Reds - General

The Value in Zack Cozart

We all want to talk about what positions the Reds can upgrade this offseason. That is the fun part of the offseason. The Reds clearly had some holes offensively. You could make a case that outside of first base (Votto), center field (Choo), and right field (Bruce), every other position was sub-par offensively. You might be able to talk me into Phillips being average offensively, but we will save that argument for another time.

The Reds basically have six possible positions that they could upgrade this offseason (assuming they don’t re-sign Choo): LF, CF, 3B, SS, 2B, C  (Votto and Bruce’s jobs are safe). I don’t believe the Reds will look to upgrade at catcher, as Devin Mesoraco made some really good strides in 2013, and showed flashes of his top prospect talent. So then outside of RF, 1B, and C, it really is a crapshoot where Jocketty will look to improve this team.

I’m not here (today at least) to tell you where the Reds should look to upgrade, but I’m here to tell you where they shouldn’t: shortstop.

It has been an interesting ride for Zack Cozart since his call up in July 2011. Cozart came up and showed off his great glove and hit .324 in 11 games before suffering a freak elbow injury. In now 300 MLB games, Cozart’s slash line is a less than impressive .254/.284/.381. His inability to reach base via the walk has really hampered him at the plate, and ruined the Reds plans of making him a top of the order hitter. Between 2012-2013, Cozart 4.7 BB% is tied for the 9th lowest in the MLB (compare that to Votto’s MLB leading BB% of 19.1), and his .284 OBP over that span is tied for the 2nd worst in the MLB (compare that to Votto’s MLB leading OBP of .450).

Why then would I say that the Reds shouldn’t look to upgrade at shortstop? The answer is defense and power, and that leads to his overall value at the shortstop position.

Let’s start with defense. Between 2012-2013, Cozart’s 27.0 defensive runs above average are the 4th most among MLB shortstops, and are the 12th most of any player at any position. His ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 14.3 and his defensive runs saved of 16 are both the 6th best among MLB shortstops between 2012-2013. Cozart’s revised zone rating (RZR) of .837 is the 2nd best in the MLB among shortstops between 2012-2013. Cozart has clearly been one of the best defensive shortstops in the MLB over the last two seasons.

MLB defensive rankings among SS between 2012-2013:

Name Team DRS RZR UZR UZR/150 Def
J.J. Hardy BAL 26 0.82 18.4 8.7 33.1
Clint Barmes PIT 25 0.836 19.5 12.5 29.6
Yunel Escobar - – - 18 0.816 15.3 8.4 28.5
Alexei Ramirez CHW 15 0.829 13.8 6.5 28.2
Zack Cozart CIN 16 0.837 14.3 8.5 27
Jhonny Peralta DET -1 0.827 15 9.6 26.4
Elvis Andrus TEX 19 0.816 12.9 6.8 26.3
Brendan Ryan - – - 33 0.789 15.9 10.4 26.3
Brandon Crawford SFG 14 0.822 12.7 7 24.7
Ian Desmond WSN -9 0.849 8.8 5.1 21.8
Jimmy Rollins PHI -23 0.818 5.2 2.7 19
Starlin Castro CHC -5 0.791 -1.3 -0.6 13.3
Alcides Escobar KCR 2 0.769 -2.6 -1.5 11.7
Erick Aybar LAA -4 0.765 -4.1 -2.4 8.2
Jose Reyes - – - -20 0.802 -8.5 -5.3 2.9
Rafael Furcal STL -4 0.777 -9.5 -11.2 -4.2
Asdrubal Cabrera CLE -21 0.79 -20.4 -12.5 -8.

Next, let’s talk power.  I already discussed Cozart’s inadequacies at the plate above, but what Cozart has provided offensively is good power for the shortstop position. Cozart has 27 home runs between 2012-2013, good for the 8th most among MLB shortstops.  Cozart had been miscast as a top of the order hitter. Cozart is simply a player that will give you great defense, and hit a few homers, which provides nice value for the small dollar amount he is currently receiving.

