I could have rolled with a seven man bullpen here, but I decided to include a top-5, much in the same way the rotation is laid out. Call it wrong, call it lazy, that’s how I decided to do things here.
1- B.J. Ryan
The Blue Jays blew the walls off the bank safe when they signed Ryan to a five year, 47 million dollar deal. It was the biggest contract for a reliever at the time, and it was supposed to solidify the Blue Jays closer position for years to come.
Instead, the Blue Jays got an outstanding first year, followed by a pile of injury troubles. In all he would pitch in 155.1 innings in his four seasons in Toronto, not even surviving the life of his contract.
In a trade that sent John Olerud away from the Blue Jays (what were they thinking?!?), Robert Person was supposed to be a starter with solid potential, or at worst a high end late-inning reliever.
However, he had a 5.61 ERA in 22 starts in his first season as a Blue Jay, and eventually moved to the bullpen in an effort to soak some value out of the hard-throwing righty. He would go on to have a couple decent seasons in Philadelphia, but never panned out the way the Blue Jays and their fans hoped he would.
Coming off several productive seasons with the Braves and Orioles, Ligtenberg was supposed to be the missing piece for the Blue Jays bullpen. Unfortunately he was not the same pitcher once he arrived north of the border, finished with a 6.08 ERA in 57 appearances in his only season as a Blue Jay in 2004.
He tried to rectify things in 2005 with the Diamondbacks, but a recently productive career quickly went south. He was out of the big leagues by the age of 34, and that was the end.
4- Ken Dayley
Ken Dayley had been a lights out left-hander for the St. Louis Cardinals for several years, and the Blue Jays really thought they were shoring up their bullpen when he joined them prior to the 1991 season.
For all the excitement, Dayley only threw five innings over the course of his Blue Jays career, appearing in eight games in 1991, and another two in 1993. Oops.
Last but not least, I had to include the former Blue Jays closer, even if he doesn’t really belong here based on his on-field contributions in Toronto.
The only reason I’ve included him here is because of what he “should have been” for the Blue Jays, or maybe more accurately, “could have been”. His legal proceedings are ongoing, and now that he’s a member of the Houston Astros he’s really not a problem for the Blue Jays anymore, except when he’s the opponent.
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That said, for a guy that had/has as much promise and value to the Blue Jays organization less than a year ago, it’s sure a shame to see how things ended between the two parties. I won’t comment on his situation beyond that, but regardless of whether he’s guilty or not, it’s hard to swallow what could have been with the talented Mexican closer. By many accounts, he was supposed to be a Blue Jays legend, and instead it ended with the front office selling him to the highest bidder, and getting him out of town as quickly as they could.
So. how did I do? By now I’m sure you’re thinking about several names that I missed, and like I said above, there are great arguments to include many other players throughout the history of the franchise.
Feel free to include those omissions in the comments section, tell me why I’m wrong, or whatever you need to do to feel better. Talking about the biggest busts in franchise history has a way of making us all feel a little frustrated.