Posted tagged ‘Cincinnati Reds’

MLB Hot Stove: Moves that get overlooked so far this winter

November 25, 2013

When it comes to the MLB offseason and Free Agency everyone looks to the Jhonny Peralta’s new 4 year contract with the Cardinals or the big trade swap between Texas and Detroit involving Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler. While those deals are significant for the 2014 season, there are moves that go on throughout the winter that doesn’t get everyone’s attention on television or in the newspaper that should be noted to all baseball fans.

Nick+Punto+Arizona+Diamondbacks+v+Los+Angeles+JTUk13Yrdh4xLet’s start with infielder Nick Punto signing with the Oakland A’s. In Los Angeles last season with the Dodgers, he had a very good defensive year at 3rd Base and Shortstop. But let’s start off with his value. He had a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 2.2 and 22 RAR (runs above replacement). He had a line of .255/.328/.327 in 335 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers but it wasn’t his bat that makes him so important because he defense makes up for that line. His Rdrs/year (Defensive Runs Saved) at 3rd and SS was 11 which is very good at the hot corner including 48 double plays turned and a .974 fielding percentage. Note, this is a utility player who will bring leadership and depth to a team that was lacking that in the postseason. Like I said, this is not a sexy signing but it is very influential to the Oakland A’s ball club in 2014.

Colby+Lewis+Toronto+Blue+Jays+v+Texas+Rangers+kQR2Vtq3VDmlNext is a signing that occurred today with Colby Lewis and the Texas Rangers. He signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. If Lewis makes the major league team, he’ll make $2 million in base salary and can earn up to another $4 million in incentives. He won 26 games for the Rangers in 2010-11 and in the playoffs he was 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA. Here is the important part, he started 200 innings in both of those years and had a winning record in a ballpark that is tough to pitch in. The Rangers will lose Matt Garza and lack veteran leadership in their rotation. If he can get it right after shoulder surgery in 2012, he can be an innings eater and can be that important back of the rotation guy at a very low cost compared to the Royals signing Jason Vargas for 8 million a season with a career 4.30 ERA. At the age of 34, he shouldn’t be the same pitcher we saw 3 years ago but I expect him to be effective and help the club get more wins this season. Watch for his story when Spring Training arises. I like his comeback potential.

penaCatchers are at a premium in baseball, especially defensive ones. When the Cincinnati Reds signed Brayan Pena and the Tampa Bay Rays signed Jose Molina on two-year contracts, I thought they were extremely smart moves from both clubs.

For the Tigers last season, Pena had a good percentage catching 30% of runners stealing bases. He also presented some pop in his bat with a .297 average, 4 home runs, and 11 doubles in 71 games. Not many backups catchers have those types of numbers in the big leagues and the Reds lacked a catcher with home run power and strong defense behind the dish.

molina raysOn the other side, Molina is a defensive wizard and is essential for Tampa Bay’s pitching staff. During the 2012 season he held the staff to a 3.22 ERA and a 3.74 in 2013. He had a value defensively of 6.2 compared to the league average of 0.9 in 2012 and 3.9 compared to league average 1.4 in 2013. In his two years with a Rays uniform he has had 55 runners killed on the base paths which shows how valuable he is compared to any other catcher in the market. Plus, he ranks first in framing runs above average with 33 which is 5 better than his brother Yadier Molina who is the best defensive catcher in the National League.

As for the offense, he has batted a poor .228 with the Rays but his defense is more valuable than his offense and you could see that in the 2013 Wild Card game against the Indians as he led Alex Cobb to 6 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out five.

So after reading this I hope you realize that while adding a player like Robinson Cano can make a huge difference in wins for any roster in the major leagues, it is the buying low and getting high reward players that fans don’t know about going into spring training. I hope I have kept you informed on smart deals for teams that needed improvements at those positions.

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Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin could have been part of 2000 New York Mets

January 11, 2012

Via New York Post’s Dan Martin:

Barry Larkin has no regrets about never joining the Mets.

The shortstop, elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday, was on the verge of going to the Mets in July 2000, but rejected the move when then-general manager Steve Phillips decided not to give him the three-year contract he wanted.

“I certainly am happy that I didn’t accept that trade,” Larkin said at a press conference at the Waldorf yesterday of the swap that would have included former Mets prospect and future bust Alex Escobar.

Instead, Larkin wound up getting the three-year deal he wanted from the Reds, and the Mets were left to use Mike Bordick and Kurt Abbott at shortstop in their five-game World Series loss to the Yankees.

“We were ready to come to New York,” Larkin said, a 12-time All-Star who won a World Series with the Reds in 1990. “Being in Cincinnati for so long, I didn’t want to go to another organization as a potential rental player and play half a season.”

Larkin mentioned that Jose Reyes would eventually take over the position, but Reyes didn’t become the Mets’ full-time shortstop until 2005.

