Archive for December, 2004

Eric Milton Signs With the Reds

Alright, this might be a good one. Or it could be a bad one. I’ve always been a fan of Eric Milton’s, and with him playing for the Twins for so long, I got to see him go against the Tigers quite a bit. In 2003 he missed most of the season because of knee surgery, so hopefully his 2004 season, as rough as it was, can be looked at as basically rehab. Of course I’m not a doctor, it’s all just wishful thinking.

He went 14-6, and his ERA+ was slightly below average at 92. The good news is his strikeout rate seemed to stay right where it’s been most of his career. The bad news is, he gave up a league leading 43 homeruns. That’s eight more then the next guy. His walk rate also notched up slightly. but his strikeout to walk ratio was still better then 2:1.

$8.5 million might be a little much, but it’s probably right in line for a left handed starter. He’ll now replace Ortiz as the opening day pitcher, and it makes the starting rotation (and the pen for that matter) a little bit better.

I still don’t think this puts the Reds over the top, but with the Great American Ball Park leaning towards being a pitchers park (at least in 2004), maybe it will turn some of Milton’s homeruns into outs (or at least doubles).

A man can wish.

Happy Holiday

We here at Reds Cutting Edge want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. I wanted Pedro Martinez for Christmas. Looks like another rough year.

Randa a Red

Alright, this was definitely a case of filling a hole. Joe Randa is pretty mediocre as far as third basemen go. A career .253 equivalent average puts him a touch below the average mark, but he has popped into the .300+ batting average range a couple of times during his career. If we get .290/.350/.450 out of him, I’ll be extemely happy. More importantly, it keeps Austin Kearns in the outfield where he belongs.

D’Angelo Jimenez was also re-signed. Another nice move, shoring up the bullpen on the cheap. Neither of these two are world beaters, but at least we’re not throwing money out the window.

Which leads me to the question of what’s worse. Being like the Reds and only going after third tier free agents, or being like the Tigers and getting shot down time after time despite offering up good money? I really hope the Reds have a plan here.

Reds Sign Mercker

Out of all the signings by the Reds, this one might be the best. Merker is a true journeyman. This will be his third stint with the Reds, and has played for nine different teams throughout his career, mostly as a LOOGY (Baseball Prospectus’ term for a “Left Handed One Out Guy”).

The last two years he’s had solid seasons out of the pen. For the Cubs last year, he only gave up four homers in over fifty innings, and struck out almost a batter every inning. His walk rate is up there, but this is a guy who should pitch every other game (granted for usually less then an inning) and will get that left handed hitter out more times then not (.205 batting average against in 2004).

The Great Debate – 1975 Reds vs. 1984 Tigers – Right Field

Finally some controversy. So far, each of our little sub-debates have been very clear cut. But Ken Griffey (the senior vareity) against Kirk Gibson, in some respects, is a tight match up.

1975 was Ken Griffey’s first full season, and like the other Reds on the team, he had a nice season. He finished just over the .300 mark at .302, and was tenth in the league in OBP at .391. Power was Griffey’s biggest fault, or rather the lack of. He did have nine triples, but he knocked out only four homers and had only fifteen doubles.

1976 was Griffey’s best year, and would have given Kirk Gibson more competition. He finished second for the batting title with a .336 batting average.

So let’s look at the tale of the tape:

Runs 95
Homeruns 4
RBIs 46
Average .305
OBP .391
Slg .402
Runs Created 73
OPS+ 119

Batting Runs Above Replacement 36
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 6
Equivalent Average .294
Wins Above Replacement Player 4.7

Griffey hit a little better, and scored a few more runs, but Gibby had a pretty impressive season at the plate. Both were below average fielders. When all things are looking equal, I usually look at WARP, OPS+ and EqAvg, and Gibby is marginally better in each category. Sigh.

Scorecard – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 3

Next are the pitchers. Brian told me he’d get his response up before he left town so you can read it over at Tigerblog. I’ll be up north, and probably won’t be at a computer very much, so if you don’t hear from me, have a great weekend.


Introducing, your 2005 Opening Day starter, the newly acquired Ramon Ortiz!!!

