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The Curse of J.A. Happ

It was a dark and stormy night when Jack Z first picked up the phone...

Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Hey there! Are you mad about the Seattle Mariners baseball team? Yeah? Me too! I hear they are bad and their fans are bad but hey, only two more weeks before they fade into the offseason ether again.

If you’re actually reading these words it means you willingly clicked on a picture of J.A. Happ’s face, so I’m going to assume you’re not looking to make yourself feel better and bless you for that, you miserably masochistic human (or robot, I won’t discriminate). Regrettably I can’t offer any sort of optimism to thwart your present misery, but I can present to you The Curse of Happ, which is similar to the story of King Midas and his golden touch except that there’s no gold, only sad baseball players who have been exchanged in a transaction with J.A. Happ and not been the same since. Once upon a time…

July 28, 2010

The Philadelphia Phillies sent J.A. Happ to the Houston Astros for Roy Oswalt, along with Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. Oswalt helped power the Phillies through to the playoffs, pitching a career low 1.74 ERA in the final thirteen games of the 2010 season. He had a bad 2011, signed mediocre contracts with middling success in 2012 and 2013, retired in 2014 and has since floated into the ambiguous mist that all retired non-superstars must exist in.

July 20, 2012

In an obscene ten-player trade, the Astros sent J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and David Carpenter to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Joe Musgrove, Asher Wojciechowski (no I’m not making these up, I promise), David Rollins (hey dude) Carlos Pérez, and a player to be named later who I cannot bring myself to find. A brief breakdown:

  • Francisco Cordero did not pitch in a major league game after 2012.
  • Ben Francisco played 21 games for the New York Yankees in 2013 and did not play in a major league game after that.
  • Joe Musgrove has yet to pitch in a major league game.
  • Asher Wojciechowski made his MLB debut in 2015 for the Houston Astros. He had a 7.16 ERA in five appearances and has not pitched in a major league game since.
  • You are, perhaps, familiar with our surly-looking friend David Rollins, whose left arm waggles enticingly near the bottom of the September call-ups pile.
  • Carlos Pérez has existed in the purgatory known as Anaheim for the last two seasons.

December 3, 2014

In a day of heartbreak and sadness which will live on forever in the angry annals of the internet, the Blue Jays sent J.A. Happ to the Seattle Mariners for fragile bird and future hashtag campaign victim (#VoteCaptainCanada) Michael Saunders. Just two months after this trade Saunders tripped over a sprinkler and tore his meniscus (very sad fact: "Michael Saunders, sprinkler" is an autofill search option). He did not play for the rest of the 2015 season. Don’t worry, I’ll get to his resurgence in a minute, let me finish my darn narrative already.

July 31, 2015

The Seattle Mariners sent J.A. Happ to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Adrian Sampson. Poor Sampson managed to stay under the radar in the minors for 2015 but when he popped his head up for an appearance in the majors this season, tragedy struck. Following a single big league start, wherein he was awarded a 7.71 ERA, he felt discomfort in his elbow while warming up against Detroit and was scratched from the start. Turns out he’d injured his elbow, the injury required surgery, and he would not pitch another game of the 2016 season.

Throughout these five years Happ fed off the talents of those whom he has been traded for. Rising from a mediocre minor leaguer in the Phillies system, to an okay Astros pitcher, to a pretty decent Blue Jays pitcher, to a Ray Searage-boosted 2.4 WAR Pirates pitcher, he boosted his stock enough to become a sought-after commodity in the wasteland of 2015 starting pitcher free agency.

November 27, 2015

The Toronto Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract. Rather than fade away, with no other players from which to draw his power, free agency has excessively fueled Happ to the point where he has been worth 3.9 wins, became the first Jays’ starter since 2008 to earn 11 wins in the first half, currently leads the MLB in wins, and could earn his 20th win this very evening. It initially seemed as though Michael Saunders’ first half resurgence meant that The Curse of Happ was over, that it had been canceled out by free agency or by nature of being teammates, but with Saunders’ abysmal .194/.294/.396 it would appear that The Curse lives on…

As the story goes, pity the fool who is traded for James Anthony Happ. The End.