Most HR among MLB SS between 2012-2013:

# Player Team HR
1 J.J. Hardy Orioles 47
2 Ian Desmond Nationals 45
3 Hanley Ramirez - – - 44
4 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 33
5 Jed Lowrie - – - 31
6 Asdrubal Cabrera Indians 30
7 Jimmy Rollins Phillies 29
8 Zack Cozart Reds 27
9 Jhonny Peralta Tigers 24
10 Starlin Castro Cubs 24

Lastly, let’s talk value. In 2013, Cozart made $527,500 (or 0.49% of the team’s payroll). In 2014, Cozart is pre-arbitration eligible, and will most likely make around $500,000. In 2013, Cozart had a 2.1 WAR (good for 16th among MLB SS, so right around the middle of the pack). In 2012, Cozart had a 2.4 WAR (good for 15th among MLB SS, so exactly right in the middle of the pack). Now where Cozart will stand out the most is when you compare him to a few other MLB shortstops making a lot more money, as the chart below shows:

2013:

Player Team WAR Contract (in millions)
Zack Cozart Reds 2.1 0.6
Jimmy Rollins Phillies 1.6 11
Erick Aybar Angels 1.6 8.5
Asdrubal Cabrera Indians 0.6 6.5

I don’t think Zack Cozart will ever be a perennial all-star shortstop, but he can certainly provide the Reds with plenty of value for his price. If the Reds are lucky, Cozart will be able to translate his success offensively at the end of the 2013, into 2014. Over the last 40 days of the 2013 regular season, Cozart lead the Reds with 41 hits, positing a slash line of.311/.338/.447 with 3 HR and 21 RBI. If Cozart can hit anywhere near .280/.320/.400 in 2014, while playing his usual stellar defense, you are looking at a very good shortstop. That might be a little bit of a pipe dream, but don’t discount just how valuable Cozart’s defense is to this team.

99 thoughts on “The Value in Zack Cozart

  1. It’s all about maximizing the effectiveness of the tools we have available and putting players in the best position to exceed. As a mid-market organization, the Reds need players like Cozart who provide significant value to allow WJ to build a successfull team around players like Votto and Bruce (congrats on Bruce’s 2013 Silver Slugger Award). Hopefully we have more value on the way with Hamilton, Ervin, Winker & Stephenson. We really need a couple more starting pitching prospects to step up and put in their bid to make the show in the next couple years.

  2. nice article, and while i agree with overall premise regarding Cozart having value, i would expect Reds to be aware of any chance to improve. Heck if Cozart could just improve his OB% to .320 will still hitting his .250-.260 would be awesome. what has surprised me about his game is complete lack of stolen base ability.

    Next year will be important for Cozart, Frazier, Mesoraco as it will be 3rd full year in bigs. time for them to show they have ability to improve and provide more impact, especially Frazier and Meso to provide RH power and offensive depth to Reds lineup.

    • @TC: I confess that the Old Cossack was one who fell in love with Cozart’s early performance (prior to his injury) and was ready to sign his ticket to several all star games based on skimpy, early returns. I still believe that Cozart will have a lengthy, productive career, but with more realistic expectations. He could have a 6-8 year additional run as the Reds SS. I also agree that Frazier and Mesoraco need to step up in 2014 and prove their future value or their careers with the Reds may be short-lived. I think Mesoraco will be fine once he gets consistent playing time, but I’m concerned about Frazier. I really hope he proves me wrong because I’m a huge Frazier fan and would love to see him and Cozart as fixtures on the left side of the infield for several years.

  3. Great analysis and I agree on all points. Shortstops who are defensively proficient and offensive forces are rare indeed. It would be much easier to improve the Reds with set of players to fill LF, CF, and 2B (provided BP is gone) and leverage platoon splits. For example, perhaps a BHam/Ludwick/Brett Gardner split in CF and LF.

    • @Drew Mac:

      It would be much easier to improve the Reds with set of players to fill LF, CF, and 2B (provided BP is gone) and leverage platoon splits.

      I would love to see Gardner roaming CF at GABP in 2014. If both Choo and Cano sign elsewhere as FA, I can see a Phillips/Gardner trade possibility. I think Reds fans need to resolve themselves to the fact that Ludwick will be the starting/everyday LF at GABP and simply hope he can produce the results necessary for a LF/middle-of-the-order slugger. He’s making $13MM for 2014 and the Reds can’t afford to simply eat that kind of a contract. Hamilton needs to play every day (at Louisville until he is major league ready), otherwise his development will be delayed or impaired, so I don’t like the idea of a Hamilton platoon and Gardner doesn’t have a platoon split.

      If the Reds need to platoon in CF to get top-of-the-order production, I don’t think they have the players in-house for that arrangement. Chris Heisey is not a top-of-the-order hitter. Derrick Robinson had a good RH vs LHP split last season, but that looks like an anomaly. Xavier Paul can not play CF. There are a couple of FA CF available for a possible RH vs LHP platoon who might be cost effective: Rajai Davis or Chris Young, but there are no cost effective LH CF available as a FA for a LH vs RHP platoon. Maybe Josh Fellhauer could step up as a possible LH CF platoon option. He has been an OBP machine (.418 vs RHP @ AA in 2012 & .365 vs RHP @ AAA in 2013). Of course if the Reds go with a CF platoon, Heisey and/or Paul will be out of a job.