It’s so hard to express sarcasm in the written word, but I hope everyone has caught on. Why you’d trade our fourth best prospect (and best pitching prospect, according to JD) for a guy who’s been at or below replacement the last two years is beyond me.

Ramon Ortiz does deserve some recognition. He’s only the fifth pitcher ever to win sixteen games while having an ERA above 5.20 (thank you Baseball Prospectus 2004). Although his strikeout rate was up from the previous year, it was still below his career mark. And the only thing that stopped him from giving up 25 homers was the fact he was relegated to the bullpen.

Probably the saddest thing is, he may very well be our best pitcher. But was it really worth giving up a potential gem to acquire this stiff?

All Quiet on the Western Coast

All in all, it was a pretty boring winter meeting, unless of course you were there. Not a lot of action, and if you’re a Reds fan, there’s not a whole lot to be happy about.

The rumors about Tim Hudson came and went, not that I expected anything to come out of it. I almost long for the days of Jim Bowden. At least he would have done “something.” That crazy fool.

So it looks like the 2005 version of the Reds will be a carbon copy of the 2004 version, less Barry Larkin. My December prediction is for 70 wins, unless some of those prospects JD has been talking about get better quicker.

Winter Meetings

Alright, the winter meetings are going on as we speak. And I was very interested to read over at Hardball Times that the Reds are one of the teams looking at Tim Hudson. It also looks like Jim Bowden is denying rumors he might deal Kearns or Dunn for Hudson. So we’ll see. Dunn fits in about as well as anyone in Billy Beane’s regime, so he’d probably be the first choice. But Dunn also has the better track record, so it would mean the Reds wouldn’t have to give up as much as they would if Kearns were involved.

If the deal is for Dunn, I say we forget it. Adam Dunn’s way too valuable. I know we need pitching in a bad way, but you’re talking about one of the best productive forces of the future. If Bowden really had the balls, he’d go out and sign a pitcher and keep both of our young future superstar outfielders.

And if you didn’t catch, Brian has a column up over on Hardball Times, setting the stage for a narrative on the Expos move to D.C. Well worth checking out.

Good Bye Barry

I talked about this before, but now it’s official. And despite the fact that it’s a good move, I’m sad.

Barry Larkin was probably the best Reds shortstop ever. He compares favorably to Dave Concepcion, but if you look at Baseball Reference and the Hall of Fame Monitor, they give Concepcion a 106.5 and Larkin gets a 118.5. There’s a ton of things going into that number, but Concepcion was a good player on a great team, and Larkin was a great player period.

Looks like the comment spammers are out. I don’t get a ton of comments, but like Brian over at Tigerblog, I’m probably going to have to get rid of them.

The Great Debate – 1975 Reds vs. 1984 Tigers – Centerfield

I hate losing, and no matter how I spin this one, I can’t put Cesar Geronimo over Chester Lemon. Despite being yet another Red’s gold glove fielder, Geronimo spent most of his seasons below an OPS+ of 100 then above it. In 1975, he had an equalized average of only .258, and a meager Batting Runs Above Replacement of 16. Toss in a pathetic slugging percentage of .363, and you get where I’m going. Geronimo was a slappy at the plate, and as good as he was defensively, Lemon was just as good. It’s just Lemon was whole lot better at the plate.

So let’s take a look at the tale of the tape:

Runs 69
Homeruns 6
RBIs 53
Average .257
OBP .327
Slg% .363
Runs Created 58
OPS+ 90

Batting Runs Above Replacement 16
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 46
Equalized Average .258
Wins Above Replacement Player 6.9

Other then FRAR, it’s a clean sweep, and that difference was marginal.

Scorecard – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 2

Brian was nice enough to tell me that a generous reader bought us a copy of Diamond Mind. If you want to know why we’ve been looking to get it (and how we’re going about garnering the funds), click here. Brian told me that with the money he makes from the ads, he’ll now use to buy season discs, and maybe we can have some additional fun with that (like pitting the 1975 Reds against the 1976 Reds).

Also, you can read Brian’s analysis of Chet Lemon at Tigerblog when it’s completed. Apparantly he’s been working on some secret project, and might not get to it for a couple of days.

In the meantime, check out Reds Daily. JD Arney has done a fantastic look at the Red’s top 40 prospects. This is our future here.

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