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Mailbag: Looking at Rolen trade

Mailbag: Looking at Rolen trade

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Blue Jays fans had plenty to say before the Scott Rolen trade became official Monday evening. Since the reports surfaced on Saturday about this trade proposal, my inbox has been flooded with similar responses. It makes sense to question why the Jays and Cardinals would decide to swap similar third basemen. From the clubs' persepective, this trade might be a wash. But it's definitely a win-win situation as far as the players as concerned.

Glaus, while perfectly happy over the past two seasons with the Jays, trades the artificial playing surface in Toronto for grass in St. Louis. That could help ease his comeback from the left foot problems that plagued his 2007 season and led to a nerve decompression operation in September.

The trade also accomodated Rolen's desire to get out of St. Louis, where he's feuded with manager Tony La Russa over the past few seasons. In Toronto, Rolen also has a former St. Louis teammate in shortstop David Eckstein, who signed with the Jays in December. And, yes, Rolen can provide better defense than Glaus at third base.

So, this may have been a situation where both club's simply said, "Why not?" The move gives each player a fresh start, won't really affect the payroll, and doesn't create a glaring hole for either club. One thing that this deal does is shake up a Toronto offense that struggled in '07. The Jays' front office preached a stand-pat approach, but instead has attempted to inject new life to the roster.

Who do you think benefits more from the Glaus-Rolen trade, Toronto or St. Louis?
-- Reid G., Peterborough, Ontario

Right now, it's hard to tell whether one team benefits more than the other with this particular trade. Both players fill a need, but come with a high level of risk, considering their recent injury problems. Rolen had surgery on his left shoulder in September -- an injury that has limited him to 310 games over the past three seasons -- and Glaus underwent the left foot procedure.

In a perfect world, both Glaus and Rolen would enjoy successful comebacks and give each team an All-Star-caliber player. Glaus should be a potent bat to slot behind Albert Pujols in St. Louis' order and Rolen offers the Jays a more versatile bat. Over their careers, Rolen has performed better than Glaus in nearly every offensive category except home runs.

On defense, Rolen might be the best glove at third in baseball, when healthy. Putting him at third base, combined with having Aaron Hill at second, could mask any defense the Jays might've lost by making Eckstein the everyday shortstop instead of slick-fielding John McDonald. Rolen also provides more speed than Glaus on the basepaths.

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We all know that this is far from a perfect world, though. There's a good chance that Glaus or Rolen, or both, will face a setback. Jays fans saw last season with Vernon Wells how a left shoulder injury can limit a player's production and time will tell if Rolen can return to form. The true winner in this possible deal won't be clear until we see how Glaus and Rolen rebound.

Why haven't the Jays signed Hill to a long-term contract yet? He has already proven to be a worthy replacement for Orlando Hudson defensively at second base and I believe that he has the talent to be a career .300 hitter. They have to lock this guy up!
-- Trevor B., Hamilton, Ontario

The Jays have discussed signing Hill to a contract extension as soon as this offseason, but it's possible that the club will wait until next winter, when he'll be entering his first year of arbitration. Toronto definitely realizes Hill's potential and is exploring ways to keep him in a Jays uniform for years to come.

Toronto's more immediate concerns for this winter exist in their six remaining arbitration-eligible players (Alex Rios, Scott Downs, Marco Scutaro, Jason Frasor, Gustavo Chacin and Brian Tallet). The Jays are in talks with Rios about a multiyear extension and will likely exchange salary figures with those six players on Friday.

There has been a surprising amount of moves made by the Jays, considering they said it would be a quiet offseason. However, there's still no rumors about the catching situation. Is this an area they have given up on?
-- Kris D., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

No news doesn't mean there's no talks going on. Toronto hasn't abandoned its search for a catcher to serve as the backup to Gregg Zaun, even though a few players they once considered are now off the market. The Jays are still looking at potential trades, and there's always the chance the club will wait to see which catchers might become available during Spring Training roster cuts.

What's the status of Chacin? Will he be healthy for Spring Training? Is he out of options? He is arbitration-eligible and, for him to be sent down, wouldn't he need to be sent through waivers?
-- Sam D., Stouffeville, Ontario

The only way that Chacin would have to clear waivers is if he were out of options, which he is not. The Jays are indicating the left-hander should be healthy by Spring Training following surgery on his throwing shoulder in August. Still, Chacin has slipped down the depth chart and looks like a long shot to make the rotation. As things currently stack up, Chacin appears to be headed for the starting staff at Triple-A Syracuse to open the season.

Who do you think is better suited for the third spot in the batting order: Rios, Wells, Lyle Overbay or somebody else?
-- Jeremy P., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I think that'll depend on how Wells looks during Spring Training. If he appears to be over the left shoulder problem that aided a significant offensive slide last season, then he might be the best candidate for the No. 3 hole. When healthy, Wells can hit for average and power, and he's arguably Toronto's top baserunner. If Wells is still laboring, Rios' potent bat seems like a logical choice.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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