Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley, on today’s broadcast, were just discussing that the Reds are evidently very actively engaged in talks to acquire another catcher. The one name they mentioned was Gerald Laird from Texas. I have no idea why.

Says Marty, about the Laird rumor: “We’re hearing that from many people outside this organization, since heaven knows no one within the organization will talk about anything like that.”

Marty and Jeff also spent some time hammering the Reds, saying that they have no idea whatsoever why the Reds would have drafted a high school catcher last year. Marty said it would have been better to draft a college catcher who would have been closer to the majors; he says that addressing a current need on the Major League roster by drafting a high schooler who will take several years to get to the bigs makes no sense.

Hard to disagree with that logic, though Devin Mesoraco is a pretty good looking prospect.

UPDATE: John Fay is hearing the same rumors as Marty and Jeff, and Fay guesses what we’ve all been speculating: Ryan Freel is the trade-bait for a catcher.

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Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at

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44 Responses

  1. GregD

    I was listening to the first inning, too. Was wondering if they were going to go after Laird. Actually thought he might have been part of the Hamilton trade when I saw that headline. I think Laird’s a younger version of David Ross (who’s a younger version of Jason Larue, IMO.) Strong arm/defense, decent pop for a catcher, low average. The Rangers acquired Salty from the Braves last year, so Laird’s taken a backseat to him there.

    I was waiting to hear them mention other names, but they moved to the discussion of last year’s draft. Wonder who else they’re looking at.

  2. GregD

    Also heard Marty’s interview of Baker. He asked about 1st base: Votto or Hatteberg. Sounded to me like Baker wants Votto to win the job, and didn’t sound like he was too concerned about his spring stats. Baker said that he knows what Votto can do based on history in the minors and his time in Sept last year. He’s been taking extra BP, etc. and hopes to bounce back over the final couple of weeks of spring.

  3. Bill

    Chad…why do you think Mesoraco is a “good looking prospect”? His numbers last year don’t bear out that type of confidence.

    I don’t understand why the Reds don’t seem to like Tatum more. I watched almost a full season at Dayton and he caught a nice game and he improved last year at Sarasota.

  4. Chris

    Good for Baker.

    Ah, Marty. Always good for some baseless criticism. He thinks the Reds should’ve taken a college catcher in the first round last year? Because that would provide help sooner?

    Does he have any clue how baseball works? This ain’t the NFL. Even college players are 3 years from helping the big club.

    Does he understand that there simply wasn’t a college catcher worth taking #15 last year?

    Matt Wieters of Georgia Tech was taken #5 overall by the O’s. Mesoraco was the second catcher taken at #15. The Blue Jays took Tennessee catcher J.P. Arencibia #21 overall. He hit .254 .309 .377 in short-season A ball (that OBP was boosted by 5 HBP). The pick was considered a reach, from what I understand. He’s also average, at best, defensively.

    The Giants took the next college catcher (Jackson Williams, Oklahoma) at #43. He hit .231 .338 .369 at short-season A.

    The Cubs took Josh Donaldson of Auburn at 48 – he actually hit at short-season A: .346 .470 .605. He has a weak arm, and had been ranked #74 pre-draft by Baseball America.

    So, what Marty is saying, is that the Reds should’ve reached 20-50 spots to take a college catcher, passing up the superior talent in the meantime.

  5. DevilsAdvocate

    Re: Mesoraco, Doug likes him, Sickels likes him, Baseball America likes him. Scouting is supposed to be about seeing things that stats don’t necessarily pick up, and I guess that’s where we are with Mesoraco – all tools and potential so far.

    Rationalizing Mesoraco’s performance last year: he has only a small sample of pro experience, he’s from a small high school and had never faced upper-echelon high-school pitching before let alone pros, and he had nagging hand injuries that sapped his power.

    But yes, his numbers were bad.

    According to reports he’s looked very good this spring.

  6. GregD

    Exactly, DA. He’s a pretty good looking prospect.

  7. Mark in CC

    Sometimes Marty just doesn’t have a clue and will argue his point, even though it is stupid, to the death. I like when Tom calls him on it.

    Mesoraco was a high school kid, making the transition to wooden bats, life away from home and he injured a hand right at the beginning. Sounds like he toughed it out and did OK, all things considered. He is a great prospect.

