Not surprising:

Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty today announced the signing of free agent C Ramon Hernandez to a 1-year contract through the 2011 season.

“We wanted to provide our young pitching staff with some continuity. We felt all of our pitchers were comfortable pitching to Ramon,” Jocketty said. “We also like his production at the plate. Our catchers were very solid last year offensively.”

Last season, Reds catchers led the National League with 168 hits and a .296 batting average while ranking second with 91 RBI and third with an on-base percentage of .375.

Hernandez, 34, was acquired by the Reds from the Baltimore Orioles, along with cash, during the 2008 Winter Meetings in Las Vegas in exchange for IF/OF Ryan Freel, IF Justin Turner and IF Brandon Waring. In the last 2 seasons he hit .278 in 178 appearances, including .297 in 97 games last year.

In 2010, Hernandez led the Reds with 85 starts behind the plate but also made 2 starts at first base. He hit .311 in his last 40 appearances of the season and for most of the year led all National League catchers in fielding percentage.

We all expected the Reds to re-sign Ramon, and I don’t have any problem with it. My fondest wish, however, is that Devin Mesoraco makes Hernandez expendable sometime in 2011.

21 Responses

  1. Jello

    Not very surprising, any idea for how much? And I remember seeing Justin Turner play a few years back in Rochester. I remember he had pretty good numbers. Don’t know what happened to him after that, haven’t heard about him since then.

    And the Marlins are reportedly shopping Uggla. What are the chances the Reds trade for him and move BP to SS? .01%?

  2. lookatthathat

    Uggla is TEERRRIBLE at fielding. He was -11 runs saved below average last season. He would be a good bat to have though, especially at Great American Ballpark. I would just worry about overpaying for Uggla, who had a career year at the plate in terms of OBP and AVG that he is unlikely to replicate.

    Also, I’ve heard a great deal of talk about moving B-Phil to SS, was he a SS in the minors or something? He’s a great second baseman, and his skillset seems to be SS compatible, but he hasn’t played there much in the majors. Plus, I don’t know how much players like being jerked from position to position. Granted, the Showboat in B-Phil would probably make him perfectly happy…Okay. I’m on board, Jello. I’ll give it 1% because I’m a gambling man.

  3. Jello

    @lookatthathat: IIRC, he was a SS when he first came up to the majors but got switched to 2b. There was a lot of talk last off-season before we signed O-Cab about moving him to SS, and BP said he’d be on board. Jocketty shot it down. And Fangraphs said it’ll probably cost quite a bit to get Uggla, prospect-wise and money-wise, so I’ll drop that .01% to a .004%

  4. Greg Dafler

    ESPN is reporting that it is a $3M deal.

    The Reds 3 catchers combined in 2010 to rank high among all 30 MLB teams in several offensive categories:

    –2nd in AVG to MIN (Mauer)
    –3rd in OBP behind ATL (McCann) and PHI (Ruiz)
    –8th in SLG
    –3rd in OPS behind ATL & PHI

    In defensive categories:
    –tied 2nd for fewest passed balls (only 4 all season)
    –8th in Fpct
    –9th in CS%
    –4th in total zone total fielding runs above average

  5. Steve

    $3 million seems like too much money for a second catcher. It’s not a lot in the big picture, but could we have signed a backup for $1 million and spent the other $2 million elsewhere?

    RH2 did have a good year offensively in 2010, but Ramon was not nearly as effective at handling pitchers. Remember the enormous gaps in stats like ERA, K/9, BB/9, and OPS between the two catchers?

    Ramon is also painfully slow running the bases.

  6. Steve

    Signing Ramon also means Hanigan will play 40% of the time instead of 60-70%.

  7. pinson343

    @Steve: This is my only problem with signing Ramon. The split between him and Hanigan should be 60/40 in Hanigan’s favor.

    But anyway this was all as expected – 1 year and $3M. He had a good year offensively last year, and (surprisingly) improved defensively over 2009.
    As long as he maintains that level until Mesoraco is ready, this is an OK move.

  8. Bill Lack

    They signed him for the same amount he made last year…I assume he also got a buyout from his other contract? Did the team even save any money?

  9. Doug Dennis

    I wouldn’t quite count on Mesoraco yet. Mesoraco has work left on D before he gets promoted. He showed his bast this year and has a great arm, but his receiving skills have been bad enough in the AFL that scouts there were talking about it. I saw it first hand, as well at the Rising Stars game and his game before that over the same 4-day weekend. Just two games–can’t put a lot of stock in it. But the scouts were telling me that he’s been like that the entire trip down to PHX and they see him most days.

