About four months ago I
entry focused entirely about the stupidity of the Cincinnati Reds front
office. San Francisco, Atlanta, Kansas
City, and Washington have all challenged that title since, but the combo of
Baker, general manager Walt Jocketty, and owner Bob
Castellini has proved to be tough to overcome.
As Baker continues to
completely ignore any factual information given to him, and Bob Castellini (nice button)
continues to oversee a baseball system pounding itself into the ground, Walt
Jocketty is still signing incompetent players to ridiculous contracts, and
trading away top prospects at the time when they are most needed.
The past two Reds
transactions may be Jocketty’s worst yet.
Let’s start it off with this trade, and on the next entry I’ll wrap up
the other horrific transaction made by Jocketty.
The Reds trade away Ryan Freel, Brandon Waring,
Turner to BAL for Ramon
Wow. Where do we begin? This is just a mess of a trade for Cincinnati. Now before I start getting into the players
involved, one must realize that the Reds also received $2 million from the
But that’s only the case because
Ramon Hernandez’s salary is ridiculously high at $8.5 million. I still think $6.5 million is way too
much to pay for Hernandez. However, in
the end, money can be recovered one way or another, but losing top prospects
cannot (especially when you have such a poorly managed front office, as the
Reds do). I cannot assess Walt
Jocketty’s scouting department very accurately yet, since he has only been at
the GM helm for a little less than nine months. But judging from his time with St. Louis, he didn’t have a very
good eye for scouts. Basically,
Jocketty is slowly but surely using the talent [gulp] Jim Bowden, [gulp] Dan
O’Brien, and Wayne Krivsky (not bad enough for a gulp) found and/or drafted,
and Walt is trading them away for his own “preferred” players.
The Ramon Hernandez trade
is a perfect example of that. You can’t
blame Jocketty for not having drafted the prospects currently in Cincinnati’s
farm clubs, but he is single-handedly destroying what little pieces of talent
the Reds had left to begin with in the minors.
Justin Turner and Brandon
Waring may not be Grade-A prospects, but both have a bright future, judging
from their minor league statistics, especially Waring. Just by taking a quick look at his 2007
statistics in Low-A, you can see Waring’s massive slugging potential.
Heck, including college, he hit 57 home runs
in 2007…in 489 at-bats! Not that it has
that much meaning, but The Baseball Cube’s scouting report on Waring has
his power ranked at 100 (of out 100).
However, Waring’s output
fell drastically in 2008 (20 HR), and predictably, so did his OBP
(.346). I don’t know what caused the
drop in power, but the cold hard fact is that his slugging percentage fell 147
points, and that is probably why the Reds were willing to give him up (not to
say they were right to do so).
Waring may never get back
to the serious upside he showed with rookie-ball Billings, but a .340 OBP with
twenty dingers a season is still pretty solid.
Turner looks like he may wind up being Brian Roberts’ replacement in
2010 (when Roberts’ contract runs out).
Maybe a more realistic expectation for Turner may be a poor man’s Chuck
Knoblauch (which is not as bad as it sounds) or that of a Ryan Freel-type,
without the ability to play outfield. Of course, one of Ryan Freel’s main assets is his immense
versatility (2B, 3B, LF, CF, RF).
I’m not exactly sure where
Freel fits in with the O’s next year.
The O’s have a logjam of outfielders already (Scott, Jones, Markakis,
Pie and Montanez), and capable infielders as well.
Baltimore’s only major hole is at SS, which is the one position
Freel doesn’t play. General
manger Andy MacPhail should trade Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts, and Luke
Scott this off-season. But seeing the
slim chances of that happening, the 33-year-old probably will just be a
super-utility guy. I understand that
Ryan Freel is a name more recognizable than Brandon Waring or Justin Turner,
but I frowned whenever I saw an article refer to it as “Ramon Hernandez for
Ryan Freel, and two other prospects”.
If nothing else, the Reds forced Baltimore to take Freel, because
of the four million dollars he is owed next year.
