14 November 2002

ESPN.com is reporting the following headline:

On the table: Hampton, Johnson in six-player deal

Unfortunately, the headline doesn't tell you who the teams are; you have to read the article for that. Since there has been talk of the Yankees trading for Mike Hampton, my first thought was "Nick Johnson?" and then I nearly soiled myself, as the thought of my favorite team trading away a young, cheap firstbaseman (whom last year's BaseballProspectus said could turn out to be a cross between John Olerud and Barry Bonds) for a 30+ year old pitcher who sucks AND is owed more money than we have in Fort Knox did not sit well with me, to say the least. Thankfully, the story indicated that Charles, not Nick, was the Johnson involved in the deal, and that the Marlins, not the Yankees, were the other team. What a relief. Now I don't have to change my shorts for a few more days!

That being said, the deal would probably be good for almost all parties involved, though it sounds like Hampton won't let it go through anyway.

The Rockies would get:

Charles Johnson - a once-great defensive and pretty good offensive catcher who still has some power, when healthy. Coors Field should only boost his overall stats.
Preston Wilson- Average defensive OF with speed and power, whose main weaknesses (walks & strikeouts) should both be helped by Coors.
Vic Darensbourg and Pablo Ozuna - Replaceable relief pitcher and utility IF, respectively.

The Marlins would get:
Mike Hampton - Once-pretty good pitcher whose change-up and ground ball tendencies and the denser atmosphere of Miami should bring his pitching back to resembling Kenny Rogers in no time (instead of pitching like Fred Rogers, as he has done the last two years) . No wait, the other Kenny Rogers. Which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Juan Pierre - The only player who stands to really be hurt by the trade. Pierre's fast, VERY fast..but that's about it. He's only average defensively, and doesn't hit well enough to justify a full-time job. Without the Coors effect, it will show a lot more. Anyone looking for evidence that stolen bases don't lead to runs need look no further than Juan Pierre's Career Home/Road splits:

Home 703 129 234 54 44 11 50 18 .333 .381 .391
Road 706 95 200 56 41 9 50 17 .283 .330 .351

He has nearly identical plate appearances, steals and caught-stealings (~748, 50 and 18, respectively), but got on base 39 more times at home than on the road in that span and somehow, mysteriously, managed to score 34 more runs. Who'da thunkit? And this year's split was even worse. At home, he was Luis Castillo, without the "patience." On the road he was Rey Ordonez. In bad year. With a broken arm. Swinging a lead bat. OK, tungsten. The only difference is that Pierre could occasionally steal second before the next guy in the lineup killed a rally, and Ordonez pretty much has to stay put unless Trachsel bunts him over. This trade would essentially kill Pierre's career, or at least his career as a starter and a chance at another multimillion dollar contract.

Essentially, the trade would boil down to the two 1993 expansion teams exchanging headaches (unproductive players tied to cumbersome contracts), which could work out for one or both teams. If it doesn't, though, neither team is really much worse off than they were before, so why not do it? Oh, yeah, because Mike Hampton wants to go to a winning team.

"They're pretty much in the same situation we're in," Hampton said. "They've been in a cycle where they've been trading good players and going young. If I am going to be traded, I wanted to go to a team that could win right away."

Yeah, Mike, have you ever heard the old adage,

"Pitchers who have the worst ERA in the National League two years running can't be choosers"?

What right should Mike Hampton have to make a request to go to a contender? This is like a convict refusing to be released on probation unless he's guaranteed a free room at the Hilton. Get a grip, Mike. Not just on your curveball.

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