So long, Ryan Freel. It’s been fun having you around. I’m sure Cincinnati is going to miss Freel, since he’s the prototypical Rose/Sabo hustler-type.

My thoughts on yesterday’s trade run along the same lines as a comment made by Bill on yesterday’s post:

I don’t care about losing Freel, he’s often injured and reckless anyway. A replacement for him is easy to find.

My concerns are that there is much talk about strengthening the defense up the middle. This doesn’t do it. Hanigan is the back up, they aren’t going to pay Hernandez $8M to sit. But that still isn’t my main problem with the deal… (snip)

If it had been Freel for Hernandez even up, I’d have no problem with it. But to give up a player at the weakest position on the team, take on salary, give up two pretty decent prospects for a catcher that needs a “change of scenery” because he supposedly gave zero effort last year, who plays bad defense, is coming off a bad offensive year, and is 33?

Seems like short term thinking to me and doesn’t improve THIS YEAR’s team that much.

Indeed.

Anyway, it seems like the Reds blogosphere isn’t ecstatic about the trade. Reactions:

–Red Hot Mama was in such a rage that she podcasted her thoughts.

Dunn and Dunner: “As for Ramon Hernandez. It’s safe to say I’m about as down as I could be on this guy. All reports on him say that he is lazy, and a bit of a mental case.”

Chris Sabo’s Goggles: “I really don’t know what to think about this trade, so rather than take the time to collect my thoughts and post something sensible, I’ll respond impulsively and type whatever comes to mind, with total disregard for the facts.”

Church of Baseball: “I sure hope Walt knows what he’s doing.”

Red Reporter: “All of this is to say once again that I don’t mind Hernandez as a backup catcher, but I fear that is not how he will be used.”

–Doug Gray, as usual, being the sensible one among us, analyzes the prospects that the Reds traded to the O’s.

Blue Collar Baseball: “Taking emotion out of the equation, I like the deal.”

Diamond Hoggers: “We liked Freel because he was a lot like you and I. He was a spark plug. It was a feel good story of a guy who just grinded his way to fame and a spot on a big league roster.”

33 Responses

  1. Deaner

    You’re right, I’m kinda ho-hum on the situation. I know the Reds need a catcher that can help the pitching staff, however, how much help is he going to be if he only throws out 19.5 percent of runners attempting to steal. That would certainly get a young pitchers upset.

  2. Mark in CC

    Good trade and not as big a gamble for Reds as the Orioles. They aquired a $4 million dollar injured utility man. With Freel’s injury there is no guarantee that he can be the same overachiever he was when he could play for the Reds.

    If Hernandez is the same as last year it will be an improvement for the Reds and he has the motivation of pending free agency to get him back to All Star form. If he performs, the Reds will pick-up his option for 2010. If not he is a free agent and will not get the contract he is looking for.

    My biggest disappointment is the loss of Turner. He is going to be a baseball player.

  3. GregD

    Defense for catchers who caught at least 100 games last year. There were 21 such players:

    CS% – Hernandez was 3rd from the bottom at 19.5%
    Not only is the percentage bad, but he was run on more than any other catcher with 123 attempts.
    PB – worst with 10 PB
    FPct – 4th from the bottom at .988

    I’m not sure how they are selling this guy as a good defensive catcher. Baker says something about the guys he caught in Oakland. Well, Victor Martinez caught Sabathia in Cleveland, but that doesn’t automatically make him a good defensive catcher.

    With a below average offense out of Hernandez the past couple of years, I’m not seeing how this helps the club next year.

  4. Travis G.

    Catchers are a whole lot harder to find than old, injured and expensive backup outfielders and dime-a-dozen infield prospects.

    A lot of Freel’s value has come from his hustle and speed, but the dude’s 33 years old and coming off a torn hamstring. His ability to get on base has been compromised, and he won’t be able to cause as much trouble once there, and his defense was always shaky, despite some occasionally amazing plays. Hernandez isn’t great, but he’s a ML-quality backstop who didn’t cost a young arm and won’t add much to the payroll.

