MLB

Ferguson: Making a case not to trade OF Bautista

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Scott Ferguson
6/7/2013 12:16:34 PM
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The Toronto Blue Jays' fate right now reminds me of the scene in the movie The Princess Bride were the wizard Miracle Max, played by Billy Crystal, is assessing whether the hero Westley is dead or if he can be saved. He used adjectives like "nearly" and "mostly" but saying ultimately that Westley wasn't dead and could be revived with his chocolate-coated miracle pill.

Until the great back-to-back pitching performances in San Francisco this week by Josh Johnson and R.A Dickey, I think most Jays fans were looking ahead to next year.

In fact, I've heard many suggest that maybe it's time to trade Jose Bautista and get as much as you can for him. For my part, that would be a mistake - at least for now.

It's true Bautista will be 33-years old in October and his production has diminished over the last two seasons; largely because of injuries. Still, he's second on the club in RBI's with 30 and tied for second in home runs with 12, and after a horrible start over the first five or six weeks, has his batting average up to .263.

Bautista is also the closest thing to a team leader this team has. With Edwin Encarnacion, he gives the Blue Jays a 1-2 power punch that ranks with the best in baseball.

They're not Cabrera and Fielder in Detroit, but they supply the intimidation factor in the middle of a line-up that a contender simply must have.

Bautista still has two years left on his deal with the Blue Jays with an option year, worth $14 million apiece. If things don't work out for this year's edition of the Jays and things don't improve by next year's trade deadline, that would be the time to move on Bautista. To do it now just doesn't make any sense.

I can think of three other teams that traded star right fielders who watched those deals blow up in their faces. Let's start with the Cleveland Indians. On April 17, 1960, they swapped their beloved slugging right fielder Rocky Colavito to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn, who had won the American League batting title the season before. But Rocky was a hero in Cleveland and had blasted 42 homers and drive in 111 runs in 1959. The trade didn't really help either team all that much and hurt Cleveland the most because of how crushed the Indians fans were over their favourite player being moved.

Frank Robinson had a solid 10 year career with the Cincinnati Reds and was only 29-years-old when the ball club hinted he was starting to look old and dealt him to Baltimore for pitchers Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas and outfielder Dick Simpson.

Robinson went on to forge a Hall of Fame career in Baltimore, helping the Orioles win a World Series and finished with 586 homeruns. He capped his career by becoming the first African American manager in the Majors in  Cleveland.

The Reds got burned again on November 3, 1992. They swapped Joe DeBerry and a 29-year-old outfielder by the name of Paul O'Neill to the Yankees for outfielder Roberto Kelly, who was touted as a rising star.

O'Neill turned out to be the difference maker. He played mainly right field for the Yanks and helped them win four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000 under Joe Torre. Though his temper flare-ups were part of the reason the Reds moved him, it was O'Neill's rage to win that helped put the fire in the belly of those great Yankees teams.

I'm not saying don't ever trade Jose Bautista -- just not now. See how this season and next play out and then if you have to make, your move.

Cuban defector Yasiel Puig is off to an incredible start with the Dodgers. In just four games, the 22-year-old, five-tool player is hitting .438 with three homers, including a grand slam and nine runs batted in. His OBPS is a staggering 1.501. He also has an incredible throwing arm and gunned down a runner at the plate to end a game from the warning track.

With Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford injured, Puig will get plenty of playing time playing right field and batting lead-off.

But when those two return, the Dodgers are going to have to make some pretty tough decisions, especially with the contracts Kemp, Crawford and their other outfielder Andre Ethier have.

Seven of the Blue Jays' next 10 games are against Texas - three at Rogers Centre and four at the Ballpark at Arlington next week. Going into last night's game, the Rangers had a 36-22 record - the best mark for 58 games in franchise history. So the next week-and-a-half could really tell the tail on the Blue Jays' season.

Jose Bautista (Photo: Brad White/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Brad White/Getty Images)
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