Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More hall of fame

The hall of fame ballots are out, with Rickey Henderson the only shoe-in. Jim Rice is in his last year on the ballot and he came very close last year so a lot of people think he is in as well. It doesn't look like Tim Raines will come close, which is a shame. And Bert "Be home" Blyleven probably won't make it either. We have visited McGwire's chances a little bit on this blog and even had some debate about it which is very much appreciated.

I think McGwire's low batting average brings up an interesting point. Who gets in the hall of fame is largely a reflection of what we think of the game of baseball. Electing McGwire would show that baseball is more complex than batting average (for hitters and, say, wins for pitchers). It's a reflection of what's important. That's why you have some guys in on (mostly) sentiment (I won't name names, as I don't want to anger my Yankee fan readers), and other guys not in who deserve it. Blyleven and Rice are a good example. Blyleven has the numbers (over 3k k's) but "didn't seem dominate" and doesn't have 300 wins. Never mind he played for losing teams (or maybe that's why). Rice, on the other hand, does not have the numbers but seemed dominate and was "feared." (But look at his intentional walks against say Bonds or Pujols.) My point is not which individual player should or shouldn't be in but rather that we want the hall of fame to reflect our feelings about the game, sometimes warts and all.

Hall of Fame trivia

As an aside to our on-going debate in this very blog on Mark McGwire's HOF credentials, VeniceLover posed the following trivia question: Which three HOF's are buried in Kentucky? I could only come up with two decent guesses, so I thought I would throw it open to the readership for the third name. I'm guessing Pee Wee Reese and Happy Chandler. (I'm pretty sure Jim Bunning is still alive.)

Any of you know if my two are correct, or who the third person is? And Mom if you're reading don't show me up on this one.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memphis, Baby!

We're heading to Tennesse for new year's eve in Knoxville and then on to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl on Friday. I don't know how much access I will have to the blog, so you may not hear from me for awhile. But if I can figure out the access, I'll continue with the top-ten baseball moments and other baseball rumors.

In the meantime, you can track the Cats bowl game at UK Football Fan (see link below).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Unit fall-out

I saw the S.F. rotation shaping up nicely with Lincecum (reigning Cy Young), Johnson (multiple Cy Young's), Zito (former Cy Young), Cain (stud), and Johnathan Sanchez, an up-and-comer lefty. He didn't have a great year last year, going 9-12, albeit for a bad team, with a 5.01 era. But he did strike out 157 in 158 IP. That's as solid a rotation as you'll find (except for maybe Zito). But the Oversized need some more offense to go with the pitching and that's where this post comes in. Maybe the Reds could send Easy Eddie to the Giants for Sanchez. Boy do the Reds need a lefty starter, and the Giants may be ready to trade some pitching abundance for some (potentially) good production. This would seem like a backward step for the Reds' offense, but Keppy could play third (with A-Gon at short) and we could still look for some right-handed pop in Baldelli or even Burrell. Food for thought.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I saw Milk tonight and thought it was a great movie. I'm going to make a few comments, which I typically wouldn't do as I'm a Castanza-type and have to "go in fresh." But this is a biopic, and the story is pretty well-known as far as the basics, so I'm probably not giving anything away. I just wanted to get my observations posted so that people could look for them in the movie (and before some other blogger tries to take credit).

Spoiler alert! If you're a "go in fresh" type, read no further. (Of course if you've seen Milk already, proceed with your normal amount of caution.)

There is a scene at the end where Milk is going down after being shot during an assasination (again no surprise) where they freeze on Milk in profile. He looks like Abe Lincoln's profile on the penny, sans beard. I think it's intentional. Lincoln was assasinated after an important victory for human rights as was Milk. I don't know that anyone is necessarily equating what Milk did with what Lincoln did, but there is certainly a parallel there.

I applaud the filmmaker, Gus Van Sant, on this film achievement, but wonder why in the world they didn't release this film before the election. Even Ronald Reagan came out against Prop. 6 in the movie (a very ironic, "we have enough laws to protect children" comment). Surely this movie could have helped in the fight against Prop. 8 in California this past November. One of the movie's themes was hope. Sound familiar? Let's hope we don't have to wait another 100 years after Milk to have equal rights under the law for gays the way we did after Lincoln for African-Americans.

Don't forget to look for Jerry Garcia in the candle-light march at the end. He's near the bottom of the screen on the right. (At least it looks like Jerry Garcia.)

Big Unit (again)

I pushed hard for two off-season free agents for the Reds, Juan Rivera (I know, I'm not supposed to mention him again) and Randy Johnson. The Reds chose to sign neither. They did sign David Weathers, Mike Lincoln, Arthur Rhoads, Lance Nyx, and Willie Taveras. Wow!

Johnson went for only one year at $8 mil. Rivera went for three years at a $4.25 mil average. Adding the $4 mil extra for Hernandez (after deducting Freel's $4 mil) They could have had Johnson, Rivera, and Hernandez (plus the three bullpen guys) for less than what they would have paid Dunn and Jr. I don't know what they will pay Taveras, but you could certainly fit him in there, too.

The bullpen and the rotation would have both been set and very solid. Can you imagine a rotation of Harang, Unit, Volquez, and Arroyo, with Cueto as your # 5 guy? (Being #5 would really take some pressure off of Cueto, both mentally and in terms of number of innings.) Remember, Unit is never bad. He's either good, or injured and replaced. At a one year commitment, I don't know how they pass on that.

The line-up would have been set with an outfield of Taveras, Bruce, and Rivera, and an infield of Votto, BP, EE and A-Gon or Keppy at short. And, finally, a decent catcher in Hernandez. Man I love that team, and we have plenty of extra-piece bench guys.

You could certainly argue that the Unit would not have signed with the Reds. He's a west coast guy, who grew up in Livermore, CA, but he said he picked the Giants because of their chance to make the playoffs in a weak division. We don't have Lincecum, but I'd take our rotation (with the Unit) over S.F.'s with the Unit. Plus our offense is way better. I do think our division is a little tougher. So it costs $9 mil instead of $8 to get the Unit? To me that's the difference between rebuilding for '10, and rebuilding for '10 with a chance to win in '09, and certainly a chance to break our string of losing seasons.

I will do my updated 25-man without Rivera and the Unit sometime in the not-so-distant future, but had to get that off my chest.

I hate Tony LaRussa but . . .

... I think he's right when it comes to Mark McGwire being a character guy. LaRussa recently pointed out (when asked about two of his former players' chances to make the Hall - McGwire and Rickey Henderson) that McGwire walked away from 2 years and $30 mil left on his contract with the Cardinals after a .187/.316/.492 year because he wasn't performing at an elite level. Setting aside the steroid issue (momentarily) McGwire is a character guy, plus his numbers make him a shoe-in for the hall. He had 583 career homeruns, but also had a career .394 OBP and a .982 career OPS. Henderson, the greatest lead-off hitter ever (according to most) had a career OBP of .401, only .007 better than McGwire. And don't forget McGwire hit 50 hr's as a rookie, without any juice.

In a nutshell, I think steroids was a baseball issue, and not an individual player issue. Certainly evaluate a player in the context of the player's era, but don't leave a player out of the hall because of steroid use in the '90's. Right now, steroids are the only issue keeping McGwire out. If you want to use steroids against a guy like Rafael Palmero, with a positive drug test after steroids were banned, that's another issue. But making McGwire pay the ultimate (baseball) price for it is wrong.

I don't like Henderson. For a long time, he was my least favorite player. But he's a no-brainer. Man, I hate that, and I hate agreeing again with LaRussa again, but there you go.

I would love to hear your thoughts on McGwire's Hall credentials.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reds sign Willie Taveras

The Reds signed Willie Taveras to a 2-year deal, but I haven't found the money part yet. Obviously, how much they paid factors into whether or not this was a good signing. (CPat wasn't a terrbile idea until you heard they paid $3 mil. with no other suitors.)

