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No Big Deal for Diamondbacks
2003-05-30 08:46
by Jon Weisman

Even those of you who have long since abandoned the Adrian Beltre bandwagon should not be jealous of Arizona's acquisition of third baseman Shea Hillenbrand from Boston for pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim.

Putting aside the fact that it's a strange trade for a team plagued with pitching injuries, the Diamondbacks do not figure to get much added offense from Hillenbrand. Though he is batting .303, he has only three home runs and seven walks. His OPS is .778.

Now, 2003 may be the worst year in a long time for third basemen to come down the baseball pike (when's the last time any of you have seen a pike, by the way?), so Hillenbrand is not without value. According to Baseball Prospectus, Hillenbrand ranks as the 11th-best third baseman in baseball, far above Arizona's Matt Williams and even farther above Beltre.

Would one trade Andy Ashby for Hillenbrand? Sure. But in trading Kim, the Diamondbacks have traded their Odalis Perez.

Kim is 24 years old, 3 1/2 years younger than Hillenbrand. Despite his 1-5 record in his first year as a starter, he has an ERA of 3.56 pitching for a team that is housed in one of the top offensive parks outside of Colorado. (Fenway Park trails the BOB in offense noticeably, according to both Baseball Prospectus and BP ranks Kim as the second-unluckiest starter in major league baseball.

The trade does save Arizona money, according to reports.'s Jayson Stark writes that "The Diamondbacks will save about $1.9 million in salary for the rest of this season. And next year, with Kim potentially due to make $5 million through arbitration, they figure to save at least another $3 million. If that $5 million keeps Curt Schilling in town, they won't have to justify this too hard."

Maybe so, although that $5 million may also be simply going to pay off the Diamondbacks' existing salary burden.

Hillenbrand's mainstream stats may look even better playing the rest of the season with the Diamondbacks, but it is very difficult to believe that Arizona has made itself a better team, today or for the future. If the Dodgers had made the equivalent trade, then you'd have reason to be upset.

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