This was DISASTROUS
for Cincinnati, and I was just stunned that Baltimore could get anything for
Ramon Hernandez, let alone two good prospects from an equally awful team such
as the Reds. Bottom, bottom Line: Andy
MacPhail is either a genius, or Old Jock’ had lost his meds. Yeeaahh, most likely the
Reds – D-
Orioles – A
OK, so in a future post
I’ll go over the other transaction that cements my claim that Cincinnati has
the worst management in the game. And
if you are a disgruntled Reds fan, or just simply depressed by the sheer
incompetent nature of the organization, I have the thing for you!
Trade Melvin Mora and
Chris Waters to the Brewers for Alcides Escobar
I really dig this deal for both teams
involved. It’s no secret that either
Escobar or J.J. Hardy will probably get traded, and the Orioles are a perfect
They need a shortstop badly, and
Escobar should be ready for the majors by next year.
The Brewers get Melvin Mora (left) who
is coming off a career year, driving in 104 runs, 23 home runs, and a .342
OBP. He has a no-trade clause in his
contract but I think he’ll wave it to be able to escape a re-building franchise
and a join a playoff team.
The Brewers are desperate for a
third-baseman after the atrocious year Bill
Hall had. Plus, the Brewers could
keep J.J. Hardy
as their shortstop of the future.
Since Mora becomes a free agent after next season, he won’t interfere
with Mat Gamel‘s
progression up the system, as he will likely be the 2010 Brewers starting third
baseman, and Mora will move on to another team.
On the other end of the spectrum,
the Orioles get
a shortstop for the next six years or so, that can deliver a very good OBP,
a fair amount of home runs, a lot of speed, and stellar defense every single
Unless Mora hits like he did in 2004
(.921 OPS), Mora-for-Escobar will slightly favor the Orioles, so they probably
will need to throw in a pitcher like Brian Bass or Chris Waters.
If I were Doug Melvin,
I’d choose Chris
Waters as the extra player, just to add depth to the thin rotation
Milwaukee has. If Milwaukee can’t
resign Ben Sheets or CC Sabathia, then Waters may even may even be competing
for the 5th spot in the 2009 Brewers rotation.
There’s not a great chance that Waters will
be win the battle considering he’s competing with Mark DiFelice,
Capuano, and Seth McClung. It’s still very likely the Brewers will send
Capuano to Nashville (AAA) since he missed all off 2008 after having Tommy John surgery.
DeFelice and McClung could make the team as relievers or as starters,
but both are fully capable of pitching adequately while eating up some innings
in the rotation.
Does this mean the Brewers should
trade Bill Hall? I don’t think so. He can serve as a super-utility man. With Hall being able to play left field,
center field, third base, shortstop, and second base, he should be able to rack
up at least 350 at-bats in a full season.
Oddly enough, out of all the positions Hall can play, the one he would
probably play the least is third base. Russell
Branyan had such a solid season he is probably the one who will be tabbed
to fill in on Melvin Mora’s off days.
Trade Aubrey Huff to
the Indians for Scott Lewis, Mike Pontius, and Niuman Romero
believe the Indians will be good enough next year to make the playoffs, but
they will need to replace Andy Marte at
third base. I know Aubrey Huff
isn’t the best defensive third baseman but he played 33 games there in 2008,
and has racked up 361 games at the hot corner in his nine-year career.
return for Huff, the Orioles should ask for the blatantly obvious: a starting
pitcher. Scott Lewis
succeeded at every level he played in; AA, AAA, and ultimately the majors. These were his minor league stats this year:
ERA W L
AA 13 2.33 6 2
AAA 4 2.63 2 2 24 0.96
4 2.63 4
0 24 1.08
Lewis will fit extremely
well into the Orioles rotation, and could be one of the cornerstones of the
team’s pitching staff.
Scott Lewis is good
player, but obviously it will take at least one more player to acquire
Huff. Originally I thought the Orioles
should target Jared
Goedert, because every single Orioles third base prospect had a rough
season, and Goedert was ready to play in AA, so he wouldn’t block any other the
other prospects. Later I realized that
I was being hypocritical because Goedert, like the rest of the third-base
Orioles prospects, had a very disappointing year after a promising 2007.
