Several more items worthy of a read on this wonderful Thursday morning…the night after a Reds win!

–My youngest starts kindergarten today. I can’t believe it.

–I hate to bring this up after the Reds just won a game, finally, but Justin and Red Hot Mama each have displayed the Reds’ futility graphically. Great stuff.

–So Bob Castellini has given our manager the dreaded vote of confidence (along with other delusional comments):

Reds president and chief executive officer Bob Castellini said that manager Dusty Baker’s job is “absolutely” safe for the rest of the year, and that Baker will return for 2010. That’s the final year of Baker’s contract.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Dusty Baker will manage the Reds in 2010 and Willy Taveras will be his starting CF and leadoff hitter. Just go ahead and prepare yourself for it.

–Micah Owings is almost ready to return. Of course, if Justin Lehr can pitch like he did last night, the Reds should move Owings to left field.

–The Reds have dispelled rumors of moving Brandon Phillips to shortstop, but BP said that he is willing. It would be one of the smartest moves the Reds could make in the off-season. BP would immediately become more valuable.

CSG needs some help.

Great news! Pete Rose is now eligible for the Hall.

–New poll up in the left sidebar. Tell us what you think about the Rolen trade, almost a week later.

UPDATE: A couple more posts were mentioned in the comments below, and both deserve linking here.

–Over at the always-entertaining Hardball Times, a BoSox blogger attempts to defend the Scott Rolen trade. His entire argument, however, rests on the premise that the Reds can compete in 2010, and I just can’t see how that’s going to happen. Walt Jocketty knows more about baseball than I do, though.

Red Hot Mama on Bob Castellini, Dusty Baker, and more.

43 Responses

  1. Steve Price

    I feel obligated (hopeful?) to remind all that Cubs’ GM Hendry is Baker’s old Chicago Cub boss. Hendry and Baker as the, ahem, team, I mean guys mentioned in Rob Neyer’s “Big Book of Baseball Blunders” with the blunder being Hendry’s hiring of Baker to manage the Cubs.

  2. rpa

    BP will immediately become more valuable… IF HE CAN PLAY SS.

    do we have any real evidence of that? if seems like he made a lot of errors at ss in the minors, although i am not sure what errors really tell us. i assume the indians moved him to 2b for a reason. those reasons may have been named vizquel and peralta, though, especially given the fact that phillips didn’t hit very well for the indians.

    bp has also, theoretically, learned something since he played in the minors. hopefully he’s a better fielder now.

    i don’t think it’s a bad idea to try, but… well, i want to see him play there some maybe next spring before i bank on him being able to handle it.

    watching him play 2b, my fear is that he would be inconsistent throwing the ball from ss… but maybe he does all that crazy crap on his throws from 2b because he knows he can get away with it there and he’d handle ss differently.

  3. nick in va

    School is starting already? Wow. Where has the summer gone?

  4. Sultan of Swaff

    Here’s my two lineups I’d run out there the rest of the season that achieves four goals. One, it allows us to get a look at Stubbs, Frazier, and Balentein. Two, we get a look at Phillips and Votto at other positions in anticipation of having to accomodate Alonso, Frazier, or Valaika in the near future. It also assumes there is no money to spend to fill the holes we currently have. Three, it would ease Bruce back into the lineup and protect him (and us) from watching him try to hit lefties. Four, it gives you the best chance of winning, Taveras and Gonzalez wouldn’t play, and Hernandez wouldn’t take away all of Hanigan’s starts behind the plate.

    Vs. Righties
    Dickerson CF
    Hanigan C
    Votto LF
    Rolen 3B
    Bruce RF
    Phillips SS
    Hernandez 1B
    Frazier 2B

    Vs. Lefties
    Stubbs CF
    Hanigan C
    Votto 1B
    Rolen 3B
    Gomes LF
    Phillips 2B
    Balentein RF
    Janish SS

    At the same time, I’ll sit and wait for that Nigerian prince to wire me the money I inherited.

  5. Glenn

    I’ve always said that WJ bears the greatest responsibility for this year’s disaster, but darn doesn’t anything ever stick to Dusty? He’s the teflon manager.