        • @tiberius3108: And a $4.5MM buyout of next years contract. If the Reds simply replace him with another player and relegate him to a bench role, they eat the entire $13MM. If any team takes Ludwick in a trade, they become responsible for the entire $13MM. The good side of his contract was that he only made $2MM for last season that was totally lost to injury. Of course if Ludwick simply mashes in 2014, the Reds may pick up his 2015 option for $9MM. Does anyone really think that’s going to happen?

        • @Shchi Cossack: Your counting that 4.5 million as part of his 2014 salary, its not, a lot can happen between now and the end of next season.

  4. I thought Cozart would have a breakout year offensively this past year, and I also thought he would bat 7th or 8th most of the year. We can’t expect a guy batting between Choo and Votto to get a lot of walks. Anyway, I still think we have yet to see anything close to cozart’s potential. Here’s to hoping it breaks out in 2014.

  5. I love RLN. Reading this analysis got me all fired up as if we (and I) actually have a say in any decision related to Zack Cozart or any portion of the Reds roster. So I’ll respond as if we / I DO get to decide.

    Keep Zack, at least for the next couple of years when he’s under team control and pretty inexpensive. His defense is solid. He makes all the plays he should, and plenty that many shortstops don’t. The numbers and the eye test agree. And while his offensive totals aren’t impressive, he has shown flashes of potential. If he and the Reds can somehow tap into even some of that potential on a more consistent basis he’ll be a mainstay on this team and we’ll be glad to have him. It’s easy to forget how spoiled Reds fans were watching Concepcion and Larkin for all those years, but all you have to do to appreciate Cozart is look to his right at the 3rd base turnstile in the post-Sabo years. Keep Zack!

  6. Very good summation. I have always liked Cozart as the SS. I have been surprised with how much grief he gets on here. The part about being miscast as a #2 hitter was correct. Miscast was the perfect word to describe it. I think he’ll thrive in the #7 spot, much as he showed at the end of the year. I think Cozart can be a 20HR/20SB type of player and hopefully hit around .270.
    That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me much this winter if WJ gets another SS and they move Cozart over to 2B, if BP is as gone as gone gets.
    Now if they can just get Frazier’s bat healthy, with his very good defense, the Reds get similar value. 2014 will be an important year for Frazier. It will determine if he is a reliable starter or a utility player. A .234 batting average from the 3B position and the #6 hole isn’t going to cut it.

  7. Good article. I made a similar argument for Cozart last offseason. Let’s face it, we’re in a new era in baseball where power is in short supply and defense is highly valued. I’m with doctor who says he needs to steal more bases because he has the speed to do so, but I can also understand that there’s no viable backup, so it’s probably not a risk you want to take frequently.

    I’d like to see the same analysis done for Frazier, whom I believe would grade out similarly because of……power and defense. That said, you can’t have a whole team of guys like that, which is why we need a couple more OBP guys in the outfield.

  8. Hey every team needs a 7/8 hitter.

    And after they moved BP out of the 4 spot (August 28) and cemented Cozart at the bottom of the order where he belongs, Zack hit .296/.319/.407. the rest of the way.

    Plus defender, decent bat, cheap. No need for a change at SS.

  9. If we keep him low in the lineup, then that’s perfect for his numbers.

    Also, if BP is really “gone” then we will need to keep half of the double play combo that produced nothing but spectacular defense throughout the year.

  10. Cozart has some interesting splits.

    First, over his career, his best offensive spot has been in the 2-hole, which would surprise a lot of people. In the 2-hole, he has hit .278/.311/.410 over his career. Also, he is a better offensive player in night games, with a .722 OBP in night games but only .603 at night, which is significant but perhaps hard to explain. (I’ve always thought that MLB teams should do extensive, world-class eye testing, but maybe they already are.)

    In 2013, he slashed .272/.303/.394 on the road, about 30 points across the board better than he did at home, which is odd in light of GABP.

    The best is that post All-Star 2013, when he claimed to have just relaxed and played, he slashed .282/.315/.400, which is enough for me, given what I agree is strong but not elite defense.

    My offensive take on him is that we still have a pretty short history on him, and that his prolonged slump in the first half of last year will turn out to be an outlier. He got in a funk, and it took him a while to figure out how to get out of it.

  11. You do not think we should look at upgrading SS – are you serious? Yeah, let’s look at how his stats compared to other SS in 2013. Cozart ranked in the bottom 5 in OBP, OPS, SECA, BB/K and RC27. He grounded into the 3rd most double plays and was 6th in K’s. He finished in the bottom half in BA, RC, BB/PA and WAR (his WAR Actually ranked 23rd in 2013). He finished LAST in SBs with 0. You talk about his power, but his AB/HR also ranked in the bottom half (he averaged 47 AB per HR), and his ISOP ranking was just middle of the pack. While his defense is indeed excellent, this is one of the positions in which we could MOST use an upgrade. Just because we do not pay him well does not make him a value.