    Turner seems likely to contribute to a big-league team someday, but he has late-season WLW fan favorite written all over him. Trading him now only spares us the aggravation of hearing dumbasses trying to ride Phillips out on a rail because some scrappy 27-year-old rookie hit .300 in September.

  5. Bill

    Can we ride Phillips because he’s over-valued and over-paid? smiley removed by software…

  6. David

    Was Freel still on the Reds? I guess I didn’t realize that since he only saw the field once in the last six month. As far as I’m concerned, you can leave Freel out of the conversation. Freel was included because of his bloated salary. The O’s will be happy to get 100 ABs from Freel.

    Essentially, the Reds traded Waring and Turner for Hernandez. That’s not a bad deal. The Reds have EdE and Phillips who are both under 27 and under team control for quite awhile. There are also better infield prospects.

    Compared to the Laird deal this seems justifiable. It’s a one year solution but doesn’t cost the Reds much because of the 3 million the O’s are shipping to the Reds.

  7. David

    Bill – How is Phillips, a 30-30 gold glove second baseman overpaid when he’ll be set to earn slightly more than Ryan Freel this year? Phillips contract looks like this by the way: 2009: $4.75 million, 2010: $6.75 million, 2011: $11 million, 2012: $12 million club option w/$1 million buyout, 2013

    Not only does that salary seem in line with his peers, “overpaid” is a nonsensical phrase in professional sports. If the Reds’ payroll is in the 80-90 mil range it’s just fine considering his defensive production.

    It seems like everyone here always has a complaint. I would like to know, of the trades where the other team didn’t get absolutely fleeced, has anyone on this board liked a trade made in the past 10 years? Heck, people were up in arms about the Hamilton/Volquez trade and despite that, nobody seemed to own up and eat the crow they deserved.

  8. David

    See also the Kearns/Lopez deal where Kearns and Lopez have been absolutely awful and Thompson and Bray look incredibly promising.

  9. Y-City Jim

    I guess I wouldn’t be so bothered by the trade if Hernandez didn’t make $8 million a year. That eats into the Reds budget for other investments. More importantly, I fear it will keep management from making an objective decision about who the starting catcher will be. Does anyone believe Hanigan has any shot of being the everyday catcher now even if he has the spring of all springs?

  10. rob in stl

    On one of these forums I initially posted that I liked the deal. After I thought about it I’m lukewarm at best. Not becauce of what we gave up but what we got in return. Jocketty’s reports said Hernandez went through the motions last season, and he still made the trade. We know what that means. Baker told Jocketty, “…don’t worry, he’ll play for me”. We shall see.

    Turner might turn into a decent regular, but Waring won’t see the bigs until the 2011 season if it all. He still has a lot to prove as he moves up the ladder. Remember Kevin Howard from a couple years back? Hit well in AA and then raked about .400 in the AFL. Went to the Yankees in the Womack deal and was never heard from again. Most of these so called mid-level prospects never even get a cup of coffee.

  11. james

    This is a solid trade. The reds didn’t give up a single pitcher and were able to get a veteran catcher not named bako. The tigers gave up two pitchers, one that could help this year in bullpen and the other a 17 year old with high upside, the reds gave up a injured back-up outfielder making way too much money and 2 infielder prospects that aren’t high on anyone’s prospect list.

    I know that money Hernandez makes will make him the primary catcher. I just hope the split is a little more like 100/62 hernandez/hannigan. I think both can be productive and the reds have to think hannigan is the future regardless of the veteran.

  12. Sultan of Swaff

    He’ll only make $5mil cuz the O’s ate $3mil. This deal is way more palatable now. Good move, Walt. Now go get Beltre.

  13. David

    Sultan – that’s my point and I feel like I’m yelling at a brick wall. The Reds have just a one million increase in the existing payroll as a result of the deal.

