a once-in-a-generation talent with a golden left arm (as a schoolboy pitcher he consistently hit 96mph) and a vicious home run swing (his bat speed was once clocked at a ridiculous 110mph). He was a true five-tool wonder... (SI, June 2, 2008)
Good pitching is generally considered more valuable because it's so hard to come by, a point the Rangers patented. An ace is the most difficult acquisition of all. Besides winning games and stopping losing streaks and eating up innings, the ripple effect he creates – making the back end of the rotation better, saving wear and tear on the bullpen, improving team morale – is incalculable.
Volquez's mid-90s fastball and excellent changeup, both delivered from the same three-quarter arm slot the Rangers tried to change, have been the talk of the NL. The consistency he lacked as the Rangers rushed him along has emerged in Cincinnati, where he draws comparisons to his idol, Pedro Martinez.
Bottom line: Though highly regarded by the Rangers, Volquez is pitching at a level that surpasses anything anyone projected.
And Hamilton? Even as he becomes the fastest player in AL history to 50 runs batted in or hits a 10th-inning, two-strike, opposite-field home run on the road or covers grass faster than any 6-4, 235-pound man should be allowed, his success is no surprise, really.
Given the incredible caliber of play that Volquez and Hamilton have delivered so far this season, maybe the real question should be: Who can keep it up?
If both, the debate lingers. Otherwise, discounting prospects of injury and, in one case, the possibility of relapse, bet on the guy who was supposed to be this good. At least you're sure Hamilton isn't in over his head, anyway.
I guess as you can see, I'm definitely favoring the Rangers side of this deal, but not by much. The team was going to have a hole either way you look at it and I suppose getting a nearly certain everyday player for an uncertain pitching prospect is not a terrible trade off. Even though the team could have had Hamilton for nothing - that fact, is what makes this deal close, in that the Reds essentially acquired a top pitching prospect by allowing Hamilton to make the big league roster last April.
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