Shawn Hill's New Home: Toronto?
Well, at least that's what it looks like. According to the Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair, the Blue Jays are already in serious negotiations with the former Nats starter, a move that makes a lot of sense both for Hill and Toronto.
Why does it make sense for both sides? Just consider these factors:
- Hill has never been able to maintain his health over an extended stretch, but when his elbow is right, he has really good stuff (his pitching certainly seemed better than his 3.42 ERA in 2007 at RFK, if you ask me).
- The Blue Jays have shown a penchant for giving guys who came up through the system a real chance. Jesse Litsch is the most obvious case, and there's no reason to believe that, if Hill starts in AAA and provides solid starts, he could be suiting up in Toronto before season's end.
- Hill is a native Canadian, so the Blue Jays are about as close to a hometown (maybe home country is more appropriate) team as he gets. Combine that with the medical comeback factor, and Hill would be a pretty inspiring story.
It also makes sense because this is exactly the kind of move that J.P. Ricciardi has to be willing to make if the Jays are ever going to get lucky and make any kind of a run at the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays in the AL East. After losing A.J. Burnett and a handful of role players in the offseason, Toronto is looking at a serious uphill climb in the AL East, and a possible rebuilding job -- again -- if things fall apart quickly. Roy Halladay has already been talked about as a trade deadline blockbuster candidate.
While the teams lineup cornerstones, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, are locked up for big dollars and long years, it's entirely possible that Ricciardi is looking at this year as a campaign to re-build the team's starting rotation. While the Red Sox took multimillion-dollar fliers on John Smoltz and Brad Penny, Ricciardi inked the likes of Matt Clement, Mike Maroth and, gulp, former Oriole Adam Loewen.
If we are to believe Blair's account (and there's no reason not to), Toronto wants to wrap things up with Hill soon, or not at all. That means we could know sometime today whether Hill has a new home, or whether he'll continue wandering around Florida looking for work, a pitching vagabond in an economic climate that could turn him into a young, athletic candidate to write a chapter of modern baseball's "Grapes of Wrath".
Yet Hill has this quote to be optimistic about, which means we may also be seeing him throw off a mound soon, albeit in a very different uniform:
"They're still talking, but both sides would like to get something done quickly because the kid needs to start pitching again," said a source familiar with the Jays' interest
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