  12. As has been said by a few posters before I think, Cozart is very acceptable if the Reds make some strides/changes in the other positions for upgrade. It all really depends on the cost of the upgrade and the increase in value one would actually get. Because SS with bats are more rare, would the Reds have to pay more for perhaps only a slightly more dependable output? I mean, yeah, let’s sign a Jean Segura if we can, but that’s rare stuff. I’m very ok with Cozart and still have hopes for an upward trend out of him.

    • @Matt WI: Agreed. SS with bats are so rare in fact that the average slash-line for a SS in 2013 was: .254/.308/.367. I pulled that info from an article I read about Steven Drew. Cozart’s line last year: .254/.284/.381. If Zach would hit a little more, or even walk a little more, he’d be an above-average offensive performer for the position.

  13. In the second paragraph above was this, “So then outside of RF, 1B, and C, it really is a crapshoot where Jocketty will look to improve this team.” Very true.
    With the Free Agent season about to start, the GM meetings next week and the Winter Meetings in Dec., I’d like to see the RLN guys come up with an article titled, “If you are Walt Jocketty this winter, what improvements, upgrades or roster moves would you make as GM.”
    I think that would make for some very interesting reading in the comments with all the diverse opinions. Can even break it down to 1. realistic moves, and 2. dream moves with, say a $140M budget.

    • @WVRedlegs: I think a realistic move is to free up some money for a left fielder … even if it means unloading the truckload of them we already have. Looking at the FA list, there’s plenty of help available, most of it Ludwick-like … so it comes down to whether the guy is a good fit for this team. Let me toss out Reed Johnson as an example. Is he a guy who can play?

  14. The “value of Zach Cozart” is high I believe. In short, other SS may have higher BA, others better OBP, others better defense. But, at the price we are paying? I don’t think we can do much better than that.

    Now, I do believe Zach can do better. As described in the post, Zach did better offensively once he got moved back down in the order. As well as, a new (hopefully better) hitting instructor could assist that.

    I wouldn’t worry about Zach’s SB rate much. I do believe a lot of that had to do with who the coach was. Baker just didn’t have any player run much. I mean, shoot, in Stubbs best year with us, he was on first base at least 139 times, most likely a vast majority of those with second base open. Stubbs only attempted to steal 36 times. Assuming 2nd was open everytime, the fastest man in baseball attempted to steal 2nd maybe only 26% of the time. Respectively, let’s take the stolen base leader of that year, Juan Pierre, attempted to steal 43% of the time, a significant difference. Baker just didn’t look at running much. It was Rolen that infused any kind of hustle in this team, not Baker. Hopefully, with the new staff, we will see more hustle. Now, Zach isn’t going to steal any 40-60 bases. But, I wouldn’t see why he couldn’t get 20 SB.

    • I agree that SB is not that important of a stat, and the fact that we aren’t paying much for him is definitely a positive, but I think his presence hurts more than it helps. The fact that we already have one player (BP) who grounds into so many DP’s and likely is not going anywhere due to his contract means that Cozart has to go because we cannot afford two in the lineup, IMHO. IF we should move Phillips, which I actually DO NOT think would be good for our team (although a lot of others on here would disagree), I would completely agree about Cozart’s potential and value. However, as it is, the first step in upgrading our offense has got to be removing one of these DP and K machines with low OBP.

  15. Cozart is a nice fit in Cincinnati. Upgrading would be a risk. I think he has ability to improve as a hitter and I do like his occasional power. I’d like to see more baserunning from the guy. That might happen now.

    As a sidebar, I think we’ve dismissed as secondary the need to upgrade the catching. IF Mesoraco and Hanigan can catch, we’re OK. After that, we’re down to the Corky Millers … and he’s decided to take his tools to the market. Signing experienced catchers is never a bad idea.

    • @Johnu1: The thing is with catcher for me, Chris Welsh said it, also, neither are able to get the playing time needed to get into any kind of routine being platooned. Each needs more playing time. Well, that can’t happen on one team. So, I believe the Reds need to commit to one. My preference, Devin gets 4+ of the 5 games; Hanigan becomes 2nd string catcher (maybe even a player coach). My 2nd preference, we go with one, trade the other, either one; sign someone for 2nd string.

