Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Broken silence

Everyone has been asking me what I thought of the Reds' trades, but frankly I hadn't made up my mind until today. First let's recap: the Reds got Wladimir Balentien for Robert Manual, a minor league catcher for Hairston, Jr., and, in the big one, Scott Rolen for EE, Josh Roenicke, and Zack Stewart. In order of importance (least important first):

I don't know anything about this Weems (including how to spell his name, so this is a guess, but the trade is just that unimportant) kid that we got from the Yanks, but losing Hairston, Jr., is not a big loss especially for a team unloading guys at the trade deadline that might help contenders. So that's okay with me. A minor deal. But wait you say. Are the Reds in fact unloading at the deadline? It would seem so, but see below.

Balentien is a real find for the Reds. I don't know why he fell out of favor with the M's, but they never really gave him a chance after handing him the starting job and then taking it right back before demoting him and then trading him. (See also, Jeff Clement.) I would love to see the Reds hand him the right field job right now and see what they've got. Regular readers of this blog know that I've been touting Gomesy all year, but Balentien is the kind of guy that you have to put in the line-up and see what happens. Let Nix and Gomesy platoon in left. (Unless Alonzo is going to play first next year in which case they need to get busy moving Votto to left. Hey, maybe Gomesy could play first until the end of the year.) And of course the Reds have plenty of relievers, right? But wait, do they? (See below.)

Now, the biggy. Everyone is talking about the Rolen deal, and almost no one likes it. Paul Daugherty sure didn't like it in this morning's Enquirer. The folks at Baseball Prospectus liked the EE for Rolen part, but criticized the deal because of the inclusion of two top pitching prospects. Wind bags like Scott Graham and Buck Martinez have criticized the deal with no real analysis (what a shock). MLBTradeRumors.com cited Buster Olney who called it, "without question the most widely panned pre-deadline trade within the industry." Finally, most of the guys at my Colonial League August Supplemental Draft yesterday didn't like it, although the general consensus there was that no one cared about losing EE.

Let's talk about Rolen first. No question the Reds are a better team today with Rolen for Eddy. Rolen's a way better defender, and is having a career-reviving year at the plate. Sure, he's injury prone, but so is Eddy. And if Rolen's healthy (his numbers would support that) maybe he's put the injuries behind him. Rumor has it the Jays are paying Rolen's salary for this year and maybe even some of the $11 mil. he's owed next year. So taking out Eddy's salary for this year and next they really don't add that much payroll. So why does everyone hate this deal? I think the conventional wisdom is that the Reds are too far out (and sinking fast) so the Reds shouldn't be adding, they should be selling off. But I like the Rolen for EE trade.

But like BP, I question the inclusion of the two pitching prospects. Roenicke has great stuff and should be a big league closer by 2011 if not sooner. And Zach Stewart has been described by one expert as the Reds' best pitching prospect. I think Jockety put those two guys in there because of the money. He wanted Rolen, but the Jays wouldn't pay money toward Rolen for just Eddy. The Reds had to put in some younger talent.

On July 14, before the Reds went in the tank, I said the following:

Predictions: Castellini will allow Jockety to make a move; Jockety will get some overrated veteran; it will be just enough for the Reds to finish 82-80, recording their first winning season since I've been a real fan. And that's really the first step.

I hope I was more than half right.

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