    Don’t we already have Laird in Bako and Ross, if ever healthy. Ross must be worse than they are telling. I would rather see Hanigan as a stop gap than bringing in another of the same.

    Piazza is still out there. Might make nice fit for a year as back-up catcher/first baseman. He could at least hit.

    Lets take a poll was Krivsky’s worse signing David Ross 2 years, Mike Stanton 2 years, or Rheal Cormier 2 years.

  8. Mr. Redlegs

    For your poll to have validity you should realize:

    1.) At the time of the Cormier contract, the Reds were in the race and needed left-handed bullpen help desperately. Cormier was having the very best season of anyone available but he would not accept the trade without a contract extension. Smart move.

    2.) At the time of the Ross extension, he was coming off a career year and there was no one–absolutely no one–in the system to replace him. The dearth of catchers in MLB these days was exemplified by a story I saw recently that stated there were only five remotely decent starting catchers of quality playing today.

    3.) At the time of the Stanton contract, he had plenty of offers for one-year deals. But the Reds not only needed a lefty, but they needed someone who could close a few games. Stanton had a very good second half with the Giants after moving from the Nationals. So for the Reds to get him, they had to offer a second year.

  9. Mark in CC

    Maybe there was a reason no one offered Stanton more than one year.

    Ross had a terrible second half in his “career year” so we give a two year contract to a journeyman with a good half year to his credit.

    Cormier would have been fine if he had pitched the role in which the Phillies used him, situational lefty, not an 8th inning guy the Reds needed.

    Three knee-jerk short-sided signings.

  10. Jack Bauer

    Anyone think since Saltamaccia is set to be behind the plate for TX for awhile we might be able to pry Teagarden away from them?

  11. Dan

    Cormier’s stats were a mirage. I know no one will care, but I called that one on the day of the trade.

    His stats were great, yes, but that was because of an unsustainably low batting average on balls in play.

    He was 40 years old and not striking anyone out anymore. His good stats were mainly a result of luck.

    Lousy move.

    Who did we trade for him, anyway? Anyone remember?

  12. Mr. Redlegs

    Of course there’s a reason Stanton was offered only one year. That’s the point! The Reds almost always have to overpay to get players. No one wants to play for a lower-division unless the money makes it impossible to turn down.

    So you would have been okay to let Ross walk when there’s no replacement? No one in the system? Seen the lot of catchers? Only a handful of teams aren’t looking for catching help.

    Situational or whatever, Cormier mysteriously couldn’t throw strikes. Doesn’t matter. He wasn’t the same pitcher once he arrived, and left. The Braves released him a month or so after signing him to a minor-league deal.

  13. Mr. Redlegs

    Yeah, the Reds gave up Germano, who still wouldn’t be pitching on this staff. Talk about a guy who’s had about 3 minutes of success and some people want him in the Hall of Fame.

  14. Glenn

    Laird’s career stats are NOT giving me a warm fuzzy feeling. He just looks like another pitch and catch guy who every once in a while runs into a pitch. Looks like a younger Paul Bako. Are there no catchers who can hit anymore?

  15. Pat

    I believe it was Justin Germano. Am I right?

  16. Chris

    None of those contract extensions were good, but none of them hurt the organization in any meaningful way. Hell, the Freel extension is probably worse than all three.

  17. rob

    Another possibility is Kelly Shoppach. The lack of quality catchers is more acute than the dearth of pitching. It’s why players like Bako and Corky Miller are able to hang around a long time.

  18. Chris

    I just re-read my piece from October. Since then, Kriv’s extended Brandon Phillips for four years (including one free agent year).

    At some point, I think a pattern starts to reveal itself: Krivsky extends everybody. Other than Ken Griffey, every significant player in Krivsky’s tenure has either been extended or traded away.

    The only real exceptions are Rich Aurilia (allowed to leave after 2006), Brandon Claussen (same), Eric Milton (humanely destroyed after 2007), and Kyle Lohse (unwilling to sign).

    Very interesting practice.

  19. Dave from Louisville

    I want a veteren catcher who can call game. With all the young pitchers we have we cannot pay some catching prospects tuition in the school of the big leagues.

