Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cincinnati Reds: Hot Stove Update (January 2009)

I intended to start up my Reds Hot Stove back in late November into early December, but not much was happening up until then for trades and/or free agent signings. While some still think the activity has been pretty low, things have definitely picked up since right before Christmas until now.

The first "big" deal was the acquisition of catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Baltimore Orioles for OF/utility man Ryan Freel. Freel's best days certainly appeared to be behind him, with a playing style best characterized as recklessly aggressive, and injuries over the past two seasons limited his availability and productivity. Hernandez saw his stock drop with a poor 2008 season, but his history indicates more upside potential and/or ability than he demonstrated last season. The two other players (minor leaguers) involved do not seem to warrant discussion, but I am happy to see a veteran catcher, particularly one of Latino descent, with a pitching staff of generally younger pitchers (and notable Latino phenoms in Volquez and Cueto). I think Jocketty played his cards right in this move.

While the free-agent signing of Willy Taveras seems to be met with mixed reviews, I honestly don't see Willy Taveras as the second coming of Corey Patterson for a handful of reasons, to be honest. Taveras was the MLB leader in stolen bases by a mile last season, and his steal % is excellent (over 90% as I recall, best in all of MLB). Yes, his OBP for last season, in all respects, was lousy. However, this team DOES need speed at the top of the order AND Ryan Freel, who was our only other SB guy, has been hurt for most of the last two seasons. Jerry Hairston, just re-signed, fills some of the speed equation, too, but where does he play longer term?

Edwin Encarnacion just might be a piece of the complex puzzle for the outfield that has been overlooked consistently. Some of the baseball "experts" have pointed to the fact that he plays third base hot and cold ... and makes some of the dumbest errors. Nobody questions he does have an arm, though, as most 3B do. Do with Encarnacion what the Brewers did with Ryan Braun - move him to the LF spot.

GABP doesn't have to be a power park, plain and simple. Remember the suggestion by Aaron Harang near the end of last season about raising some of the fences? While it seemed to be widely dismissed, it is not such an awful idea, particularly the small wall in right field. Want to equalize the effect for both teams? Raise that fence by a simple few feet (maybe wipe out one to two rows of seats at worst) and make hitters earn the cheap homers that park allows.

Say what you will about the Griffey effect on the design of GABP ... how many of the "cheap" homers did he actually hit here? Adam Dunn could hit his mammoth shots in any park ... same goes for Reds' killers like Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Ryan Howard, to name but a few. Those guys hit the long bombs in ANY park ... not much you can do with a park that allows for the northwest wind and humid summer air to launch those bad boys right towards the Ohio River.

Walt Jocketty is not "delusional" ... in fact, I would say his moves so far have been respectable. Why does everyone think this team cannot compete in 2009? Corey Patterson was the idea of Dusty Baker and pursued by now-deposed GM Wayne Krivsky. Krivsky also found gems (like Arroyo, Phillips, and Hairston) in conjunction with his scouting staff and management (like Baker and those before him). If you are in the "re-sign Dunn" camp that probably exists ... before you go that route, consider that the market isn't really what he wanted. The Reds, dare say it, might actually put him back in uniform before spring training OR they might just get a guy like Rocco Baldelli, who would be far superior to Dunn defensively and at least on par offensively. Baldelli's biggest knock has been his health issues ... if he has that under control, he's the guy I want in our outfield in 2009, not Dunn. Dunn had five plus seasons to show us how one-dimensional he was - all power, no fielding. I'm hardly his biggest fan, and I believe he belongs in the American League where they value sluggers who can't field (the DH) just to provide more offense. If he signs with a team like the SF Giants or the LA Dodgers (both whom are seeking sluggers), he might succeed ... SF is a much better bet, though. In his later years, Barry Bonds wasn't playing a very good LF defensively anyway, so that same short porch (into McCovey Cove) at San Fran's ballpark would suit Dunner just fine. If I were the Giants, I would actually consider Dunn as the cheaper alternative to Man-Ram, who comes with too much personal baggage AND plays a lousy OF, too.

All content courtesy of Clubhouse Connection ( and respective author JD Rentz. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment