Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You Won't Have to Wait for Kelly Johnson

We mentioned to a friend the other night that a trade must be coming. It's just been way too quiet. And here it is.

That Aaron Hill would be shipped off after another in a series of underwhelming seasons is not a great surprise. We now have nearly two years worth of evidence that he's simply not the player that he once was, and at the age of 29, he was unlikely to recover those former glories.

Oddly, we'd been sketching out a post that observed some stats through 127 games, and had included this:

Aaron Hill Is Second Best at Second
It was completely within the realm of the possible that Aaron Hill would continue to struggle this year after a sub-par 2010. What we never would have imagined is a year that was worse. Hill's OBP is around the same as last year's (.271 in '10, .270 in '11 so far), but he's dropped 81 points of slugging. His fWAR sits at -0.5, which essentially puts him into a category where any minor-league callup would be an upgrade.

Speaking of which, Hill (429 plate appearances) trails John McDonald (182 PAs) this season in OBP, SLG, isolated power, and wOBA, and WAR. And if you need more context, you can roll in the 2010 numbers, and Hill still trails Johnny Mac in all of those categories.

With both Hill and McDonald gone, we turn our attention towards Kelly Johnson, whose own disappointing year (.209/.287/.412/.699) still sees him with a wOBA (.310) better than the two players for whom he was traded. Johnson posted an .865 OPS last year with 26 homers, and has posted positive UZR/150 numbers at second over the past two seasons. In terms of what gets pencilled into the lineup each day from here through the end of the season, the Jays came out ahead.

Johnson's name had long been the focus of alleged interest by the Jays, with a notion that he would possibly be at the top of their offseason shopping list when the time came to replace the incumbent Hill. Jumping the gun on this likely means that the Jays will be able to get a better look at Johnson in the proper context in the short term, with a view towards a deal heading into next season.

Add to this the fact that all three players are free agents, but that Johnson is the most likely to net a compensatory draft pick if he leaves, and you see how this deal works now and in the future.

There's more to write about this deal, and we'll double back tomorrow to consider the two veterans who now leave the organization (at least temporarily.) In interim, here's the thought that's been running through our mind so far: There's likely to be as many tears shed over John McDonald's departure as there are over Hill's, and we're not sure that we can entirely disagree with the thought.

If we were offered one or the other back for some unknown reason, we'd likely choose McDonald, and not because of any abiding affection for his gritty scrappiness. It would be because we think he might be the better player.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

another shrewd move from AA. I do get a kick out of everyone crying over Johnny Mac leaving...really? Yes he's a fan fave but he's a career .240 hitter and we should all just be happy he has a chance to contribute for a (possible) playoff team - great for him! Plus...he'll probably be back next year as Mr. Sub Sub again.

KJ adds another lefty bat and lets se what he can do for the rest of the season before decision is made for 2012.

voodoo_matt said...

Aww man. None of the other trades hurt like this one. Johnny Mac is the PMoD and by all accounts a great person. Aaron Hill was a Silver Slugger. I know they're not great players, but I feel like I know them and that's got to count for something.

Well, welcome to the faceless whasname coming in from Arizona.

Peter DeMarco said...

This deal slightly makes up for the Jays not trading Hill when I suggested they should have.

Ian - BJH said...

Peter, and AA regrets it every day. Imagine what the Blue Jays could have gotten when Hill was at his peak?

Oh well, Kelly Johnson is a fine substitute in the meantime!

Ken Huckabee said...

Jokes; two crappy 2B changing teams.

BBFANTO said...

At first blush a confusing trade. Under achieving second baseban for under achieving second baseman and utility man all of whom are likely free agents at the end of the season. Dig a little deeper and it makes a bit more sense.

AA gets to see what KJ can do in TO for a month and half. If he doesn't like he can not resign him and get a draft pick. If he does then maybe he has inside track on sighning him if he likes TO. We can always resign Johnny Mac in the off season if we want him back.

Not losing much of anything here.

MG said...

If you take Mr Unappreciated Mike McCoy into consideration Hill is actually third best, Hill .265 wOBA, Johnny Mac .270 wOBA, McCoy .301 wOBA

Dexx said...

A great trade with absolutely no downside for the Jays.

You know... unless Aaron Hill plays well enough over the last month of the season to justify picking up his $8 million options.

Just sayin..

Alex said...

Aaron Hill would have to hit a homerun every at bat to justify taking those options.

Anonymous said...

@BBFANTO - you're close. AA will decide whether to negotiate a contract or offer arbitration. There no simple not re-sign=draft pick compensation.

This is such a sick move on so many levels. Like the Olivo move but sicker. AA has put the Jays in a total no-lose situation IMO because if they don't negotiate a contract, I don't think he cares whether Johnson accepts or declines arbitration. Johnson would have been the best 2B free agent option but there was still a risk of type A status and there was 0 chance AA would give up the 1st rounder compensation which would have meant 0 chance he would have been a Jay. But if Johnson's type A he will probably go for arbitration and the Jays keep the best option on the market.

Once you accept the Jays did not want Hill back next year and would have preferred Infante - heck even McDonald or McCoy - if Johnson was not an option, there is no way to look at this deal as anything but awesome on the deepest level.

Anonymous said...

Yes, brill move by AA but losing the PMoD actually hurts a bit.

www.palencia-3d.com said...

Well, I do not actually imagine it is likely to have success.

Michaelqcib said...

A great trade with absolutely no downside for the Jays. You know... unless Aaron Hill plays well enough over the last month of the season to justify picking up his $8 million options. Just sayin..

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