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  1. Its sacrilegious to compare Fast Willie to John McDonald

    Comment by Rufio_Magillicutty — August 23, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  2. Also, the fact that Hill’s K rate is so much lower than Kelly’s equalizes the fact that he hits for no power.

    Comment by Jason — August 23, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  3. I don’t see how that equalizes anything. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that having a lower strikeout rate makes up for substantially less power. Hill might make more contact, but it hasn’t been *good* contact.

    Comment by Eric Seidman — August 23, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  4. although, it does add to the towers story of shipping out high k players.

    Comment by jaywrong — August 23, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  5. How do you figure???

    Comment by abreutime — August 23, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  6. I think that. though I think Kelly Johnson is easily a better player than Aaron Hill:

    a) There’s something to be said about not having your whole team have the SAME weakness, and when the rest of the team K’s so much, I think there’s more of a benefit to the Diamondbacks for reducing K’s than there is for other teams.

    b) John McDonald also means less use of Sean Burroughs and/or Cody Ransom. McDonald may not be the biggest upgrade over Willie Bloomquist, but pushing one of those two off the roster is an added benefit that’s glossed over.

    c) Ultimately, this is 1.5 months of Kelly Johnson for 1.5 months of John McDonald and Aaron Hill. Neither team looks like it’s going to hold on to the players it’s acquired, so it’s not like it’s a huge steal either way. I think AA, once again, made a very shrewd deal, but I think that it’s not like the Diamondbacks are going to lose the NL West solely on the basis of this deal.

    Comment by big league chyut — August 23, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

  7. This sucks. But it rests all on the coaching staff to fix Hill. His approach is just so flawed, but a lot of that may rest on Dwayne Murphy’s swing-at-everything-pull-everything approach. Just get hot over the next month, Aaron. I don’t care if you need to BABIP .500 just to hit .280 or something. We just need him to be competent at all costs.

    Comment by Marc — August 23, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

  8. Really amazing Johnny Mac has a better wOBA than Hill this year…

    Comment by Danny — August 23, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  9. When I hear the names of 2010′s Type A compensation players like Victor Martinez, Adam Dunn, Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre, Cliff Lee, and Jayson Werth (to a lesser extent Downs and Balfour, as those teams knew their first-rounders were protected), you know what name doesn’t come to mind? Kelly Johnson.

    Let’s take a realistic look at what happens if the D-Backs keep Johnson and he makes the Type A ranking. How many GMs are going to give up their first-round pick for Johnson? The answer is perhaps none. He might sign with a team that has a protected first-rounder, but who wants to give up a second-round pick for Johnson? Not too many GMs, either. There’s certainly potential for a rebound there, but he’s still going to cost money and a draft pick besides. There’s plenty of risk involved.

    So, without a big market because of Type A locking him down, what can Johnson do but accept arbitration? He could pin the D-Backs for $7-8MM after his raise, a significant portion of the team’s payroll…or they just let him go for nothing. Regardless of their desired path, a Type A designation could end up hurting the team in wrangling an extra pick (or two) out of the draft, or kill a chunk of their budget for a questionable return.

    So they trade him away for Hill. Okay, not an upgrade, but Hill’s been a life-long Jay. He could accept arbitration in Toronto after all the time he’s spent with the organization. So it makes sense for the Jays to ship him off, away from potentially accepted arbitration. Hill also gets a chance to play in the postseason, and maybe that’s worth a gentleman’s agreement not to accept arbitration with the D-Backs in the offseason.

    That still leaves Johnson’s situation in Toronto to consider. If Johnson gets Type A, he could still accept arbitration, but his salary won’t be as big a dent in the Blue Jays budget as it was in AZ and the position’s open. If he doesn’t accept, AA could get a 1st or 2nd-round pick, although the question of who signs Johnson remains unanswered. Or Johnson could remain a Type B and earn AA a supplemental pick when he moves on. None of these options are particularly bad for the Blue Jays, especially when coupled with the potential of Hill accepting arbitration.

    In the end, it’s just a bunch of compensation finagling to get players into a spot in which they can decline arbitration and get their teams picks.


    Comment by cthabeerman — August 23, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  10. This is a head scratcher on par with the Johnson for Hill & J-Mac deal

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — August 23, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  11. You’re going to have to show the research supporting this. That’s a claim that would change offensive valuations pretty much across the board.

