Somehow I missed this the other day, but friend of the Nation Joel Luckhaupt has a good piece over at The Hardball Times about the decisions Cincinnati will have to make this offseason:

The 2011 Reds were adequate. That’s all. Nothing more. Nothing less. Depending on how you look at glasses partially filled with liquid, being adequate can be a good thing or a bad thing for the Reds heading into this offseason. On the plus side, being adequate means that the team does not need a major overhaul to be competitive. On the down side, asking fans which problem is in most need of fixing will give you seven different answers.

The only thing that is clear is that the Reds can’t afford to be complacent like they were last offseason.

Go read the whole thing. I agree with it all.

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 chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 41 Comments

  1. It’s easy to diagnose the Reds’ on-field needs (a legit #1 starter, right-handed cleanup bat, leadoff upgrade, closer and veteran SS), but there’s not much they can do until revenues improve.

    Michael Cuddyer would be a great fit in LF and spelling Rolen at third, but the Twins supposedly have offered him three years and $25 million to return. The Reds can’t do that. They’ve got some trade pieces to get involved in the SP market, but they can’t afford everyone who’s available. They shouldn’t pay much for a closer. They probably won’t even be able to afford Josh Willingham now that he won’t cost teams a draft pick. There’s just really not much they can do except sit back and wait for the leftovers in January.

  2. If they basically have no payroll flexibility now, wtf happens when/if they extend BP? Unless they just backload the **** out of the deal, are they just praying that everyone gets better + stays healthy? It’s not like this roster has any contracts it can unload to free up cash. Someone please get Andrew Friedman on the line.

  3. Remember, we have prospects, so we’re still dealing from a position of strength. On that point, would you rather be the Brewers or Cubs?? So many teams are looking for #4-5 starter types–we have that. Catcher (Grandal), check. Elite hitter (Alonso), check. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll make the moves to be competitive.
    That said, the rumors are the Rocks want to swap Street for Volquez and the Nats are hellbent on acquiring a CF (Stubbs for Storen + prospect, anyone?). I’d be sniffing around the White Sox as well. They’re about to conduct a fire sale. Sale? As in Chris Sale? Yes, please.

    • the Nats are hellbent on acquiring a CF (Stubbs for Storen + prospect, anyone?)

      I would make this trade, right now. I’m not even worried about the prospect. Storen is already very good, and under control for a couple years. I’m not big on giving up much (players or $), but I have grown weary of Stubbs. A lot of potential, but way too many strikeouts, with no visible adjustments being made. And I believe his defense is vastly overrated. A lot of balls dropping in front of him, and he looks bad a lot of times going back on balls. I think Heisey gets to almost as much, and would be more consistent. And with consistent playing time, his bat may be just as good or better than Stubbs. He won’t strike out as much at least.

  4. I just don’t see any indication that other teams consider Alonso elite. He’s a real nice hitter, but he’s 25, has never shown big-time power and plays passably at the lowest end of the defensive spectrum. So he’s basically Sean Casey.

    I’d want to see how much money the Rockies would be willing to send with Street (who’s getting more hittable) and what prospect Washington would send before I’d be willing to swap an everyday player for a closer. I’d love to grab Sale, but I don’t see him being available. At 22, he’s young enough to be part of the next good White Sox team.

  5. I keep reading in a number of places that many people don’t rank Yonder as high as we do adn the only way he will bring a strong return via trade is to be involved in a multi player deal. Most feel he is a 1 tool player at best.

  6. Well I certainly think its reasonable to not consider Alonso an elite prospect. He’s definitely more like 2nd tier…his power numbers are just not what you’d prefer to see from guys in his primary position. His approach is what makes him a great prospect though…this perception that the Reds overvalue could mean: 1) WJ is being overly stingy with his prospects (possible); 2) he’s playing hardball after Alonso acquitted himself very well with the MLB team. I’m inclined to believe #2 but its probably a mixture of both.

