I hate that there's even a conversation about potential second basemen for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012 and beyond.
It guts me, it really does.
A homegrown player signed to a team-friendly (ie: option laden) contract, it was but a few season ago that Hill authored "Silver Slugger" to his resume, adding to his growing reputation as an excellent defender. It was also but a few seasons ago that Hill was seen as a leader of the team, wistfully encouraging the youngsters in camp to take advantage of the opportunity given to them and start dreaming of a career as a Blue Jay.
And now what.
I'm not sure if Hill looks more lost at the dish or in the dugout, but in both cases... he's not the same guy. Gone is the line drive stroke that propelled 62 balls over fences in the seasons 2009-10. Never an OBP machine, Hill's line now resembles a mediocre batting average. Defensively, well.... if defense were all that mattered at the position, we'd probably be seeing a lot more of Johnny Mac.
The Jays need Hill to be more than Johnny Mac. With all due respect to the Prime Minister of Defence himself, of course.
Perhaps as noticeable as his struggles at the dish is Hill's presence in the dugout. Clearly I'm reading far, far too much into this kind of thing (but if I didn't.... I would never have anything to blog about)... but it's hard not to notice that with all the excitement around these New Jays, Hill fades into the background. He`s not dancing any jigs with Jose, nor does he share a secret handshake with Edwin.
That's hard for me to take, quite frankly. I wish I could be the kind of dude who looks at the numbers and says "Pffft. Aaron Hill? Send him out!" But I can't. Maybe it's the loyalist in me, I don't know. Hill has invested a lot in this organization; would you dare tell me he didn't leave guaranteed money on the table when he signed that extension? And that extension was signed in the days before all this excitement; the future direction was undefined, but all Aaron Hill knew was that he wanted to be a part of it.
So you'll excuse me if I'm not so quick to toss the incumbent second baseman out with the bathwater. I want him to succeed. As a Blue Jay.
Something tells me, though, he only has a few months left to make his case.