I just wanna ramble a bit about recent events. Is that alright?

The last few weeks have been more interesting, from a Reds hot stove perspective, than we’ve seen in years. Do I agree with every move Walt Jocketty has made? No. Do I think the Reds are better now than they were a few weeks ago? Yeah, probably. That’s a good thing.

The Aroldis Chapman signing was a slam dunk. Sure, some of you thought it was way too much money to spend on an unproven commodity, and I can see that argument. I don’t agree, but I understand. I think it was a spectacularly good idea, the type of acquisition that the Reds must look to make going forward.

The current management is positioning this organization as an attractive destination for Latin American players, and I think that’s a fantastic development. From a pitching coach who speaks Spanish, to a roving instructor named Mario Soto, to the likes of Volquez, Cueto, and CoCo…it’s a very inviting environment for young Spanish-speakers who aren’t subject to the draft. Focusing on these players is a fine way for the Reds to help close the gap.

So: Chapman = good. Got it?

I was pretty vocal about my wish that Walt Jocketty avoid signing Orlando Cabrera. I had my reasons, which you can read at the links provided, but Cabrera is now the starting shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.

It’s true: Jocketty doesn’t listen to my usually ill-informed opinions. Yes, I’m very sad about this development.

So, Cabrera is here now, and the analysis is different. Chances are excellent that he’ll be a better Red than his brother ever was. Whether he’ll help the Reds in 2009 2010 is an open question. I don’t think Cabrera will hurt the team much, if at all. He may be marginally worse than Paul Janish would’ve been overall (thanks to Janish’s tremendous defense). Frankly, though, he may be marginally better.

I never like the idea of signing a 35-year-old shortstop, especially one who played pretty poorly last year. There is some outside shot that he’ll regain the fountain of youth and play like he did a few years ago. That’s not likely, and committing several million to that hope seems like a foolish game to play, but let’s face it: Janish stinks too. We’re just talking about different shades of suckitude. Neither guy is going to be the guy to lead the Reds to the next level.

All this gnashing of teeth over two bad shortstops, Orlando Cabrera and Paul Janish, makes me think one thing: I really miss Barry Larkin.

At this point, Janish probably goes to AAA or to the far end of the bench, away from where Dusty is chewing on his toothpick. If he’s on the major league roster to start the year, Baker will take him out of storage, dust him off, and let him play 3 or 4 innings a week, maybe. Most of the backup infield innings will likely be chewed up by Drew Sutton and …

…Aaron Miles. Did you hear that the Reds acquired Aaron Miles? Yeah, the Reds traded Willy Taveras, and everyone seems to be pretty pleased with that move. I can’t imagine why.

Getting rid of Taveras is big. As long as he was on the roster, there was always the chance that Dusty would play him more than he deserved (see Perez, Neifi), so taking him out of the mix improves the Reds immediately. As much as I’d like to compliment Jocketty on finding a taker for Wee Willy, I can’t just forget that Jocketty is the guy who signed Taveras to an absurd two-year contract in the first place, when no one else wanted the guy.

Most people seem happy to have sent Adam Rosales off to Oakland, as well, but I’m not in that camp. Rosie was bad last year, true. But the guy was a good hitter in the minors and I think chances are excellent that he’ll be a very good backup infielder for the next 3-4 years.

As for Aaron Miles, well, he’s not good. That’s just a fact, I’m afraid, but I don’t mind having him around for a few reasons. Number one, he’s a backup infielder who can play a lot of spots (including pitcher, where he’s better than Janish). Like Jerry Hairston, Jr., before him, there is value in a guy like that. The Nation’s objection to Hairston was that Dusty Baker wanted to play him too much, and he gets exposed if used like a starter. Miles is similar. As a fill-in around the diamond (even in the outfield), he can help a team with his versatility, even if his on-base skills are nonexistent.

Which leads us to the next reason I don’t mind having Miles around. Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I don’t see Baker being as tempted to use him every day as he was with Taveras. I hope that’s true.

Perhaps the biggest reason I don’t mind having Miles around is that, in spring training of 2004, he proved that, yes, Aaron Miles is Batman.

