Blue Jays 1992 vs 2007 (Part 6 of 10)

Outfield
Devon White, Joe Carter and Candy Maldonado patrolled theoutfield on most days for the Blue Jays in 1992. White was one of the best
reclaimation projects the Jays have ever had. Originally drafted in the sixth
round by the California Angels in 1981, the Jamaican native spent parts of six
seasons with them before he struggled with a .217 AVG/.633 OPS in 1990 at the
age of 27. The Jays were quick to acquire the speedy defensive whiz in the
hopes they could help him turn things around. He was traded
by the Angels with Marcus Moore and Willie Fraser to Blue Jays for Ken Rivers,
Luis Sojo and Junior Felix. White was a
standout and fan-favourite for five seasons in Toronto. Offensively, he struggled in 1992
but played an outstanding center field and stole 37 bases in 41 tries, while
hitting .248/.693. White won a Gold Glove in 1992.

Candy Maldonado was another smart acquisition by Toronto
General Manager Pay Gillick. Maldonado, 31 in 1992, was acquired midway through
the 1991 season from the Milwaukee Brewers where he was struggled offensively
while experiencing limited playing time. The Jays parted with two minor league
players (William Suero and Bob Wishnevski). Suero had 30
career MLB at-bats, while Wishnevski never made it out of the minors. However,
he holds the Arizona Fall League record for saves (12) and spent time in Japan.
Maldonado, on the other hand, revived his career and had a solid season in 1992
when he batted .272/.819. Defensively, he played 132 games in the outfield,
mostly in left field, and had a .978 field percentage. Maldonado’s 20 homers
helped to create protection for John Olerud in the lineup.

After 1993, Joe Carter’s importance
to the Blue Jays’ post-season exploits could never be questioned. But his
walk-off World Series winning home run off Phillies’ Wild Thing Mitch Willams
(you know, that homer that still gives you goose bumps) was not his only
contribution. Carter also hit .273 with two home runs in the 1992 World Series
versus Atlanta.
Originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs second overall in 1981, Joseph Chris
Carter made a name for himself as a Cleveland Indians’ slugger. But the
blockbuster trade from San Diego to Toronto (along with Roberto Alomar for fan favourites Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff) began a journey that saw him become a household
name in Canada.
In 1992, Carter, 32, solidified the No. 3 hole in the lineup with 34 homers, drove
in 119 runs and he batted .264/.807. He also possessed some speed (he was a
former four-time 20/20 and one-time 30/30 player) and he swiped 12 bags in
1992. Carter spent the majority of his time in right field in 1992, made eight
errors and had a .971 fielding percentage.

Other players who spent time in
the outfield in 1992 included Derek Bell, Dave Winfield, Canadian Rob Ducey,
Turner Ward and Pat Tabler. Bell,
an up-and-coming rookie, received the most playing time and appeared in 56
games (24 in left, 18 in centre and 15 in right). Interestingly enough, none of
the five part-timers made an error that season.

Reed Johnson was a little known
prospect in with only 70 games above A-ball when he was thrust onto the Jays’
roster and never looked back. Johnson, 30, was drafted the same year as Rios.
However, the Cal State Fullarton sparkplug was taken in the 17th
round and was viewed as a long shot. Through hard work and determination
though, Johnson transformed his career into a starting left fielder on a Major
League team trying to make the playoffs. He lacks the power for a corner
outfielder, but Wells makes up for that in centre, which allows Johnson to
focus on doing what he does best: igniting the offence. Johnson may not
duplicate his line of .319 .390 .479, but you can expect him to continue
to be a thorn in the sides of opposing pitchers. He can also play all three
outfield positions.

The Jays lack some depth in the
outfield. Veteran Matt Stairs, 39, figures to be the Jays “fourth outfielder”
although he only played 18 games in the outfield the last two years. Top
prospect Adam Lind, 23, should also see some time in the majors this year,
although he must be at the top of his game to play even an average left field.
The Jays signed a couple of minor league veterans (Mike Vento and Jeff Duncan)
who could find their way to the 40-man roster, should the Jays have long-term
injury problems in the outfield.

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