The clock struck horseshit this week, bringing another uneventful series of GM meetings to a close. Nothing noteworthy happened, but nothing noteworthy ever does. This setting is for laying groundwork. Hopefully much was laid, we'll never know. Tim Dierkes has built quite a cottage industry of tracking and aggregating these trade rumours, the bulk of which come to nothing. Take Troy Glaus for example. A whisper about his possible availability, a quick mention from Blair connecting Rolen in the Lincecum sweepstakes last year, but nothing real. Next thing you know, he's gone.
Armed with this convenient and anecdotal evidence I, with a delightful mix of cynicism and hope, believe the dearth of fleshy stories linking J.J. Hardy and the Jays is a good thing. For I believe he to be the ideal get for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hardy won't be the answer to all the Blue Jays ills, but he is a good place to start. With the nearest shortstop prospect still better than 3 years away, the Jays need a more suitable stopgap than the Scutaros of the world. J.J. Hardy is all that and then some.
Contractually, Hardy is still under team control for 2 more years, meaning he would be a reasonably priced contributor during the pivotal 2010 season (more on that in the coming weeks.) Hardy is young enough to continue improving, he is big and he is good.
He, in stark contrast to the 2008 Blue Jays, kills both finesse pitching and left handed pitching. He's as patient as the most laconic Blue Jay (4.0 p/pa), has a lot of pop (14% home run/fly ball) without hitting a ton of balls in the air. In fact, his 2008 batted ball numbers look suspiciously like the Jays best hitter of 2008, Vernon Wells.
Defensively, he's awesome. Leading all shortstops with 72 out of zone plays, he amassed an excellent +19 defensive +/- in 2008. He was
The Blue Jay he reminds me of most is his would-be double play partner, Aaron Hill. While that Fangraphs link will provide visual evidence of their similarity in age and production, I'll use their slash lines for simplicity's sake:
Aaron Hill, career (475 games) - .284/.339/.409/.748Above-average contributors on the whole, well above replacement for their position with bright futures and supple gloves o'plenty. (How does a middle infield with +45 and +33 from 06-08 grab ya?) For the money, you couldn't do much better.
J.J. Hardy, career (456 games) - .270/.329/.446/.775
It is my contention that the JPs should pony up here. Short of Brett Cecil, nearly any (one) pitching prospect should be fair game. Three, even four years of Hardy will serve as an excellent bridge to Jackson. His GROFappeal is high, what with the pop and the slick fielding and obvious broad-bangery. I'm now officially in the tank for Hardy, and will be quite disappointed when it doesn't happen. Fire JP!