Monday, February 1, 2010

The Reds are alright

Billy Beane, continuing to treat players as inanimate objects by dealing them like a Vegas Blackjack dealer deals cards, moved Aaron Miles plus cash or another spare part (PTBNL, i.e. Player to be named later) to the Cincinnati Reds today for cheap and possibly useful utility infielder Adam Rosales and the speedy CF Willy Taveras. He then promptly discarded (DFA’d) Taveras much like Phil Ivy, Johnny Chan and the like would throw in a pair of 7 and 2 off suit. I won’t get into what I think of this transaction but the reason this particular move piqued my interest was the recent write-up of ESPN’s Rob Neyer on the NL Central for 2010 and more importantly, the Reds.

He quickly thumbed over the projected standings (as devised by CAIRO statistic projections) for the National League Central and offered the following:

Cardinals – 92
Reds – 85
Cubs – 84
Brewers – 81
Pirates – 70
Astros – 69

“Really, just one notheworthy item here, as the Reds look like serious Wild Card contenders.

How? Well, they did win 78 games last year, so it’s not like they’ve got terribly far to go. Joey Votto* is fast becoming a superstar, and young Jay Bruce still figures to someday get on base more than 30 percent of the time. But other than Bruce in right, what will the outfield look like? Will Willy Taveras be allowed to throw away hundres of plate appearances? How will Dusty Baker divvy up the time for speedster Drew Stubbs, Triple-A slugger Wladimir Balentien, on-base machine Chris Dickerson, and Doublt-A star Chris Heisey?”

Neyer’s “big finish,” as he himself would say:

“These projections are just snapshots, based on solid statistical assumptions and questionable assumptions about personnel decisions. I do believe that the Reds have the talent on their roster for a solid season. Whether the luck and the management line up behind the talent...well, that’s your proverbial “known unknown.””

So why would Taveras be thowing at bats away? Well, his wOBA (weighted on-base average) in 2009 was .259 when the league average was around .332. In 2008, he faired better but still well below average at .301. UZR did rate him favorably in the field in 2009, however, no amount of defense will dig you out of the black hole created by a sub .260 wOBA. Not even if that player had Roberto Clemente’s arm, Deion Sanders’ speed, Willie Mays’ grace and Ryan Freel’s fearlessness. It’s obvious the Reds front office has taken that decision out of Bakers hands. The Reds won’t be letting Taveras throw any additional AB’s away for them, unremarkably neither will the A’s.

It’s good to see that the Reds have some pretty exciting players already on their roster as well as some pretty nice pieces being developed on the farm, including the recently signed Cuban phenom with the blazing fastball from the left side, Aroldis Chapman.

(*) Joey Votto is an absoute hitting machine, young, under team control and affordable for the time being. I mentioned to a buddy earlier in the offseason that the Giants should attempt to move Matt Cain for Votto. This particular buddy thought my idea silly. In this case, I find my buddy very silly for thinking me silly.

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