From the Enquirer:

Stay or Go?

A lot of the players the Reds brought in through trades are free agents. Here’s a look at the free agents and players with options, and our guess about the chances of them coming back:

SS Royce Clayton – He has been a disappointment since coming over in the trade with Washington. No chance he’ll be back.

RHP Ryan Franklin – He sees himself as a starter. Don’t see the Reds giving him a chance to start. Most likely won’t be back.

LHP Eddie Guardado – He probably won’t pitch until late next year after elbow surgery. The Reds may try to sign him cheap and have him rehab on their dime.

OF Todd Hollandsworth – He has been pretty good after a slow start. Still don’t see him coming back.

RHP Jason Johnson – He has barely pitched since he has been here. No chance he’ll be back.

LHP Scott Schoeneweis – Numbers have been good – 1-0 with 0.77 ERA since the trade from Toronto. The Reds likely will make a run at him. He may see the merits of pitching in the NL.

RHP Paul Wilson – The Reds are on the hook for $850,000 buyout. Could see him back on a minor-league contract.

RHP David Weathers – He has had some rough patches but overall his numbers are good – 4-4, 3.75 ERA, 59 hits in 69 2/3 innings going into the weekend. He’s a good influence on young pitchers. Would be worth making a run at.

LHP Kent Mercker – Probably will retire after elbow surgery. Has a future in broadcasting if he wants to go that route.

INF Rich Aurilia – Mutual option for $2 million. He’s a bargain at that price. But will he want to come back?

INF Juan Castro – Club option for $1 million – cheap for Gold Glove defense.

Of this lengthy and mediocre list, the only ones worth making any effort to bring back are Schoeneweis, Weathers, and Aurila. But I’m not convinced Aurila will be back, unless he’s promised the 2nd base job every day. If the price is right on Schoeneweis and Weathers, they’re as good as anything you’re going to find on the open market for the same price.

Then Fay gives some “random thoughts”…

Random thoughts as the Reds play out the string on a decent year gone bad with one awful stretch:

If the Brandon Phillips Experiment works at shortstop – and the guess here is it will – it makes shaping the everyday lineup for 2007 considerably easier. Rich Aurilia, Ryan Freel and Ray Olmedo are all viable candidates to play second base.

Why is it an “experiment” when he was a SS for years before he was a 2nd baseman? I like the idea of Aurilia at 2B. He could also play 1B against LHP, and Freel could play 2nd. Olmedo had a good offensive year at Louisville and could be a factor, but I think the Reds would like to have Aurilia back.

With Aurilia, it’s not a question if the Reds want him back. It’s a question of whether he wants to come back. My guess is Aurilia explores his options. Under general manager Wayne Krivsky, it’s doubtful that the Reds would let it play out as long as they did last year. Aurilia didn’t sign until Jan. 8.

With Krivsky, they may have traded for 4 second men by January.

The biggest question of the offseason will be whether the club will try to trade Adam Dunn. Dunn has his share of detractors. But 40-plus home runs, 90-plus runs, 100-plus walks and 90-plus RBI are nice to have.

I am constantly amazed at the negative press that Dunn gets in Cincinnati. Is he a complete player? No. Is he going to get any better than he is now? It doesn’t appear so, he seems to plateaued. But a plateau where you can count on 40 homers and 90 plus runs and rbis every season is pretty great. Remember how the press used to talk about how great Tony Perez was for his 90+ RBIs every season. He’s put up numbers that have only been done by a handful of great players in franchise history and seems to get very little respect for it. I guess he needs to look like he’s playing harder, like Sean Casey or Ryan Freel, the local media darlings.

If the Reds want Ken Griffey Jr. to move to right field – and I have no evidence if they do or not – look for CEO Bob Castellini, Krivsky and manager Jerry Narron to make a visit to Orlando to convince him.

And this doesn’t even solve this team’s outfield problems. This has gone from team strength to a team weakness without substantially improving any other facet of the team’s weaknesses.

My guess is the Reds will add more than one radio broadcaster in the offseason. Look for a player to replace Steve Stewart. But someone else – Dan Hoard? – will be added to the TV crew when FSN goes to 145 games. There’s a chance the Reds will start mixing and matching with its radio and TV people. And why not? One of the great pairing was when Marty Brennaman and Chris Welsh used to do a couple of innings of TV together.

The way Castellini danced around the question on Steve Stewart’s replacement at “Meet the Owners” Thursday – e.g., he didn’t say it would definitely be a player – you’ve got to think Thom Brennaman is a possibility, should he want the gig, of course.

I don’t know of any reason why they’d add someone to the tv booth. If they wanted to replace Grande with Hoard I wouldn’t complain, but don’t see anything that putting a 3rd person or adding Hoard to the mix would bring. I do agree about the entertainment of Chris and Marty a few years ago on tv. They went at each other so much, many thought there were personal animosity between them, which Chris put to rest in his interview here on Redleg Nation.