He will play centerfield and bat lead-off. If he returns to his 2007 form (.367 OBP) he might be adequate. His stolen bases are overrated (68 in 75 tries last season) because his slugging percentage is so low. He had only 18 extra base hits in 479 at bats last year, and only 36 walks. He has to steal a lot more than 68 bases to make up for such a low slugging percentage. Theoretically, he will help our defense, but I don't see this move as a big upgrade for the Reds. If he was fairly cheap, and insurance against Stubbs not having a good spring training and not arriving soon in the bigs, then I'm fine with the addition, even with the second year to sign him. But if he's the man for the next two years, I don't think we're going to be happy with the deal. I do like the upgrade in defense, but that's less of an issue for us this year than last when we had Jr. and Dunn. If EE ends up in left it will certainly help.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

MerryWii Christmas

Speaking of top-ten moments, watching my niece Layla open her Wii has to be up there in the top five Christmas moments, all-time (non-manger category). This season only, her opening American Eagle jeans from her Uncle Dave and Aunt Rachel ranks (a distant) second. I think the plan is to just buy Layla a ton of cool stuff next year and be sure to watch her open it.

All-time top-10 baseball moments

I've had a lot of requests on this topic, but I'm going to go ahead and write on it anyway. I've decided to do several posts on this topic with a couple top moments each. I had no trouble coming up with moments, but a lot of difficulty ranking them. So they are not necessarily in any order. Maybe at the end, I'll have all (both?) of my readers vote on the order. Here we go:

1. Missionary: Emotionally, probably my all-time great moment even though I was only watching on T.V. Game 6 of the NLCS, Cards vs. Dodgers in L.A. Top of the 9th, 2 on, 2 out, Cards down 5-4. Tommy Lasorda (of Fletch fame) decided to let Tom Niedenfuer pitch to Jack Clark even though he was the Cards' only legitimate threat to go deep. The sight of Pedro Guerrero (Dodger leftfielder) not even turning around but instead throwing his glove to the ground was priceless. The subsequent celebration where we were watching is stuff of legends. My single happiest moment as a baseball fan.

2. Joe Raaaaannndaa, I looooooove you (think Kool and the Gang's "Joanna"): Speaking of home runs, we were there for Joe Randa's walk-off home run on opening day in 2005. It was a typical opening day, meaning it was crazy. The Reds were hosting the Pedro Martinez led Mets. Down 1-0 already in the first, Dunn hit a titanic 3-run blast to give the Reds the early lead. Of course, being the Reds, they then struck out 12 times in the next 14 at bats. Everyone was thinking, "good thing we got to Pedro early." Down 6-3 (thanks in part to the "newly acquired" Stormy Weathers) going into the 9th, the Reds needed a miracle. Kearn led off with a single and Dunn hit another blast to tie it as the crowd went crazy. Dunn's two homers went a combined 858 feet. (Remind me again why we don't like Dunn.) That set the stage for Joe Randa, who took Mets' closer Braden Looper deep for an opening day walk-off homerun. The hit was later immortalized personally by John Erardi in my copy of his book on Opening Day in Cincy. (John spoke at our fantasy baseball banquet this year and brought and signed a copy of his book for everyone.) Later, we saw Sean Casey in the lobby of the Westin and high-fived him. (Jill still doesn't buy it.) We then paid some random guy at Tina's to drive us to Newport where, unfortunately, we missed Ryan Freel.

3. Honeymoon in .... Cincinnati?: That's right, Rachel and I had our honeymoon in Cincinnati. In our defense, we did not live here at the time; we lived in Lexington. Rachel was in her first week of law school, so we only had the long, Labor Day weekend. Rather than travel we decided on a quick weekend getaway. Adam and Thad got us a suite at the Cincinnatian. We had not planned on a Reds game, but took in a Sunday afternoon double header anyway. We scalped two tickets, right behind the visitor's dugout (think our current GAP seats if you've been there -- if you haven't, we'll go this year) for $40 total. They were $17 face, so we "overpaid" by $6. As it turns out they were retiring Johnny Bench's number and Fred Hutchinson's number, so that was cool. Anyway, I don't remember who won (I wasn't a huge Reds fan at the time) but I did walk away with a Reds visor with the ice cream stripes. Nick can tell you what I think of visors. And a nice story...

... later that fall, I was reading a Sports Illustrated article on ticket scalping. I figured they would get a lot of negative reaction ("I paid $20,000.00 for Super Bowl tickets and went I got to Arby's to meet the guy for the seats, he didn't show up!") so I wrote in with the honeymoon story. Well, they published it. Look through your stacks for a late-in-the year 1996 SI with Karl Malone on the cover.

They're calling me to open gifts, so I have to go. I will finish this later.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

BCS "fix"

There is a great post at ukfootballfan on a possible plus-one playoff for college football. There may also be at least one interesting comment by the end of today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Slumdog Millionare

Saw Slumdog Millionare last night at the Esquire. It was terrific. I would give it the Oscar for best adapted screenplay (it's based on a book called Q & A). The way the movie was told was fascinating. Parts of it were very difficult to watch; I would definitely call it gut-wrenching. I won't say too much about it because I don't want to spoil anything.

We capped-off the night with Chicken and Lamb Vindaloo at Ambar in Clifton.

I'll do an Oscars preview when the nominations are announced, so check back for that. We typically see all of the best picture nominations, but don't know if we'll make it this year.

I'm holding my breath

Peter Gammons is reporting on a rumor (he says he doesn't "know" anything) that a three-way trade is being discussed that would send Jermaine Dye to the Reds, Chone Figgins to the White Sox and ..... Joey Votto to the Angels. This is a terrible idea for the Reds. If it's true, I'm flabbergasted. Dye is clearly the least valuable of those three and Votto the most valuable.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Juan Rivera

The Angels re-signed Juan Rivera to a 3 yr. $12.75 mil deal. I assume he will replace Garrett Anderson in left field. The Angels already have Torii Hunter and Gary Matthews, Jr., signed to huge deals and, of course, still have Vlad. I'm guessing they'll go with Rivera in left, Hunter in center and Matthews in right when Vlad dh's, which he should do a lot more of in '09. Matthews may sit a lot in favor of a left-handed dh when the Angels face right-handers. Matthews is a good defender, but really a platoon player, offensively. If the Angels sign Big Tex they'll be set, with a full outfield and Vlad at dh, but it sounds like they won't keep him. That makes Kendry Morales and Rivera pretty important pieces to their team. With Big Tex, Rivera is less important. Of course, they still have Reggie Willits who played great in '07, but didn't see much playing time in '08 after they signed Hunter.

All that to say that the Reds surely could have outbid the Angels for Rivera. A 3 yr. $15 mil. deal would not have been outrageous. Maybe they tried and Rivera wanted to stay in L.A. (California, not the Louisville Area -- I love going to the well too often) but I like to think an extra $2.25 mil over 3 yrs would have made him a Red. So I'm now officially off of the Rivera band wagon and will have to find a new obession. Maybe Randy Johnson? (But the Reds have shown no interest in him.) Maybe I'll revive my Andruw Jones trade idea. I've been thinking about that one a lot.

On Baseball Prospectus Joe Sheehan is doing "GM for a day" for several teams. He threatened to do the Reds but so far he hasn't. Unless he beats me to it, I'll do my own version shortly, so watch for it. It will really be an update on my 25-man roster posts from before the winter meetings but will reflect the moves the Reds have made and not made.


Rachel and I hit Adonis late last night and had a great time. Jeff and Nathan were back from L.A. (California, not the Louisville Area) and it was great to see them.

We did some karaoke. I let Toniqua pick my first song, Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass. Rachel gave it a high rating. So I let Toniqua pick again and he went with Levon (not Hernandez). That was okay. Started a little rough but ended strong. On a roll, I agreed to a duet with Toniqua of You Don't Bring Me Flowers. I at least got to do the Neil Diamond part. I didn't know the song very well, but didn't need to to get through it. Feeling confident (and Christmasy) I went with Same Old Lang Syne by the recently departed Dan Fogelberg. I dedicated the song to the newly wed Mary Schmergel (a Dan Fogelberg fan...not an old lover). Rachel gave it a low rating. Turns out the chorus is pretty high. Anyway, more later, the snow is turning into rain...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Pope of Greenwich Village -- The Movie!

