Getting over the loss of much of Toronto’s “Hustle and Heart”


I had been waiting before posting my thoughts on the trade of John McDonald and Aaron Hill. Either that, or I was just too lazy to take the time to put thoughts to keyboard. You decide.

At any rate, as I tried to think about what to write about the trade, it was almost like a relationship breakup, where you need to take some time to truly digest what has actually happened.

In a baseball sense, it’s a pretty straightforward deal – one struggling second baseman traded for a slightly cheaper struggling second baseman in Kelly Johnson, with a veteran utility infielder thrown in to fill a need for Arizona.

Of course, this isn’t fantasy baseball and it’s a trade like this which makes you realize that baseball is about much more than stats and salaries.

Aaron Hill has long been one of my favourite Blue Jays and it has been painful to watch him scuffle over the past two years. I truly hope he returns to his previous form, as it seems slightly inconceivable that he would transform within a couple seasons from above average to excellent offensive contributor to someone who barely even should be holding onto a major league roster spot.

As for Johnny Mac, his defensive wizardy and contributions on the field were matched and if not surpassed by his humanitarianism and community-minded spirit off the field. He’s the kind of guy you can’t help but root for and it speaks volumes that a utility infielder with a weak bat is arguably one of the most popular Jays of all time.

Despite the sinking stomach feeling I had when I learned about the trade, it’s a time-heals-all-wounds type situations, as players come and go in the MLB and it truly is a great opportunity for those two players.

One thing I found funny, however, is that many fans and media are talking about McDonald and to a lesser extent Hill, being shoo-ins to return to the Toronto organization next year.

First off, as much as both the players might want to return, it takes two to tango, so to speak. While Alex Anthopoulos might have done the most appropriate thing to appease the fanbase by saying he’d love to have either player back, honestly, I respect him more as a GM than to think he’d make such a move primarily to appeal to the fans.  

The question then becomes, will either Aaron Hill or John McDonald be of value to a 2012 Toronto Blue Jays team who the fanbase certainly hopes will be a contending team?

Hill – I’d say it’s a toss up. Second base at this point seems a big question mark in 2012. Whether it’s keeping Kelly Johnson, promoting from within, resigning a guy like Aaron Hill or going in another direction, I don’t think anyone can with any certainy say who will be pencilled into 2B for next year’s season opener.

McDonald – well, again, I hope an aging utility infielder isn’t on the top of AA’s wishlist this offseason, but that being said, McDonald certainly can be a valuable commodity as the 25th man on a roster who can play a multitude of positions and fill in as needed.

Overall, I don’t think the Jays or Diamondbacks get either appreciably better or worse from this trade, but it is a good opportunity for two well-respected veterans with the Jays to get a chance at the postseason and for Toronto to gain some flexibility and get a look at a player they’ve coveted for a while. So, a win-win?

Another win as baseball fans is having another team to cheer for from the NL after the regular season wraps. It certainly would be bittersweet to see Aaron Hill and John McDonald win a World Series in another jersey, but similarly as Jays fans had to deal with seeing Roy Halladay leave town, I think for the greater good, we’ll all become Diamondback fans come the post-season, that is, if they don’t come up against the Phillies.

Here’s a couple other quick things since I haven’t posted in a little while:

  • Did anyone else find it somewhat unprofessional and surprising that when Brian Jeroloman was promoted to the major league team, AA openly said it was because they see him as a backup and weren’t concerned if he was up in the majors not playing at all. Now, I know the guy is 26 and his minor league numbers have been underwhelming at best, but it’s rare to hear a GM, especially one who keeps things as close to the chest  as AA does, say something about a player like that.
  • It was nice to see the Jays blow out the Orioles and get a much needed laugher win, but … Am I getting a bit soft that I am kind of sad that huge offensive output came against Jo-Jo Reyes? Not that I wanted Jo-Jo to win the game, or even to pitch overly well, but, here’s a guy whose major league career is probably hinging on each and every start and I guess he’s the kind of guy you like to root for. I suppose it could be a bit of irony if the Jays, the team that gave Jo-Jo a good chance this year, were the ones whose bats end up putting to an end his major league career.
  • I know John Farrell is sick, but if I were him I would be doing everything I could to be getting back to the team ASAP, as, I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily think he should get a free pass into being the team’s manager in 2012 based on this year’s performance. Not that I think there’s anything overly wrong with how he has managed this year (with some exceptions), but, you don’t hear this talked about much… Is Farrell coming back next year? Do you think his performance has earned him the right to manage the club again in 2012?


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