  6. GregD

    I would guess that Frazier’s ability to handle 2B increases the probability of Phillips getting traded more than it increases his chances of moving to SS.

  7. Y-City Jim

    I’m currently in the Easton Apple Store in Columbus, OH. You should see the Redleg Nation web site on a 30-inch display. Wow!!!!

    Are there any old scouting reports on Phillips’ play at SS when he was with the Expos and Indians systems? You would think a good SS doesn’t get moved to 2B, and certainly not bumped by a Johnny Peralta.

    Also if Phillips were to move to SS then who is projected to play 2B next year? Certainly not Frazier, who is still at AA.

  8. shane

    The Reds have dispelled rumors of moving Brandon Phillips to shortstop
    so that means he’ll be there within a week or so?

  9. GregD

    Part of his defense is a little fuzzy on the math side, IMO.

    Rolen’s $11 million contract next year doesn’t look all that bad: subtract $4.75 million from that deal and guess that the Jays sent over $2 million, and Rolen costs $4.25 million, less than what Encarnacion makes.

    His contract would be $9 million if the Jays are paying $2M. That would make his contract $4.25M more than EdE. Why does he note that the increase in salary is less than what EdE makes?

  10. Dan

    He screwed up the numbers. It is a less-than-compelling argument in my eyes.

    In the comments he later says that yes, he meant only $4.25M MORE than Edwin.

    He also lists like 4 top-tier free agents that we can sign to plug holes in LF, SS, and in the rotation and says “you’re telling me this isn’t a team that could compete”?

    The whole thing holds no water in my eyes.

  11. GregD

    When they first thought Phillips was ready to come up, the Indians had Omar Vizquel at SS. That’s why Phillips started at 2B in Cleveland (2003.) When he didn’t hit they sent him back to the minors the next season.

    At the same time they sent Phillips down to AAA, they had Peralta coming up to AAA. They split time at SS in 2004. When Phillips played SS, Peralta played 3B. When Peralta played SS, Phillips played 2B.

    Peralta outhit Phillips in AAA that year, and made less errors at SS. In 2005, Peralta was the everyday SS in Cleveland and Phillips was back to SS every day in AAA.

    When Phillips came to Cincinnati in 2006, they had Felipe Lopez at SS. (now playing 2B and probably should have been shifted to 2B in 2006)

  12. jason1972

    If Stubbs and Frazier are major league ready at CF and 2B, and we sign any competent RH power bat for LF then I think this team can compete next year. Assuming we maintain Arroyo and Harang and find a serviceable 4 and 5 starter from amongst Bailey, Owings, Maloney, Thompson, and Lehr.

    All of that is predicated on Management’s willingness to admit that Taveras is a failure, move Phillips to SS and pony up enough salary to get a legit slugger in LF.

    The franchise’s fate is completely in the hands of its management. This team could be good next year.

  13. Sultan of Swaff

    The wrapup of that Hardball Times article—“the NL Central next year is up for grabs, and the Reds just positioned themselves as a viable candidate to win the division next year.”
    BWAAAHAAHAAHAAAAAA!!!!

    On a serious note, who is in-house or available in trade that would be an upgrade over Phillips at SS, even if he is just average there? He’s your best option, period.

  14. Steve Price

    Greg,

    I was going to comment on the magic math, too. Hardball Times is usually pretty good, but it appears they double dipped on the salary, or they were also subtracting the $4 million paid by the Cardinals–if so, the Rolen figure starts at $15 mil, not $11 mil.

    Also…the entire premise is built on contending next season, which is much more of a dilemma missing Volquez, whom I think will be gone all of next season. Today’s typical estimates are 9-12 months; the Reds came right out and said 12 months so, “reading between the lines,” it would seem the Reds are thinking longer than typical recovery.

    And, missing is future returns on the relievers, and I’ve posted several trade reviews lately discussing these kinds of pitchers that are dealt.

    Many Reds posters complain about the lack of Reds home grown pitchers…here’s the reason. We seem to deal our best ones, rather than our questionable ones with high ceilings.

    B.J. Ryan is another prospect we dealt a few years ago.