As regular readers of this blog know, I recently read The Pope of Greenwich Village and enjoyed it. (I was right about Eric Roberts, by the way. Man, that guy can be annoying.) My wife ordered it on NetFlix and it came yesterday (we had to wait quite a while, as we have one of those two-movies-a-month limits on our account) so we started to watch it. I say started, because she fell asleep about 1/3 of the way through and then quit altogether when I couldn't bring her up to speed on the plot. I think her comment was, "this isn't very good."

I don't know if I agree or not. The screenplay was by the author of the book so I expected it to be the same story, which it was with a few exceptions. But the devil is in the details as they say. The movie was certainly true to the spirit of the book, but didn't capture a lot of the neat details from the book. Barney's exit was less than exciting (and completely different from the book) and (Spoiler alert!) Charlie (played by Mickey Rourke) winning on the horse was a let-down. Finally, the final scene doesn't make any sense because the tape is supposed to be blank. (Speaking of not making any sense, this whole post doesn't make any sense because no one has ever heard of this book -- or the movie.)

Finally, it was cool to see about 5 future Sopranos stars in various bit parts in the movie, including Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo) as 1st Crew Chief, whose only roll was to look mean and remove appendages.

East Dillon High

Spoiler Alert! If you aren't watching Friday Night Lights on DirecTv and plan to watch on NBC this winter/spring t.v. season, stop reading.

I think the redistricting and creation of East Dillon High is not a way to get additional state funding, but rather a way to get Tim Riggins three more years of high school eligibility.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I've been out-of-town for a wedding and haven't been able to post. Sorry.

We went to a wedding at the Antrim, an 1844 mansion in Taneytown, Maryland, near Gettysburg, PA, where a friend of ours from law school married another lawyer that she met in the D.C. area. She's Catholic and he's Jewish and Catholic so I wondered about the ceremony. We were greeted at the hotel with a very nice note from the bride and groom to-be thanking us for coming and promising a service that would honor both of their traditions. The service was terrific, officiated by a Rabbi who teaches with the Jesuits at Georgetown University. Not only were the traditions very interesting, the Rabbi explained them in a very interesting way. Even the homily (which is overrated for weddings as far as I'm concerned) was very interesting. As some of you may know, my Dad's field is comparative religion, which he has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He even published a book titled, "Symbol and Ceremony" about rituals and traditions which is used as a textbook by numerous professors. So maybe I'm biased, but I thought the explanations for the various traditions were great.

Anyway, back to baseball, the Rabbi (I know, more from the wedding...) mentioned that the groom was a Yankee fan, but that he didn't know about the bride's team. Well the bride hollered out, "Reds." A classic wedding moment. (But only the second best from this wedding -- the best man dropped the groom's ring, and said, "Oh, shit" loud enough for me to hear (in the third row).) To which the bride announced, "it's okay, it was his ring not mine."

More baseball (and more wedding...). When we got to the reception, we each got an envelope with, get this, a baseball card of the bride and groom, complete with vital stats such as first date, engagement date, etc. The photo on the card is from the groom's seats at the now vacant Yankee stadium. We were fortunate enough to have gone to a game their with the happy couple last summer (we saw the Reds beat the Yankees) and have the same pose. In fact, it was Rachel's status photo on facebook for some time last summer. If you look at her page, you'll probably be able to see the photo. The envelope also included a ticket (think Ticketmaster) with a table assignment. The tables were numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. by Yankees stars' numbers, 1-Billy Martin, 2-Derek Jeter, 3-Babe Ruth, etc. We were at table 8-Yogi Berra. It was like deja vu all over again.

The party favors were Christmas tree ornaments, shaped and painted like baseballs, and mini Louisville Sluggers, with the couple's names and wedding date. Our ornament is on the tree as I write this. Finally, the reception wrapped-up (it aint over til it's over) with Sinatra's "New York, New York" just like a Yankee home game. (I won't get into the Snorks on the groom's cake.)

All-in-all a great event, and a nice break from A.J. Burnett rumors.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Freel/Hernandez part 2

Now that this trade has been announced, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. The Reds had several needs going into the off-season and finding a catcher was a huge priority. Getting Hernandez for essentially $4mil in '09 (John Fay said $3.5mil, but his math is wrong -- see my post from yesterday for an explanation) fits the bill.

Hernandez is better than the free agent catchers available and one of the best veteran catchers on the trade market. For example, I like him way better than Gerald Laird, who can't hit righties and really should be a platoon player. There were some other younger guys (like Miguel Montero) mentioned in this space as possible trades, but I really like the idea of a one-year commitment to a veteran with Hanigan as the back-up. If Hernandez has a big year, the Reds have a '10 option for $8.5mil. I would still like to see the Reds take Skelton in the Rule 5 draft and send Hanigan to the minors, but that seems much less likely now that catcher is no longer a high priority.

Losing Freel will have no impact on this team, and the two prospects are not "borderline top-10" as John Fay reported. They are not even in the Reds' top 15. And the Reds aren't that deep with prospects. The depth they do have, however, is at 3B and middle infield, so losing Turner and Waring won't matter at all.

Losing Dunn and Jr. saved the Reds about $25mil off of last year's payroll. They essentially spent $4mil of the savings on a big need. I like it. Now, if we could get them to spend another $5mil on Juan Rivera and $10mil on the Big Unit, we'd be set. It doesn't sound like the Reds are even in the mix for the Unit, so I would like to see them sign Rivera and then take Igawa (or Lofgren?) in the Rule 5 draft. If you know of a good left-handed starter (Mulder?) out there, post it as a comment and I will do a follow-up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Freel for Hernandez

The latest Reds trade rumor is Ryan Freel (and probably a prospect) going to Baltimore for catcher Ramon Hernandez (and probably some cash toward his salary). This is basically an exchange of two bad contracts. The Reds don't need Freel, and he's owed $4mil in '09. Heck, they could re-sign C-Pat for less. The Orioles don't need Hernandez, as they have the best prospect in baseball, Matt Wieters, ready to take over at catcher.

Hernandez is owed $8mil for '09 and there is a club option at $8.5 mil for '10, with a $1mil buyout. So he's owed at least $9mil on his contract.

Freel and Hernandez both peaked in '06, struggled with injuries in '07, and started out slowly in '08. The difference is Hernandez had a good second half, hitting .272 with 11 hr's in the last 4 months of the season. Freel never caught stride in '08. Hernandez final '08 line was .257/.308/.406 with 15 hr's and 65 rbi's. Compared to his '06 (.275/.343/.479 w/ 23 hr's and 91 rbi's) not great but, like I said, he did have a solid second half and his slow start was very likely due to injury recovery.

Of course, the final analysis of this deal would have to come after a prospect is named and we know how much money comes back, but this seems like a low-risk deal to me. Hernandez is a solid backstop with a decent bat and some power, and we desparately need a catcher. He may not be among the top 10 catchers, but he's close if he can duplicate his pre-injury '06 season. After subtracting Freel's $4mil, this only costs the Reds an addtional $5mil at the most and seems worth the risk.

Freel is completely replaceable (Norris Hopper?) and won't be missed accept by my wife and the Newport police department.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gossip Girl . . .

. . . is a lot more interesting than this Rule 5 draft post is going to be but, alas, I'm doing this while my wife watches Gossip Girl and we wait for the really good show, Prison Break. I'm predicting some impediment to obtaining Scylla will pop up in this episode.

Anyway, regarding the position players available in the Rule 5 draft, I like only James Skelton, a catcher with the Tigers organization. He's been compared to Jesus Flores, of 2006 Rule 5 draft fame (and absolute steal for the Legends last year in the reserve rounds draft). He has hit over .300 in each of the last three season. He's small for a catcher and his defense is suspect, but he's thrown out a good percentage of would-be basestealers. This move makes sense for the Reds if they plan to go with Hanigan as their #1 catcher and don't plan to sign a veteran like Gregg Zaun or bring back Nacho Libre. As you know, a Rule 5 pick has to stay on the roster all year or go back to his original team. With Hanigan and a veteran, there is no room for a third catcher unless it's Wilkin Castillo. Skelton's a lefty. Plus, can't you just see the Reds Skelton headlines?