First off, is Tyler Henson,
who had a good first stint in professional baseball with the Low-A Aberdeen
Iron Birds in 2007:
Level G OBP HR RBI SB SLG OPS
A- 67 .353 5 31 20 .449 .802
But then went through
struggles in his first full season with Class A Delmarva:
Level G OBP HR RBI SB SLG OPS
A 127 .310 11 62 19 .392 .702
Even though Henson had a
rough year, it’s not bad enough for him to repeat the level, so he should
attempt to rebound in High A Frederick. That being said, with Billy Rowell
(drafted 9th overall in 2006) having another disappointing in
Frederick, Henson will be forcing Rowell (right) to first base.
Rowell’s year was bad enough that
he’ll repeat the Carolina League, but I wouldn’t label him a bust just
yet. He’s still extremely young (20
years old entering Opening Day 2009).
However, he hasn’t even come close to what everybody thought he would
do. He was drafted as a raw power guy;
a guy who wasn’t even expected to have a high OBP, but he’s only hit 19 home
runs in 922 career at-bats. It may be a
concern that learning how to play first base will effect his hitting, but I
think in the long term it will probably help his offensive production. Another aspect of this move is that it
potentially has set up Brandon Snyder
to block Billy Rowell. However, I don’t
think we can look at this switch in those types of terms because Rowell has not
had one good full season yet since signing with the O’s. Worry about Snyder blocking Rowell when
Rowell finally becomes a good player.
And lastly, let’s talk Mike Costanzo. He had a great season last year at AA
Reading, but since switching organizations (twice), and getting promoted to
AAA, his production has seriously slipped.
These are his numbers last year at Double-A:
Level G OBP HR RBI SB SLG OPS
AA 137 .368 27 86 2 .490 .858
And here are his 2008
numbers at Triple-A Norfolk:
Level G OBP HR RBI SB SLG OPS
AAA 129 .333 11 63 2 .395 .728
Despite Costanzo’s bad
season, if Melvin Mora gets traded he’ll get every chance to be the starting
third baseman in Baltimore. He’ll have
to produce though, because Oscar
Salazar (probable starting first baseman) and Scott
Moore (probable DH) also play the hot corner.
Anyway, back to the Aubrey Huff trade… I decided that
despite the 2008 struggles of Orioles third base prospects not named Tyler
Kolodny, the O’s shouldn’t pursue Jared Goedert. Instead they should switch their attention to adding depth the
bullpen and second base (I didn’t forget about Ryan Adams and
his 52 errors). The Indians have a
wide array of young relievers like Josh Judy, John Gaub (100
Ks in 64.1 innings), and Vinnie Pestano. But the one young reliever I believe the
Orioles should first ask from the Indians is Mike Pontius.
Pontius is only 21 entering next year, and
had a microscopic 0.82 ERA in Class
A Lake County. Yes, he had 6.26 ERA in
Class A Advanced Kinston, but so what?
He’ll start back there next year and pitch against players at his same
level (2007 high school draftees in their second full season).
As for Niuman Romero
he had a solid year at Class A Advanced Kinston and should be ready for
Double-A Bowie. I’m not speculating that
the Orioles should or will trade Brian Roberts, but when you think about, there
is not that great a chance the Orioles will finish their rebuilding process by
the time his contract expires. So, it
obviously makes sense to fill up on depth especially when you only have one
other legit prospect at 2B, Adams who is only in A-ball.
All in all this trade
works out great for both teams, and should help the Indians compete for a World
Series next year, as well as add more talented, young players to quicken the
O’s rebuilding process.
Trade George Sherill
and Luke Scott to the Mets for Dillon Gee, Junior Guerra, Eric Beaulac, and
This deal is a no-brainer
for both GMs Andy MacPhail and Omar Minaya.
The Mets may be hesitant to give up a worthy relief prospect in Junior Guerra,
but he’s at least two years away and the Mets need relief help now. Sherrill
would be a great addition to the Mets shaky bullpen. Sure, he may be overrated because of his 31 saves, but he will
pitch better than his 4.73 ERA indicates.
Although it’s theoretically possible that Sherrill can serve as the Mets
closer, he would be much better suited as a 7th inning set-up
man. With lefties Scott Schoenweis and
Pedro Feliciano already in New York, Sherrill won’t go back to being a
specialist like he was in Seattle.
