View Full Version : USA Today Sports Weekly Cover Story - Volquez Hamilton Trade

06-11-2008, 02:52 PM
My Sports Weekly arrived today and the cover story featured Edinson Volquez on the cover. The story is by Bob Nightengale about trades this offseason, with much highlighting of the Volquez Hamilton trade. It has quotes from Wayne and an interesting one from Billy Hatcher.

Trade winds can be fickle, but Reds, Rangers have no regrets

By Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY
Wayne Krivsky kept waiting for a flood of hate mail to reach his desk once the trade was announced. But now, as the recently fired general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, he finds himself without a desk.
Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels braced himself for more bitter criticism, wondering how he could possibly give up another pitcher, particularly after trading Chris Young and John Danks in two stinkers in recent years.

Six months after announcing that Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton was going to the Rangers for starter Edinson Volquez and a minor league prospect, the trade continues to reverberate around baseball.

The deal is debated, dissected and deliberated throughout virtually every baseball clubhouse and front office across the land and will reach an apex July 12 at New York's Yankee Stadium, where Hamilton and Volquez are in line to be All-Stars for the first time in their brief careers.

Hamilton is the hottest hitter on the planet, leading the American League with 17 homers, 69 RBI and batting .315 in a bid to win the Triple Crown. Volquez is the hottest pitcher on the planet, leading the majors with a 1.56 ERA to go with his 9-2 record.

"It was the perfect trade, the perfect match," Krivsky says. "It's what trades are supposed to be about."

THE HAMILTON-VOLQUEZ trade was the headliner last offseason among several marquee trades that have helped teams stay in contention this summer:

•The Chicago White Sox cringe wondering where they'd be without acquiring left fielder Carlos Quentin from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He leads the team with 16 home runs and 53 RBI.

•The Diamondbacks are in first place in the National League West with the help of starter Dan Haren (6-4, 3.44 ERA), acquired from the Oakland A's.

•The Philadelphia Phillies finally have the closer they've been missing since Billy Wagner's departure. Brad Lidge, acquired from the Houston Astros, has 17 saves.

•The Astros certainly wouldn't be in the playoff hunt without shortstop Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles (.304, seven homers, 39 RBI), closer Jose Valverde (16 saves) from the Diamondbacks or center fielder Michael Bourne, with his speed and defense, from the Phillies.

•And the Tampa Bay Rays' rise to contention can be largely attributed to their acquisition of starter Matt Garza (4-2, 4.21 ERA) and shortstop Jason Bartlett (.243) from the Minnesota Twins.

"I know we wouldn't be where we are today without them, especially the way Bartlett has played," Rays manager Joe Maddon says.

Yet, on the flip side, who would ever have imagined that the Detroit Tigers would be in last place after acquiring All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera and former 20-game winner Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins for five prospects?

Or that the Seattle Mariners would have the worst record in baseball after grabbing ace Erik Bedard from the Orioles for reliever George Sherrill and prospects?

"I think we all would prefer to draft well and develop and bring your guys through the system," says White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, who has made more trades than any GM in baseball the past five years.

"That's doing the job from top to bottom. But you have to make trades and hope to do it in a blended type of way through trades, free agents and prospects.

"We've felt that we've done well enough (in the trade market) where we've created a good nucleus moving forward.

"We feel good about the present and feel good about tomorrow, too."

IN MANY CASES, trades are simply a matter of dealing from strength to shore up a weakness, which was the case in Philadelphia.

The Phillies had a surplus of outfielders, even with the departure of free agent outfielder Aaron Rowand to the San Francisco Giants. The Astros, who felt they no longer could rely on Lidge, believed they had a surplus of late-inning relievers even before trading for Valverde. A perfect match.

"It's just like you're going in to shop," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick says. "You want to think you've got a good deal wherever you're shopping and also that the seller got a good deal. It's the same thing in trades. I think it's better if both parties can walk away and say they got something out of the deal and both feel comfortable that they satisfied their needs.