    Comment by joser — August 23, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

  12. No, they’re going to lose the NL West because in the past week they’ve apparently completely forgotten how to win baseball games.

    Comment by joser — August 23, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  13. “His line drive rate has increased, but his batting average on balls in play has only gotten worse. Since his contact rate has also increased, it really just seems like Hill hasn’t gotten good wood on the ball for two years now.”

    What? That means he’s probably getting unlucky, not that he somehow is that mythical hitter who can not only defy his BABIP but also his xBABIP.

    Comment by Oscar — August 23, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  14. I’m pretty certain that the Jays will not sign Hill after the season. While there is something to be said of team loyalty to certain players in the face of underwhelming performance (hello, Jerek Deter), the Jays haven’t really shown any inclination they’re going to be that sort of a team anytime soon.

    Will Aaron Hill help the Jays next season if he’s resigned? Not likely. I hope he gets on track but I don’t know that he’ll really help any team at all unless he gets it together.

    The Jays have a ton of flexibility in any way, as well as a very, very deep system that can replace Hill through sign or trade or even magic. If anyone in the league understands that Hill isn’t very good, it’s AA. He won’t be back.

    Johnny Mac will be back though, either to perform this same role or as a coach with the team or in the minors.

    Comment by sc2gg — August 23, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  15. Since Hill and Johnson are essentially a wash because of the amount of time left in the season so Arizona gained some bench depth in McDonald. The fact that Johnson may be worth some compensation to Toronto if he leaves, is the cost of doing business. The Jays get something in return for throwing some depth Arizona’s way. Seems fair to me.

    Comment by Slick — August 23, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

  16. I don’t believe Hill has any chance of making Type B.

    Also, last year didn’t have a lot of middling Type As get signe that I can think of, but the year before both Marco Scutaro and Orlando Cabrera were worth Type A compensation, just to name middle infielders. There’s always going to be someone who desperately needs a second baseman.

    Comment by Charlotte — August 23, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

  17. My bad, Hill’s still hanging onto the bottom of Type B. He wasn’t listed as a potential source of draft picks for Toronto because, you know, he would accept arbitration immediately and enthusiastically.

    Comment by Charlotte — August 23, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  18. Hill k’s less because he swings at the first pitch and hits an infield pop-up…. I’m not sure how that is any more valuable than a strikeout.

    Comment by rdillon99 — August 23, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  19. He also has one of the highest infield fly rates from 2008-11. He just isn’t making good contact anymore. Automatically assuming that he is going to regress to his 2006-08 levels would be based on the belief that he is the same hitter he used to be. He isn’t. I probably could have explained that better, but this goes beyond him being unlucky.

    Comment by Eric Seidman — August 23, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  20. What Slick says. Arizona’s in a pennant race, and now they got a real actual defensive shortstop. If nothing else, they can use him for late-game defensive replacement.

    Comment by Richie — August 23, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

  21. Fair trade, but I don’t understand why people are so quickly to write off Johnson signing with the Jays?

    Alex had an eye on him ever since the start of the year, and they’ll now evaluate him to see if they want him to be the 2B next year. I think even if he hits .230 he’ll be the Jays starting 2B next year.

    Comment by KKC — August 23, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

  22. Except that Hill and Johnson aren’t at all a wash. As the article points out, Johnson is pretty clearly the better player and the addition of McDonald does little to negate that. Add to that the fact that Johnson might be worth some compensation in the offseason and this is a pretty sizable win for the Jays, even if it is for just 5 weeks or so.

    Comment by chuckb — August 23, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  23. and last year, too. but by an even bigger margin.

    The DBacks would be wiser to use JMac as their starting 2B, and keep Hill on the bench.

    Comment by everdiso — August 23, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

  24. Johnson isn’t “clearly the better player,” especially given the volatility of defensive metrics. He’s clearly the better offensive player, but the Arizona scouts may have Hill’s defense as significantly better than Johnson’s.

    I think both players would be insane to decline arbitration, so all this talk about draft picks seems a little premature. Calling it a “sizable win” is laughable. The deal is pretty uneventful.

