Next year should finally be the year Jack Morris gets into the Hall of Fame. Yes he still has critics. His career ERA is a tad too high at 3.90. He never won a Cy Young Award and one year, he actually gave up 40 home runs.
In my mind though, the good far outways the bad. Morris was the winningest pitcher of the decade in the 80's with a record of 162-119. He won three World Series titles (Detroit in 1984, Minnesota in 1991 and Toronto in 1992) and he was also the ace on all three of those staffs.
Morris also pitched 175 complete games, an incredible total by today's standards, and he pitched a no-hitter.
Jack Morris was no picnic to deal with from a media standpoint. He could be downright ornery at times. But in retrospect, it was propably a big part of what made him so good.
The Blue Jays had a Jack Morris-type pitcher of their own in Dave Stieb. The greatest pitcher in Blue Jays history was the second best pitcher in the 80's with a record of 140-109. Stieb's last great season was 1990 at age 32. He won 18 games and capped the campaign by throwing the first and only no-hitter in Blue Jays history on Sept 2, 1990 at Cleveland.
After that season, shoulder and back injuries took their toll and held Stieb to just 10 victories over parts of four seasons, including a brief comeback in 1998 before he called it a career at age 41.
I'm not saying Stieb should be in the Hall of Fame if Morris is, but 'Sir David' as he was often known, pitched 30 shutouts to Morris's 28 and made the All-Star team seven times to five appearances by Morris. Stieb pitched 103 complete games, or exactly 25% of his 412 career starts. Morris bettered him there with 175 complete games in 527 career starts or slightly more than 33% of the games he started.
Stieb did get a World Series ring with the Blue Jays in 1992. By that time though, injuries had made him a shadow of his former self and he wasn't a major contributor anymore.
While he was healthy, Stieb was putting together a Hall of Fame-type resume. He had four no-hitters broken up late, including a perfect game with two out in the 9th and two no-hitters with two out and two strikes on the batter in the 9th. Since the Mets' R.A Dickey turned the trick this season, Stieb had been the last to pitch back-to-back one-hitters.
At least once, baseball bent the rules and allowed a pitcher into the Hall of Fame who hadn't pitched the requisite 10 years. But it was a special and tragic case. Adrian 'Addie' Joss of the Cleveland Indians won 160 games over nine seasons. He pitched a perfect game in 1908 and another no-hitter in 1910 and 45 of his 160 victories were by shutouts. 'Addie' Joss died of tubercular meningitis in 1911 at age 31 and finally got into the Hall of Fame in 1978, courtesy of the veteran committee.
One more remarkable stat about Stieb: for four seasons from 1982-1985, he pitched at least 260 innings. Try finding any pitcher capable of doing that today.
One more comparison of Morris and Stieb: in his average 162-game season, Morris went 16-12 with a 3.90 ERA and 25 home runs allowed while Stieb went 14-11 with a .344 ERA and 18 home runs allowed.
In my mind Jack Morris should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago and Stieb probably would have been if injuries hadn't cut his career short.
Things can change of course, but since Colby Rasmus, J.P Arencibia and Anthony Gose are all involved in the Blue Jays Caravan in January, you wouldn't think any of the three would be traded before spring training. Last year, Eric Thames was involved in the Caravan, but he wasn't moved until the trade deadline in July for reliever Steve Delabar.
The Winter Meetings are next week in Nashville and that's when we should start to find out how the other teams in the American League are going to respond to the Blue Jays blockbuster off-season.
A long-time member of the baseball beat, Scott Ferguson covers the Blue Jays for TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto. His baseball blog appears on TSN.ca during the season.