Category Archives: Former Expos

Old-School Expos Friday: Garry Jestadt and Carl Morton

1970 Topps

Today we’ll take a look at two rookies from the Expos’ second season of existence. I figured this would be a fun “two paths” exercise, even if it’s not technically Senators Friday.

From what I can tell, Garry Jestadt was seen as the solution at shortstop for the Expos in 1969; news articles from Spring Training indicated that he was seen as such, but I guess he flopped in Spring Training, because he only saw six games in the majors in 1969, all of them as a September callup. He was lousy during that callup, too, but he was only 22. He split 69 between A-level West Palm Beach and AAA Vancouver, hitting a cumulative .312/.369/.414. Pretty damn amazing for a shortstop in that era.  As for the majors? Let’s just say he had a -100 OPS, and it was the only time he would spend with the Expos.

Unfortunately, he would spend all of 1970 in the minors, playing in 2 games in the Expos system before being shipped off to the Cubs for Jim Qualls, who would likewise do very little for the Expos. Some “Rookie Star”. For his career, he played in 176 games in the majors, hitting .260/.296/.344. Yikes.

Carl Morton’s career took a very different path. Like Jestadt, Morton appeared to be a candidate to spend all of 1969 with the Expos, but it appears that the doors were pretty much open to every player that Spring, which makes sense. He ended up pitching in 8 games for the Expos in 1969, going 0-3 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.602 WHIP. No reason to think the guy would do much, but he would burst wide open in 1970. He went 18-11 with a 3.60 ERA, 154 strikeouts in 182 innings and, oh yeah, led the league with 125 BBs. Wow! His WHIP was still 1.426, not that great, but he ended up winning the NL Rookie of the Year for 1970. Morton said he felt he had won the award with a strong September, finishing up with three wins in the month for the last-place team. He said he also hoped to win the Cy Young in the future, but you can probably guess that wouldn’t happen. Oh, I did find this hilarious picture:

Haha what is even happening in that picture? Why are they dressed for basketball, with an Expos basketball jersey, no less?

Morton stayed with Montreal until 1972, having some off-and-on good years and ending up with a 45-35 record with a 4.09 ERA during his time in Montreal. Think some of that had to do with being on a terrible team? I sure think so. In 1973, he was traded to Atlanta for Pat Jarvis, who went 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in 1973 in Montreal, his final season in the majors.

Morton went on to be 52-47 with a 3.47 ERA in Atlanta from 1973 to 1976, his final season in the majors. All in all, though, I’d have to say kids would have liked this card for the Morton rookie, if nothing else, for a year or two there. Of course it’s a welcome addition to my collection, and one of the Million Card Giveaway acquisitions.

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How Did I Not Know This??

Ron Darling was an Expo for two weeks??

This is the only shot I could find. Does anyone know if a baseball card exists of this?

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Former Expo: Mel Rojas

1995 Pinnacle

I have to admit that when Mel Rojas started his career back in 1990, I didn’t think he would be a long-term Major Leaguer. I saw Howard Farmer as the better candidate, and they pretty much inverted my expectations. Of course, Rojas was a reliever all his career, but he was a pretty good reliever. His career whip was 1.267, and he averaged 7.6 K per IP over his career. His overall strikeout to walk ratio was pretty good too, as it stood at 2.21 for his career, and that was dragged down by some bad years at the end.

But the most interesting thing about Rojas is his familial ties. Mel’s brother, Francisco Rojas, was a minor league outfielder, his son, Mel Rojas Jr., was a third-round pick by the Pirates this year, and he’s cousin of Moises AlouJose Alou and Felipe Alou Jr., as well as nephew of MattyJesus, and Felipe Alou. What a pedigree!

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Former Expo/Expos Auto: Rondell White

1997 Stadium Club Co-Signers

This is one cool little card – not only is it an on-card auto, it’s TWO on-card autos; Marty Cordova is on the reverse. It’s also silvery and super-shiny. I chose it for today’s post partially for that fact, and partially for wanting to figure out just what happened to Rondell White. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the guy wasn’t abysmal, but he certainly didn’t live up to the billing he was given. In 1994, he was in the top ten prospects for Baseball America. Other players in that group included Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones, and A-Rod (who was behind Cliff Floyd of all people – he occupied the #1 spot). He was ranked ahead of players like Derek Jeter, Derek Lowe, and Billy Wagner. He had earned it, too. Aside from his 1991 Sally league campaign, he had maintained an OPS above 800 at every stop. He looked like a sure thing until he hit the majors in 1993. Even then, he performed about how you would expect for a 21-year-old rookie.

In fact, he ended up having a good career. His OPS+ rarely dipped below 100, and his career WAR was 26.1, which puts him alongside players like John Kruk, Hal McRae, and Bob Boone. Certainly not a HOFer, but not that bad. The thing is, though, White was projected for so much more, and I know lots of fans of teams where he played that despised him. Welll…there was the whole steroids allegation, which I guess I could see when you look at how wiry he was as a rookie. But the real issue? Injuries. Man, did the guy injure himself. In fact, let’s look at his injury history.