If the Reds are looking for the next Rick Ankiel, they could take Adam Loewen from the Blue Jays. Following his stint in the '06 World Baseball Classic for the Canadian team, Loewen was a hot prospect. (The Blue Sox poached him from the Twins in early '06.) After not being able to recover from an arm injury during the '07 season, Loewen decided to give up pitching and become an outfielder. The Blue Jays nabbed him from the O's (undoubtedly because he's Canadian), but did not put him on the 40-man, so he's available. It would be awfully tough to keep him on the major league roster with as little experience as he has as an outfielder.

Regarding the pitchers, there is an interesting left-handed option for the bullpen. Donald Veal of the Cubs is a former top-prospect who seems to have peaked at AA. However, his splits against left-handers indicate that he might have potential as a lefty specialist out of the pen (no home runs against 142 leftys in '08).

Chuck Lofgren had a rough year in the Indians organization, but is only 22. He might even be the lefty fifth starter the Reds need. The Reds would have to be convinced that a change of scenery would help him get over a pretty rough '08.

Another guy I like is Kei Igawa. He has struggled to say the least in New York, but has pitched well in AAA, giving up less than a hit per inning (141/156.1). At $4mil per year through 2010 (most of what the Yankees paid ($26mil) for him went for the right to negotiate for him) he could be worth the risk. I totally see him succeeding as a fifth starter in the weaker N.L.

The Rays did not protect top prospect Eduardo Morlan, who they got from the Twins in the Garza/Young deal. This is probably because they have a lot more better pitching prospects than Morlan, but the Reds don't, especially if they trade Homer. The problem is that he's right-handed, and we really need a lefty for that spot. With the signing of Lincoln, and Stormy accepting arbitration, there really is no spot for him in the pen and I don't see him staying on the roster unless it's as a starter.

Food for thought. We'll see if the Reds make another Rule 5 pick.

Serena is blowing off Dan (who's concerned that his dad will get with her mom and ruin their chances to be together) to be with some new guy, who looks like a bum. I have no idea if it's a boy or a girl, or what in the world is going on with that, but it sounded dramatic.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Trade idea

I just read on Baseball Prospectus that because of their starting pitching depth the Twins would like to trade Boof Bonser or Phillip Humber. But, for the right deal, they would consider trading Francisco Liriano, among others. If it's true that Liriano could be had, the Reds should definitely try to get him. Liriano is not yet arbitration eligible and will make about $500K next year. He may be the best bargain in baseball next year as he could very easily be the next Sabathia or Santana (Johan, not Ervin, although Ervin was pretty good last year, too.) Last year, in triple A (after a bit of a rough start) he went 10-2 in 19 starts, with a 3.28 era. After his call-up in August, he went 6-1 in 11 starts and 65.2 IP. He gave up only 20 earned runs, 6 in the last game of the year, for a 2.74 era. He struck out 60 and walked 19. He missed all of '07 with Tommy John surgery, but his 180 strikeouts in 194 total innings last year show that he's back.

I expect Liriano to be among the top five pitchers in the A.L. next year if he's not traded to the N.L. He would be a terrific addition to the rotation and be the lefty starter they need. With Liriano, the Reds would easilly have the best rotation in the division, and might even be considered the favorite.

I don't know what it would take to get him, but the Twins need a third baseman (talks with free agent Blake broke off and they're now trying to trade for Beltre) and a shortstop. I would offer A-gon, Easy Eddy, and Homer as a starting point for Liriano. If it took a little more, I'd throw that in, too. I don't know if Eddy is good enough on defense for the Twins liking, but both he and A-gon would be upgrades for the Twins, and the Twins love to hoard pitching prospects.

Reportedly, Delmon Young is available too, so maybe the Reds could pull the kind of blockbuster that got Young to the Twins in the first place. Last off-season the Rays sent Young and Brendan Harris (of worst trade ever... for both teams fame) to the Twins for Garza and Bartlett. A-gon's better than Bartlett, and Bailey could be a Garza type. They'd have to throw in a bunch more to pull that off, though.

The Reds would have to do a lot of scrambling to put together a line-up if they trade Eddy and A-gon, but they have a lot of third-base prospects and could grab a veteran as a place holder. Too bad Russell Branyan already signed with the Mariners, but that's the kind of guy I'm talking about. Keppy could step right in at SS. For Liriano, though, that kind of scrambling would be worth it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who's going to close for the Indians in '09?

I wanted to do a non-Reds post and decided to go with this for my Indians fan(s?) reader. This also relates to the Blue Sox as you long-time readers of this blog know.

I think we can say this for sure: it's not going to be Jensen Lewis. Even though he saved 13 games in 13 tries at the end of last season the Indians want a proven veteran. (An approach that has failed for them recently with the use of such dead-weight as Bob Wickman and Joe Borowski.) A lot of the rumors have the Indians in the hunt for Tevor Hoffman as a free agent. I could see a two-year deal (with a club option on a third -- with a $500K buyout) for around $5-6mil per. The Indians have about $18 mil to spend (assuming the same payroll they had last year) and a veteran closer is one of their priorities.

I find the Hoffman option intriguing. I don't think he'll be the next Borowski, even though the thinking on Hoffman is that he's slipped dramatically in the last couple of years and that he would be hurt by a move to the superior A.L. I disagree. His era hasn't been stellar, but he's had a pretty good WHIP the last two years (a fair indication of what he'll do in '09) and his best pitch is his change-up. I could see him getting through the A.L., at least for '09, still fooling people with it.

Plus, the Indians have one of the best pitching prospects in baseball over the last couple of years, Adam Miller, who hasn't been able to stay healthy and, so far, has been disappointing. He's a long-shot to make the bullpen out of spring training and an even longer-shot to make the rotation. He hasn't been great in winter ball, but recently through 3 hitless relief innings to pick up a save and wowed the scouts. I say sign Hoffman and groom Miller to take his spot in either '10 or '11.

That leave Jensen Lewis as a valuable (to the Indians) set-up guy, but gives him no value to the Blue Sox. Bill James has predicted only 2 saves for Lewis in '09, although he did predict 70 k's in 70 innings pitched. Like I said, not bad for a set up guy, but hardly worth one of only 14 keeper spots on the Blue Sox.

Another option I like, is Bobby Jenks for the White Sox (no relation). The Mets have been rumored to be interested in a Jermaine Dye/Bobby Jenks trade, reportedly dangling Fernando Martinez. My Mets fan(s?) reader hates this idea. I think it makes sense . . . but for the Indians. Jenks solves their need at closer and, although the Indians don't have a ton of corner outfield established players, they have some depth with Guittierez, Francisco, and Choo. I could see them packaging Franciso in a deal to the pale hose, who want to get younger, and if they get Jenks coming back, they could throw in Miller. The problem with this deal, of course, is that it's tough to trade within the division on a blockbuster like this.

Bonus Indians coverage: The Indians are also looking for a #3 starter, which they either won't find or can't afford, and will have to go with the likes of Jeremy Sowers (former Blue Sock), Anthony Reyes (a Blue Sock, if I keep him), Aaron Laffey (former Blue Sock), and Scott Lewis. I think there's enough there that they should concentrate on their other needs. (Boy, they need Carmona to bounce back.)

That other need is an infielder. They have Peralta at SS and Blue Sox whipping boy Cabrutal at 2B, but could shift them to 3B and SS, respectively, if needed. That leaves any available IF as a target. Some have called for a bold move here, but I like the idea of sticking with Josh Barfield at 2B. Look at these stats from 2006:

Player A - 2006 (age 23) - 539 AB .280 BA / .318 OBP / .423 SLG / .741 OPS with 32 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 21 SB, 30 BB, 81 K;

Player B - 2006 (age 25) - 536 AB .276 BA / .324 OBP / .427 SLG / .751 OPS with 28 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 25 SB, 35 BB, 88 K.