  14. GRF

    Those defensive stats give me a lot of pause. The O’s eating 3 million makes me feel better, but unless you expect a big bounce between the league change and some renewed focus, I do not see how this makes us any better.

  15. Y-City Jim

    I thought Baltimore was only eating $1 million. If they ate $3 million they sure must have wanted rid of him.

  16. Jose

    Ok
    first off
    Hernandez is gonna be the best catcher we have had sine probably Johnny Bench
    Because honestly we have had nothing but garbage behind the plate!
    we had Fifi Lapew
    and Javy Lose some weight Valentin
    and David Wannabe Ross

    Hernandez is a former All-Star
    he has been mistreated by the O’s
    and needs some confidence back
    i believe it was 06 he had his last GREAT year
    but correct me if im wrong.
    But all catchers have bad years here and there
    look at Pudge
    and Victor Martinez
    you never have the same catchers being the best every year
    like this year was Russell Martin and Soto!
    well the year before it was Martinez and Pudge
    it changes all the time!
    you never have the same guys ranked number 1
    Barret used to be the best
    not anymore
    so basically you gotta get what you can get
    and hope for the upside.
    Hernandez is a step up from what we have had
    he has pop in his bat
    having him hit low in the lineup is pretty good
    and he didn’t have that bad of a year last year
    his second half was pretty good.
    and he hits a whole 30 points higher than bako
    so i think we need to suck it up and get over it and move on.
    Waring was an up and coming prospect yeah ill miss him
    but we have Frazier
    and idk much about Turner
    but as someone else said we didn’t give up one pitcher
    and we got rid of another head case named Farney!
    Freel hustled but he was always hurt.

    so therefore get over it and at least we dont have garbage like Ross, Valentin and Bako of Larue playing

  17. Cary

    I’m not real confident in trading for a guy who, for whatever reason, was noticably not giving his best effort to an employer that was paying him at a premium rate. Of course, the Reds arrogantly think that their environment is so desirable that Ramon will give his best effort, especially when he finds out that the Reds are not worth giving his all to as well?

    I’ve said for awhile that the O’s are a picture of what the Reds’ organization would look like if they had money. Deals like this are even more evidence, with the blind leading the blind as they both fall into a ditch.

    However, the optimistic side of the deal for 2009 is that Freel was useless at $4M, the prospects are fringe at best, and the $3M out of pocket for Hernandez is a relatively cheap flyer for an experienced catcher, especially when your current best option is Ryan Hanigan. I like Hanigan in a potential two-headed situation, but I think as an everyday, his weak stick would be a liability that is not overcome by his plus defense. I could see 450 PAs from Hernandez and 250 from Hanigan, or 400/300, being a viable platoon at the position.

    My biggest concern though is if Hernandez can throw out runners if he is the every day guy. Anyone have any insight on his career throwing numbers to consider if part of his problem may have been the pitchers ability to hold runners?

  18. GregD

    “He’ll only make $5mil cuz the O’s ate $3mil.”

    Plus either $8.5M in 2010 or a $1M buyout.

  19. Cary

    I’ve only seen $1M published as coming the Reds way. If they got $3M, then it is a fair attempt to fill a glaring hole with a useless asset and a few spare parts, with only $1M in future liability if it doesn’t work out.

  20. Dale

    It’s a $1 million flyer on a former all-star catcher hoping a change of leagues and scenery sparks him. Come on, Freel was paid too much for what he offers the team, and the 3 mil back make this a good gamble. Who did you want behind plate, and don’t toss out some bogus trade like freel, bailey and whoever for Russell Martin. The catchers position is thin in the league right now, and this leaves the club with the financial room to get a good outfielder. Walt is great at getting teams to eat some money to make a move, so give it time and watch how this plays out. overall, keep this in mind, this club in the past has thrown 5-7 milliion out a year taking flyers on junk pitchers, Josh Fogg, Joe Mays, ect.. at least Walts taking a flyer on a guy who was an all-star, and was a battery mate to some cy-young hurlers. As for the minor leaguers involved, at some point ML talent trumps the potential for ML talent. Just my take, would i rather have Martin, sure, but i’d also like to have a Alex Rios and Furcal. Solid move that allows for a better move where needed.

