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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Man, there’s nothing going on in Reds Land. Lou Pinella came to visit, but I was watching Tim Russert this weekend and Pinella was on. He said he wouldn’t be managing in 2006. That leaves the door open to bring him back in 2007, but by then he might have his eyes set on something else.
I’m going to work up another installment of my All Decade Team. You can check out the 1910-1919 Reds All Decade Team to see what I’m talking about. And I was flipping through the Redleg Journal (which I don’t think I owned when I first started the series, but I did use them to help me with the last couple) and in the back, they have their own All Decade Teams. So I’m going to eventually compare what I came up with to their choices.
So be sure to check back. Pretty please.
Alright, the Reds didn’t sign A.J. Burnett, but they did get Mike Burns off of waivers. He should fit right in as he gave up six homeruns in 31 innings. Outside of that, he didn’t do all that bad. His ERA was kind of high (4.94), but his WHIP was fair (1.19) and he had a 20/8 strikeout to walk ratio. He was very good against righties (.156 batting average against). Unfortunately, five of the ten hits he gave up against righties went out of the park.
John Donovan wrote that Adam Dunn is as good as gone. It’s obvious that the Reds need pitching, and he talks about how Dunn will start to be on the more expensive side of the equation. It would be a sad, sad day for me if the Reds traded the future Hall of Famer.
Not a lot going on with the Reds these days. The ownership change has yet to be finalized and free agency is just beginning to ramp up. So here’s a couple of tidbits.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Reds had the best catching tandem in the major leagues. The emergence of Javier Valentin along with the reliability of Jason LaRue led the two to a combined 51.1 WARP. That was the best total since 2001 when Paul LoDuca and Chad Kreuter combined for a 70.4 VORP.
David Weathers, who did a decent job out of the pen this past season (61 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings with a 1.29 WHIP) had shoulder surgery. Doesn’t look like a big deal and he should be ready to by spring training.
That’s about it.