent. It's even bigger when a team like Toronto (back then anyway) is able to not only bring in a coveted asset, but also a hometown boy (which applies to all of Canada when it comes to baseball). Koskie struggled during his time in Toronto, though, struggling to a meager .249 average and picking up only 36 RBIs. While injuries played a role, Koskie ended up being a welcome salary dump for the Jays and their exasperated fan-base.
12 Mike Sirotka
The fact that Mike Sirotka lands on this list is less an indictment on the player and more of a shot at the pitiful decisions made by management in the trade that brought the highly-touted prospect to Toronto.
Sirotka never threw a pitch for the Jays - or anywhere in the majors - because he arrived to Toronto (in the David Wells trade) as damaged goods. Sirotka was essentially useless to the Jays, which (lands him on this list, for one thing) depending how you look at it, might be better than sucking on the field.
11 Dave Lemanczyk
Dave Lemanczyk's stats with the Blue Jays were just, not, good. Not good at all. Then again, no one on the Jays was particularly good during his years there, as they were an expansion team with little talent on the roster. Lemanczyk was 13-16 in 1977 and still led the team in wins. That's telling. He did make the All Star game in 1979 with a record of 8-10...I guess the Blue Jays needed a representative. It also foreshadowed the rest of his Jays career, which ended with a trade to the Angels after several awful seasons.
10 Erik Hanson
Sports logic suggests that signing a good player should, in theory, improve your team - but if you sign a player from a rival, you're not only improving your team, you're weakening theirs. That was supposed to be the case in the mid-90s when the Blue Jays signed Erik Hanson away from the Red Sox. Sadly, Hanson was not the same player in Toronto, posting pitiful ERA's of 5.41, 7.80, and 6.24 in his three years with the Jays.
9 Joey Hamilton
After five decent seasons with the San Diego Padres, Joey Hamilton found himself donning the Jays blue and white during the 1999 season. His tenure in Toronto would be short and not so sweet. He finished his career as a Jay with a record of 14-17, a 5.83 ERA and allowed 316 hits over 253.1 innings. Hamilton was eventually released by the Jays during the 2001 seasons and watched his numbers continue to dip during his final two years in the majors with Cincinnati.
8 Russ Adams
Russ Adams falls in the category of "draft bust,s, an often hotly debated topic among fans and media members alike. Adams was a first round pick of the Jays and was expected to solidify the middle of the Blue Jays infield. However, he was never able to fully catch on in Toronto, finding himself going back and forth from the minors thanks to his troublesome throwing arm and lack of production at the plate for the majority of his time in Toronto.
7 B.J. Ryan
B.J. Ryan was one of the Jays biggest (and most expensive) free-agent signings in team history and while things got off to a fairly rosy start, they ended on quite the low note. The main issue with Ryan was that while he did have two decent seasons in Toronto, $47 million dollars is quite a price tag to pay for such a short period of time. Ryan struggled mightily over the final three seasons of the contract, slowly but surely going from the penthouse to the doghouse and drawing the ire of Jays fans during the disappointing ending to his career.
6 Bill Caudill
The Blue Jays, as evidenced throughout this article, have had a knack for picking up players (specifically pitchers) just as they are hitting their stride - into the decline of their careers, that is. Bill Caudill was one of the first of these particular players. Caudill came over from Oakland following an All-Star season in which he went 9-7 while saving 36 games. His two seasons in Toronto showed that his one good season might have been a one-off, as he finished his Toronto career by losing the closer's job early in his tenure and posting a 4.09 ERA and a paltry .375 win percentage.
5 Carlos Garcia
Carlos Garcia spent one year in Toronto, but it was not a very good one. Not only did he under perform in Toronto, he was part of a trade that Toronto clearly lost, with names like Abraham Nunez, Craig Wilson, Mike Halperin going on to decent careers in Pittsburgh.
None of the players in that deal did particularly well in Toronto, but Garcia held the most promise - instead, his numbers nosedived. He lasted one year in Canada, a year Blue Jays fans don't want to remember.
4 Travis Snider
Travis Snyder, like Russ Adams, was a high first round pick that just could not (or would not) pan out with Toronto. While fans were seemingly endeared to Snider, he couldn't win their hearts with dominance on the field. Snider was expected to hit for power with the Jays, but he was unable to stick with the big club and topped out at 14 home runs in a single season during his four-plus season in Toronto. Rogers Centre is a hitter-friendly ballpark, no less.
3 Danny Ainge
Yes, that Danny Ainge. Clearly baseball wasn't for him. The current president of the Boston Celtics dabbled in the majors many moons ago, but he wasn't exactly a ringer on the diamond. Ainge, according to Deadspin, had a WAR that was worse than what can usually be expected of the 25th man on a Major League roster. He wasn't particularly good at anything and it was clear that his future was not in baseball early on - which is why he eventually left the ball field for the hard court.
2 Robert Person
Robert Person lands in one of the top spot on the lists for a number of reasons. For one thing, his numbers weren't very good. His ERA totals in Toronto? 5.61, 7.04 and 9.82 during his 11 appearances in 1999 before he was shipped off to Philadelphia.
What was worse, though, was that Person was traded for John Olerud, who went on to become a star with the Mets and Mariners. A dip in his numbers with the Jays, combined with management's impatience, led to an ill-advised trade that landed one of the worst players in the franchise's history - in return for a player who could have (should have) been one of the team's cornerstones.
1 Josh Towers
In five years with the Jays, Towers was simply not good. Not good at all. The fact that he lasted that long says a lot about the quality of the Jays rosters through the early and mid-2000s. Towers had his moments with the Jays, but overall was not an arm that could be truly relied on. His long slumps became habitual and even though he had plenty of chances to reward the franchise's faith in him, he never fully escaped the land of lingering mediocrity. Towers 4.93 ERA over his five years with the Jays is not good, but it would be worse save for a 13-win, 3.71 ERA season in 2005.
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