  21. Dale

    As for the effort and attitude, i agree to some degree, but players today are just that way. Manny Ramirez falls into the same catagory.

  22. Y-City Jim

    I don’t object to the deal because of Freel and the others involved. It just seems like a nothing deal that added payroll and ties the Reds hands in regards to who will play catcher. Hernandez is the starting catcher regardless of what Hanigan might do in spring training. Hernandez could bat .100 all spring and Hanigan could hit .500, it won’t matter. Dusty will play Hernandez.

  23. David

    Love the idea of Rios. Just sayin’.

  24. Jose

    i would give my dead great great- grandfathers left foot for rios

  25. Y-City Jim

    I think the Reds should pursue Bobby Abreu.

  26. Jose

    i would give my dead great great- grandfathers right foot for Abreu

    heck i would give u his whole body for them both

  27. David

    Abreu is a lefty and would cost the Reds their second round pick. He doesn’t fit “the plan”

    If the Reds want a RH bat to go in between Votto and Bruce, and that guy isn’t already on the roster, then the Reds HAVE to go after that player via trade because the FA market is slim (Manny, Burrell, Bradley). Each of those guys has serious problems. Manny wants a long term deal. Burrell is a poor man’s RH Dunn. Bradely’s is more of a DH at this point.

    The best trade options are going to cost more than Bailey, Owings (or Thompson) Stubbs and Frazier (or Francisco). That’s a helluva lot to give up, but may be worth while if we can get back a guy under team control through his prime like Alex Rios or Matt Kemp.

    I through out a crazy idea which would have been Jason Giambi at 1B and Votto to LF. Giambi is likely going to sign with the A’s and DH (he probably shouldn’t field anyway).

  28. Mike Martz

    I can’t get past the emotional letdown of losing Freel!
    He was well worth the ticket price to see him throw himself on the ground chasing a fly ball.
    He had heart! This team needs heart!
    Do the REDS have anyone else on the roster who can spark them like Ryan did?
    I guess the REDS will get shut out of the plays of the day this season.

    I sure hope they win or there will be no use in watching the REDS this season.

    I think the sky is falling! 🙁

  29. Shane

    “Krivsky hired by Orioles as MacPhail aide”

    coincidence?

  30. Jose

    Maybe
    or the Orioles are as dumb as people say

  31. GregD

    Abreu was not offered arbitration, so he wouldn’t cost any team a draft pick to sign.

  32. Y-City Jim

    Correct, Greg. Plus seeing how poorly the Reds did against RHed pitching (that’s correct, RHed pitching not LHed pitching) last year I think the “plan” should be to sign a big LHed bat. BTW, the Reds were 44-63 against righties and 30-25 against lefties. Sort of destroys the false perception that the Reds could hit lefties.

  33. pinson343

    I’ve given the trade a thumbs up. largely because I don’t think Freel and Farney have much left. (Well, Farney might, but remember he can’t play on his own.) But I have a lot of great memories of his spectacular catches at multiple positions, some of which saved games. And there was a game he won from the Dodgers by stealing second, stealing third, and coming home on a ground ball.
    Of course, there was also the time he made a diving headfirst leap into the right field stands in LA and nearly killed an old lady, but that’s Freel/Farney. And I remember last year with Griffey in right and Freel in center, how afraid Junior was to venture into right center, afraid that a human projectile would kill him. Now it seems funny, not so much at the time, with all those catchable flies dropping in.

    Anyway, all the best to Freel/Farney, I won’t mind if he proves me wrong and has some great moments in Baltimore.