Trevor Hoffman has been a San Diego Padre for so long, it's almost impossible to remember that he made his major league debut with the expansion Florida Marlins back in 1993. It's also nearly impossible to remember that he drafted by the Reds as a hot-hitting shortstop at the University of Arizona back in 1989, and switched over to pitching in 1991 when his bat could no longer make the ball go to happy, safe places. With the exception of a 2003 stint on the D.L. because of shoulder surgery, Hoff saved at least 30 games for the Pads every year since 1995, and is the all-time leader in that stat category of calculated artifice, the save.
Today, however, the team in the city where he is idolized has cut him loose, presumably without "Hells Bells" blasting over the P.A. in San Diego International's terminal D. Sure, the Padres are facing massive upheaval with the pending financial and marital crisis in owner John Moores' pocketbook, but who ever thought alimony payments included future hall-of-fame hurlers?
Yes, Hoffman's fastball has lost some juice over the past couple of years, and his slider just isn't sliding as much anymore: fella gave up eight tater tots in just 45 innings pitched last year. But he's one of the last things bringing the San Diego kiddies to the park; the team lost 99 games in 2008 and don't look to be improving greatly on that number for the next few years. It's rebuilding time, and the Padre higher-ups figure, "Why blow eight million on our legendary closer when he won't have wins to close out?"
Well, the Padres offered him just $4 million for '09...until they reneged on the offer and let him go, via fax. Ken Rosenthal gripes that the Padres pulled their reduced contract offer without even letting Hoffman meet with the higher-ups, something he had personally requested. Hoffman was probably thinking that yes, the Face of the Franchise for over ten years deserved a sitdown with the big bosses.
Folks, I hate to come to this conclusion time and time again, but there's no love and devotion in the business of baseball. None of these guys play the game to make friends or to build relationships, they do it because (a) they're good at it (b) it's fun and (c) they can make a lot of money. Hoffman is off to close out games for the Indians, or the Mets, or the Cardinals, or who knows where.
Still, folks in San Diego are reluctantly mellow and I'm sure Trevor himself didn't want to be uprooting for the final seasons of his career. We'll revisit all this once his next destination is known, but until then, lift your fish tacos and join me in toasting Trevor Hoffman's career as a San Diego Padre.