Player A was Barfield with the Padres. Player B was none other than Brandon Phillips with the Reds. Barfield has all but fallen off the map, but look what the Red Sox (no relation) did with the miserable start from Dustin Pedroia in '07. They let him play through it and now he has a ROY and MVP. I'm not suggesting that Barfield is that good, but I think he could work there. If he doesn't, the Indians can make a trade at the All-star break to bring in an infielder on a rent-a-player deal (like a Mike Lowell, if the Sox sign Tiexiera).

Remarkably, Barfield is also a Blue Sock, if I keep him, which I almost certainly won't, as I doubt the Indians will go this way.

Big Unit

According to Jack Magruder there are 6 teams interested in Randy Johnson, but none of them are the Reds. It's the Giants, Dodgers, Brewers, and Cubs in the N.L. and the A's and Rangers in the A.L.

Friday, December 5, 2008


According to John Fay, the Giants are interested in Edwin Encarnacion. Fay puts Easy Eddy as the most like Red to be traded, followed by Homer Bailey.

Who might we get back? I wouldn't mind seeing Fred Lewis come back to the Reds in a trade. I saw him late in the year in '08 at the GAP and thought he looked good. He hit .282/.351/.440 last year with 9 hr's and 40 rbi's with 21 sb's in 28 attempts. He struck out 124 times in 133 games, which is too much, but still managed 51 walks and a .351 OBP.

Randy Winn is the same player (.306/.363/.426, with 25 sb's in 27 attempts and a 59/88 BB/K ratio), only proven over time and more expensive. He will earn $8.25 mil. in the final year of a three year contract. Lewis is still around the major league minimum and will be under club control for some time.

Of course, Lincecum and/or Cain would be nice, but right-handed starter is not a place where we want to be putting our resources.


Man, I need a new chair. But I did an internet search for Urkelnomically correct chairs and nothing came up.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Reds

Check out Larry Dobrow's article on the Reds in his Save this Franchise Series on Click on the article with the picture of Dusty.

25-man update

Looks like the Reds have re-signed Mike Lincoln to a 2 year $4 mil. deal.

Maybe he takes the rule 5 draftee spot, but that would leave us short a left. Maybe they move Owings to the Richie Sexson spot and keep Daniel Ray Harrera in the pen as the other lefty.

The 25-man roster

Based on my hotstove preview, here is the new (and improved?) 25-man roster:

C J.R. Towels, Hanigan
1B Votto, Richie Sexson
2B BP, Castillo
3B EE, Rosales
SS Keppy, Richar
LF Juan Rivera
CF Freel, Hopper
RF Bruce

SP Harang, Arroyo, Volquez, Cueto, Randy Johnson
RP Cordero, Owings, Burton, Bray, Majewski, rule 5 draftee

Line-up v. RHP:

Line-up v. LHP:
Votto (LF)
Rivera (RF)
Sexson (1B)
Bruce (CF)

Here were some of my assumptions: 1) A-Gon either isn't healthy, or proves healthy in spring training and gets traded (maybe in a package for a catcher); 2) Sexson doesn't blow during his NRI spring training audition; 3)Reds draft a LOOGY in the rule 5 draft; 4) The Reds trade Dickerson as part of the Towels deal; 5) The Reds don't trade for Dye; and 6) Stubbs starts in AAA but is up by May 1 to take Freel's spot.

What do you guys think? Can that roster win? I actually like the pitching staff more than the line-up. Hey, I thought we had too many lefties. I may have to reevaluate that as that's a lot of righties in there against RHP's. I think a post is in order on where we can find another lefty.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Running out of steam

Okay, I'm running out of steam on my hotstove preview for the Reds.  I have a ton of other ideas for posts but want to finish this up, so tonight we talk pitching (or lack thereof). Barring a move, our 1-4 spots in the rotation are set:  Harang, Arroyo, Volquez, and Cueto, not necessarily in that order.  What we need out of this group is Harang from '06 and '07, but not '08, and Arroyo from the second half of last year. (The Legends had him riding pine for five of his wins -- but in their defense, they were five wins coming off of his late June disaster in Toronto. He gave up something like 10 runs in front of a ton of scouts. Without that terrible outing, however, he probably would have had a great second half for another team.) If Cueto can get a little better and Volquez only gets a little worse, that's a pretty decent rotation. 

Oh wait, it's not the '70's and we need a fifth guy. I'm already on record as saying that fifth guy should be the Big Unit. I may follow-up this post with some other left-handers that may be out there (for example there are some great candidates in the Rule 5 draft, but I see that as a better way to tab a decent lefty reliever) but that will have to wait. Suffice it to say, if "who is the fifth starter" is our big concern coming north in the spring, we're in good shape. (I know, a cop out, but like I said I'm running out of steam.) Right now, the fifth spot is wide open. 

Our pen doesn't look too bad either.  Coco is again slated to be our closer, and with his contract they really have no choice but to run him out there in the ninth every chance they get. Plus, running a bullpen doesn't seem to be one of Dusty's strongest points, so a confirmed closer is a plus for this team.  Jared Burton seems like a decent enough set-up guy, maybe in the Heath Bell mold, and Bray has all of the experts salivating. Maybe this is the year that Bray and Majewski put the "worst trade ever -- for both teams" talk to rest.  Both of these guys have some promise. I don't know anything about Daniel Ray Herrera other than he's a lefty. If he's another Felix Herrera, he'll do. 

The only other reliever listed is Micha Owings and I have a separate post planned for him.  I will also visit the pitching prospects later.

As far as the rumor mill goes, the Reds are said to be talking to David Weathers to bring him back (not a terrible idea, but probably not worth the money) and are said to be looking at lefty Arthur Rhoads in the free agent market (not a terrible idea, but probably not worth the money).  I haven't heard any other rumors other than that the Reds already have a deal in place to send Arroyo to the White Sox (no relation) for Jermaine Dye.  Oh wait, I wrote that earlier today. Probably not true, then.   

For now, the floor is open to any comments on the roster as a whole, and any potential moves the Reds should make.  

Christmas comes early

For me anyway.  Thanks to Amy Hodge  I can now do links in my posts. You should log on to facebook and ask her to be your friend.

Javier Vazquez trade

This is supposed to be a general baseball blog, so I will make some comments about the trade generally before I get to how it effects the Reds. I like this trade for both teams. Vazquez is a very underated pitcher and should get a boost in stats coming to the N.L. The Braves give up a lot of prospects here, but Boone Logan is a decent left-hander out of the pen and Vazquez goes right in near the top of their rotation. Flowers is a good prospect, but the Braves have McCann as their main catcher. On the other hand, the White Sox (no relation) need a long-term replacement for A.J. Lillibridge is underated as a prospect (you'll recall he came over from the Pirates last year) but I wonder if the Braves are trying to re-sign Furcal to play short. I don't see Lillibridge starting this year, so the White Sox may still be planning something with a big hole at third. Unless they plan to move Ramirez to third instead of short and plug in Lillibridge.

I'd never heard of the other two guys.

The Sox lose Vazquez, which leaves only Danks, Floyd, and Buehrle as decent rotation options. On the surface a curious move for a "contender." I'm choosing to believe that this means the Sox have worked out a deal with the Reds for Dye. But it's not Homer, it's Arroyo. Arroyo replaces Vazquez in the rotation (although not as one, but a four). Arroyo is actually a decent value with his contract. Of course, it could just mean that they are planning to sign a free agent, like bringing Jon Garland back for a second tour. One thing for certain, they can't go into the year and hope to compete with only the three decent starters. Interesting...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas list

My wife asked me for my Christmas list the other day and the only thing I could think of was that I want someone to show me how to fix my blog so that if anyone ever comments, it will alert me by e-mail. I also would like to know how to put a link in a post. You know how when you read an article and it mentions someone's name you can always click on it and be linked to something (like a Wikipedia entry)? Wouldn't that be cool? Anyway, a blogger I know ( (see, wouldn't it be cool if that showed up as a link to click on?) wants to know how to "download" (he used the word "get" -- no wonder he doesn't know what he's doing) pictures from other websites onto his blog. So that's three things I want for Christmas. Oh, plus I want an authentic fitted Reds hat, all red, size 7 1/2. I know, a big mellon. I promise to take the tag and stickers off to prove I'm old.