    The Rolen deal, if we’re a contender, is a logical trade. From a rebuilding standpoint, it’s rubbish.

    Frankly, the more I think about the trade, it’s more of a deal a bad team makes for markeitng sakes than a trade that a good team makes…good teams don’t reinforce defense at third base to win, they look for an over the top closer, starting pitcher, or slugger to take them to the next level.

    I think The Hardball Times wrote this for marketing purposes, too, to get people (like me)to read it.

  15. Dan

    I think it’s just a poorly-thought-out article by one of their lesser writers, trying to take a contrary position.

  16. Steve Price

    I think it’s pretty obvious the Reds don’t have faith in Maloney or he would have been back up here already. They want to trade him.

    I believe Thompson is done, or would be a lucky candidate…he had an injury history when acquired, and injuries have returned. when he did pitch in the majors last year, he was rocked, and he was hit hard before being shut down this year.

    He’s off the prospect list; now he’s a prayer.

    Rebuilding teams don’t win with old shorstops, and Phillips will be 29 next year. I looked up last year’s starting shortstops a few months ago, and the average age was 29.

    In the book “Winners” by Dayn Perry, he tallied up the average ages of “old teams’ that were winners (like the 1983 Phillies). His studies over the past 50 years showed that “older” teams actually do win more championships than younger teams. However, even on the old teams, the shortstop was the youngest player, followed by centerfield and second base. Inexperienced catchers usually don’t win either (Johnny Bench excepted).

    So, moving Phillips next year is a short-term move. I think it’s the best move, and I think it could happen, and I think Frazier could actually play 2b next year. Remember, hitting prospects normally jump from AA; pitching prospects move rung by rung.

    But, moving Phillips to shortstop, in my opinion, is not the future…other than to make him more valuable to trade for a young shortstop.

  17. Matt WI

    So, if Dusty has the “vote of confidence,” what kind of standards are set for his performance in the final year of the contract? It’s not too often a manager goes into “lame duck” status without any talks of an extension (I shudder at the thought of that possibility for Dusty, even as I type). I’m just thinking of Bob C. loves Dusty, why wouldn’t he extend him… if no extension, what will determine Dusty is worthy of keeping the job? I’m sure my thoughts and what Reds front office thinks are quite different.

  18. Matt Steele

    again I think I said this on the game thread but it’s hard for me to believe anyone in any sport ever saying that a guy is “safe”

    Too often you hear that a guy is “safe” and he ends up getting fired… or even vice versa. So while I think Dusty will be the manager next year, I won’t believe it until Opening Day

  19. Matt WI

    A question… as people advocate for BP to move to shortstop, how does his value necessarily increase? I understand his offense would rank higher amongst SS than 2B. So is it that moving him to SS allows the Reds to bring in someone with more offensive firepower at 2b?

    In my mind, if Brandon moves to SS, whoever replaces him at 2b is the de facto replacement for Alex Gonzelez. BP’s offense is a constant for the team independent of his position. So we’re saying the Reds are more likely to get a better overall offense by getting a new 2b than a SS (that any replacement at 2b will likely out produce any other SS the Reds could pick up)?

    If another team wants BP as a SS, I don’t necessarily see that he has to play SS in Cincy to be a valuable trade commodity… the other team makes the trade and moves him over, regardless of where he played in Cincy.

  20. Chad Dotson

    again I think I said this on the game thread but it’s hard for me to believe anyone in any sport ever saying that a guy is “safe”

    Too often you hear that a guy is “safe” and he ends up getting fired… or even vice versa. So while I think Dusty will be the manager next year, I won’t believe it until Opening Day

    That’s why I called it the “dreaded vote of confidence.” How often have we seen management issue that vote of confidence, only to have that guy fired shortly thereafter? It seems to happen a lot.

    That said, I firmly believe that Dusty will be back. Of course, I thought that before Castellini came out and said anything.

    I just think management believes that Dusty has done a good job, and that the Reds would have won if not for injuries. Silly, yes, but that’s what I believe they think.

  21. Dan

    Good question, Matt, and I think you mostly answered it yourself in there.