    I don’t really know what the 1 tool player has to do with it. He’s got the only tool that matters for a first baseman. How many first basemen have more than 1 tool?

  7. @CP: Good point about “one tool” first baseman, but you’ve already answered your own question. He doesn’t have mcuh power. He also gets rated a little below average as a defensive first baseman.

    You could have a 3 tool first baseman: hit for average, hit for power, defense. Albert Pujols would qualify.

  8. Here’s a news flash: WJ says no Renteria next season. Says he’d like someone “a little more versatile.” Duh. Why do the Reds need a “veteran” SS yet again anyway ? Hope he’s not thinking of bringing back OC.

  9. @Travis G.: Can someone explain the reticence to get Street for 7.5M for one year?—which is his contract, after all. I mean, I don’t want to pay that, but a bunch of people here seemed just fine with signing Cordero for that amount per year for *two* years!!!

    Street is getting more hittable? Sure, but his numbers are still way, way, way better than Cordero.

    I wouldn’t pay 7.5M for the guy, but just saying.

  10. I somehow forgot the 5 tools included power AND average. I’m pretty confident Alonso can hit for okay power and solid average in the MLB (at least in small GABP type ball parks). Can definitely see him putting up Gaby Sanchez numbers right away for MLB teams, which is underrated imo.

    They probably want a veteran SS more by default than anything. Janish doesn’t really have a role on this team. Cozart is an excellent fielder and if he struggles, Janish neither provides a good plan B (could Cozart really hit WORSE than Janish 😥 ), nor can he really be an effective pinch hitter.

    I don’t think the Reds would bring back OC. What about Jeff Keppinger, though? He’d probably cost twice as much as OC but a veteran who never made an all star game wouldn’t make Dusty all itchy to start him…

    • They probably want a veteran SS more by default than anything. Janish doesn’t really have a role on this team. Cozart is an excellent fielder and if he struggles, Janish neither provides a good plan B (could Cozart really hit WORSE than Janish 😥 ), nor can he really be an effective pinch hitter.

      I saw where Boston is talking to other clubs about Jed Lowrie. He’s a 28 year old switch hitter who can play an average SS, 3B, and 2B. Has a .252/.324/.408/.732 line in 900 ABs over 4 seasons. Never given a consistent shot to show if he can match his MiLB line of .286/.381/.448/.828. He could make Cozart the sub.

  11. @Dave Lowenthal: I’m pretty sure it’s b/c this team has absolutely no payroll flexibility. Perhaps b/c they’ve shifted into MUST EXTEND BRANDON mode…or maybe the Reds now believe they can actually pull off one of these trades for a pitcher and pick up a contract.

  12. @CP: The whole Phillips thing is just headed for disaster, I fear.

  13. @Dave Lowenthal: I agree 100 pct. Disaster waiting to happen. Could be a good time to explore trade value.

  14. If the Reds don’t have much payroll flexibility, it will certainly limit the starting pitchers they can afford to get in trade. According to this article, Wandy Rodriguez is considered to have a contract that is at or above market value:
    http://redlegnation.com/2011/12/06/offseason-decisions/

    Wandy is a solid #2 type left handed pitcher. His 2011 salary is $10 million in 2012, not a tremendous hit to the budget if the Reds aren’t spending much on a closer and back-up SS. Although it does escalate to Arroyo territory at $13 million in 2013 and 2014.

    Because of the contract and the Astros refusing to eat any of his salary, interest in him apparently is not too strong. The Astros need just about any bodies that present good potential, so the Reds may be able to get him without giving up too much of their near ready minor league talent, which is something they would want to do if they are going to take advantage of Wandy, Votto and gang to make a run in the next couple of years.

  15. The White Sox are rebuilding and LF Carlos Quentin would be a perfect RH bat to put in between Votto and Bruce.

  16. @MikeC: Wandy is exactly who I had in mind when I said: “They’ve got some trade pieces to get involved in the SP market, but they can’t afford everyone who’s available.”

