Archive for December, 2005

One Team’s Trash is Another Team’s Treasure

Ramon Ortiz signed with the Washington Nationals yesterday and he’s taking quite a price cut. About all you can about Ortiz is that he’s durable. This was one of the guys I was hesitant about when we traded for him and I say good riddance. He doesn’t strike people out, and he gives up a ton of home runs.

Unless the Reds make a huge move like signing Roger Clemens, this will be my last post of 2005. Have a great New Year.

Reds Sign Jason LaRue

Yeah, I know I’m a little late on this one, but the Reds locked in Jason LaRue for another two years. Two years, $9.1 million which sounds a little steep, but LaRue’s been one of the more consistent catchers the last few years. While his career -45 Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) isn’t anything to write home about, he’s been in positive territory the last two years (1 in 2004 and 2 in 2005). What’s more impressive is his Runs Created Above Position. In 2005 he was 14 runs created above the average catcher. Last year he was 12.

He’s a pretty average fielder, but I’ll take his bat anyday. Last year, he also set a career high with 41 walks, so hopefully this uptick continues.

So we have our starting catcher. According to some news I read over at Red Reporter, it looks like the next step is to ink Adam Dunn to a long term deal. I’m all for it.

Freel, Chris Hammond Inked to Deals

The Reds and Ryan Freel agreed to a two year for an undisclosed amount of money. Freel’s a player that gets on base, and he can pretty much anywhere. This might have been the best move the Reds have made all year as they’ll avoid arbitration.

The Reds also signed reliever Chris Hammond. Hammond is a solid left hander and he made a name for himself by coming back from a three abscence and posting a 0.95 ERA for the Braves in 2002. Since then, he’s bounced around. Regardless, he’s had four solid seasons. The one downer is, he turns 40 in January so while he has to decline eventually, let’s hope it’s not when he’s sporting a Reds uniform. He’ll be paid $800k with a mutual option for 2007.

This and That

Not a lot of news this past week if you’re a Reds fan. Tony Womack appears to want the starting job at second base. I still don’t know why they don’t give Ryan Freel a chance there. I know he gives the club some flexibility by being able to play everywhere, but we’re also not giving him much of a chance. Imagine if he got to play one spot all year and in the process, he became a better player (at that spot) because of it. Looks like he’ll go another year without that chance.

We also lost out on Matt Morris as he shunned the Reds and went to play with Barry Bonds instead. Morris would have easily been our best pitcher, but he’s also been in decline the last few years. At one time he was a perrenial preseason Cy Young candidate, but that never quite happened. Then a bad shoulder later, and he’s looked pretty mortal. Nine million would have been a steep price, but it would have been nice to have a bona fide starter in the rotation.

It also looks like Ken Griffey, Jr. will play in the World Baseball Classic if he’s asked to play. Not sure if I like this idea. Griffey has yet to play a complete in Cincinnati since his first so piling real games on before the Reds season even starts isn’t great for the team. But with Griffey getting up there in years, this might be his only chance so I can’t blame him too much.

Reds William Bergolla and Ray Olmedo have been tearing it up down south in Winter Ball. Olmedo looked like he was going to surplant Barry Larkin at shortstop back in 2003 but he’s been limited recently because of an elbow problem. Unfortunately, EE (Edwin Encarnacion) has struggled in the Dominican League, but he’s only played in seven games. Not quite sure why he’s been limited.

Reds Trade for Tony Womack

It makes you long for the days of Rich Aurilia. The Reds traded Kevin Howard and Ben Himes to the Yankees for for Tony Womack. We get $900k, so we’re on the hook for $1.1 million in 2005. In the last five years, if you exclude the anamoly that was 2004, Tony Womack has never sported an OBA above .276. Yeah, I know he hit .307 in 2004, but this is a guy with a career OPS of 672. That’s not good in case you’re wondering.

On top of that, he’s never been a particularly slick fielding second basemen.

The only good thing is, we didn’t give much up. Howard probably would have been scooped up in the rule five draft. Himes is 24 and still stuck down in the lower reaches of the minors.

What’s really sad is, Womack could potentially hit leadoff because he’s “fast.” I hope this isn’t the case, but it shouldn’t surprise people to see it at the beginning of the year. If Dave Williams and Tony Womack are the best we can do, I saw we skip 2006 and go right to 2007.

Sean Casey Traded for Dave Williams

My first response to seeing that Dave Williams is now a Red was pretty simple. It was, “Who?” Seems Williams made the Pirates rotation in 2001 and then was injured for parts of two seasons because of a bum shoulder. He did some spot starting last year and this year, he got a last minute spot in the rotation.