"Once in a while you'll make a lopsided deal, and the reason you make them is usually that somebody gets in somebody's doghouse and they want a change of scenery. But most of the time, I think most of the GMs are pretty realistic about the talent level."

Yet Krivsky and Daniels will tell you they are a bit surprised at the performances by the players they traded.

The Reds weren't sure Hamilton could stay healthy for a full season, watching him perform in just 90 games last season after missing most of the previous 31/2 seasons battling a drug addiction.

And Volquez appeared to be too erratic to be the ace of a staff, particularly having yet to develop a third pitch.

"I'm definitely not taking nothing away from Hamilton, because he's a great hitter," Reds closer Francisco Cordero says. "But Texas always had good hitters. They're short on pitching. When you've got young guys … like Volquez, like (Armando) Galarraga, who they traded away to Detroit, John Danks to Chicago, Chris Young to San Diego. … They've traded away a lot of young pitchers. And you know, that's a place where free agent pitchers don't sign, so you don't give up what you have."

Volquez has "been nothing but unbelievable," Cordero says. "He's not putting a lot of pressure on himself. He wasn't pitching (well) in Texas. I think he's a little bit more mature. Sometimes when you're young and you throw hard, sometimes you just want to show that. I know that was my case early in my career. All I cared about was throwing hard.

"I learned you've got to throw strikes, got to be able to move the pitches around like he's doing. He's been blessed with a lot of stuff."

THE RANGERS, again trying to overcome pitching woes, feel the same about Hamilton, who is vying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Rangers infielder Ian Kinsler swears Hamilton is the best player he's ever seen.

"I love Josh Hamilton, and he's probably one of the most talented players I've seen in my life," Reds coach Billy Hatcher says. "I'm not afraid to say it. They asked me (if I) would trade Josh Hamilton. I said, 'No.'

"I had him when he first came over to the Devil Rays, and I still haven't seen a kid more talented than him. He got caught up with the wrong crowd, did some things he shouldn't have done, but he's paid his time and come back."

Certainly it's easier for the Reds to watch Hamilton's sensational year with their recent call-up of Jay Bruce.

But even if not for Bruce's exploits, the Reds say, it's a trade they would make again, knowing the numbers each has produced.

"I know Josh is an unbelievable player," Reds starter Bronson Arroyo says. "He's always going to be an unbelievable player if he can stay healthy. (But) we've been dying for starting pitching over here, first of all. The second thing, (Hamilton's) body, even having time off, he's always (subject to) injuries. So knowing that we needed starting pitching that bad, I thought it was a great trade."

It will likely take years to determine if the Rangers or Reds got the benefit over the other. Teams such as the Marlins can't say they're a better team after their trade with the Tigers, but considering it was a trade for the future, they'd do it again having Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop in the rotation.

"It's one of the crystal ball deals," says Krivsky, who recently saw Hamilton in Texas and congratulated him on his success. "We both knew we were trading two top-end players, but who knows how each of them would have done if they stayed put? Maybe a change of scenery is what they needed.

"It took a lot of guts on both sides to make this trade. I know I had to think long and hard about it. I was expecting a stronger backlash from the fans (for) trading Josh, and maybe there would have been if Volquez isn't pitching like he is now. But I'm just so happy the way the deal worked out for both teams.

"If they can each end up in the All-Star Game … wow, can you imagine that?

"What a great story."

Contributing: Seth Livingstone in Philadelphia

06-11-2008, 02:53 PM
Volquez has "been nothing but unbelievable," Cordero says. "He's not putting a lot of pressure on himself. He wasn't pitching (well) in Texas. I think he's a little bit more mature. Sometimes when you're young and you throw hard, sometimes you just want to show that. I know that was my case early in my career. All I cared about was throwing hard.

Methinks Francisco needs to take Homer aside and give him the same sage advice.

06-11-2008, 02:55 PM
Methinks Francisco needs to take Homer aside and give him the same sage advice.
Except Homer isn't throwing hard...

06-11-2008, 02:57 PM
I think the baseball gods are going to find a way to get us that Volquez/Hamilton faceoff in the ASG :thumbup: By the way...Hammy will K on the changeup.