Eleven Years Ago Today
The Blue Jays traded Aaron Hill and John McDonald to the Diamondbacks for Kelly Johnson.
I remember the trade mostly because I was in Fernie, BC and this was back in the days when WIFI wasn’t everywhere and there were Internet Cafes. Fernie had one, and you went there and used one of their computers to reach the internet. It was not a fun way to do a post.
Anyway, Aaron Hill wasn’t having a great year in 2011. He was hitting .205/.270/.313 with 6 home runs in 104 games. Hill had a tremendous 2009 season, hitting 36 home runs. Then 2010 was a disappointment, with a .665 OPS.
2011 was more of the same. Fans can turn on a guy who has a super season and doesn’t match it later. We weren’t exactly thrilled with Hill.
Kelly Johnson was having a very similar time with Arizona. At the trade time, he was hitting .209/.287/.412 with 18 home runs. Like Hill, Johnson had better terrific in the past and was a second baseman too. The biggest difference was that Johnson hit left-handed.
John McDonald was a fan favourite. He was a hard-working, great glove, poor bat middle infielder. I loved watching him play defense. I loved watching him practice his defense, the rare time I could get to.
Kelly was a guy that Alex Anthopoulos had wanted for a long time and finally got. We seem to always be looking for that left-handed hitting power bat. He did hit some better for that last month with the Jays (.270/.364/.417, with 3 home runs in 33 games). Unfortunately, he returned to his non-hitting ways in 2012, putting up a .225/.313/.365 with 16 home runs in 142 games.
After that season, he signed with the Rays as a free agent and bounced from team to team for the next three years before retiring after the 2016 season.
Hill played five pretty good seasons with the Diamondbacks, hitting .273/.331/.439 with 55 home runs in 525 games and winning the Silver Slugger award in 2012. Well, actually, he had one very good season (he had a 5.1 bWAR in 2012) and then had a bunch of roughly replacement-level seasons. But the Diamondbacks made it to the playoffs in 2011 after the trade. Hill had a very good series, hitting .278/.435/.444 in their 5-game NLDS loss to the Brewers.
The Jays would spend the next few seasons trying to figure out their middle infield. But it would get better.