You have to love these deals. The Reds inked Jeff Francis to a minor league deal. He finished 6-16 for a bad Royals team last year but he logged 183 innings and he’ll be a good guy to have pitching down in Louisville in the event the pitching rich Reds run into problems with their rotation.
Francis was once a top prospect for the Colorado Rockies and he seemed to live up to his billing in 2007 when he went 17-9. He’s become more of a pitch to contact pitcher though and while his strikeout rate has come down considerably since then, he also sports a solid walk rate. Nice pick up with no risk.
The Reds have their closer in a great deal. They signed former Phillies closer Ryan Madson to a one year, $6 million deal. Madson was the Phillies closer for the first time in his nine year career and he put together some solid numbers but when he went looking for a long term deal, nobody came knocking. Madson’s loss is the Reds win because now they have a better closer at a better price.
Madson gave up just two home runs in 60 2/3 innings and he struck out 62 with just 16 walks. Ultimately, the Reds will be on the hook for $8.5 million because there’s an $11 million mutual option for 2013 with a $2.5 million buy out. Madson ran into problems when other closers were signed early and now he has an out if he’s lights out in 2012.
The Reds farm system is a little thinner then it was a couple of months ago because of some trades but the Reds still have some prospect talent. Kevin Goldstein unveiled his list of the top eleven Reds prospects and you have the big two, then some supporting characters. Topping the list is Billy Hamilton. The second round pick in 2009, Hamilton had a nice showing for Dayton last year and he should move up to High-A next year. This guy is fast and he’s the shortstop of the future it’s just going to take a couple of years.
Devin Mesoraco comes in at number two and after making his Reds debut, he should break camp with the club where he’ll catch with Ryan Hanigan for the year. He doesn’t have a lot left to prove in Louisville and he’s probably not in the same league as a Brian McCann, but hopefully he’ll give the Reds some stability at the position.
ZacK Cozart is third and he’s also a shortstop. He’s further up the chain then Hamilton and he might hold the fort for them the next couple of years and hopefully he’ll work out as the Reds starting shortstop in 2012. Robert Stephenson (RHP, several years away) and Daniel Corcino (RHP) round out the top five.
January means Hall of Fame voting. Barry Larkin has been on the ballot for a couple of years now and it looks like his time might have finally come. Larkin spent 19 years and all of them were with the Reds. His last good year was 2000 but for the 1990s, he was the best shortstop in the National League. In 1995 he won an MVP and he finished with a career OPS of .815. In all, his WAR was 68.9.
While it was 1995 that he won the MVP, 1996 was his best year. He belted 33 home runs and scored a career high 117 runs and he finished with an OPS of .977, his first of three straight years where he’d top the .900 mark. Great hitter, and he was a good fielder. Of course living here in Detroit, I think Trammell deserves to get in too but that’s for someone else to argue.
The Reds picked up on of the best relief pitchers last year from the Cubs in Sean Marshall but they once again paid a pretty penny to bring him over. The Reds dealt Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes to the Cubs for the left hander.
Marshall is a stud left hander. Last year he struck out 79 and walked just 17 in 75 2/3 innings. He also gave up just one home run. Over the past two years he has an ERA of 2.45. The Reds are without a closer for now and if they don’t sign someone, then you’re probably looking at him.
Wood was the odd man out when the Reds traded for Mat Latos. Torreyes has some potential and had a nice season for Dayton but it’s always too early to tell with a guy who’s just 19.
The Reds pulled the trigger on a major trade today when they landed Mat Latos from the San Diego Padres. Latos is still young (he just turned 24) and he’s struck out almost a batter an inning over his two years plus career. This kid also doesn’t walk manner batters and while I’d normally be worried about pulling a pitcher from San Diego because it’s such a pitcher’s park, Latos has the arm to pitch anywhere. His ERA on the road is higher but it’s still just 3.57. He’s death to right handed hitters with just a .208 batting average against in his career.
Of course he came with a steep price tag. Edinson Volquez was the headliner but the Reds also parted ways with Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger and Yasmani Grandal. Those were all in the Reds top ten prospects although Alonso and Grandal were both effectively blocked.
Of course time will tell. Most everyone is saying we gave up too much but we landed a legit starting pitcher. Who knows what those prospects will do. It does thin us out a bit though so we have to make sure everyone is healthy throughout the year.
Francisco Cordero and Ramon Hernandez were Type A free agents. Under the new CBA rules, they’re now Type B. The new rules are both good and bad for the Reds. The bad news is, if we had arbitration, we now would get a lesser pick. The good news is, because we probably weren’t going to offer arbitration to either Hernandez or Cordero, we will now at least get some form of compensation.
The Reds have a few other Type B guys. Matt Capps, Octavio Dotel and Darren Oliver are also Type B’s. So the Reds should get plenty of those sandwich compensation picks in the 2012 draft. Hopefully they can put them to good use.
It was another nice year for second baseman Brandon Phillips and with that, now the team has to decide what do with him. The Reds have Phillips for 2012 for $12 million but after that all bets are off. Apparently Phillips was talking to the brass at the General Manager’s Meeting but Walt Jocketty said they’re still pretty far from a deal.
Phillips is looking for Dan Uggla money and he’s been firm on not taking a hometown discount. Phillips career was an odd one. He was a blue chip prospect for the Indians where he faltered and was given up for dead. The Reds got him for nothing and he immediately caught fire. Now he’s one of the top second basemen in the game. He won the Silver Slugger this year and while his home runs were down, he was still a very productive player.
It was a crazy year for Aroldis Chapman. He spent a big chunk of the season with the Bats and while he was still touching 100 mph, at times he was very hittable. Also, the Reds have to decide what they want to do with him. They’ve had him in the pen the last couple of years but I think they’re finally getting with the program and realizing they’ll get more value out of him as a starter. I also think he needs to get his bearings back so that’s why I was glad to hear he’s not going to be playing winter ball this year.
The shoulder problems in the AFL were particular troubling so the next time we hear anything from Chapman, it’ll be in the Cactus League. The plan is for him to go to Florida to work out this winter with some of the team’s trainers. He’ll be close to home and the Reds will be able to monitor his progress. Me likee.
Te team hasn’t announced anything but Matt Maloney is saying that he’s been traded to the Minnesota Twins. Maloney was solid for the Bats this year but not as good for the Reds in a short stint. Since the trade hasn’t been officially announced, we still don’t have word as to who the Reds got in return.