Farewell good Bill Risley


It’s funny how losing a co-worker in an already bare bones, skeleton staff of a department for three months and leaving me to essentially do triple duty during one of the busiest times of the year, and then through the not so busy time right back into the second or third busiest time of the year can really screw with your attempts to blog.

But I digress.

Luckily it’s been pretty slow the last little while. At least as far as stuff I’d be interested in writing about goes (sorry, couldn’t really be arsed into caring one iota about the Duquette thing).

But oh boy, here’s something. Danny Valencia won his arbitration hearing today, and will earn $1.675 million in 2015.

It was the first time the Jays have gone to arbitration since 1997. It’s the first time they’ve gone to arbitration since the beat the ever loving shit out of Bill Risley, with the arbitrator ruling in favour of the club and their $380,000 offer.

The Valencia ruling, of course, means Risley’s Blue Jays legacy now will vanish into the ether. But before it does, lets honour the man who may be, somewhat surprisingly, one of the most referenced Blue Jays of the past decade.

Risley threw a total of 221.1 innings over parts of seven years. Most of his time came with the Jays and the Seattle Mariners. He got one Major League start, when he struck out two, walked one and giving up one run over five innings. That means, as a starter he has a career 1.80 ERA, 2.58 FIP, and a sparkling perfect win-loss record of 1-0.

As a reliever, he had a couple of decent years. With Seattle he threw to 3.44 and 3.13 ERAs, respectively, in 1994 and 1995.

Originally drafted by Cincinnati, Risley was included in the John Wetteland trade to Montreal in 1991. He ended up getting selected off waivers by Seattle and eventually traded to the Jays, along with Miguel Cairo (the same Miguel Cairo who played up until 2012, when he got into 70 games with those same Reds).

With the Jays he had one decent year, pitching to a 3.89 ERA in 1996. Three years of decent ERAs is likely the reason he asked big in arbitration, but luckily those arbitrators were pretty smart cookies, because they looked at the peripherals and said, “not so quick Mr. Risley.”

In his first season with the Jays his FIP was 5.76 and he was below replacement level according to fWAR. He struck out 6.26 per nine but walked an ugly 5.4 per nine.

After that fateful arbitration hearing, Risley’s career went downhill. He only threw 4.1 innings in the 1997 season and they weren’t good innings. The following year he returned and managed 54.2 innings of 5.97 ERA baseball.

And that was it for the 6’2 righty. He retired after the 1998 season.

So farewell Mr. Risley. You will no longer be the throwaway comment in the annual winter arbitration stories. However, since he appear in three games with the Expos and played three seasons with the Jays, he’s still in the lore as one of 23 pitchers to play for both Canadian squads.

The Bill Risley legend lives on!