About all I can say about him is, he’s a lefty. And last year, he unfortunately was worse against lefties then he was against righties. 20 homeruns in 138 2/3 innings isn’t exactly sharp, nor is an 88/58 strikeout to walk ratio. And the fact that he’s going from a somewhat neutral park to a hitters park doesn’t bode too well.

And it makes it worse because I’ve always been a Sean Casey fan. Yeah, I know he’s had three mediocre years in the last four and yes, I know this means we’ll see the future Hall of Famer, Adam Dunn, make his way to first base so the other three outfielders all have a chance to play. But I guess I would have thought we could have gotten more then a 27 year old (in March) soft throwing left hander.

But what do I know. Red Reporter liked it and Joel at Reds and Blues sort of liked it.

Red Hot Mama In Print

One of the standouts of the Reds blog roll, Red Hot Mama, has gone to print. I haven’t purchased the book yet, but if you’re looking for something to buy a Reds fan for Christmas, this should top your list. You can buy your copy of the book here.

Once you buy a copy of Red Hot Mama, you should pick up a copy of the Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006. Brian was nice enough to give me a copy (he has a box full of them in his office with his silver and he’s pretty proud of himself, although he got kind of annoyed when I asked him to sign it). The book is simply awesome.

Reds All Decade Team – 1920-1929

Coming off of the Reds first World Series in 1919, Reds fan probably had some pretty high hopes heading into the 1920s. There was just one big problemand that was the freight train resembling New York Giants. From 1921 through 1924, the Giants rattled off four straight pennants and two World Series wins. In two of those seasons the Reds were the runner up and they’d finish in second place in 1926 as well. Despite the fact that the Reds had their first winning decade of the 20th century (and it would be their only until the 1960s), they didn’t play in a single World Series.

The decade was also pretty unique for another reason Reds fan of 2005 wouldn’t quite be able to comprehend. The Reds had one of the best pitching staffs of the early 1920s. Led by rotation mainstays like Dolf Luque, Eppa Rixey and Pete Donahue, the Reds became the third team (at the times) in major league history to lead the National League in ERA. The 1923 team posted a 3.21 ERA (121 ERA+), the 1924 team finished with a 3.12 ERA (120 ERA+) and the 1925 team lead with a 3.38 ERA (122 ERA+). These three seasons were sandwiched between second place finishes in 1922 and 1926.

Unfortunately, they could never build on this success and the team went into a nose dive in 1927 when they finished in the second half of the league for the rest of the decade and in 1929, they finished next to last with 88 losses, the most in 15 years.

So which Reds ruled the roost in the 1920s? Let’s take a look

Catcher – Bubbles Hargrave was the Reds starting catcher from 1922 through 1927 and he backed up Ivey Wingo in 1921. In all of those seasons except one, he finished the season with an OPS+ over 100, and with that one exception (1925) he finished league average with a 99. In 1926, Hargrave won the batting title with a .353 batting average and finished his career with a .310 batting average and a .372 OBP. His 152 OPS+ in 1926 was second to the Phillies’ Cy Williams.

First Base – Jake Daubert was the Reds starting first baseman for the first five seasons of the decade. His best season had to have been 1922, when he hit .336, had 12 homeruns (career high) and a league leading 22 triples. The former Brooklyn Dodgers MVP and two time batting champ was traded to the Reds for right fielder Tommy Griffith in 1919.

Second Base – Hughie Critz debuted for the Reds on May 31, 1924 and was the Reds starting second base for the rest of the decades. The Reds must have had high hopes for Critz because he had a nice rookie campaign. In 102 games, he hit .322 and had his only season where he was above 100 in OPS+ (114).

And just to show you the sports writer did some wacky things with their votes back then, Critz finished second in the MVP voting in 1926 despite having an OPS+ of 87. He even finished ahead of teammate Bubbles Hargrave despite the fact that his OPS was around .250 points less. He did have a good fielding year by BP standards (59 fielding runs above replacement, around six wins) so that must have factored into things. He finished fourth in the MVP voting in 1928 with an OPS+ of 90. In early 1930, he was traded to the Giants for a right handed pitcher, Larry Benton.

Third Base – This was a tough one, but I gave the nod to Babe Pinelli. Pinelli manned the hot corner for the Reds from 1922 through 1925, and he backed up Chuck Dressen in 1926 and 1927. Pinelli hit above .300 in 1922 and 1924, but he never broke the 100 OPS+ mark mostly due to his lack of power. In 1925, he hit a career high two homeruns, and he finished his career with five. He also loved to bunt as he led the league in sacrafice hits in 1924 (33) and 1925 (34).

