I’m sure all of you have heard and read about the Eric Hinske rumors/reports. I’ve heard them, too. What I have yet to hear, though, is the official word that the Jays have indeed sent Hinske packing to the Red Sox. No release has been issued and Toronto is keeping quiet about the matter for the moment. This deal seems pretty much done, though.
Last night, Jays manager John Gibbons pretty much confimed the trade was on by saying, "Maybe something is in the works, but nothing has been completed." Hinske was still around after the game and he seemed to be as clueless about the situation as we all were. "Clueless," in this sense, meaning that we were all void of any information from Toronto’s side. Sure, there are lots of "sources" out there who are saying the deal is done, but no one from either Boston or Toronto has come out and said that yet.
What was funny about the whole situation was before the game. Hinske was starting at third and Troy Glaus at DH. This was nothing strange — Glaus has been battling a pair of beat up legs. The day before, though, we all asked Glaus if he’d be willing to DH more to help protect himself from injury and he didn’t like the idea. He likes playing in the field. So when Hinske was a late scratch, we all just figured Glaus said he was fine to play third base.
"Maybe Hinske has been traded," one Toronto reporter said. We all laughed — but it was a slightly nervous laugh because whenever somebody is a late scratch at this time of the year, a trade is definitely a possibility.
Plus, you have to take into account Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi’s pregame comments — made after the Schoeneweis trade was announced:
"We’ve got a couple irons in the fire right now, but no one that we think is going to stop us from keeping going forward here. If we make a move, it’s probably going to be a move that gives us some payroll flexibility going forward, but not at the expense of losing performance."
Well, it turns out that he was referring to Hinske (if and when this trade is made completely official, anyway). Hinske had quickly gone from 2002 AL Rookie of the Year winner to bench player for the Blue Jays. Just because he was riding the bench, though, didn’t mean Toronto didn’t have to keep paying him for that five-year, $14.75 million contract he inked before the ’03 season.
That’s been a contract that the Blue Jays have been looking to move for a while. The reality is — despite the kind of offseason spending you all witnessed before this year — that Toronto doesn’t have a lot of money to work with before next year. The payroll will remain around $75 million and a lot of that money is tied into contracts for Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan, Troy Glaus, and Vernon Wells. Any extra cash for next year helps, so any money that Boston will willingly take off Toronto’s hands in regards to Hinske’s contract is a plus for next year.
"We spent our money on the players who we thought would be here for a while," Ricciardi before Wednesday’s game " Signing B.J. and AJ — that’s where our money went. It’s not like we’re going to have that kind of money to do that again this year. So any money we can save this year enables us to put it towards next year’s payroll."
I think that’s the main thinking behind dealing Schoeneweis and Hinske. Some of you fans will take it as waving the white flag — especially since Hinske was moved to a division rival — and it’s hard to say that thinking is unjustified. But keep these questions in mind: Would Hinske and Schoeneweis have been the difference-makers in making a late run at the postseason this year? And think of how much a difference that extra cash can make for next year. Hard to argue with the moves.
NOTE: Instead of editing the whole dang post, I’m just tossing this item here. I wrote this entry a few hours before the deal went through. Hinske has been traded to Boston for a player to be named or cash considertations and Toronto recalled third baseman John Hattig from Triple-A. Hattig will become the first player ever from Guam to appear in MLB.
I’m wondering what all you fans think of Toronto trading Hinske to a division rival, when the Jays are just 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox for second place in the division.