    @Dave Lowenthal: I wasn’t among those who would’ve offered Coco that much on a two-year deal. I might’ve considered two years and $10 million, with a team option on the second year, but that would have personally insulted Cordero. No way would I give up much (maybe not even Volquez) for Street at $7.5 million (and a $9 million option/$500K buyout next season).

    @Tom Diesman: Depending on the cost in prospects, Quentin would be a great fit. I think he’s in his last year of arbitration, so they’d get draft picks back when he walks after the season.

    And lastly, did anyone see where Joe Maddon said Alonso’s name had come up in Rays team meetings in reference to trading a starter? That basically means they’ll take him on a straight-up deal for Shields, right? 😉

  17. Over on mlbtraderumors, there are some interesting comments from Braves fans in one of the Jurrjens-to-Reds threads. They seem to think Heisey=Stubbs and would be happy to get him along with Alonso. Also, there are numerous posts about how good Jair Jurrjens is, with crazy projections and all. 😆 Then a couple go off on a tangent about how Cozart should be in the deal (hey…everyone wants to give away their only SS in the system..right!?!?), or maybe even Bruce 😆 .

    I’d accept a Heisey/Alsono deal for Jurrjens (not this early in the offseason…I’m saving my trade bait for a bigger fish..err Ray in this case). Stubbs is a guy that could be traded by himself and pick up a starting caliber player later on. Alternatively, if I’m Billy Beane, I want Stubbs included in any Gio deal.

  18. @CP:

    Buried in this story about the Mets-Giants trade is the comment “But the center-fielder market was not deep and was costly”. Maybe Stubbs does have some pretty good trade value that the Reds could use in obtaining a SP.

  19. @CP: If veteran SS means Jeff Keppinger, I’m OK with that (as long as the price is right, his salary needs to come down). A pesky contact hitter who can play multiple positions.

    I never understood why the Reds traded him for Drew Sutton, whom they never gave a chance and then released. It seems that the Reds overreacted to Keppinger’s knee injury, even though they were willing to play him with it before he was ready.

  20. @MikeC: I think Stubbs is the Reds single best trade chip not named Grandal or Alonso. Cincy fans undervalue him b/c of the strikeouts issue (it is psychologically wearing on the fan base imo). His defense is elite, his offensive stats are above average, and his ceiling remains high. I will not be shocked if he’s involved in any deal for a starting pitcher because of Heisey’s presence. Including him will be a mistake.

    @jrob45601: Usually trading a starting caliber fielder (particularly a SS/CF) for a closer is a mistake. Unless we’re talking about the elite guys, there just isn’t enough value in closers to make up for the drop off. I like Storen, maybe love him b/c of his contract, but enough to give up a potential perennial 5 WAR CF? I don’t think so. I’d consider it if my closer was all that stood between the Reds making the world series, but this team isn’t there yet.

    In this case, the biggest drawback to including Stubbs for Storen is you lose the ability to include him in future trades for a starting pitcher imo.

  21. @pinson343: Worst part about getting rid of Keppinger was they it b/c they felt he was unable to play defense. Then they signed Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria. 😥

    • @pinson343: Worst part about getting rid of Keppinger was they it b/c they felt he was unable to play defense.Then they signed Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Renteria.

      Can someone put this on Jocketty’s desk, ASAP? He seems close to going down that same road again. He and Dusty seem to prefer guys that “usetacould” if you know what I mean.

  22. @CP:
    I understand what you say about trading for a closer, I don’t really like the idea myself. I’m just so worn out by the (widening, IMO) gap between Stubbs potential and his results, that I’m ready to give him away. I would think that many scouts don’t see him as an elite defender, despite what the metrics say. He just seems to get turned around on a lot of balls. I think his speed and the ground that he covers masks the plays that he should make, but doesn’t.

  23. I’m hearing the Reds are close to signing Cody Ross (I don’t hate this, depending on the cost), which would allow them to offer Stubbs or Heisey for Shields. This would allow the Rays to trade Upton (to Washington for Storen?).