Shortstop – This was another tough one, more because there was no stand out. I’m going to give it to Ike Caveney, who was the starting shortstop from 1922 when he debuted on April 12 through 1925. After 1925, he never played again. 1923 was probably his best year as he set career marks in homeruns (4), batting average (.277) and OPS (.696).

Left Field – Pat Duncan was the Reds starting left fielder from 1920 through 1924. His best season was 1922 when he finished third in the league in doubles (44) and tenth in the league in hitting (.327). The oddest thing about his 1922 campaign was how persistent he was in stealing bases. In 40 tries, he was caught stealing 28 times for a pretty pathetic 30% success rate.

Center Field – Hall of Famer Edd Roush played centerfield for the Reds from 1920 through 1926 and he was the Reds’ player of the decade. His worst hitting season was .339 and he had an OPS+ of at least 124 in all of seasons with the Reds. 1923 was his best season, and he hit .351 with a league leading 41 doubles and an OPS+ of 148. Edd Roush led the team in batting average (.342), RBIs (507) and stolen bases (117) in the 1920s.

The Reds also had a little “Curse of Edd Roush” because after being traded to the Giants for George Kelly, the Reds hit the skids and never recovered for over a decade.

Right Field – Curt Walker was traded from the Phillies to the Reds on May 30, 1924 and Walker manned right field for the Reds for the rest of the decade. In every season with the Reds, Walker had at least 10 triples, and mostly because of that, he was always on the north side of league average in OPS+. Curt Walker led the Reds in homeruns in the 1920s with 35.

Pitcher – Dolf Luque had at least 22 starts in every season in the 1920s and he had a Cy Young caliber season in 1923. The Cuban led the league in wins (27), ERA (1.93) and he was second in strikeouts with 151. This was a good bounce back from a pitcher who lost 23 games in 1922. I’m not sure if a pitcher has ever led the league in losses one year, then led the league in wins the next.

Luque led the Reds in ERA (3.09) and strikeouts (904) in the 1920s and on three seperate occassions (1921, 1923, and 1925) he led the league in shutouts. He’s third on the All Time Reds list in innings pitched (2,668 2/3) and he’s second in losses with 152.

Pitcher – It’s not too often you trade for a pitcher who’s coming off of a 22 loss season and three consecutive losing seasons, but that deal paid off for the Reds in spades. Beginning in 1921, Epa Rixey went on to win 155 games in the 1920s, more then any other Reds pitcher during a golden age of Red pitching.

On three seperate occassion, Rixey won at least 20 games and in one other season he won 19. 1922 was his best season as he led the league in wins with 25 and innings pitched with 313 1/3. In every season he posted an ERA+ of least 109 and he never logged fewer then 200 innings.

Rixey is the second most winningest pitcher in Reds history with 179 and he’s second in innings pitcher (2,890 2/3) and games started 356).

Pitcher – Pete Donohue completed the Reds pitching triumvirate. While he was less durable, he pitched for the Reds from 1921 through 1929 and in three of those seasons, he won 20 games. 1925 was his best year and he finished with 21 wins and he led the league in innings pitched with 301. After leading the league in innings pitched in 1925 and 1926 (285 2/3), Donohue appeared to break down as he never had a winning since after nor did he log 200 innings.

Reds All Decade Team

I know, I promised an all decade team this week and I didn’t come through. But put this one in the bank, because I will have one ready for reading on Monday. I had a client call with a problem, and the chance to make some money trumps all. I’m not rich like Brian so I have to defer blogging to work.

And speaking of Brian, I have a funny story. He’ll kill me for saying this, but so be it. He’s made the threat before and I’m still here, so bring it on. Anyway, I was over his house to visit this holiday weekend, and if you know Brian, he keeps his office a mess. It was in even more cluttered because he was “cleaning” it, and in order to clean it, he has to basically tear it apart. So he has all this stuff on his desk and I start making fun of him about it and going through the crap. I pull of a couple of books, and underneath are freaking bars of pure silver. At first I was impressed, but then I found out silver is only going for like $8.50 an ounce so it lost it’s luster (pun intended). But who has silver bars just sitting out on your office desk?

The Reds signed Tommy Phelps and Jimmy Journell to minor league deals. Nothing too huge here.

Check back Monday for the All Decade Team. I promise it’ll be there. And this promise is a real one, unlike the last one, which wasn’t real. Got it? Got it.

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