Kyle Lohse, 4.2 million dollar man

Not quite Steve Austin territory, but close–for a 5.83 ERA pitcher.

Lohse’s peripheral numbers were a bit better, though–we probably have a 4.50-4.80 ERA pitcher for that money, which is better than Eric Milton, who is still running at $8 mil.

Every week the Reds hope to run out Arroyo, Harang, Milton and Lohse.  #5 is mystery man–maybe Homer Bailey later in the year if he keeps on skyrocketing upward. 

That is a sub .500 rotation, folks, as long as Milton and Lohse are taking regular turns and Bailey is not quite ready–not quite.  Now there is a slight chance that Lohse could go on a roll at some point and provide some wins to go with all those innings, and Bailey could be a rare phenom, but I’m not holding my breath–especially not with the offense as decimated as it is with all the spare parts in the lineup from last year’s version.

Are the Reds currently sitting on their hands and hoping that no one has another offseason injury?  Seems so.

Crazy like a fox

When I read what he’d done, I thought Krivsky was crazy. As in Jim Bowden-crazy.  But it was not as crazy as it first sounded.

Krivsky was crazy like a fox on Thursday, paying the Cubs (of all teams) to select Josh Hamilton and slide him over to the Reds.

It costs the Reds very little in the way of money (at least baseball money) and Hamilton was a number one overall pick in 1999.  Most observers know that Hamilton got hurt in 2001, got into crack and basically was wandering in the wilderness until he was reinstated last June.  He put in some time in split season ball before hurting his knee, but reports are that he still has his considerable tools.

Odds are that he is going to be overmatched at the big league level.  Rule 5 selections have to stay on the major league roster all season.  But the Reds should be focused on the longer-term, and it is far better to get some upside in Rule 5 than to waste a selection on a fringe pitcher (as the Reds appeared to do with their own selection).

Given that the Reds carried Quinton McCracken and DeWayne Wise at various times, and Norris Hopper and then three catchers on top of that, this is really not going to hurt the Reds very much, since they are generally too thin to put 25 quality contributors on the roster anyway.  There is no reason to think that Hamilton cannot play adequate defense, and it won’t hurt for him to get a fresh start in a new organization.

As much as I have been a critic of a lot of what Krivsky does, this was a very inspired move.  A crazy like a fox kind of move.

The beauty is, if it doesn’t work out, it costs the Reds so little.  This was definitely a gamble worth taking–now the talent evaluators have to do a good job figuring out whether Hamilton can contribute–not in 2007, but rather in 2009.  If he can help the Reds in 2009, then he should get the roster slot in 2007 over the Norris Hoppers.

Cowboy

It is incumbent upon me, though, to comment on Jason LaRue’s departure.  LaRue for a PTBNL.  And we pay half his salary.  That is an ignominious end to LaRue’s tenure in Cincinnati, but his sub .700 OPS necessitated it–especially with the fat $4.3M salary given to LaRue by Krivsky’s predecessors.

I always kinda liked LaRue–even when he led the league in passed balls, which was maddening.  But this was an excellent business decision–even when paying half his salary–to save the other half and free up the roster spot.

(Now if only the Reds had saved that spot for something more than Chad Moeller) . . . .

Chad Moeller???

Others sum it up: It really is a major league deal, which is just disgusting. Moeller had a 568 OPS in 317 at-bats in 2004, a 624 OPS in 199 at-bats in 1995 and a 506 OPS in 98 at-bats before the Brewers finally got fed up with him last season. There are better catchers littering Triple-A rosters.

Not to mention–the Reds ALREADY HAVE TWO CATCHERS on the major league roster.  So–why sign Moeller, and worse, why sign him to a major league deal instead of a minor league deal?

Having said that, while the money isn’t as important as the roster spot, neither will probably make much difference to the Reds in 2007 or beyond.  It is just another indication of a foolish roster move, though, and both the money and roster spot could be put to better use, even if just to give all of the Reds secretarial staff a raise.

Mike Stanton

I generally dislike deals for 39 going on 40 year old players.  But in the short-term, an old one-out lefty-type guy like Stanton is not a terrible signing, it just seems a bit uninspired.  Chris Hammond was tried and flamed out last year, but that has not stopped the Reds from trying.  Add Stanton to Bill Bray and overpriced Rheal Cormier and you see a decent (although not superior) lefty stable.  Now it is a matter of finding some right-handers to go with Todd Coffey–hopefully, something creative can be done here that doesn’t involve any other geriatrics.

hot stove

Checking in with new shortstop Alex Gonzalez.  Here is the thing–which one of these is Alex G’s hitting stats:

Player A:

2002 .296 OBP, .620 OPS

2003 .313 OBP, .756 OPS

2004 .270 OBP, .689 OPS

2005 .319 OBP, .686 OPS

2006 .299 OBP, .695 OPS

or Player B:

2002 .278 OBP, .607 OPS

2003 .290 OBP, .678 OPS

2004 .277 OBP, .655 OPS

2005 .279 OBP, .665 OPS

2006 .281 OBP, .632 OPS

Well–both sets of hitting stats are pretty putrid.  Player A is Gonzalez at $14M/3 years.  Player B is Juan Castro at $2M/2 years.  One *has* to believe that Gonzalez is a far superior defensive player, because the extra $12M for a year cannot possibly be for his anemic bat. 

But that is false too–according to the good scouting methodology at Baseball Info Solutions, the difference is negligible.  Gonzalez has a stronger arm and is a little better going to his right; Castro is a little better going to his left and back on fly balls.  DP balls–it is a wash.  Castro is a little more dependable, but both have soft hands. 

So while the deal is not terrible in a vacuum (in this year’s market) when superimposed on the Reds team needs, what is that extra $12M actually buying for the Reds that Castro is not already providing? 

It just begs the question of the opportunity cost—where else could that money have gone?  It also brings up the sad truth about the Reds offense that will now have Gonzalez and not Felipe Lopez.  Is Gonzalez – Lopez in the field worth more than Lopez – Gonzalez at the plate?  I don’t think so.  Does Lopez cost more?  We shall see, since Lopez is arbitration-eligible.  If Lopez does not cost more this year, then Wayne Krivsky’s trade with the Nationals is a compounding blunder.