Still, Larkin likely would have helped in the postseason that year, because the Mets were without Rey Ordonez, who went down with a broken arm. Bordick and Abbott combined to go 3-for-16 in the Series.

“When they wouldn’t give me that commitment, that’s when it fell apart,” said Larkin, the 1995 NL MVP. “That’s what I was looking for in Cincinnati, three more years.”

At the time, Larkin said he was told by Reds management they were not interested in giving him a long-term deal.

“I was told I was not coming back to Cincinnati,” Larkin said. “I wanted to know if I would be there for a while.”

But team owner Carl Lindner had a change of heart.

“He said ‘The natives have spoken,’ ” Larkin said. “The fans really wanted me to stay, so that’s what happened.”

The Mets likely didn’t have too many second thoughts about not giving him the three extra seasons, because Larkin’s best years turned out to be behind him.

Although Larkin played until 2004, he never again reached the production of the seasons that propelled him to Cooperstown, where he will be inducted in June along with former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo.

After reading this I realized that the Mets could have won a World Series in 2000 against the Yankees. The one position the Mets lacked that season was shortstop both defensively and offensively when Rey Ordonez went down with an injury. Could you imagine how different the team would have been? Could you imagine the success the team could have brought in? But on the other hand, I am glad he stayed on the Reds his entire career. It makes him the good guy and not the bad guy who was out for the money but for the love of the Cincinnati Reds. I am glad he is a Hall of Famer and a Red for life, but I couldn’t help but think what could it have been like. Only Steve Phillips would not make a deal that could impact the future of the Mets. Oh what it could meant for a young Mets fan…

Barry Larkin is a true Hall of Famer

January 11, 2012

Via Stats and Info ESPN Blog:

After getting 62 percent of the votes last year, 13 percent shy of induction, Barry Larkin became the 24th shortstop elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with a jump to 86 percent of the vote.

Larkin, on the ballot for the third time, was the only player voted in on the ballot, and will join the late Ron Santo, elected last month by the Golden Era Committee getting inducted.

Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, nine-time Silver Slugger award winner, and star for the 1990 Cincinnati Reds team that won the World Series.

Larkin is one of five players who played at least half their games at shortstop, who finished with at least 2,000 hits and 150 home runs, along with Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Yount, Alan Trammell and Joe Cronin (Ernie Banks isn’t listed because he played more games at first base than shortstop).

From 1986 to 2004 (the span of his playing career), Larkin ranked in the top three among shortstops in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, stolen bases, and runs batted in. He made nine Silver Slugger teams. The only infielder to make more is Alex Rodriguez.

Larkin was successful on 83 percent of his stolen base attempts, the fifth-best career rate for anyone with at least 200 stolen bases.

(Dilip Vishwanat/TSN/Icon SMI)

Larkin fares very well in advanced metrics, rating as the 10th best shortstop all-time, using both the Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.com versions of Wins Above Replacement. If we include Banks in the discussion, his WAR rates sixth-best among those who debuted since World War II ended (1945).

Larkin’s trademark was that he was one of the toughest players in baseball to strike out. He ranked in the top 10 in his league in that category six times, leading the NL in being toughest to whiff in 1988. He finished his career with 817 strikeouts and 939 walks in 9,057 plate appearances.

Larkin joins the likes of fellow Reds such as Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench as Hall of Fame inductees. He rates among the top three Reds all-time in games, runs, hits, extra-base hits, walks, and stolen bases.

Finishing second on the ballots was Jack Morris, who received 382, or 66.7 percent, of the vote. 430 of 573 votes were needed for induction. Other players receiving more than 50 percent of the votes were Jeff Bagwell (56.0 percent) and Lee Smith (50.6).

Barry Larkin was one of the best shortstops to play ever and can put himself among the names of  Ozzie Smith, Phil Rizzuto,
and Robin Yount. The thing I love about Larkin’s career was he played on the Reds his entire career. To me, that makes you an instant hall of famer. He won the World Series with the 1990 team and played until he was 40 until management wanted to move on. That is what I call dedication and that gets you more votes into the Hall of Fame in my opinion. Finally, he changed the game at the shortstop position. Barry won 9 silver slugger awards, NINE! That isn’t done by many shortstops in the league. He showed other teams that power, speed, consistency, and great defense is what you need at the shortstop position. In the past ten years, I can’t think of any other player that could be consistent with Barry Larkin’s career besides Derek Jeter. And we know where he will be after his long Yankee career is over…

Vote: What is the best play in baseball so far this season?

May 21, 2011

Hey baseball fans, I have watched a lot of baseball growing up and I have to say that this season has been the year of the glove. There have been a ton of fantastic plays from a lot of teams around the league and they have been very fun to watch. My question to you the fans is which one is the greatest? VOTE BELOW to decide which one is the best.