Yonder Alonso ...

... is the 34th best prospect in baseball according to this week's top 50 prospects report on

Outfield update (you knew I'd leave out something)

The A's have a lot of extra outfielders. A guy I love and one the Reds should target is Aaron Cunningham. (He's currenly on the Blue Sox roster, but missed minor league eligibility by a couple days, so probably will not be kept this year. So I wouldn't mind seeing the Reds get him.)
He hasn't been on a lot of the top-prospects lists, but in '07 in the minors, in 127 games, he hit .308/.375/.509, with 16 hr's, 77 rbi's, and 28 sb's. (He did get caught 14 times, which means his technique could use some work -- like with Billy Hatcher.)

In '08, he improved in the minors over several levels. In 107 games he hit .329/.400/.532, with 17 hr's, 66 rbi's, and 15 sb's (caught 5 times). He then hit the Bigs for September, batting only .250/.310/.400, with 1hr, 14 rbi's, and 2 sb's (o cs). Not a bad line, but not great. He's sort of the opposite of Chris Dickerson.

Here's the problem, his strike outs have increased dramatically. In '07, he struck out 89 times to 51 walks in 127 games. In '08 in the minors, he struck out 108 times to only 49 walks in 107 games. This is a little less scary because his power numbers jumped some. And even with the strikeouts, because of the boost in batting average, his OBP increased, as well. In the Bigs, he struck out 24 times in 22 games with only six walks. Not great, but a small sample size. His '08 was a success on almost any measurement scale, and he's only 22 (turning 23 in April).

I know what you're saying, don't we already have Bruce and Stubbs to do this better (and cheaper -- see previous post). My response: I know, but I like Cunningham, certainly more than Dickerson, and I think he would provide great depth even if he doesn't beat out Stubbs/Freel/Hopper to start in center. Even though Cunningham has not been rated a top prospect, I think we need the depth there, with Stubbs are only legit outfield prospect right now.

What to give for him? I don't know, but it shouldn't take much. The A's are loaded with similar outfield types with Travis Buck, Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, et al. Plus, they just traded for Matt Holiday, so I dont' see A.C. in their future plans.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Out standing in my field . . .

My ag. class designation.  I was also voted most likely to sack seed.  (Who could have predicted that I would end up working for FFA.) 

Today we tackle the outfield.  Probably the only decision that has already been made is that Bruce will start in the outfield somewhere.  I think he's in the Bigs to stay after an extended look last season.  His average tailed off after a hot start, but everyone seems to agree that he has the tools. Even if he doesn't, the Reds can't afford not to find out by playing the fan favorite pretty much everyday next year. Right now, he's slated for RF but that could change depending on other transactions.  

Probably the other thing we know for sure is that the Reds won't start the year with Hopper and Freel manning the other two spots. If so, all of this blogging will have been in vain. I could see one or the other starting in center next year, perhaps as a place holder for Drew Stubbs, the Reds' only legit OF prospect that's even close to the Bigs.  Stubbs, the Reds' first pick in '06, could probably start right now in center. He's very good defensively and has all of the baseball instincts that go with being a top prospect.  He has terrific speed and bats righty, which is exactly what we need in center.  Except, he strikes out too much. He could very easily be the next Mike Cameron (minus the ubiquitous coffee can of pot - amphetamines my ear) but may be a year away.  I guess Freel (he makes more than Hopper, so probably gets the nod -- what kind of job makes you more likely to get the nod because you cost more?) could be a legit placeholder and leadoff hitter until he either gets hurt or Stubbs comes up after whatever date that is where the player's arbitration clock doesn't start, see Evan Longoria.  

That leaves another spot, and I think the Reds will make a move here. I wanted the Reds to trade for Coco Crisp but (fortunately for the Blue Sox -- see reason to blog, infra) the Royals got him.  I'm on record as saying the Reds should sign Juan Rivera as a free agent. If they do that, they're done in the outfield. Rivera is poised for a break-out and that could happen in a Reds uniform. Plus, if we sign Rivera, we don't have to trade anybody, especially Bailey.

Jermaine Dye has been the subject of a lot of trade rumors, and his value has been debated on this very blog. I think Bailey and another player for him is worth it. We've got the money and he will produce. His age is an issue (thanks, Whit -- boy has there ever been a bigger misnomer?) but the Reds don't need him past 2010. 

Maglio Orndonez is another possible trade target. Similar to Dye, he brings solid production from a righty outfielder, but would cost a little more. His availability might depend on the Tigers' plans for '09.  Right now, the Tigers do not look like contenders. I don't know what it would take to get Mags, but probably more than Bailey and Chris Dickerson, or Bailey and Josh Roenicke or Maloney, the guys rumored to be involved in the Dye trade. (Dickerson is "rumored to be involved in the Dye trade" only because I just said it on my blog.)  

Here is a crazy idea.  Trade for Andruw Jones.  What do the Reds need?  A starting center fielder and some right-handed pop.  A couple three years ago you couldn't do any better than Jones in that category. His '07 was terrible from and average standpoint (.227?) but he still had power.  Unbelievably, that was a contract year for Jones.  Expected to get a huge deal before '08, he ended up on a 2-year deal with the Dodgers.  A great move for all (is what all the pundits, and me) said at the time.  He'll bounce back and give the Dodgers what they need, the Dodgers didn't go too far out on a limb, and Jones would hit the market in '10 as a free agent again.  At least that was the conventional wisdom. He then went out and had one of the worst seasons ever.  The Legends, who also took a chance on him, suffered greatly.  Which makes it all the more surprising that I would recommend a trade for him.  Sure, he makes a ton, but the Dodgers would give him away, and pay a ton of his salary.  The trade would be a risk, but Jones would be in another contract year (although that didn't help last time).  Don't forget, he spent most of '08 with injuries that ultimately led to knee surgery and the end (mercifully) of his season.  Finally, he's only the second biggest centerfield headache for the Dodgers. They have Juan Pierre on a longer-term deal.  (We could trade for Juan Pierre, but we've seen that movie. It was called C-Pat.) 

Another daring move would be to make a run at Delmon Young.  The Twins weren't too happy with him (who would be, he hit like one home run the first five months of the season) and he comes with some baggage.  But I think he would come cheap, and the Twins love to hoard pitching. Maybe Bailey for Young is a cheaper and more long-term trade option than Dye. (Whit?  Or are you still mad at me?) (Note to self:  when you get one comment, don't make fun of the commentator.)  It would take more than that, so I would throw in Chris Dickerson.  (See, now he's rumored to be going to the Twins for Delmon Young.) Dicerkson's minor league stats don't support his terrific major league stats from a short stint last year in the Bigs.  I think his trade value will never by higher than it is right now, and I would shop him.  Plus, we don't need him.  We have Bruce and Stubbs to do what he can do, only better and just as cheaply.  

The Angels would love to trade Gary Matthews, Jr., (little sarge) but his great '06 turned into a huge, albatross of a contract, and the Reds can't afford to pay a guy like that. Speaking of the Angels, Garrett Anderson is available, but he's too old and bats left-handed. 

Another option would be to trade for David DeJesus. Now that the Royals have Crisp, they have an extra outfielder.  DeJesus is the best of the remaining three, but he also bats left-handed.  I don't think we want to make another run at Jose Guillen (unless we could trade him again for another Harang) nor could we afford him.  Teahen is over rated (and bats left-handed).   

Regarding the other outfielders that may be available, there are always the Jay Payton types available, but I would rather take a chance on a guy we already have than sign another one of those guys. 