Expect his ERA to go down to around 3.60 with another year of throwing
at least an inning per outing rather than just facing one or two batters like
he did with the Mariners. It’s possible
he may also pitch better in the less pressurized role of a 7th
inning set-up man. I don’t think that
Sherrill’s bad stats were completely because of facing a lot right-handed
batters. He had a 3.68 ERA through
June. I think it was just the new
workload that ultimately pulled Sherrill’s numbers down.
Scott can be Mets starting left fielder in 2009, and provide more power and
good on-base skills. Nick Evans
didn’t hit much in 2009, and is probably better suited too start 2009 in
Buffalo (AAA). Dan Murphy
hopefully can make a clean transition to second base for 2009. Murphy’s switch is crucial as this deal only
gets done if the AFL
experiment is successful and the Mets are confident Murphy is ready to take
over for Luis Castillo next year. This
whole trade seems much better when you realize Luke Scott is essentially
Castillo in the Mets lineup.
As I wrote earlier, the
Mets probably will feel a little antsy about giving up Junior
Guerra (left)who’s a top relief prospect, but only him and Dillon Gee (right) are
the big prospects that the Mets could have expected to contribute with the big
club in the next two years.
Beaulac is a
middle of the road prospect who had a nice, but relatively short 2008 season
after signing. Despite making six
relief appearances this year, Beaulac is obviously better suited as a starter,
seeing how he dominated in college in that role. He should begin the year in the Class A Advanced Frederick
rotation. Gee is by far the best
prospect the O’s acquire in this deal.
He had a sensational year at St. Lucie (A+), posting a 3.25 ERA, and
then posted an even better 1.33 ERA in his four starts with Double-A
Binghamton. Gee is 23 years old
entering ’09, and was only drafted last year. It’s still smart to take it easy with Gee and let him pile up at
least 16 starts in Bowie before they could possibly called him up to
Triple-A. And that leaves the very last
Bowman. Ahh, Shawn Bowman.
If not injuries, he would probably would
have been traded already because he’s not quite on the same level as the Mets
current third baseman. Although he’s no
David Wright, he’s still shown he’s a talented player, but it all about
staying healthy. How injury-prone is
he? Well, 2008 was his fourth year at
the same level (A-Advanced), but it certainly wasn’t completely his fault. Here are his number of games played from
every season since 2005:
Yes, every single one of
those seasons was in St. Lucie except for the last, in which he played for
about a month in Double-A Binghamton, and struggled (.626 OPS, 29 games). The important thing about 2008, for Bowman,
was how well he hit with St. Lucie. He
had a .369 OBP with 2 home runs and .485 SLG in 97 at-bats. That should put him on track to be Bowie’s
(AA) starting third baseman in 2009.
So, with all of this talk
about the Orioles farm system, I realized that the Orioles starting pitching
situation is actually pretty impressive. After all these trades take place, the Orioles minor league
affiliates’ rotations will look like this:
Frederick – A+
1. Brian Matusz
4. Eric Beaulac
6. Luis Noel
Bowie – AA
1. Jake Arrieta
2. Dillon Gee
3. Kyle Schmidt
4. Brandon Erbe
6. Nathan Nery
Norfolk – AAA
4. Jason Berken
5. Zach Clark
Yes, I realize that
Frederick and Bowie have rotations of six, but it’s worth cutting down on
starts then to send a pitcher (ex. Luis Noel, Chris Salberg) that has a bright
future as a starting pitcher to the bullpen, just because you have five other
pitchers better than him. You never
want to have your good depth of talent to derail a player’s career.
So, to wrap it all up, the
Orioles get to reduce their salary even more, so they can sign core players
like Nick Markakis, Chris Ray, and maybe even Matt Wieters. Plus, the extra money can also go to signing
their top draft picks next year. The
Mets upgrade their bullpen and lineup, the Brewers finally get a true third
baseman, and the Indians get a huge impact bat that may send them over the hump
of the Twins or White Sox.
There is a lot to agree
with and a lot to disagree with in this post, so let me hear it ALL. Good or bad.
On a currently related
issue, did anyone else notice Akinori Iwamura trying to shove the game ending
ball of the NLCS into his back pocket, struggling with sticking it in, and then
just screwing it, and jumping into the celebration pile. That gave me a little smile… here’s the video.