    It’s just tougher to play a good SS than it is to play a good 2B (I guess b/c the throw is much longer so it takes just as much range plus a much better arm than 2B requires). More players can play a passable 2B than a passable SS.

    Since a passable SS is more scarce than a passable 2B, it’s more valuable.

    And since more guys can handle 2B than SS, you’ve got more options there, and are more likely to find a decent bat.

    Frazier, Rosales, Sutton, maybe Valaika, Gordon Beckham of the White Sox — these are all guys that I’ve heard could probably stick at 2B or 3B but just aren’t quite good enough at SS.

    Basically, if our hole we’re trying to fill is at 2B instead of at SS, we can consider far more guys, and we’ll be more likely to find one who can actually hit too.

  22. Dan

    If we leave Phillips at 2B, I really fear that we’ll do something like stick w/ our “all defense all the time, screw the offense” plan and sign Adam Everett (.246/.298/.352 career) to play SS.

    I can see that all too clearly now. And he’d probably bat 2nd too b/c he “gives you a professional at bat” and “knows how to handle the bat” and “puts the ball in play.” oy…

    I bet we’d give him 2 years too… OY!!!

  23. Matt WI

    Gracias, Dan… just trying to make sure I understand why it could be good before I advocate one way or the other.

  24. Dan

    Oh, I just thought of a bass-ackwards way to look at it too…

    Phillips is a great fielder at 2B, and 1B is MUCH easier to play, so I bet he’d be a fantastic fielder there.

    But he’s still hit his usual thing — .260/.320/.450 or whatever — and that SUCKS at 1B.

    1B is so easy to play that you can put big burly sluggers there like Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn, Jim Thome, Mark McGwire, etc.

    As a result, the average hitting you get out of the 1B position is really really good. A good team HAS to have a good hitter at 1B.

    So it’s all a sliding scale, sort of…

    Assuming they’re a passably good fielder…

    .260/.320/.450 is not bad at SS – probably a smidge better than average.

    .260/.320/.450 is probably about average at 2B.

    .260/.320/.450 would SUCK ROCKS at 1B.

    Even though it’s really all the same guy we’re talking about.

  25. Dan

    This is also why Chris Dickerson is an offensive asset in CF, but below average if in RF or LF… even putting up the exact same numbers. You need to get some slugging out of RF and LF.

    OK, I’ll shut up now… 😉

  26. Matt WI

    Still… whether you move BP or you don’t, it’s really all dependent on who you are signing or bringing up. It’s more accurate to say Phillips is more valuable at SS if and only if whoever replaces him at 2b is capable of strong offensive production. We sign some free swinging, Alex Gonzelez-esque guy (which is actually probably hard to find) and then we have an above average average SS (with concerns about his defensive range) and another crappy hitter in the line-up at 2b. The net gain for the TEAM is zero even if Phillips’ stats look good at SS. I guess the reason I’m harping on this is because I don’t necessarily trust that this organization brings in the right guy to replace BP at 2b or maybe signs some lesser quality SS.

  27. Travis G.

    I just think management believes that Dusty has done a good job, and that the Reds would have won if not for injuries.

    I don’t think Dusty’s done a great job allocating his resources, but the Reds have lost two of their best everyday players for extended periods of time this season.

    They went 8-13 while Votto dealt with anxiety problems and they’ve skidded to an 4-17 record while Bruce has been out. (Dickerson’s DL stint overlaps with Bruce’s, but for the record they’re 2-8 without him.) I didn’t do the math for Volquez, because it’s harder to determine how often he might have helped the team, but he is arguably their best pitcher and they’ve missed him.

    The Reds have a 12-30 record while missing Votto or Bruce and a 31-34 record with both available. Not a winning record, of course, but significantly better.

  28. Dan

    Yeah, I suppose you’re right, Matt. If the Reds go through the trouble to move Brandon to SS, and then they go out and sign Adam Everett and say “How do you feel about 2B?”, they’ve flushed their advantage away. Good point.

    I’m *trying* to take the optimistic view there… 😉

  29. Travis G.

    FYI: “The Nationals acquired former major leaguers Daryle Ward and Norris Hopper from the White Sox today, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com. The players go from Chicago’s Triple A team to Washington’s.”