    Comment by Alan — August 23, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  25. Aaron Hill is not a very good defensive player, and has earned every single bit of his negative UZR/150 ratings over the last 3 years.

    Comment by everdiso — August 23, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  26. Unless of course you actually watch Aaron Hill play..

    Scouts > UZR

    Comment by KKC — August 23, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

  27. AH pops up astonishingly often. May as well be k’s.

    Comment by grady — August 23, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

  28. Exactly right. It doesn’t seem plausible to me at all that 1) Johnson turns down arbitration and 2) the Jays want him to.

    A one-year deal is good for Toronto and it’s something they couldn’t sign him to if he had stayed with AZ (since he’d just accept arbitration there).

    Comment by Welp — August 23, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

  29. These articles summarize things pretty well. I’ll still be cheering for Hill and McDonald in Arizona, although I can’t say I think Hill will do well, he’s been putting enormous pressure on himself in Toronto and failing, I’m not sure being in a playoff race will help with that.

    Arizona also recently traded Brandon Allen and signed Overbay. D-back fans have got to be a bit scared.

    Comment by Moonraker — August 23, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  30. I watch Aaron Hill play more than most anyone.

    Like I said, he’s earned every bit of that negative UZR. He’s a noticeably below average defender, with no range at all to his left anymore, and fairly poor work on double plays as well. He can still range to the middle and fire the ball over to 1st on the run pretty well, though.

    Comment by everdiso — August 23, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

  31. No range to his left anymore? Wow? that is just wrong in so many ways. I watch every Jays game, and nothing could be more wrong.

    Comment by ddriver80 — August 23, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

  32. Kelly Johnson makes nearly $6 million this year. I actually doubt the Blue Jays would offer him arbitration, given how bad he has been this year. That said, I agree completely that this is a puzzling move from the Diamondbacks’ perspective, as Hill is even worse.

    Comment by Joel — August 24, 2011 @ 2:54 am

  33. They are both probably about average defensively right now. UZR likes Johnson more than Hill, but Dewan’s +/- and TZL have preferred Hill over the past few years.

    And to throw another scouting report into the mix, I watch a lot of jays games, and would say that Hill has declined to about average at 2nd.

    Comment by gabriel — August 24, 2011 @ 7:04 am

  34. when hes just beating it into the ground for a double play and popping up the first pitch instead of consistently working counts it doesnt really equalize
    hill was looking like a nice first round pick for a few years with the jays but who knows what happened ? maybe he needs his eyes checked, maybe he was a juicing or just started trying to swing for the fences to much cause he has fallen off a cliff !

    Comment by johnny 5 — August 24, 2011 @ 7:10 am

  35. Just a guess regarding Kelly Johnson’s defensive development: Those Dbacks coaches know how to coach. Stephen Drew saw similar improvement in UZR after Kirk Gibson hired Matt Williams full time.

    Comment by Thatch85 — August 24, 2011 @ 8:22 am

  36. The Giants have forgotten for about a month though…and they NEVER knew how to hit anyway.

    Comment by DD — August 24, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  37. sounds embarassing

    Comment by csawce — August 24, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  38. It’s sacrilegious to compare Johnny Mac to anyone, he has no equal!

    Comment by tdotsports1 — August 24, 2011 @ 9:12 am

  39. They will offer him arbitration. If he declines, the Jays get a draft pick. If he accepts, the Jays have a 2B for next year for about what picking up Hill’s option would have cost. Not that they wold have picked up the option, but clearly it is an amount they can afford. The Jays will be in need of a 2B (at least until Hechavaria is ready) next season, so offering Johnson way of filling the gap than signing a FA. Either way, it works out, though I suspect AA would prefer the draft pick.

    Comment by Steve — August 24, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  40. I understand the focus on the Type A status from Toronto’s perspective (the consensus seems to be that it’s win/win for Toronto whether or not Johnson accepts arbitration), but that’s not really relevant to the Arizona side of the deal (because it’s not win/win for them if he accepts). Let’s pretend the choices were A. hold Johnson for playoff run (and not offer arb) or B. trade now to maximize return…which makes the most sense?