  24. Why are the Rockies so interested in Volquez ? Whatever the reason, trade him. The Rockies are reportedly offering Seth Smith, who hits righties a ton. If the Reds are going to trade Alonso or Stubbs, I’d take that offer.

  25. @Travis G.: Interesting stuff.

  26. We need to watch out for the Fish, they are spending money like they are printing it down in south florida….

  27. I’ve brought up Wandy before as well. The Astros will soon be AL West, so it’s not like trading inside our own division. They might have a real interest in a bat like Alonso for a future DH.

  28. With all these Hanley shenanigans, Reds should totally go after him. $14m/year? We’re paying Bronson that. Vomit.

    Make BP play out his option year, wait to see the results. Trade Hanley next year if they want to extend BP or let BP walk and enjoy Hanley until 2015. You are gaining between 3-7 wins with Hanley. 😯

    This post is partly in jest, but man, distressed assets don’t come along very often. The Reds can even provide a seasoned third baseman in the deal..

  29. Hanley would be pretty exciting (especially his defense: always an adventure), but what in the world might he cost in prospects? Alonso would be only a small upgrade (maybe) over Gaby Sanchez, but they do need a catcher. Third base is a possibility, as well, in case Matt Dominguez never develops. They’re also looking for a CF, which we could offer if he signed Ross. Would a package of Mesoraco/Grandal, Heisey/Stubbs and Juan Francisco get it done? Would that be too much to give up for an expensive and possibly declining Ramirez?

  30. Isn’t Cody Ross basically an older, more expensive Chris Heisey? (Really don’t like his OBP’s either, and based on his splits this wasn’t just a home-park effect. He actually hit better across the board at home than he did on the road.)

  31. As for Hanley, he’s intriguingly talented, but is he really a huge upgrade over Cozart? (Think of the cost to get him — $13.5 million more than Cozart, plus 2 or 3 of our best prospects probably.)

    Also, isn’t Hanley’s attitude the type of thing that Cincinnati fans would turn on in a flash? He seems like a spoiled prima donna. Not hustling, bad body language, trashing his manager in the press. That doesn’t fly well in this town.

    Great talent, though. And only turning 28 years old this year.

    Tough call.

    • isn’t Hanley’s attitude the type of thing that Cincinnati fans would turn on in a flash?

      Yes. It doesn’t help that he’s Dominican, which fans also seem to have a hard time understanding here.

      That really sucks for Cardinals fans. I hate their team, but they deserve better than that. I can’t imagine that the additional money Pujols is getting (at a certain point, it starts to become Monopoly money) is worth what he’s lost in St. Louis. Not everyone has a chance to be Stan Musial. Great for us, though, until the Cards come sniffing around Joey Votto in 2013.

      • until the Cards come sniffing around Joey Votto in 2013

        Take it back Travis. Take it back.

  32. WOW. Pujuols to the Angels… 10 yrs $250-260mil. Wow. He’s out of the NL Central. Things just got interesting kids.

  33. @Travis G.: Is the deal confirmed yet? I can’t even tell with the baseball “journalists” anymore. So much speculation! I think it’s a blessing in disguise for the Cards’ fans. Probably sucks to be them right now. But Pujols and Holliday getting ridiculous money into their late 30s in just too much.

  34. You have to think that this now makes the Cards a major player for Votto in 2 years…

  35. It’ll be interesting to see what Prince Fielder gets now. Votto is slightly older but is more solid overall, and he doesn’t have a weight problem.

    I don’t think Joey’s trade value goes down as much as people think if they wait to trade him till next year. Whatever team trades for him will 1) be the only one able to talk to him and 2) probably work something out as a condition to the trade.

    The Reds can’t compete with these big spending teams on their terms…they need to adjust their strategy accordingly. Long term deals need to go to the guys like Jay Bruce, not guys in their 30s.

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About Chad Dotson

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 chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Category

2011 Reds, 2012 Reds