      • @steveschoen: It’s tricky because on almost every team, the primary catcher gets under 120 starts behind the plate. It’s a tough position because it’s a fine line between getting the guy lots of reps and getting a guy some decent rest. I tell you one thing I hope changes this year and that’s the use of personal catchers. I mean if the Reds are facing a LHSP, Mesoraco has almost gotta be in there. If you are among the most elite of elite pitchers, then maybe you get to pick who you throw to. If you’re anyone else, I would respect your preference and maybe try to accommodate but when the match-up doesn’t allow for it or if I have a guy who is mashing the ball, you’re throwing to him. Too bad if you don’t like it.

        • @LWBlogger: your 120 game comment made me curious and I checked for 2013, there were 10 NL catchers who started 100 games. only 4 around the 120 mark: Molina-128, Lucroy-122, Posey-119, Russell Martin-117.

          Come on Mesoraco for 2014, if you are not going to be the next Johnny Bench, at least be the RH version of Eddie Taubensee. :-)

      • @steveschoen: I never suggested a platoon … I just said you have to have good catchers … if you stash them at Bakersfield, all the same to me. Just gotta have control over a lot of good catching.

  16. Cozart is fine for what he is. Cozart’s on base skills aren’t a huge issue when used properly and with the right player mix. One of the things Jocketty deserves some blame for is the seemingly impossible collection of hackers that the Reds accumulated. Having a few Cozart-types in the lineup is fine. Having 5-6 of them is not. Votto and Choo managed to cover up a lot of deficiencies with their on base skills.

    Cozart is a decent value at SS. However, the Reds can still upgrade at the position (or elsewhere, by trading Cozart). They aren’t mutually exclusive statements.

  17. Cozart’s prolictivity to hit into the DP is a direct result of hitting behind the OBP machine that is Choo. Add to that the fact that neither one of them have blazing speed, and the opportunites for a twin killing in any given situation are pretty high.

    Cozart does need to run a little more. The lack of it last season in the two hole could be a result, at least in part, of Votto not like runners on the move while he’s at bat. Dunno.

    I think that as Reds fans we have a long and glorious history at SS and we have been given some high expectations.

    Cozart’s ‘value’ is pretty high just simply for the fact he’s not paid all that much. I think I am fine with Cozart where he is as we look to fill some other major holes on this team. Any trade involving him would eventually lead to having to bring in another SS, and for the money I don’t think we can do much better. I think that as he settles into the 7th spot in the order he can get comfortable and use his base running ability (which i THINK he has)more and will increase his value.

  18. To me, Cozart is someone I don’t have to worry about, and someone who **MIGHT** have the ability to become an excellent player.

    I’m not suggesting he could be Concepcion 2.0, but if you look at Davey’s first 3 season, his OBP wasn’t so hot either (better than Zack’s though). I’ll admit I was firmly on the Cozart bandwagon before he got his elbow hurt, but I really think that there is a good chance his hitting improves, especially when Jacoby exits stage left.

    Here’s to hoping Cozart can be Concepcion 2.0

  19. I agree with the overall premise of this article, which I would summarize as: Zach Cozart is an average shortstop being paid league minimum, and that’s nice to have.

    That said, the Reds need to improve somewhere. Votto and Bruce are locked in. Frazier’s WAR was 3.3, Phillips WAR was 2.6, so they were both better than Cozart last year. Ludwick is signed for $8.5mil and was terrible last year, so he’s not going anywhere. The Reds have both Hanigan and Mesoraco, so they aren’t likely to get another catcher.

    That leaves CF and SS on the diamond. We’ve all been over the CF situation, hopefully they get a good one or Billy Hamilton breaks out. But even if that happens, that’s just replacing Choo’s 5.2 WAR from last year, so not much of an upgrade.

    I’m not saying get rid of Cozart, or that he has no value. But realistically, where do you improve this offense?

  20. Old Cossack brought it up and steveschoen and LW hit it also: DING DING DING we have several winners playing today:

    The answer is, COACHING

    Dusty does not like young players. we have known that for 5 years. His had was forced 2 years ago. He plays a catcher hitting under 200 over a future starter. He Platoons a Rookie of the year, even after he had several torrid steaks at the plate and he leads off or hits a rookie who is best served to be down in the lineup.

    I am so glad that he does not get the chance to screw up Hamilton. steve’s analysis on Stubbs is amazing to me.

    Dusty cannot develop players, he can only play veterans. Price develops young players and older players as well. I am so looking forward to him bringing in a great pitching coach so that Price can free up and focus on the young talent on this team, which is the future of this club: Mesoraco, Frazier, Cozart, Heisey and Hamilton are young players who need to be developed. Not a Dusty feature, but a defining feature for Price. He gets improvement organically from those 5 and there is no need to improve the starting lineup, assuming Ludwick comes back somewhat serviceable.