    Bill – any good sabermatrician knows that there is a minimum number ABs required for a statistical projection to have a decent confidence interval. Basically you need a larger sample size to use a less consevative Gaussian curve for calculating the alpha statistic for the standard deviation from the actual player performance. Duh, and everyone knows the minimum number of ABs at any given level is 500.

  20. Dave

    First, I don’t care what any scout says, drafting a HS catcher at #15 is a bad

    Second, smart move for Cormier? You should have your head examined, Mr. Redlegs. You also said they could easily trade him, as I remember, and you were wrong, dead wrong, and still won’t admit it.

    Finally, how is Laird better than a guy off the street? I.e., replacement level.

  21. Dave from Louisville

    What about Inge? The damn Nationals have all the veteren catchers, I wouldn’t mind having LoDuca, Barrett, or Estrada.

  22. Ben

    I think we are losing sight of the real focus here. Whether or not Devin Mesoraco is any good is a debate for another time. We won’t know anything for certain for a minimum of 2 years.

    Personally, i am sick of this team getting league average or worse stop gap players. Laird is Ross with less pop. If you are gonna get a catcher, do it right. I don’t know what it would take, but I think Wayner should call the Angels and find out what’s its gonna cost for either Mathis or Napoli. I know Scoisca likes them both a lot and I don’t know what the depth behind them is, but I think it’s worth a shot. Either one of those guys would start everyday for the Reds and both are still young.
    Remember, there is a decent chance one of the opening series games will feature a lineup of corey patterson, juan castro, paul bako, and the pitcher. I will now go get a glass of water to wash down the vomit.

  23. Matt Stiers

    Kill me for suggesting this…… Bailey for Salatamacchia?

  24. Darwin Harrington

    I would do that trade in a heartbeat. I’m not sure the Rangers would.

  25. CeeKeR

    Trading Bailey doesn’t solve the problem of our outfield though… It appears that Bruce is headed to AAA but I, for one, would like to see him with tbe big club to start the year…trading Freel might allow that to happen.

  26. GregD

    Inge doesn’t want to catch. That’s his issue in Detroit. Cabrera is there playing third, he doesn’t want to catch, and wants traded (to play 3rd for another team.)

    Mathis and Napoli are both RH? That might actually be a good match. If the Angels don’t have a decent third guy, Javier or Bako could be thrown into the deal.

    If the Rangers would go for it, I’d be all for getting Salty.

  27. GregD

    Just noticed the update. Who’s in the market Ryan Freel? I’ve heard the Cubs and Rays.

  28. Mr. Redlegs

    Dave, I meant smart for Cormier to require a second year to accept the trade. And yeah, if he’d performed for the Reds, being locked up for the second year made him more tradable. He didn’t, so it was a moot point. Still is.

  29. Jack Bauer

    Ceeker what outfield problem are you referring to? Patterson, Dunn, Jr, with hopper andor freel to back up. Bruce is going to wait until June unless an injury occurs. When Bruce comes up it will be to play everyday. I’m reluctant to give up Bailey but with the emergence of the Dominican dandies and our need for a solid young catcher I would definitely entertain the idea.

  30. CeeKeR

    Jack: To me, it’s going to be a problem if we have Patterson playing when Castro AND a non-hitting catcher are both in…coupled with the pitcher’s spot, the Reds will be giving away way too many easy out. I still believe that giving Bruce a full season at the Major League level will help him more since he has more or less proven he can handle minor league pitching. I’d rather take my chances with Bruce and his “star prospect of today” status versus Patterson and his “star prospect of yesterday status”.

    As for Freel catching….that just makes me laugh…and worry a bit…and yet, why not?

  31. GregD

    Re Cormier and Stanton – That’s why it is important to look at the right numbers when determining if a pitcher is having a good year or not, and realize with relief pitchers that judging their performance on 1/2 season is only 30, maybe 40 innings and not a good sample size at all.

    Overpaying for Cormier because of a low ERA and Stanton because he racked up some saves is just not a good idea. Outside of Cordero, Krivsky’s approach to the bullpen mirrors Bowden’s approach to pitching. Bring in a lot of pitchers and hope quantity is better than quality.

    Ross is one of the few position players he “bought high”. I thought he would revert to Jason Larue type numbers, but he actually hit much worse last year than what we were used to with Larue.

