Time to make a move
Blue Jays should consider trading a young hitter
Posted: Wednesday May 30, 2007 6:10PM; Updated: Wednesday May 30, 2007 6:10PM
Great work on the Hall of Fame Game. Being a teenage ballplayer, I can't imagine what it's like to be on the field with major-league talent. A quick question: Do you think the Jays should move an Alex Rios or Adam Lind or one of their many talented bullpen arms to acquire a bona fide No. 3 starter?
It's something they should consider. I would not move them just for anyone, but Toronto has done a pretty good job turning up hitters, so I wouldn't worry about being caught short there. The best move in baseball these days is when GMs trade for young starters who are just about to break through. That's what Toronto needs to do. What kind of pitchers am I talking about? John Maine, Oliver Perez, Chris Young and Chad Gaudin, a guy the Jays gave up too quickly (probably because I actually put the ball in play against him in a 2005 spring training game).
You forgot Ichiro in your column about active hitters who may reach 3,000 hits. The Bill James projection is off for him because it does not account for the years in Japan, but if he plays to 41 or 42, he'll make it. Add in his Japan hits and he'll make 4,000.
I'm not ready to simply add his hits in Japan to his major-league total and put him in the 3,000 hit club. Don't get me wrong, the guy is an incredible hitting machine and is headed to the Hall of Fame, but I think his career should be viewed differently than guys who played their whole career in the bigs.
Why does everybody think that John Smoltz is a lock for the Hall of Fame? As a starter he is like Orel Hershiser -- a Cy young award, each missed a lot of time and each had a lot of 15-12 type years. As a reliever he is like Eric Gagne. Brilliant for three years. If neither Hershiser nor Gagne are Hall of Famers or are even "on the bubble," why is Smoltz?
His closest comp is Dennis Eckersley; Smoltz was the better starter, Eck the better closer. Also, Smoltz is one of the best postseason/big game pitchers of his generation, which adds bonus points to his regular season resume. He'd be on my short list of candidates to start the one game I needed to win. That counts for something.
In your mailbag you mentioned how Terry Francona is one of the better managers in baseball. I beg to differ. There are are handful of managers that I have watched over the years that continuously demonstrate an inability to handle their bullpens properly. They are the most overrated managers in the game -- Bobby Cox, Jim Tracy, Ned Yost, Willie Randolph and Terry Francona.
Bullpen management has become the one area in baseball where you're bound to get criticism. And usually it's because the guy didn't do his job, not because the manager made a bad choice. I think Francona does a good job because he understands the percentages associated with statistical analysis but he's not afraid to go against them if the game situation gives him another vibe. I don't think he manages with the usual "cover your butt" philosophy we see all the time. I appreciate that.
Could Dean Hancock (Josh's father) be in any greater form of denial? This guy sues everyone even remotely connected to the crash that killed Josh and points the finger at everyone except where it should be: his son. Josh was a 29-year-old man. A car stalling in the highway was not the proximate cause of the accident, nor was the tow truck, which was there to be seen. If Josh Hancock hadn't been plastered, which was his own doing, he'd still be alive. No one put a gun to his head and demanded that he drink all night. Additionally, he was distracted by a cell phone call at the time of the accident. The Hancock family's lawsuit is a sad example of how litigious and personally unaccountable our society has become.
I understand how you can read it that way. But I can't imagine what it must be like to be his father or other family members. They must be searching for answers and wondering what might have been, including what might have been if his drinking ceased at some point that night. From what I understand it's pro forma to name scads of people in the lawsuits to see what sticks. I believe that's more of a legal strategy than it is a personal willingness to assign blame to others. So while I agree with your premise that Josh's decision to drink and drive is the root cause of his death, I can't begrudge the family for exploring the possibility of other factors that may have contributed.
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