    I think that Jay Bruce has developed in spite of Dusty. He should have been hitting to right field 3 years ago

    • @reaganspad: It will be interesting to see if Price’s approach toward the pitching staff, which I think most agree saw positive change and growth across several players, will translate to the position players. Under Dusty, it just always seemed that players “are what they are” and nobody, with the possible exception of Bruce, really looked like they improved.

        • @reaganspad: I’m curious as to rather or not Price already managed bullpen use last year. If this is the case, we should see many of the same “head-scratchers” we saw when Dusty was managing. I’m hoping that Price wasn’t the responsible party and we have fewer “head-scratching” bullpen moves in 2014.

    • @reaganspad: Just to be contrary here, I don’t see any proof that Price has developed younger players — unless
      all that counts is pitching. Not to say he can’t, just that I don’t see that as one of the “tru-isms” that will lead this discussion.

      • @Johnu1: interesting.

        I look at the body of work: Cueto was an inconsistent Hothead. Latos an inconsistent Hothead. Bailey the king of inconsistent hotheads. Those three turned into #1 starters under Price and none is considered a hothead any longer.

        But lets go further. Manny Parra was an inconsistent pitcher with Stuff. He is now a lethal reliever. Alfredo Simon was waived and turned into a very good reliever. I have to also give Price credit for breaking in the rookie Cingrani.

        Then there is what LeCure and Arroyo say about him and what he meant to them. Leake had a pretty good year, can’t say whether that is Price or luck.
        Aroldis Chapman has become arguably the best pitcher on the team after not being able to throw strikes.

        Not sure what you have been watching Johnu1, but here is a guy who develops young and old alike. He makes everyone better

        • @reaganspad: I think what Johnu1 is saying is that it is proven that Price can develop pitchers but it remains to be seen that he can develop non-pitchers.

        • @LWBlogger: Thanks LW, that makes sense.

          I get that he would know how to grip a 2 seamer and a curve or know who throws a great change up (God bless you Mario Soto, who personally carried me through a lot of bad Reds years). But I think about our 3 number 1′s in Cueto, Latos and Bailey. Yes, Price may have helped Bailey with the Spliter (or not) but the biggest thing with all 3 of those guys is mental. Can Price use that same Guru mojo with a Heisey and help him become a 260 hitter? Or Cozart?

          I am guessing that those guys are approach away from improving at the plate. Price knows what pitchers are doing to get those guys out. It will be an interesting 6 months to see what becomes of our hero’s.

          Now will Price help Mesoraco with blocking pitches? no but that is what coaches are for. Can he share how he wants a Catcher to approach a game, call the game, how to hold his pitchers accountable? You bet.

          For Hamilton, can Price say “run Forrest, Run.” Absolutely

    • @reaganspad: Is it not the case that moneyball largely disdains stolen bases? If we’re going to continue bashing Dusty beyond the grave (as it were), we should try to be consistent. He’s too old school, AND he doesn’t believe in stealing bases? I like stolen bases, bunts and hit-and-run: they’re exciting and fun. A straight steal of home might be the most breathtaking play in the game, if the suicide squeeze isn’t.

  21. Speaking of Bruce, as the thread has touched on him earlier, congratulations to him on his 2nd straight Silver-Slugger Award!

    • @LWBlogger: Congrats to Bruce….

      But somebody has got to say it. Bruce wasn’t the best hitting OF on his own team. The coaches and managers must love them RBI guys.

      • @CP: Bruce is my favorite player, so I’m biased. Ex-players, coaches, managers, yeah… they love them some RBI-steaks :wink:

  22. “But realistically, where do you improve this offense?”

    I honestly think approach and coaching could have made enough difference with last years club to have gone from 90 wins to at least 95-96. I think Dusty got a rep on the back of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent and just never knew really how to get more out of the rest of his club. I think with just having the hitters work counts along with the opposing pitcher, setting up a lineup based on hitting style along with results and just not giving away so many outs could have perhaps gotten the Reds a win a month. They lost a lot of close games.

    I agree on the coaching could be the 5% difference to some extent. And I think Cozart and Supertodd are both players that really are on the border. They just improve a hit or walk a month extra, they are ok at the plate and they are both pretty good in the field.

    That said, it will be interesting to see what the Reds are able to do with re-signing Choo and what kind of trades made. Even if they somehow stand pat with getting Choo to come back, which is probably a long shot and Phillips isn’t traded, I think they could still be quite good next year. There is still some potential in the Cozart, Frazier and Mesoraco to improve.