(I am concerned, however, that Jocketty is trying to obtain all the 2006 Cardinals. Next acquisition: So Taguchi!*)

In the end, the Reds are, slowly but surely, improving as an organization. If Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto and Drew Stubbs continue to improve, and if Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera don’t fall off a cliff, the Reds could be okay. We might actually have a little fun this year.

I’ve been waiting a long time for that….

*I wouldn’t mind Jocketty acquiring a couple more of those 2006 Cardinals. Namely, Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter.

23 Responses

  1. GregD

    The Miles story: We never stay in those type of motels any more. Probably have stayed in a hotel with exterior entrances in 10 years. We always pick the ones that have interior entrances only.

    I like Rosales, but like the excess bullpen arms, if you’ve found someone willing to make a deal, in this case take Willy, you’ve got to do it. I liked Robert Manuel to stick as a good bullpen arm, but bullpen arms are easier to replace than the potential the Balentien has with the bat.

    Sutton, Janish, now Miles, even Cairo or Burke in AAA, can do an adequate utility job, and you can find guys like these every year on the cheap.

    The team is obviously better than last year. Terrible offensive performance from CF, SS, and 3B now replaced by Stubbs/Dickerson, Cabrera, and Rolen. If the pitching/defense remain even with last year, the Reds will have their first .500+ season in a decade.

  2. Kevin Mitchell is Batman

    “Perhaps the biggest reason I don’t mind having Miles around is that, in spring training of 2004, he proved that, yes, Aaron Miles is Batman.”

    You lie!!!

    • pinson343

      Kevin Mitchell is Batman: “Perhaps the biggest reason I don’t mind having Miles around is that, in spring training of 2004, he proved that, yes, Aaron Miles is Batman.”You lie!!!

      HA !!! Maybe Aaron Miles is Robin ?

  3. RiverCity Redleg

    I agree with your overall assessment: Chapman is a slam dunk and everything thing else nets out slightly better for us. Taveras would actually make a good bench OF if used properly, but as you pointed out, if he was on our roster he would be used incorrectly.

    I actually think the offseason has been better than you say. It’s easy to like guys like Janish and Rosales, but I can not imagine a scenerio where they are productive everyday players.

  4. david

    Again I go back to this question, are the Reds better with the extra $300k, Cabrera, Miles and a PTBNL or more cash, than the Reds were with Taveras and Rosales? I say yes, easily.

  5. Matt WI

    A tip of the cap to Walt Jocketty. What I would love to see is that this kind of organizational planning continue to flourish in season when so many of us felt like there was an irresponsible lag between problem identification and problem solving.

    • TC

      Matt WI: A tip of the cap to Walt Jocketty. What I would love to see is that this kind of organizational planning continue to flourish in season when so many of us felt like there was an irresponsible lag between problem identification and problem solving.

      Great insight, man.

      @Chris: If Jim Bowden said it, I don’t trust it.

      @RiverCity Redleg: Pretty good, but if you’ve sacrificed defense and brought in Cabrera specifically for his offense, why are you hidding him in the 8 hole? On this team, the way it lines up, he wouldn’t be a bad 2 hitter, even better 7 hitter.

      Why do I waste my time every-tuesday-night listening to Reds Hotstove? Looking forward to the RNR #42. Looking forward to hearing Chad and Bill go back and forth about the Cabrera signing. CLASH OF THE TITANS on RNR.

  6. RiverCity Redleg

    Exactly, Matt. And I think that lag starts with our skipper and somehow snakes up to the front office.

  7. hoosierdad

    The mosty productive part of the WT & Rosales trade for Miles and PTBNL is Dusty not being tempted to play WT because he has speed. The most interesting part of the trade may just be the PTBNL. However, given the amount of salary the A’s took on with WT I really don’t expect much in return.

    I still wouldn’t be surprised to see WJ pull off another trade. We’ll just have to see how ST shakes out and what teams need a player due to an injury.