  30. Matt WI

    Dan..I appreciate your comments, and I’m happy to climb on board the “move Phillips” bandwagon. As long as we’re trying to be optimistic… who couldn’t out hit Alex Gonzalez right now? By definition a change is likely to be an improvement. Now, what to do with that Willy Taveras guy….

  31. Matt WI

    Re #33… Memo to the Washington Nationals: Please stop taking castoffs from the Cincinnati Reds organization. It isn’t working. It won’t work. It will never work. Talk about “toxic assets.”

  32. Dan

    Amazingly, the Nats also have Rob Dibble as the color guy on TV (kind of entertaining in his own way), and a white-haired Ray Knight on the post-game show.

  33. JerBear

    I think it’s questionable whether Phillips moving to SS makes him more valuable. Not saying it doesn’t but it’s kind of an unkown. I question whether he’d actually be good defensively there. For years now he is use to making that short throw from second base, and kind of lollygagging it at times. He’d kind of have to change his demeanor and attitude a bit at SS.

    He’s very talented so he is certainly capable, but I just think it’s still a bit of an unknown. I think he’d be a lot more valuable if the Reds had a better offense and you could bat him like 6th in the lineup. I think he’d catch more people’s eyes with the numbers he puts up if he weren’t a cleanup hitter.

    And on Owings…I don’t know man! When I see him hit I see him as a guy who couldn’t handle Major League pitching on a daily basis. He looks like a pitcher that’s a good hitter more then a natural hitter. But who knows. That’d be a bold change. I think Ankiel was more naturally gifted, and I think even he is struggling at the plate.

  34. Dan

    Well you’re right, of course, JerBear (may I call you “JerBear”?) — we don’t know how Phillips would be at SS. None of us do. Neither does Dusty, or Walt, or even Brandon himself. He hasn’t played there since the minors.

    The argument some of us are making (or at least I am) is that you might as well try it for these last 50-plus games and find out.

    The season’s already lost. If the Phillips at SS experiment works out well, then great — then our hole is at 2B for next year and that is MUCH easier to fill than SS.

    If it doesn’t work, eh, no harm. Now we know and morons like us can stop debating it on blogs. Then our hole is still at SS so we’re right where we are now anyway — just with more information.

  35. shane

    JerBear: thats kinda the same thing I said in another thread, plus, Phillips gets to a lot of balls, yeah, but lately I’ve been noticing that he has thrown a lot of guys out by a VERY close margin lately. It’s gonna take that ball a couple of seconds longer to get to first from the shortstop position than it does from second, is he going to be as effective from there?

  36. Dan

    I don’t know if he’d be as effective at SS, shane. My point is, why not try it and find out?

    If it works out, I think we’re better off.

  37. Matt WI

    I agree with Dan’s logic here. In a lost season, moving BP is worth a go… as he said, if nothing else it gives information to what is right now just speculation. The other day someone posted in a thread here at Redleg Nation about the various defensive moves the Rockies made after they changed managers and how much more they’ve been winning since. It blew my mind. I realize in this case BP is moving from a position of strength to an unknown, but I’m thinking it allows the Reds to try out the same kind of thing that Colorado did except from an offensive point of view. Free up some positions to really see where we can add some much needed pop to the offense. If he’s really, really terrible at short, you cancel the experiment.

  38. David

    This may be a bit to conspiracy theory, but at 2B Phillips’ market value is lower than if the Reds played him at SS. If the Reds were to offer an extension as a 2B you would expect that it would be lower than SS. If AFTER the extension is made Phillips is moved to SS, then all of a sudden you have a steal at SS locked up through his prime. It’s just a thought.

  39. shane

    Unless the repeated longer throw and trying to put more on it each time hurts his arm and we dont have him for 2nd base OR shortstop…. Believe me, I’d like to see him at shortstop too if it works out, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here

  40. Chris Garber

    I read the Sheldon article. The thing that struck me was his referring to Juan Francisco and Zach Cowart as “elite prospects.”

    Yes, he did.