I’m still torn about the trade of Josh Hamilton to the Rangers in exchange for Edinson Volquez, Texas’ minor league pitcher of the year. It will probably take a few days for me to decide, and part of that is the fact that I really liked Josh Hamilton, so I’m not sure I can be completely objective about this.

I’ve said multiple times that I thought trading Hamilton was a good idea (there is a good chance that his value will never be higher than it is today), but I’m just not sold on Volquez yet. I need to research him a little more. He’s never been, as someone said in the comments yesterday, as highly rated as Homer Bailey, but that doesn’t mean that he does not have the potential to be a very good pitcher in Cincinnati.

So I’ll wait to draw my final conclusions about this trade. For now, here’s what others are saying about the deal…

–Here’s CTR’s piece in the Post, which includes this quote from Hamilton:

“I think I was in the right place for me coming back to baseball,” said Hamilton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft. “Cincinnati welcomed me with open arms – who would have thought a city that had never seen a guy play baseball would? It’s going to be one of my favorite places forever. I enjoyed the fans, the organization, I talked to (general manager) Wayne (Krivsky) and told him how much I appreciated the opportunity in taking a chance and seeing what I can do.”

I was there on Opening Day when Hamilton got a standing ovation. It was a surreal moment.

CTR also has some interesting quotes about Volquez and about the trade:

“(Volquez) is athletic with a live arm,” Krivsky said. “He’s from the Dominican Republic and his idol is Pedro Martinez. He’s got charisma, animation. He’s got a fastball, in the 92-94 (mph) range, but can go get 97 when he needs to. He’s got a hard breaking ball that acts like a slurve at times. He’s got impressive stuff, it’s a matter of him maturing and commanding that stuff.”

Volquez also started six games for the Rangers last season, going 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

“This trade would not have been done had we not felt that (Volquez) was able to not only compete, but win a job in our rotation in ’08,” Krivsky said.

The trade of Hamilton could open up a spot in the outfield for Jay Bruce, Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2007.

“We have depth in the outfield and we’re trading from our position of depth,” Krivsky said. “To have a guy like Jay Bruce and Chris Dickerson and (Norris) Hopper, we have some depth in the outfield. It allowed us to consider trading a guy like Hamilton, and if we didn’t feel real good about the starting pitcher coming back we wouldn’t have made the deal.”

Krivsky, though, didn’t rule out another move for a more experienced starter.

“It depends on what you’re giving up and the price tag from the standpoint of talent, or if it’s a free agent, years and dollars,” Krivsky said. “You’re always looking for pitching. There aren’t any jobs being given out, they will have to earn a position. With Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Matt Maloney and Homer Bailey, you have four starters that are 21-24 that are on the cusp of making a mark on the major leagues. To have four guys 21-24 with the type of ceiling all four of these guys have, we feel good.”

All that is reasonable, though (A) I’m not sure what Volquez’s “charisma, animation” has to do with anything and (B) mentioning Jay Bruce’s name in the same sentence as Hopper and Dickerson is insane.

On that note, please tell me I’m crazy for foreseeing Norris Hopper in CF in the Opening Day lineup:

With Hamilton gone, the Reds’ center field position is open for competition in the spring, Krivsky said.

“That’s what spring training will determine,” Krivsky said. “(Manager) Dusty (Baker) will play the guy who earns it. With Hopper, (Ryan) Freel, Dickerson and Bruce we’re comfortable with the four guys in competition for playing time.”

John Fay wonders if this trade will “make way for Jay” Bruce, but I’m less than confident. I hope Bruce is the Opening Day CF.

–Red Hot Mama finds the trade “neither inexplicable nor completely insane.”

Hal McCoy says that the glut in the outfield made Hamilton expendable.

–Some quotes from Hamilton and Krivsky on Fay’s blog.

–Some folks have wondered whether this trade makes it more or less likely that the Reds will be able to swing a trade for Baltimore’s Erik Bedard. The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Bedard is not likely to be traded by Opening Day at this point.