    I love the Hernandez signing for 1 year. I think guys like Chapman, Cueto and Volquez get a benefit from a veteran Spanish speaking catcher. Hernandez hit fairly well. He catches very well. He could do better at throwing out opp. runners. And this is not a knock on Hanigan, who I agree with the above posters is a better catcher at this point. But the Hanigan/Hernandez combo was as productive as any in the NL last year. It will be hard for either to repeat that success. But I’m happy to see Hernandez keep the seat warm next to Hanigan another year and see how it shakes out from there.

  10. Travis G.

    Hernandez does not catch very well. I would not count myself as the most astute observer of in-game skills, but the difference in the way he frames pitches vs. Hanigan is pretty substantial. Hanigan has the ability to make balls look like strikes, while Hernandez occasionally makes strikes look like balls.

    That is precisely why his catcher ERA (small sample size alert) is consistently higher than Hanigan’s (and Miller’s).

    But I still like the signing.

  11. Mark in cc.

    The old saying,”IF IT AINT BROKE DON’T FIX IT”. Folks it aint broke and it works pretty darn well.

    And Walt signed a FA guy who had a great year and did it without raising the payroll

    Great move by the Reds.

    When we talk about a defensive comparison between the H&H boys I would like to see a breakdown of the pitchers they caught. Seems as though it might be easier to catch Arroyo, Leake and Wood, than Cueto, Volquez and Bailey.

    • Steve

      When we talk about a defensive comparison between the H&H boys I would like to see a breakdown of the pitchers they caught. Seems as though it might be easier to catch Arroyo, Leake and Wood, than Cueto, Volquez and Bailey.

      The simplest way for controlling this factor is to look at the bullpen pitchers, who presumably would be caught randomly by the catchers. The gap on ERA, K/9, BB/9, OPS between the catchers is huge for the relief staff. Hanigan was way, way better. Another way to control for this factor is to see how the two catcher did with the same pitchers, assuming a large enough sample size, and again, Hanigan is much better than Ramon.

      I hope you’re right, Chad, about the split. But over the last couple of months, when both catchers were healthy, Hernandez was catching Wood, Volquez and Cueto while Hanigan was in for Arroyo and Bailey. I don’t see that changing. More Chapman means even more Hernandez. Ramon had 60% of the innings toward the end of the season.

    • Chris Garber

      And Walt signed a FA guy who had a great year

      The goal, however, is to sign guys who will have great years NEXT year.

  12. preach

    I am fine with this. We had no substantial issues with our backstop last season, we have a nice tandem with a decent vet in the minors (that’s where Corky needs to stay until needed; please, Walt, no three headed catching monsters this year). Plus, there are not any alternatives I would be willing to invest in that we could reasonably get. Give me a left fielder, make Heisey our fourth outfielder and let’s play ball.

  13. TheNatural

    @Jello: Trade for Uggla. Move him to LF. Problem solved.

  14. Jeff

    Ramon had a vesting option for 3.25 mil he had to appear in 120 games and played in 97 games. The Reds saved 250k on the deal. Not bad i’ll take another year with Ramon while Mesoraco is in AAA getting better. Hopefully he will be ready for 2012.

  15. Jeff

    Also Ramon made 3.86 Mil. last year so were saving close to a mil. from last year.

  16. Jeff

    Hanigan only made 415k last year and a closer too 500k this year so were still only spending 3.5 mil on two catchers. Next year Hanigan is Arbitration eligible so he should receive a little raise.

  17. Chad Dotson

    Listen, I’m not a fully-paid member of the Ramon Hernandez Fan Club, but this deal was a no-brainer. He was good offensively last year. No way I would dump the job into Mesoraco’s lap just yet. Hopefully, Ramon is traded at the deadline because Devin is ready; that’s the best-case scenario.

    I also don’t think that Ramon will get 60% of the starts. If you will recall, just before Hanigan was hurt, Dusty was playing Hanigan 3 of every 5 games. If Hanigan is producing, he’ll get the lion’s share of the playing time…especially if pitcher like throwing to him, as it seems they do.

  18. pinson343

    Even John Fay said the same thing about the Ramon signing as Chad and the consensus here. Doesn’t seem like there’s much of a debate here.

    I approve the signing too, as stated above, but don’t understand why our pitchers fare so much worse with him pitching. He doesn’t frame pitches well and that’s important. But it seems to go beyond that with some pitchers, such as CoCo. Cordero was like 2 different pitchers last year, good with Hanigan and terrible with Hernandez. All of his big meltdowns were with Ramon, as Ramon would call for the same low outside fastball on every pitch. Don’t get that.