I like Steve Kline. Before he came to Baltimore he was one of my favorite players. I like gritty ballplayers and while Kline wasn't Lenny Dykstra or Trot Nixon running around in the outfield and playing on guts, luck and baseball brains, he always seemed like a bit of a misfit to me, with his filthy caps, indifference to shaving frequently and general surly demeanor. He didn't seem to care for Tony LaRussa, and I don't either, so that helped.
But you know, Kline stunk this year, and while I think he will have a solid 2006, he didn't like playing in Baltimore from the day he started doing it and it is probably just best to cut ties. It kind of sucks when one of your favorite players, a Steve Kline-level guy, comes to your team and craps the bed on you. But it happens.
As for LaTroy Hawkins, he's a guy whose career I've followed for odd reasons. I remember getting a Hawkins prospect baseball card way back when he was going to be a Twins starter, and the name stuck with me. He never made it as a starter and has had some very interesting years attempting to be a closer, but moving to a setup role did him a lot of good. He was pretty outstanding in 2002 and 2003 with Minnesota, and had a real good 2004 with the Cubs except when they tried to make him close. LaTroy doesn't want to close. He doesn't like doing it. He doesn't think he can be good at it. I'm somewhere in the middle on the idea that closers are overrated. Mediocre, "proven closers" are overrated and get more money than they're actually worth to save 25 games for somebody. But closing itself is a big mental issue for some guys, and LaTroy is one of them. Hopefully Perlozzo and Mazzone won't attempt making him the closer, because it'll backfire.
He's also about to turn 33 and is probably on the downside of his career after a slightly above average 2005 between the Cubs and Giants. On the plus side, we won't be paying him much and he's only signed through 2006. This really just seems like an exchange of relievers both teams had little interest in hanging onto.
Good luck to Steve Kline. I know a lot of you aren't fans of his at all, but hey, I'll miss "Paradise City" and Kline wanting to put umpires in the cobra clutch. Even though he wasn't a very good pitcher, he left a lasting impression, in good and bad ways. He's the type of guy that will be a fan favorite if he's throwing well and will be a boorish asshole if he's not. He either has his cake and eats it too or he just doesn't have any cake period.
Hopefully LaTroy will be the 8th inning guy we'll need, though I shudder to think what could happen if he does get forced into the closer's role, fails, and then we turn to Jorge Julio.