  23. Also, not to say that Cozart = Larkin in anyway; but Larkin’s first season with the Reds was 41 games just like Cozart’s was shortened,then he had two full seasons. His slash up through those seasons:

    Larkin’s first 3 seasons: .274/.324/.401

    Yes, Barry was younger, etc etc etc. But other than OBP he’s not the leaps and bounds ahead of Cozart I expected (he is ahead… but he also wasn’t just an average hitter that I’m comparing Cozart to either). It wasn’t until Larkin’s 4th season that he became the perennial .300 AVG guy. I have high hopes that Cozart can become more selective with a different hitting coach. When you come up under a regime where walks are simply “tolerated” and their importance is downplayed, that has to play on the will to hit instead of walk.

  24. Cozart is solid, there really is no need to go looking for a replacement for him with much, much higher priorities in LF and CF needing addressed.

  25. Reds just signed a catcher, Brayan Pena, for 2 years. He hit .297/.315/.397 last year with four home runs.

    • @rhayex: It’s now being reported that the Reds are probably trading Hanigan. It’s selling incredibly low on Hanigan, in my opinion. Unless the Reds commit to starting Mesoraco from now on, this doesn’t make sense to me.

      • @rhayex: Unless… the Yankees are supposedly interested in Hanigan. Could Hanigan be part of a Phillips to the Yankees trade? If that’s the case, then it would suggest that Cano’s asking price is still ridiculously high right now, and the Yankees want to use the money towards other players. Which is doubtful, but…

    • @rhayex:

      He played last year at Detroit. He was in KC from ’09-12 and Atlanta in ’05-07. He threw out only 13 of 55 base stealers last year. Always been a backup C. He is from Cuba. This might not be a good move for Hanigan.
      Should we read the tea leaves here? Could this possibly be a precursor for a personal catcher for a STARTING PITCHER named Aroldis Chapman??

      • @WVRedlegs: Personal catcher? Maybe. He has experience catching some of the fastest stuff in the major leagues. Also… I’m going to speculate on a deal involving Scherzer and Phillips.

  26. As reported by Enrique Rojas…

    El receptor cubano Brayan Peña y los Rojos de Cincinnati se pusieron de acuerdo para la firma de un contrato por dos años, dijo el viernes a ESPNdeportes.com una fuente relacionada a las negociaciones.

    El acuerdo no estará completo hasta que Peña se someta a las pruebas físicas de rigor, programadas para realizarse el martes en Cincinnati. Los detalles económicos completos del contrato no estuvieron disponibles, pero Peña ganaría un mínimo de $1,25 millones en el 2014.

  27. If the Braves lose McCann as a C in free agency as expected, this might be a move to help package BP and Hanigan in a trade with ATL.

    • @WVRedlegs: I don’t get it, and frankly I really don’t like it. Hanigan is just the kind of hitter the team needs. He peripherals show he is due for a bounce back season. His BABIP was incredibly low. He strikeout to walk ratio is nearly even. First, they lose Arroyo, next Hanigan?! That sucks.

      • @TC: I agree. This move makes no sense to me. Pena is a so-so defensive catcher, doesn’t throw well, and doesn’t take walks. He is another free-swinger on a team full of free-swingers. I want my backup catcher to be a strong catch-and-throw guy, good game manager, and excellent receiver.

        Hanigan could be part of a future deal but what if the deal involves Mes?

  28. If anyone had any doubt about a changing of the guard at the major league level, this should quash those doubts. It looks like the Reds are fully committed to Mesoraco for 100+ games this season and intend to save about $1MM on a backup catcher with Hanigam being traded. This would be a good move since this was probably Hanigan’s last season with the Reds and if he left as a FA after 2014, the Reds would get nothing in return. Hanigan is going to make a really nice addition to someone’s roster.

      • @TC: Another way to think about it is that this might be the cost of getting Mes in there everyday. I think most agree that both Mes and Hannigan cannot be their best without some more regular play. If Mes is the future and has the potential we hope, Hannigan, who certainly does still have value, has to contribute a lot less. If they trade him, they may be getting something of overall greater value to the team than him sitting the bench while Mes grows up.

        • @TC: That’s an interesting point.. Under the old regime, this would be filed under “Dusty-proofing” and life goes on. Well, let’s wait and see what Uncle Walt has up his sleeve.

        • @Matt WI: Concerning this second part of your comment. I certainly hope so.

          I’m getting a bit misty over it. I haven’t teared up over a possible trade since the Ken Griffy Jr trade.

        • @TC: But overall… I’m more with you. I hated seeing Hanigan struggle last year… I think he’s a good one. Heck, I was mad when they let Keppinger go.