    I submit that (B) makes sense provided you actually improve your team (and, better still, you do it *before* July 31st when you know Drew is out for the rest of the year). As the article points out, there’s the problem. McDonald > Bloomquist, yes, but, only in a cheery version with rose-tinted glasses will Hill approximate Johnson’s value, yielding a positive expected value for Arizona.

    Having said that…
    “[Hill's] line drive rate has increased, but his batting average on balls in play has only gotten worse…his contact rate has also increased…” Isn’t that the sort of thing that makes a GM sound less deluded when they say: “Yes, our coaches can fix this guy!” ?

    Comment by joshcohen — August 24, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  41. no kidding

    Comment by David K — August 24, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  42. KJ would have to be just as much of an Arb risk as Hill is. Problem is KJ is currently a type A and who is going to give up a 1st rounder to sign 30 yo KJ coming off a poor year????

    Comment by Mitch — August 24, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  43. This. It seems most likely that AA and Johnson work out a deal that keeps him in TOR for another year or 2. I think there’s too much of an arb risk for them to be in this to try and get picks. Those who’ve said that I think missed what’s going on here.

    Comment by Mitch — August 24, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  44. My theory is that a couple of years ago Hill began styling himself a power hitter, even going with a heavier bat (a Troy Glaus model, if I’m not mistaken). Now he seems too slow getting the bat through the zone, resulting in a ton of popups. At his best, he was a line-drive doubles hitter with a compact stroke. That’s what he needs to get back to.

    I’ve also wondered about the concussion issue. He did have one of his best seasons the year after the concussion, but head injuries are weird. It seems possible that it could have affected him in subsequent years.

    Subjectively, he now seems like an average defender at best. He used to be an elite defender, but those days are long gone.

    Comment by greenfrog — August 24, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  45. I saw a report a few days ago that said Toronto coaches had worked with Aaron Hill and adjusted his swing significantly. The next day (and his last in Tor) he went 3 for 4 or something like that. Might be some substance to that.

    Comment by Luke — August 24, 2011 @ 1:59 pm


    Comment by Luke — August 24, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  47. Nails Steve. Except that I think AA’s preferred scenario is:
    A) Offer abitration
    B) Johnson accepts and gets 1yr @ ~$7m.
    C) Johnson plays one year of average or so 2B
    D) Johnson qualifies as a Type B, is offered arbitration and refuses
    E) Hechavarria is ready to push Escobar to 2B and the sandwich round pick is just gravy.

    Comment by Someanalyst — August 24, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  48. I think you take a look at Hill’s former power, and if you think you can take advantage of that currently untapped ability in that ball park that’s the only way this deal makes sense.

    Comment by Jade — August 24, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

  49. Kevin Towers is simply replicating the 2007 Toronto infield. That team was magical.

    Sadly, he’ll might have to wait until the offseason to pick Reed Johnson, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells.

    Comment by someguy — August 24, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

  50. He may be making reference to the extreme likelihood that this is the first time a FG writer made the “good wood” argument as opposed to the rote luck regression argument.

    Apparently Aaron Hill is the offensive Matt Garza. Sabre laws are easily cast aside if they don’t fit the narrative.

    Comment by Paul — August 24, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  51. Just watch Hill on a consistent basis. Nothing will reassure you more that he is broken.

    Comment by Marcus — August 24, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  52. I watch nearly every Jays game, and yes, Hill is average, at BEST.

    That is of course when he’s healthy.

    Comment by Marcus — August 24, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  53. He’s definitely been using a heavier bat ever since that 36 HR season. He’s seems utterly convinced he’s a power hitter. If the D-Backs can convince him otherwise, somehow, they’ll have a good hitter.

    As for the concussion, I don’t think its been an issue. His hamstring on the other hand…

    Comment by Marcus — August 24, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

  54. I’m pretty sure he could have Vernon Wells and Alex Rios right now, for half a bag of balls each, if he’d pay their salaries.

    Comment by Greg W — August 24, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

  55. Only in the NL can an infield consisting of Aaron Hill, McDonald and Overbay be contributors on a playoff team. Must be nice.

    Comment by Jaysfan — August 25, 2011 @ 1:06 am

  56. Doesn’t really have anything to do with the NL. Most teams don’t have Justin Upton, not to mention the 3rd best offensive catcher in the MLB right now.

    Comment by Jdub220 — August 26, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

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