There are a few items I’ve been meaning to link over the last couple of days:

–I agree with Justin; the Reds should extend Jay Bruce. Sign him to a long-term contract now, and you will avoid getting murdered in arbitration in a couple of years (see Howard, Ryan).

This guy says fantasy baseball owners should stay away from Homer Bailey. In a related story, society says that girls should stay away from fantasy baseball owners.

–Very interesting Reds-related stuff in this post over at Joe Posnanski’s blog; namely, it’s a comparison between Rays SS-turned-CF B.J. Upton, and former Reds SS-turned-CF Eric Davis:

I had not thought of this, but they really do look a lot alike as players — athletic, right-handed, center fielders, great arms, great speed, strike out a lot, good patience, jolting power and so on. I’d say that both even have the look that makes people somehow think they should be even better, even though they’re already pretty darned good.

I think Upton’s remarkable — and I do mean remarkable — sense of the strike zone at such a young age separates him from Davis. He walked 97 times at 23 years old. There have only been 22 players in baseball history who have walked 95 or more times during their age 23 year. The list is loaded with great players including:

Ted Wililams (145)
Frank Thomas (138)
Rickey Henderson (116)
Reggie Jackson (114)
Mickey Mantle (113)
Eddie Mathews (109)
Lou Gehrig (105)
Mel Ott (100)
Tim Raines (97)
Arky Vaughn (97)
Ken Griffey (96)
Yaz (95)

So more than half of the list went on to have, what I consider to be Hall of Fame careers*******. And the rest ain’t too bad either — Eddie Yost (the Walking Man!), Harlond Clift, Troy Glaus, Charlie Keller, Alvin Davis, these are All-Star caliber players, or in the case of Alvin Davis they are one-time All-Stars who once hit me in the foot with a wild throw during batting practice. Alvin apologized and was very nice about it, but it now occurs to me that I missed the one opportunity I will have in my entire life to suddenly let loose with a loud “ALVIN!!!!”

Point is, I think Upton’s patience at the plate is something that could make him a big star in this league for many years. On the other hand, I don’t think Upton or perhaps anyone else is as talented as the young Eric Davis — talking about power and speed talent here I mean, it still blows me away to go back and look at Davis’ first two full seasons — especially because they weren’t all that full:

1986: Davis hit .277 with 27 home runs and, get this, 80 stolen bases. The amazing part — he did it in 132 games and 487 plate appearances. That’s just awe inspiring. If he could have played at that level for a full season, he might have hit 30 homers and stolen 100 bases. And he was just 24 years old and had no idea what he was doing.

1987: Davis hit .293 with 37 homers, 100 RBIs, 120 runs scored and 50 stolen bases (he was caught 6 times). And the crazy thing is he played in even fewer games than he did in 1986. He missed 33 games. He could have hit 40 homers and stolen 70 bases with a full year. It’s insane.

I think Upton is a remarkable talent. I think Upton could end up being a better player than Davis because of that strike zone management. But I don’t think I’ve ever watched anyone with more raw ability than the young Eric Davis.

Indeed.

16 Responses

  1. Dave from Louisville

    I think its funny that Justin is only talking about Bruce.

    Votto and Volquez are higher on my list.

  2. Matt B.

    In a related story, society says that girls should stay away from fantasy baseball owners.

    That gave me a chuckle.

    In response to the article itself, anyone who doesn’t have the mental capacity to realize that the possessive form of Reds is “Reds'” and not “Red’s” can’t be taken seriously anyway.

  3. Steve

    Along the lines of Eric Davis, I have to ask this to anyone/everyone out there who might remember and prove to me that I didn’t just dream this…..

    It was either ’84 or ’85, I believe. The Reds were playing the Giants at Riverfront, and I was WAY up in the red seats in a 0-0 game in the bottom of the 9th.

    Davis was on 3rd and stole home in a “slide-off” Reds victory.

    Did this actually happen, or did my 14-year old mind generate this in a dream somehow? Which, of course, could be very possible as Davis’ ability had me totally amazed at that time.

    Can anybody out there recall this happening?

  4. Mr. Redlegs

    Steve, I vaguely recall this play and I don’t think it was a steal of home but a ball that skipped away from Bob Brenly just enough that ED took the dare and raced for the plate, beating the tag of a lunging Brenly.

  5. Y-City Jim

    I didn’t know that fantasy baseball owners were clamoring to draft Bailey for their teams.

  6. David

    In my opinion it is far better to look to extend a player after year two. It is too early to forecast what the player would be valued in arbitration.

  7. Steve

    Thanks, Mr. Redlegs, that’s probably what it was.

    I’ve always thought it was probably something like that – a passed ball, wild pitch, or even failed attempted squeeze – since something like a straight steal of home is incredibly rare.

    The only other Red I ever saw with such blinding speed that Davis possessed was Deion Sanders.

    I can actually remember both of those guys practically going in to 2nd standing up many times.