His first injury was in 1996, when he slammed into a wall in the outfield. The next one came in 1998, when he broke his finger. 2000 – strained right hamstring. 2002 – sore shin, dislocated finger. 2004 – strained right hip flexor. 2005 – dislocated left shoulder that led to surgery. He was never the same after this one. In fact, if you look at his entire career, he only played a full season once – 1997, when he got 151 games in. That was also his greatest season.

So, yeah. A promising career pretty much derailed by injury. It’s still entertaining to look at his old cards and reminisce, though. If he was a Bob Boone with all those injuries, what could he have been without them?

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Former Expo: Bret Barberie

1993 Donruss

Bret played on the storied 1988 Team USA baseball team that included players such as Jim Abbott and Tino Martinez. The Expos drafted him in the seventh round of the 1988 draft and assigned him to High-A West Palm Beach, where he had an underwhelming .267/.366/.346 line. He didn’t do much better in 1990 in Jacksonville, but in 1991 he broke loose at AAA Indianapolis, hitting .312/.461/.532 and earning a promotion to the Expos. He raked in his rookie season, hitting .353/.435/.515 in 57 games for a 2.1 WAR. He also had a completely unsustainable .400 BABIP, which means he was getting incredibly lucky. He stayed with the Expos for 92, hitting .232/.354/.281 for a 1.3 WAR. Actually not bad for a middle infielder, and he had regressed in terms of BABIP, meaning his true talent lay somewhere in between the two extremes. Unfortunately, the Expos weren’t convinced, and left him unprotected for the expansion draft, hence what you see here. He played 99 games with Florida that year, and sure enough, hit right in between the two extremes, going .277/.344/.371, a 1.7 WAR.

He stuck with the Marlins for another year, then went to the Orioles, and finished his career with the Cubs in 1996 at the age of 28. I’m not sure I understand what happened to him, though. He was a pretty good hitter up until he joined the Orioles, then he just went downhill FAST. I never thought he was going to be a hall of famer, but I did think he would be a star, and had the skills to be one. Oh, well. At least he had a hot wife for awhile.

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Former Expo: Del Unser

1977 Topps

Del Unser was never a real threat at the plate, but on this card, he was coming off a particularly wretched 1976 campaign: a .228/.269/.355 slash.

You know, I had a very eloquent post written about Unser’s 1976-1978 campaigns, about the trade that brought him to Montreal, and what he went on to do with the Phillies, but my building’s unstable Internet connection ate it, and I don’t have the heart to rewrite it all about a subject such as Unser. So, here’s the short version:

1976 was disastrous for Unser, and the trade overall was a wash.

1977 he improved in some categories, dropped in others.

Overall, he wasn’t very good with the Expos, then went on to have one good year in Philly.

I got this card out of the Mysterious Box of Mystery, though surprisingly it was not the oldest card. It’s a standard Spring Training shot, but my detective work has turned up that that’s likely Ray Sadecki of the Mets warming up in the background there, though that really could be anyone behind him.

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Another Helping of Cliff Floyd

Haven’t featured any Cliff Floyd cards in awhile. Here’s a sampling…

1992 Upper Deck Minors Diamond Skills

1992 Upper Deck Minors Diamond Skills

1992 Upper Deck Minors Hologram

1992 Upper Deck Minors Hologram

1993 Fleer Final Edition

1993 Fleer Final Edition

1993 Pinnacle

1993 Pinnacle

1994 Bowman

1994 Bowman

1993 Classic Best Young Guns

1993 Classic Best Young Guns

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Old-School Expo: Jim Fairey

1971 Topps

1971 Topps

One of my favorite things about running this blog is discovering players that I have never heard of; researching their careers is a real joy. Fairey is another one of those players, and looking over his career I can see why I’d never heard of him before. Fairey was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1965 and made the majors in 1968 at the age of 23. His minor league career to that point was actualy fairly impressive; he hit 20 home runs during his first minor league season with Single-A Santa Barbara, hitting .323. Unfortunately, he only managed a .199/.241/.276 line in his rookie major league season (in 99 games). The Expos picked him up in the 68 expansion draft and gave him only sparing ML time in 1969, where he produced a career-high 87 OPS+.

His entire Montreal career spanned from 1969 to 1972, when he had a 245/289/329 line and managed only six home runs. He was particularly weak against lefties, and was almost strictly platooned in his years in the majors. Not much more to say about him, really. Received this card in a trade with a couple of other 71 Expos, and was immediately fascinated. I really like the 71 design – so simple, and yet so nostalgic. Great card.

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Wil Cordero

Wow, quite a few Wil Cordero cards in my collection.

1991 Upper Deck

1991 Upper Deck

1992 Score Traded

1992 Score Traded

1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier

1993 O-Pee-Chee Premier

1994 Leaf

1994 Leaf

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Darrin Fletcher

Clearing out my backfill of Darrin Fletcher cards…

1994 Bowman

1994 Bowman

1994 Leaf

1994 Leaf

1991 Leaf

1991 Leaf

1994 Pacific Crown Collection

1994 Pacific Crown Collection

1994 Pinnacle

1994 Pinnacle

1997 Pinnacle

1997 Pinnacle

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