CINCINNATI — It's fodder for a barroom argument: Who made out better when the Texas Rangers traded Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera to the Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton?
So far, the Dec. 21, 2007, deal has been great for both teams. Hamilton is a Triple Crown candidate in Texas, while Volquez is 9-2 with a 1.64 ERA. He's been a lights-out, front-of-the-rotation pitcher, who is only 24 years old. Meanwhile, Hamilton, 27, is batting .319 with 18 homers and 72 RBI playing center field in Texas.
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Is it more valuable to have an everyday potential superstar in your lineup or an every-fifth-day dominating starting pitcher?
Let the debate go on.
Suffice to say, both teams are happy with the outcome.
From the Rangers' perspective, they have never been able to develop top-of-the-line pitching. Even when they have, either injuries or the brutal Texas heat have taken a toll on their prospects. Everyday players also tend to wear down and fade as the summer gets hotter. Some scouts will argue that you can always find a hitter, but a front-line starter is tough to come by.
Former Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky decided to roll the dice at the time, feeling he had Jay Bruce on the horizon to go along with Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. Krivsky used Hamilton as the key chip in acquiring pitching.
The Reds had Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo at the top of their rotation, but they clearly needed more. So Krivsky and Texas GM Jon Daniels made the deal, neither one at the time figuring Volquez would be a No. 1 starter (he had been 3-11 in parts of three seasons in Texas) or Hamilton (who hit .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBI in his only major-league season), a Triple Crown candidate. But that's precisely where we are.
While the trade has helped both teams, neither club appears to be going anywhere this season. The deal was made for long-term results. The Reds can build around Bruce and a young staff anchored by Volquez, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. And between now and when maturity sets in, Volquez will fuel the debate more and more. Particularly if he is the next Pedro Martínez.