Jolbert Cabrera seemed like a decent player last year and might make the squad as it is now. But if he's on the 25-man when the Reds head north in the spring that's trouble.  Not that he's that bad, but that would mean the Reds made no significant moves in the outfield.  And they need to make at least one.  

Wilkin Castillo (aka Supersub) probably does make the team as the 25th guy, which is great, because the Reds could carry only 4 outfielders and an extra reliever.   

Saturday, November 29, 2008

UK Football ....

... is not looking too good right now. For a full recap (hopefully about a comeback) see

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ph, Ph & A

As part of our Philanthropy Project for the year, the associates in the Cincy office of my firm (w/some partners, family, and family of partners) helped serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Children's Home of Northern Kentucky last night. There were a few current and former Bengals there to sign autographs, including Max Montoya, who donated all of the food. We will definitely have to check out his restaurant. I had a great time, even though none of the kids asked me for my autograph. The evening got me into the holiday spirit and was a great kickoff to the holiday season.

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.

Somebody's reading my blog

In an article on today, Jerry Crasnick picks a free agent value for each position. One of his outfielders is Juan Rivera and he indidates the Reds could use him for their outfield. Exactly what I've been saying since the inception of this blog (okay, it's only been three days, but I posted before Crasnick).

He also picks Randy Johnson as a value pick. As regular readers of this blog will tell you, I said the Reds should sign Johnson in my previous "Free Agent Finds" post. I encourage you to check it out.

One value pick I didn't mention (kudos to Crasnick for not steeling all of my ideas) is Joe Crede. he would certainly provide the Reds with an upgrade defensively at third (if healthy) and provide some righty pop, which I've been mentioning all week. But he's represented by Scott Boras, the most influential person in baseball right now, and I don't see the Reds ponying up for a Boras client. Plus, as we've discussed, that would move Eddy to left and we'd lose some of what we'd gain defensively with Crede. Too bad we didn't trade Eddy to the Indians for Cliff Lee before the '08 season, like I suggested.

Infield update (prospects)

I neglected to include comments on the infield prospects so I'm adding to my previous post.

The Red's top prospect is Yonder Alonso, a first baseman out of the University of Miami. He was the Reds' first pick in last year's draft and is a seasoned college player. He won't play in '09 but don't be surprised to see him in '10. He's not a bad fielder, but his lack of speed means he's stuck at first base. Look closely at whether the Reds move Votto or Eddy to left. That could foreshadow Alonso's big-league time frame. He's a five-star guy with huge upside. I expect he'll be a Paul Konerko ('05-'06, not '07-'08) type player in a couple years. He's got a good eye, and hammers the ball when he does swing. I haven't seen many top-100 prospects lists for '09 yet, but expect Alonso in the top half of most lists.

I recently got to see Chris Valaika play in person in the Arizona Fall League. He's a solid player. The Peoria Javelinas have him playing 2B, but he can also play SS and 3B. He went 2-4 with a double and two runs scored in the game I saw, and played solid defensively. Of course, the Reds also have Todd Frazier (their second best prospect), Neftali Soto, and Juan Francisco at 3B, so that may be why Valaika is playing 2B. Might it also indicate a move of BP to SS? We'll have to see.

Not much else on the prospect front for the infield. I did get to see another future Red in Arizona in Sean Henry. He's listed on the Javelinas' roster as a first baseman, but played right field in the game I saw. He batted lead-off, and started the game with a bunt single. He got to second on a wild pitch and stole third the first chance he got. Nice speed, but he's not on the radar of most prospect experts.

I'll do a full post on my AFL experience.


Let's start with the good news. Brandon Phillips is a great player at 2B. He came into '08 off of a great '07 campaign. '08 was his age-27 season, the year that players typically peak. He was a bona fide prospect who didn't make it with the Indians but found new life with the Reds. Unfortunately, he had quite a decline in '08 and, since that was his age-27 season, I expect he'll be more like his '08 year than his '07 year from here on out. He had a decline in every stat except walks and k/walk ratio. While he did walk a little more, his OBP still declined. Bottom line, he needs to get on base more, but that's splitting hairs on a good player. Throw in that he won the gold glove this year and he's a solid player to build on, is part of this team's core, and is signed long-term. (Whether or not he can be a team leader will be addressed in my final post in this series on intangibles.)

More good news: Joey Votto. I hate to say this, but his approach improved dramatically and his intensity level picked up after his father died in August last year. This had to be huge for Votto, as he wouldn't even let the team announce why he went on the bereavement list. Only later, did the info. trickle out. Having seen several games after that, you could tell the difference. I don't have an explanation, only the observation. Votto is a very valuable hitter and the Reds have cost-containment on him for several years. He can play a decent first base and probably a decent left field, which he did at the tail end of '07. For now, he's at first and I'm okay with that.

I like Easy Eddy at third base. Remember, he's still only 25. His average stunk in '08, dropping almost 40 points from '07. But he walked more and his OBP only went down about 15 points. The culprit: strikeouts. They increased by 16 in only 4 more at bats. His slugging average acutally rose by 28 points. If he can strike out less and keep the untimely throwing errors to a minimum, he's solid at third. Whether he can play left field, as has been suggested this off-season, who knows.

With Votto, Phillips, and Encarnacion, the Reds have three very solid young infielders. That leaves shortstop. BP (that's Baseball Prospectus -- man's greatest invention, not Brandon Phillips -- one of God's great inventions) is calling the Reds a dark-horse in the Rafael Furcal free agent sweepstakes. Furcal would be a great addition to the infield. The Rays made hay this year by vastly improving their defense (and, therefore their pitching staff) and Furcal would do that for the Reds at short. I don't see the Reds signing Furcal, however, unless they think they can dump Alex Gonzalez. I don't see them dumping him until other teams see that he is healthy in spring training. By that time, Furcal will be long gone. One option would be to sign Furcal and intend to use A-Gon at 3rd if he can't be moved. That would move Eddy to left, but who knows if that would work. Whatever benefit the Reds get from improved shortstop play might be lost by having Eddy in left. (One bonus: the fans are already used to poor fielding in left.) More likely, the Reds go into spring training with A-Gon at short, hoping he proves his health, and then trade him to the losers in the Furcal sweepstakes. Of course, they will be competing with the Red Sox (no relation) and A's who want to do the same with Julio Lugo and Bobby Crosby, respectively. Keppy would be the back-up plan if A-Gon isn't healthy or gets traded. We could do worse than Keppy at short, but he's not a long-term solution there.

Danny Richar, who we got in the Jr. trade, is actually a decent player. One negative is that he bats lefty and we have lefties. But he could certainly fill-in at second (with BP at short?) in a pinch, and could be a decent lefty off the bench but he's got no power, with a career slugging percentage under .400.

I like Wilkin Castillo as the 25th man because he can catch, and play just about every position. And he's got some speed. Exactly what you need for that last guy. I doubt Rosales makes the team, as I think that last spot will go to a reliever.

Next up: outfield. Although, I may take a break from the hotstove and fulfill a request for my top-ten all time baseball moments.

If anyone wants to comment, click on the "comments" at the bottom of the post. It's open to anyone, you just have to enter a name.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jermaine Dye

Lance McAlister is reporting that the Reds are talking to the White Sox about a Homer Bailey and another player trade for Jermaine Dye. Of course, depending on the "other player" (usually these rumors mention the top guy, so any "other player" would be somebody worse than the player mentioned) this is a no-brainer for the Reds. Dye would be expensive, but the Reds have the money. And it doesn't look like Homer has a rotation spot this year. I still say signing Juan Rivera is the way to solve the left field/righty power problem, but Dye would be a sight for sore eyes at the GAP.


I'm no fan of espn (I'll post on that at some point) but the network provides an interesting starting point for the Reds' hotstove discussion. Here is the current projected 25 player roster:
C Hannigan
1B Votto (you have to say Joey Votto as if you're doing a Christopher Walken impersenation)
SS A. Gonzalez
LF Hopper
CF Freel
RF Bruce
OF Dickerson
OF Jolbert Cabrera (I would give this spot to a reliever)
IF Keppinger
IF Richar (from the Jr. trade)
IF Adam Rosales
UTL Wilkin Castillo (can do everything but pitch - from the Dunn trade)

Rotation: Harang, Volquez, Arroyo, Cueto, and Ramirez
Pen: Cordero, Owings, Burton, Bray, Daniel Ray Herrera, and the Majic Man.