  32. Jack Bauer

    Under what circumstance are you imagining Castro, a non-hitting coming back from Tommy John Surgery SS, getting regular playing time? As for Patterson he hit .313 the second half of last year to go along with 37 steals for the year. His productivity may not be what Bruce will produce in the years to come but lets not throw his offensive capabilities in with Juan Castro and David Ross.

  33. GregD

    That actually worries me about Affeldt, too. I’m guessing before the end of the season that we will see that as a mistake signing, too. Good ERA in his 59 innings in Colorado, but a lot of walks last year (33) and throughout his career.

  34. Shawn

    There aren’t any “good” catchers available. That’s a position where there is little talent right now. Whomever Krivsky can get will be a stopgap.

  35. GodlyCynic


    David Ross’ Career OPS+ is 90 while Patterson’s is 83, so actually you’re offending Ross when you compare Patterson to him.

    Also, pointing out that Patterson batted .313 for the second half is cherry picking. His OBP for the year was still only .304 which, amazingly, raised his career OBP to .298. Offensively, he is a disaster.

  36. Hebs

    By Marty and Jeff’s reasoning, we shouldn’t have drafted Jay Bruce or Homer Bailey (both out of high school).

    Also, how much “catcher” do you think Freel can bring in a trade?

  37. doug

    Re:Marty and Jeff also spent some time hammering the Reds, saying that they have no idea whatsoever why the Reds would have drafted a high school catcher last year. Marty said it would have been better to draft a college catcher who would have been closer to the majors; he says that addressing a current need on the Major League roster by drafting a high schooler who will take several years to get to the bigs makes no sense.

    I really want to address this, even though Marty and Jeff won’t ever see it.

    The reason you draft a high school catcher is because he is the best player on the board. This isn’t the NBA or the NFL. You can’t draft for need, when 80% of your top 10 picks (a teams top 10 picks) fail to even step foot on the major league field, much less be good. I don’t advocate drafting a catcher of any kind in the first round because the success rate for catchers is worse, by far, than any other position you can draft. Its so bad even high school pitchers (second worst, followed closely by college pitchers) have double the success rate of any catcher drafted in the first 5 rounds. Still, you take Mesoraco every day…. not because he was a position of need (catcher), but because he was the best player that your scouts said was still available that you could take with the #15 overall pick.

    If it takes him until he is 24 years old to make the majors (4.5 years from now), thats a whole lot better than drafting a lesser player who was also a catcher just because he may have a chance at being ready ‘sooner’, because your scouts obviously don’t think he has a chance of being as good.

    Free agency is there for a reason… its nice to have a good farm system, but no team is going to produce a full team from the farm system, its just not going to ever happen.

  38. GodlyCynic

    Doug’s absolutely right regarding the draft. You should never draft for need or draft safe picks; if the Reds’ scouts saw Mesoraco as having the highest ceiling of the players available, then he is the one they should have chosen. It’s not as if the team was crucified by those in the media who actually follow prospects (Marty does not count).

    There is also a problem with the Reds waiting until now to decide that Ross (even without the bad back), Bako, and Valentin are not really the players you want to have manning the catcher position on a possible NL Central contender. This is the type of thing that they should have been working on addressing months ago.

  39. guru

    Mesoraco is not having a goood spring!! He was 0-5 with 3 K’s in his first 2 games now he has soreness in the elbow and has not played since. He is not doing well defensively and his swing needs alot of changing. Just sying things the way tey really are!

  40. Brandon

    The Twins took Joe Mauer out of high school, how did that work out? I can’t believe people think Freel has any value, the only way to trade him would be for the Reds to eat the majority of the contract.

  41. Jack Bauer

    Godlycynic, while your rebuttal is true I have to say you are cherry picking in theory. Patterson is 3 years younger than Ross and has over 2,000 more at bats. Ross stays a starting catcher in the major leagues and gets those 2,000 at bats there is no way his OPS stays anywhere near that point. He will be more productive than David Ross(Offensively speaking). Even though I would much rather have Bruce in center and Salty behind the plate. I think we both can agree on that. 😎

  42. GodlyCynic

    My point wasn’t really to make Ross look better, it was just to point out that a career OPS+ of 83 is awful to the point of Patterson being nearly useless. I think the problem here is that Corey Patterson as a defensive replacement/pinch runner/fourth outfielder sounds good and Corey Patterson as the starting centerfielder makes me cry.