  29. Baker was lacking in some areas, strong in others. Overall, I thought, as a an unknowledgeable fan, that he was too stubborn, unoriginal, more predictable than creative or bold in his moves. It’s a slim basis for firing and hiring, and Price is on the bubble. Did 90 wins come because of Baker or in spite of him?

    I personally suspect that Baker, given a good team, wins below potential, and given a bad team, wins above potential. He’s a solid force for unity, but not for killer instinct, and there he is at best as an interim manager.

    It’s on Price now. Managers generally are overrated when a team wins, underrated when they lose, but this guy might have Billy Martin-style mojo. It takes a couple of years to see results. Are we patient?

    • @rhayex: While I’m not going to threaten anything stupid like the mouth breathers on the radio like “I’ll never watch another game again” (nimrods), I am very displeased with the notion of trading Hanigan. This is an obvious step in that direction.

      Hanigan is a better catcher than Pena. Simple.

      • @TC: I completely agree; however, if the Reds were approached by a team saying, “Hey, we’ll give you one of our top prospects for Phillips, but you have to trade Hanigan as well”, then I’d do it (depending on the prospect).

        I think it’s selling Hanigan ridiculously low if they trade him by himself. I feel like they’re setting up for a bigger trade, though. What about Bailey and Hanigan in a deal?

        • @TC:

          I am on the same page as you. Don’t like it much. I’ll trust in WJ, though. This is just a moving part in something that is bigger I suppose. Better to have something in hand before dealing away Hanigan.
          This about the yankees Catcher position condition. They didn’t sign Russel Martin and let him go to Pittsburgh. They had Cerovelli as their main C, but he was hurt for about a 1/4 of the year. They have 3 C’s in their top-20 or 25 prospects, with 2 that are ML ready. So I don’t think its the Yanks. I still say the Braves will be the destination for BP and Hanigan. But the Detroit angle mentioned above is interesting. I think WJ makes two significant moves this winter, and the teams I’m suspecting he’ll deal with are Atlanta and Anahiem.

        • @WVRedlegs: That makes some sense. Atlanta is likely losing McCaann, and so Hannigan comes to back up Gattis or however Atlanta chooses to handle that.

  30. I say we are pretty much in agreement that Cozart bring value to the team, still could have upside, and the Reds should keep him.

    Let’s talk about the value of Hanigan.

  31. Given Hanigan’s defense and the recent research on the importance of pitch framing, I really do not like this exchange unless it ends up resulting in a larger move. I understand the point about him leaving after 2014, but 2014 is a big season for us, and I do not believe this makes us better standing alone.

  32. @TC: I’m with you 100% regarding Hanigan. I simply LUV that guy. He’s earned everything he’s accomplished and he’s earned it the hard way. If he is traded, I will miss him. I think the other teams recogonize Hanigan’s value and are just waiting in anticipation for the chance to add him to their rosters. Yes, Hanigan >>> Pena. There’s not even a debate on that issue. I would be surprised if WJ doesn’t already have something in the works for moving Hanigan. Pena is a serviceable backup catcher. In addition, he is a switch hitter who had an OPS of .801 vs RHP last season, although his career OPS is .673 against RHP, and will be a nice augment to Mesoraco for selective rests against tough RHP.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I think this is also an insurance policy against Mesoraco failing. Mesoraco had terrible splits last year (.873 OPS vs LH, .576 OPS vs RH). I think he will be given the chance to play regularly, with Pena as the backup, but I also think that Mes could lose his playing time pretty quickly if he doesn’t learn how to hit RH pitching.

      If you went with a straight platoon, Pena would catch 4 out of 5 days probably, but you’d end up with an overall catcher’s OPS over .800.

  33. I suggested that they would be trading Hannigan and Leake since mid season. Tucker Barnhart is also not far away, but Mesoraco needs to play.

    I see Ryan adding great value in a trade of Leake or Phillips.

    I agree that Hannigan is better than probably any backup we sign…because he really is a 70% starter. He is not a 100% starter like Mesoraco as we have seen him get dinged up when he plays to much

  34. This was added to C Trent’s article that wasn’t in the original article.

    “Pena served as a catcher during some of Aroldis Chapman’s workouts before the left-hander signed with the Reds in 2010.”

    Very telling.

  35. First off, I like Hannigan a lot, and would really hate to see him go. But secondly, the Reds strength these last two years has been pitching, and I’m worried about the impact on the pitching that Hannigan leaving will have.

  36. Everything is pure speculation at this point regarding any move of Hanigan, but it’s the off season and specualtion is what we do until February.

    Hanigan seems like the perfect player for the Rays. He would like their system and needs like the proverbial glove. Ben Zobrist anyone? Obviously that’s not a 1 for 1 swap, but maybe, possibly?

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