  8. pinson343

    The Aaron Miles story is amazing. We could use a Batman. (No pun intended.) I like this part of the story the best: “Miles stayed cool throughout the crisis, at one point even encouraging the gunman to escape by putting on some of his Astros gear. But the gunman was not the kind of guy to take advice.”
    Maybe Miles will suggest to Dusty that he try to escape Cincy in Cubs’ gear.

    I agree with the spirit of Chad’s musings. WJ has done a good job this off-season, with possibly more in store, and the Reds are gradually improving as an organization.

  9. Doktor

    “Whether he’ll help the Reds in 2009 is an open question. ”

    Chad, I am pretty sure Orlando is not going to help in 2009 but then maybe I am a pessimist. 🙂 Now 2010 is a different story. lol Keep up the good work.

    Go 2010 Reds.

  10. The Mad Hatter

    Great signing in Chapman, well worth the gamble IMHO. Glad to see Wee Willy gone and honestly I think Miles will be a big improvement in bench quality this year, when compared to Rosales. I would have preferred Janish for defense when looking at a 35 year old Cabrera but can understand the move. All in all this has been a. Positive 2010 so far.

  11. Steve

    Agree with most everything here, even that part about Pujols and Carpenter. 🙂

    Drawback with Miles is that he will cost either Janish or Sutton a place on the major league roster, and I like both of the latter better.

    Finally, here is what the lineup should be this year:

    1. Dickerson LF (strong OBP, speed)
    2. Rolen 3B (strong OBP, good with bat)
    3. Votto 1B
    4. Phillips 2B
    5. Bruce RF
    6. Stubbs CF (takes some pressure off the rookie)
    7. Hanigan C (Hernandez should bat 7th, too)
    8. Janish SS (Cabrera should bat 8th, too)
    9. Pitcher

    The key is the top. Getting two good OBP guys up there. Changing Baker’s view of Rolen as being a power hitter when he isn’t really any more. Taking the pressure off of Stubbs, at least for the start of the year.

    Maybe bat Stubbs lead off against LHP when Gomes or Balentein platooning in LF – putting either of them in the 6 spot.

  12. RiverCity Redleg

    I would have no problem with that lineup.

  13. RiverCity Redleg

    If they re-sign Gomes, I would like to see:
    Stubbs/Dickerson cf
    Rolen 3b
    Votto 1b
    Gomes lf
    Phillips 2b
    Bruce rf
    Hanigan/Hernandez c
    Cabrera ss

  14. Sultan of Swaff

    I’d flip Phillips and Bruce, but yeah, I like that lineup.

    • Tom Diesman

      Sultan of Swaff: I’d flip Phillips and Bruce, but yeah, I like that lineup.

      I agree, flip those two and that is the best lineup Dusty could run out there. What’s the chances he’d even hit on it once next season? 🙂

  15. Chris

    I saw Miles play just about the worst baseball game I’ve ever seen, last August in Denver. He was miserable in the field and at bat. Looked like a little leaguer.

    I think Stubbs and Cabrera are going to bat 1-2, which will result in a lot of what it saw last year: Joey Votto batting w/ 2 outs and the bases empty.

    I listened to MLB on XM last night for the first time in years, and Jim Bowden is now a host. He had some insightful stuff about the Reds. Namely, he’s not sold on Stubbs at all, but if they’re going to play him, he should bat 7th or 2nd. Not 8th, because he’ll be pitched around (though I actually think that would work for Stubbs. He’s patient). But if 7th didn’t work, the #2 spot is where he’d see pitches best suited to his development. Interesting thoughts.

  16. preach

    “Miles stayed cool throughout the crisis, at one point even encouraging the gunman to escape by putting on some of his Astros gear. But the gunman was not the kind of guy to take advice.”

    Even escaping felons have some standards…..

  17. preach

    Bowden actually has a point (aaahhh, my chest) about Stubbs. I don’t think he is a leadoff guy, but he may have to hit there by default. Of course, he does play CF so I suppose he IS a qualified leadoff guy after all. I also don’t see any way Cabrera should hit below Hernandez.

  18. Luke Price

    The Reds are a little bit better.