I don’t see the advantage of Thom Brennaman, other than his being Marty’s son. His Fox schedule would mean having someone else fill in quite a bit of the time and his analysis wouldn’t be any different perspective than Stewart. I’d like to see an ex-player, Tom Browning has been among those mentioned. I think he could become Nuxhall-like…both the good and the bad.

My over-under on next year’s player payroll is $75 million. The additional TV money, plus an 11 percent increase in attendance, could get the Reds there. “It’s pretty common knowledge that our player payroll is going to go up,” Castellini said. He didn’t say how much, however.

The size of the payroll isn’t as important as how it’s spent. I’m not confident of Krivsky’s ability to spend the $75M (or whatever is allocated) wisely.

Locking up Aaron Harang for three or four years has to be high on Krivsky’s to-do list. Harang is making $2.3 million and is arbitration-eligible. After the year he has had – 14-11, 3.91 ERA, 216 1/3 innings – he can drive the Reds right to the bank.

I agree, though I’d push for 3 years. I don’t like 4 year deals with pitchers. Too many bad things can happen and teams with a middle of the road payroll can’t afford to have to write off big salaries because of injuries, they must invest their payroll wisely.

Homer Bailey is probably going to start the year at Triple-A. Krivsky reminded fans at the “Meet the Owners” night that there’s a level between Double-A and the majors. “Triple-A is there for a reason,” he said. But the guess is Bailey will be in the majors by mid-May. If he’s what the Reds think he can be – a No. 1 starter – he could have the biggest influence on the organization as any drafted-and-developed player since Barry Larkin.

If he doesn’t make the team out of ST, I’d bet he’s at Louisville longer than 6 weeks. The Reds haven’t shown much sign of rushing players through levels. Though they did bring Derrick Lutz and Sean Watson (2006 draftees) to Dayton after only a handful of appearances in rookie ball. If I had to bet, I’d say if he isn’t on the Opening Day roster, it’ll be close to the All Star game before Reds fans get their first look at Homer.

The Reds’ most pressing offseason need is a closer. The most intriguing free-agent closer? Eric Gagne. He was as good as anyone before his elbow problems. He said recently that he wants to return to the Dodgers and will do so at a discount. The list beyond Gagne is underwhelming, so to get a closer, the Reds may have to make a trade.

I don’t agree with any of this. I think closer is overated. I think there are bullen candidates in the minors that weren’t tapped this year before Krivsky went trade crazy overflowing the bullpen with mediocrity. And this team can’t afford to take a chance on someone like Gagne and probably have to overspend to do it. Dumb idea.

My Reds MVP? Bronson Arroyo. Rich Aurilia is a close second, followed by Aaron Harang and Brandon Phillips. The reason is simple: The Reds never would have been in the position to remain in contention as long as they did without Arroyo.

I think it’s tough to argue with the choice of Arroyo, and maybe even Aurilia as the second choice, but I would rate Dunn as high as Aurilia, and Encarnacion Ross, and Hatteburg as high as Phillips.

6 Responses

  1. Steve

    Keep Aurilia, and let him play 2B everyday. He’s the everyday MVP. Arroyo is the overall MVP, however, they’d have been nowhere this year without his superb first half.

    IMO, everyone’s expendable except Arroyo and Harang, though I’d prefer to definitely keep Phillips and Encarnacion.

    Hattie and Aurilia are superb stopgap players for the near future, so keep them around for solid play and veteran leadership unless you could get talented youth for them….uh, not gonna happen, so keep ’em.

    Marty and Welsh would be gold….uh, not gonna happen, and Browning WOULD make a nice Nuxie for the next generation. A serious maybe there? I get the impression Castellini wants an ex-player in there because Stewart sure didn’t do anything to get fired other than that unfortunate deficiency, right?

  2. RickNmd

    Chris’s love affair with Dunn is startling. And to make a comparison to Tony Perez shows he doesn’t know a thing about baseball except what he reads on a stat sheet.

    The difference in the two players: The Big Dog got THE big hit almost every time. He got his RBIs when games were tied, or when it put the Reds ahead, and his timing was impeccable.

    Dunn gets all his RBIs on home runs and doesn’t produce in the clutch, he doesn’t get the big hit, and he doesn’t show up in the big games or the big situation.

    Dunn is a major reason this team went in the tank the last two months. Perez could carry the team on his back. Dunn couldn’t carry Doggie’s bat bag.

    In a comparison of stats between the two players, proof again that stats can lie.

  3. willie

    Bill, completely concur with your analysis. Am also mystified by the “dump Dunn” mentality. Houston is bemoaning the anticipated “huge crater” in their line up created by the loss of Biggio’s regular 100 runs and 100 rbi. Apparently in “Nati” not such a big deal. They need to replace Kearns’ numbers in the OF, not lose more. I have also been following the Reds since the early 60’s and have seen the team make some really illogical moves, (ie: trading Robinson, Perez, O’Neill, Kearns). Also think Aurilia has earned the start at 2nd for next year.

  4. Cary

    Dunn could start by quitting cigarettes

  5. willie

    In what parallel universe does it make sense to pinch hit Clayton for Hatteburg? Oh yeah.. planet Narron.