    I swear Deion looked like he could hit warp speed sometimes – what I guess they call “closing speed” for corners in football, and the only other time I’ve seen that was in that play at home with Davis.

    It’s the kind of thing you have to see live to actually believe.

  8. This guy

    In a related story, society says that girls should stay away from fantasy baseball owners.

    I agree with Matt. I got a good laugh out of this. Well done Chad.

    But, please don’t confuse fantasy value with value to the Reds. Unless he earns a rotation spot and begins to pitch like he did in 2006, or moves to the bullpen and becomes a dominant force for spot wins or even saves, Bailey isn’t going to be of any use to fantasy teams in 2009. He could, however, be valuable still to the Reds.

    That was the point I was trying to make. And I surely don’t want Reds fans to think I am down on Bailey as a pitcher. I still think he’s got some great upside. I’m just down on his fantasy value in 2009.

  9. Y-City Jim

    Especially if he can pitch like he did in the AAA playoff game. That was the Homer Bailey we have been waiting for.

  10. Charlie Scrabbles

    Dave in L-Ville,

    i disagree with your sentiments regarding Volquez and Votto and LTCs. its true they were better than Bruce this year and have every possibility of becoming even more than Bruce, but their individual situations vary immensely. Volquez is a pitcher, and as we all know young pitching is the most volatile commodity in this game. no sense giving him guaranteed money for a number of years before he is arb-eligible. its just too risky.

    as for Votto, it would be unwise to give him a LTC with Alonso right on his heels. sure, he could be moved to LF in that event. but that positional volatility is a deal breaker. i love Votto just the same as Bruce, i mean, these guys should be the anchors of our lineup for as long as we want them to be. but his future is just not as certain as Bruce’s.

    with Bruce, there are no such reasons to believe he wont be our RF for the short and long term. it is certainly within the realm of possibility that he could fetch a first-time arb salary much like the 10 mil awarded to Ryan Howard. a LTC like Longoria’s would keep Bruce’s salary south of 10 mil for many many more years.

  11. mhopp

    I agree…Bailey was born in May of ’86 so he’ll only be 22 to start the ’09 season!! As fed up as I am with previous prospects and the Reds in general we can’t give up on him yet. Leave him at AAA (under some real managers) and see if he develops.

  12. Kevin

    it’s hard to know exactly what his mental problems are, but it’s obvious that they’re mental problems. I would like to see one of two things happen for him in 2009. One would be starting him in the bullpen and making him pitch there for a year. That’s something that’s been used in the past to get young pitchers’ heads right. It might be a good way for him to figure out how to pitch big leaguers in low pressure situations. The other option that I like more would be sending him back down to high A or AA ball, and having him work his way back up through each level throughout 2009. This is what they did with Volquez in the Rangers organization, right? My guess is that this might make some sense for Bailey’s situation, the idea being of course that it would give him some humility and give him a fresh start sort of feel for the season, helping him to rethink stuff. He would be able to work his way back up to the Louisville/Cincinnati world as fast as he shows himself able (this could be a one month or two month thing).

    What do you guys think? Would either of these two things help him out, or should he just stick to the same program, battling for a rotation spot in spring training and having another year of the same in AAA?

  13. Mark in CC

    I think I would start him out in the major league bullpen in ’09. It might be the answer at this point. He can come in throw smoke for three or four batters while perfecting his second pitch and do it two to four times a week.

    Maybe relief is where he is destined to be.

  14. Mark in CC

    As far as Bruce goes, why don’t we wait until he has a full year in the big leagues and hits over .254 before we go nuts with a long term contract.

  15. jinaz

    I think its funny that Justin is only talking about Bruce.

    Votto and Volquez are higher on my list.

    I’m fine with extending all three of them. And maybe Cueto too. If you sign each for what is projected to be a major savings, you’re insuring yourself against some of them busting. Most of the time, the team comes out ahead. And the players win as well because they get guaranteed financial security against, for example, a career-ending injury occurring prior to making the good money.

    The reason I mentioned Bruce specifically is that he was the subject of a comparison with Longoria at Red Reporter, as they were the #1 & 2 prospects at the start of the season. Longoria got locked up prior to “proving himself,” and signing Bruce now would more or less be the same thing.

    Extending Votto and Volquez isn’t exactly the same thing, as they now have a very good season under their belts. In that sense, it’s more analogous to extending Tulowitzki, Granderson, or Shields. Seems less risky and easier to stomach, and therefore a bit more conventional (and thus less interesting to write about).

    But the same arguments apply all around, and I agree that all of those guys should be signed to extensions this offseason. Hopefully it’ll happen. But I won’t hold my breath, as I’m feeling very pessimistic about the Reds management these days.
    -j

  16. earl

    Signing up the core talent to deals early on really helped the Indians back in the 90s and kept them in contention for pretty much a decade.

    For a mid market club, I think it would be for wise for the Reds to look at a similar policy.