The first obvious weakness is at catcher. I'll tackle catcher in this post as the first part of our series. I don't know if Hannigan can hack it, but right now he's all we got. Wilkin Castillo is the only other catcher on the roster. Texas famously has four good, young catchers, but trading for one will be tough with the number of teams that need a catcher and a free agent market with no catchers (LaRue? Ross? Valentin? I've heard that one before.) If Texas does trade a catcher to the N.L. it better not be Teagarden, as the Blue Sox would lose him.

I would see what it would take to get Miguel Montero from the D'Backs, although Boston seems to have already beaten us to that idea. Another option would be to trade for J.R. Towels with the Astros. He was the 54th best prospect in baseball last year. But when handed a job, he blew it (which killed the Legends). Now might be a great time to get him and let he and Hanigan fight it out for PT.

Who could we trade? Good question. I bet the D'Backs would take Homer for Montero (they are reportedly demanding Masterson from the Red Sox (no relation)) although I'm not sure I'd make that deal. I'd be okay with trading Homer under the right circumstances, but his value has taken such a hit I would prefer to build up that value before shopping him (or keeping him). The D'Backs lost the O-Dog to free agency and always seem to need outfield help, so I would also dangle Freel and Hopper and see if I get a bite. If they would take Dickerson, I would do that in a minute, as his value will never be higher than it is right now, coming off of a surprising run in the Bigs at the end of the '08 season. (Plus, we have Drew Stubbs who can probably do what Dickerson probably can't re-do.) Freel, Hopper, and/or Dickerson might not get it done, but we might be able to throw in some organizational depth.

As far as the Astros, don't forget that Homer is from Texas. I think I would do Homer for Towels, a swap of two underperforming prospects. (And boy the Astros need starters.) Plus, the Astros drafted a catcher in the first round of the '08 draft who is now their best prospect. According to Rotoworld, the Astros don't think Towels is ready and are looking at free agent David Ross as a stopgap. Maybe it wouldn't take as much as Homer and we could send them Dickerson, Freel, or Hopper. I think he's ready. He hit historically poorly in the Bigs last year, but continued to hit in the minors. Guys like that always turn it around (paging Brandon Larson).

The Reds need a good, young catcher as evidenced by their use of their first pick on Devin Mesaraco in the 2007 draft, a catcher out of Punxsatawney, PA. He apparently saw his shadow, however, in his first year of pro ball and had a disappointing year. He is a long way from the Bigs and only the Reds' 11th best prospect, a two-star prospect at that. They have no catchers in their top ten. Montero or Towles would be a good investment.

Another option (and this really depends on whether the Reds plan to compete in '09) would be to sign a veteran like Greg Zaun to split time with Hanigan and help with the young pitchers. Cleveland and Baltimore may be willing to part with V-Mart and Hernandez, respctively, but I think that's too big a move for the Reds in terms of what they would have to give up and I wouldn't advise it at this time.

My suggestion: trade for Towels. I think he'd come the cheapest, and has great upside. Montero would be my second bet, and then a veteran signing as a last resort. They can always bring back Valentin who actually played a decent first base at the end of last year.

Next up: infield.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Richie Sexson

If the Reds don't follow my advice (likely) and sign Juan Rivera (unlikely), they should invite Richie Sexson to spring training.  Assuming he doesn't sign a guaranteed deal with another team, he's a risk with some upside. The Reds need righty power (previously posted) and he would probably come cheaper than Rivera.  There's a good chance he's done for his career, but definitely worth a spring training invite. Not worth a guaranteed contract, though. 

Setting up the key decisions for this winter

Most of this winter will be spent figuring out who the Blue Sox should keep from last year's roster. Some background:  the Blue Sox finished 8th last year (out of 10). The beginning of the end came before the season even started -- in fact before the player auction -- when I traded Kevin Youkilis for Jeff Clement, Akinori Iwamura, and Mark Teahen. In my defense, I needed a fourth minor league keeper. What I didn't need, however, was a couple of regulars who couldn't hit or steal bases, but how would I have know that?   

Anyway, I was never really in it so I was able to stockpile some players. Here are the rules:  we get to keep 14 players and 4 minor leaguers.  Right now, I'm looking at these 10 for-sure keepers: Dioner Navarro, Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Alex Gordon, Grady Sizemore, Coco Crisp (see earlier post -- he should play every day now), Travis Snider (missed minor league eligibility by two days), Chin Ming Wang, Philip Hughes, and Chris Ray.  That leaves 4 more spots and I have the following to choose from: 

The aforementioned Jeff Clement (keeping in mind that I essentially traded Youkilis for him), Howie Kendrick (almost a for-sure keeper), Asdrubal Cabrera (or, Cabrutal as he should be called), Kevin Slowey, Jon Garland (who may sign with the Mets and, therefore, be ineligible), Anthony Reyes, Jessie Litsch, and one of the following 3, if any are going to close in '09:  Scot Shields, Octavio Dotel (how great would a trade of Jenks to the Mets, with Dotel moving into the closer's role be for the Blue Sox? And the Mets?), or Jensen Lewis (fat chance!).    

As far as minor leaguers, I have 8 good options for 4 spots:  Clay Buchholz, Taylor Teagarden, Kai Ka'aihue, Lars Anderson, Elvis Andrus, Austin Jackson, Freddy Garcia, and Dontrelle Willlis (yes, he and Garcia are minor league eligible).  I don't consider Travis Buck, Josh Barfield, and Matt Murton good options, but you might.

The major league players have a salary component that I'd be happy to discuss, but the minor leaguer's don't. After you've had a chance to review this list, I would appreciate ideas on who to keep for next year.  I guess I should include our categories so that you'll now what I'm "keeping."  On offense, we use HR's, SB's, Avg., and Rbi's.  For pitching we use Wins, Saves, era, and strikeouts.  

One of the reasons I ask for your input is so I don't make mistakes this year like not keeping Ervin Santana, who had a great year.  

The Pope of Greenwich Village

I've had this book on my shelf for years and always assumed that I had read it. In fact, I thought I'd seen the movie (Eric Roberts? One of you imdb'ers can look that up).  Anyway, I decided to, "read it again" and I don't remember it at all.  Anyway, it's pretty good.  I would definitely recommend it for light reading.  

Free Agent Finds

The Reds don't appear to be big players in the free agent market this year. I don't see them signing any of the big names unless you count Joe Beimel, which I don't. If they do go for a big "name" it should be Randy Johnson on a one-year deal with an option. They saved a ton of money with Jr. and Dunn off the books and could use some excitement for next year. Watching the Unit go for 300 would fit the bill and give the Reds a southpaw in the rotation. The best part of Johnson is that he's either pitching well or injured. He never pitches poorly.

My free agent target would be Juan Rivera. The Reds need some right-handed pop and he's got that in spades. He'll be cheap, too, after coming off of partial seasons due to injury (broken leg suffered in the winter ball last year). Put him in left and give him 600 AB's and I bet he hits 30 home runs playing half the year at the GAP.

Coco Crisp

I needed something to start blogging and I guess the trade of Coco Crisp was it. I updated my facebook status with how excited I was about his trade to the Royals, and no one cared. My wife didn't want to hear about it either, so I decided I would blog about it. I was thrilled to learn of the trade. The Blue Sox landed Crisp toward the end of last year for only $1. By moving to the Royals, he is almost certain to play everyday and may even lead-off. No doubt he will steal more than the 20 bags he stole last year in part-time work with the Red Sox (no relation). My excitement was tempered, however, when Peter Gammons posted that the Reds were in the running to trade for Crisp. That would have been a great trade for the Reds. But I'll take the bird in the hand.

An assist to UK Football Fan who helped me get set-up. More later.