Roger Bernadina?

Brewers Double Play?

Cabrera Double Play?

Phillips throught the legs?

Sweet Spot Blog: NL Central has got some upgrades on the mound

February 28, 2011

Via Sweet Spot Blog:

In 2010, the NL Central finished the season with only six of the top 40 starting pitchers based on ERA. Three of those pitchers belonged to one team, the St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia.) The other three were Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez (Houston Astros) and Johnny Cueto (Reds). This means the Cubs, Pirates and Brewers were without a starter in the top 40 ERA’s in the league by the end of 2010. The potential was there, but it was never realized. Fast forward to 2011 …

The Brewers made the first move this offseason when they picked up Zack Greinke in a trade with the Royals. They gave up little for what will be their staff ace. FanGraphs projects Greinke’s 2011 stats to be about 14-15 wins and an ERA in the mid 3.00’s. The Brew Crew did not stop there, acquiring Shawn Marcum, who cobbled together a nice 2010 for Toronto in the tough AL East after missing all of 2009. These two additions, along with future Cy Young candidate Yovani Gallardo make the Brewers a contender for the NL Central crown in 2011.

The Cubs’ offseason answer to their pitching staff questions came in a trade with Tampa Bay. Matt Garza was acquired in exchange for a slew of prospects. While the big question is how Garza will fair in Wrigley, it goes without saying he is an upgrade, and makes a fine middle-of-the-rotation addition. FanGraphs projects something like 11 wins and a high 3.00 to low 4.00 ERA. He gives the Cubs a very solid top three along with Ryan Dempster and a “newly cured” Carlos Zambrano. What if Randy Wells can get his 2009 form back? Any Cubs fan can tell you that 2010’s failure came from a lack of offense. If this staff gets even a hint of support, the NL Central is well within reach.

We can’t discuss the Cubs without touching on the Cardinals. Year in and year out the Cardinals seem to have pitching, or at least starting pitching. Yes, Wainwright is gone for the 2011 season, and while this is a big blow, I don’t see it being the end of their 2011 season. Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are unbelievable at squeezing water from a stone. Duncan got production from Todd Wellemeyer for crying out loud. Every year the duo of La Russa and Duncan seems to pull a starting pitcher out of a hat. I am sure somebody will fall in place to pick up at least some of the wreckage left behind by Wainwright’s injury. They still have Carpenter and Garcia to lean on. Let’s also not forget the sinkerball pitcher, Jake Westbrook, who I am sure Duncan will turn into a Cy Young candidate before long. Oh yes, the Cardinals are still in the hunt … even when they lose their best pitcher.

The sneakiest staff might be Houston’s. Rodriguez and Myers will once again anchor this staff. Don’t count out J.A. Happ, as he fit in nicely coming over from the Phillies in a trade last season. While I don’t see the Astros contending this year, mostly because of their offensive woes and bullpen, these three guys make for a nice base to a starting staff. Rodriguez and Myers were both in the top 40 ERA’s for starting pitchers last year, and Happ has the stuff to be included in that conversation someday, too.

Alongside these teams sit the Cincinnati Reds. Youth would be the operative word here. The potential in this starting rotation is enormous for 2011 and beyond. Yes, Bronson Arroyo is 33, but after that you have Edison Volquez (28), Cueto (25) , Homer Bailey (25) and a fifth starter in Travis Wood (24) or Mike Leake (23). There is also the tease that Cuban fireballer Aroldis Chapman (22) might one day become a starter. With the exception of Chapman and possibly Wood, all of these pitchers have seen significant success at the major league level in a starting role. The only thing keeping the Reds from a return to the playoffs is the fact that every team in the division upgraded with exception to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The NL Central has always had a few good pitchers sprinkled about its rosters. What’s new to the past decade is the depth of each team’s starting staff, not to mention the potential for more in the future. While the Astros, and more so the Pirates, have some ground to make up in this category, the remaining four teams are finding strength and depth from their starters.

…This division will be very interesting because there will be three teams in the race for first and then the Astros will be competitive and then the Pirates will try to ruin teams playoff chances. But overall, the pitching in this division is sick. I think right now the Brewers have a one up because of their three #1 starters in Gallardo, Grienke, and Marcum. Second is the Reds with their young core listed above and then Third is the Cardinals who recently lost Wainwright for the year. But fans, do not give up on the Cardinals. They always find a way to win. They might find another Jeff Weaver, Joel Pineiro, or even a Jeff Suppan. You don’t know. Maybe for the Cubs, Zambrano and Garza can win 20 each and become super stars. You can never just predict what can happen in any given major league season. Look at the Padres last year. You know? That is why it is so interesting to see how it will be. I am excited to watch the Brewers and Reds this year because I know they basically have the same team and strategy over the past few years. Hey, we might even have a Dontrelle Willis sighting in Cincinnati…