Table of Contents

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reds exchange Schoeneweis, Belisle, and Norris for PTBNL, Shackelford, Guardado, Michalak, and Burns

There have been a series of recent transactions that deserve comment:

Schoeneweis for PTBNL + Cash; Shackelford Demoted Again


Anther day, another trade. This one finally involves a player that may actually prove valuable, 32-year old left-handed reliever Scott Schoeneweis. Stats:
Year/Tm IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA FIP PERA VORP
2003/ANA 38.7 6.8 2.3 0.47 0.294 3.96 3.38 3.49 6.40
2003/CHA 26.0 9.3 3.1 0.35 0.333 4.50 2.78 3.08 1.70
2004/CHA 112.7 5.5 3.9 1.36 0.309 5.59 5.32 5.12 5.90
2005/TOR 57.0 6.8 3.9 0.32 0.295 3.32 3.67 3.77 12.90
2006/TOR 37.3 4.3 3.9 0.72 0.293 6.51 4.65 --- -0.80
In 2004, the White Sox tried Schoeneweis out as a starting pitcher, which is how he initially started (in painful fashion) his career with Anaheim. It didn't go well. Nevertheless, as a relief pitcher -- and often a LOOGY -- Schoeneweis has been excellent every year recent year prior to '06. Most notable are his superb HR/9 numbers, which are the result of his excellent 52-60% ground ball percentage. His strikeout totals generally are pretty high as well, though he always has been one to walk a lot of batters. This year, he's clearly struggled, with much lower than typical strikeout rates and higher than usual (though still very good) homer rates. His FIP is quite a bit lower than his ERA, however, indicating that he may have been a bit unlucky so far this season. With a change of scenery, we can hope that his strikeout numbers will increase and he'll see results in keeping with his peripherals.

Provided that his leg injury is as insubstantial as he claims, I think we can reasonably hope for a low to mid-4's ERA from him the rest of the way, which is definitely a valuable commodity. Hopefully the player to be named later won't be anyone worth fretting over.

Brian Shackelford was demoted AGAIN to make room. Whether Schoeneweis is any better than Shackelford is debatable, but I'm ok with this move. It is remarkable how much Shack has been jerked back and forth this year though. On top of that were those dismissed sexual assault charges, it has to be an incredibly frustrating year for the guy.

Guardado to DL; Belisle Returns

In the latest loss to our already-hobbled pitching staff, Eddie Guardado went on the DL. Will Carroll wrote this about his injury:
The Reds have gotten more than most expected from Eddie Guardado since acquiring him. Now he's injured, which is what most expected. A MRI showed that Guardado has inflammation in his elbow, not surprising given the problems he's had in his shoulder. The normal cascade pattern is holding for Guardado, who's now in much the same situation as his former teammate, Brad Radke. Both are holding on, hoping that their damaged arms can do just enough to give them one more shot at the postseason. For those of you wondering how much some athletes want that ring, look no further than this. Guardado heads to the DL, but shouldn't be on for much more than the minimum. Rest will help, but there's a point of diminishing returns
Not very encouraging. And I see no reason to suspect that Carroll's wrong about this one. The Reds' bullpen hasn't been great, but it's had a remarkably better look since Guardado took over 9th inning duties. Narron has indicated that he'll go closer by committee, which probably the only option he has now. Unless he wants to give Bray a go there... Personally, I'm all for using the best relievers you have in the highest leverage situations, whether they're in the 7th, 8th, or 9th innings, so that's fine with me. But I'm scared.

Belisle still hasn't been given a chance to do much this year, although to be fair he's been hurt a fair bit this year. Hopefully he can step up big for us and put up some zeros on the board.

Michalak to bereavement list; Norris Hopper promoted; Mike Burns designated for assignment

As expected, Michalak's follow-up appearance to his exciting flash in the pan Reds debut turned out to be pretty ugly. But since the Reds don't really have any other viable options for the #5 starter, the Reds are going to stick with him for at least one more start. Hopefully he can do well tomorrow, but I'm not really expecting much. Nevertheless, he's currently on the bereavement list so that he can attend the funeral of his 102 year-old grandmother (Wow! My grandmother would only be in her 80's if she was still around). This allowed the Reds to promote 27-year old right-handed center fielder Norris Hopper to the big league squad for a few days. Stats:
Year/Team PA %K %BB %HR SB/% OBP SLG OPS
2003/KC-AA 456 13% 6% 0.0% 24/71% 0.346 0.342 0.688
2004/KC-AA 403 11% 8% 0.0% 17/71% 0.345 0.309 0.654
2005/CIN-AA 483 8% 6% 0.2% 25/78% 0.354 0.368 0.722
2006/CIN-AA 46 22% 0% 0.0% 3/100% 0.265 0.370 0.635
2006/CIN-AAA 362 6% 5% 0.0% 24/77% 0.379 0.395 0.774
Generally a high-average hitter with almost zero power, he also doesn't walk enough to be particularly promising as a leadoff-type guy. The fact that he was able to improve his numbers when going from AA to AAA is a good sign, but he made this transition at age 27--an age when legitimate prospects should be well-secured in the major leagues. That's not to say that he can't be valuable as a 5th outfielder; I'm just saying that we shouldn't get too excited by his nifty 0.349 AAA batting average. His steal totals indicate that he doesn't have over-the-top speed, but is plenty capable of taking a base at a high success rate. I don't have any data on his fielding abilities, but the fact that he's playing centerfield for the Bats, as well as his good baserunning numbers, all suggest he's got good range.

Hopper will almost certainly be demoted tomorrow, but I'd look for him to get a call up in September to serve in as a pinch runner or late-inning defensive replacement. He might win us a game or two in that role.

Mike Burns was designated for assignment to make room for Hopper on the 40-man roster. Burns made the opening-day roster this year, but quickly got sent to the minors for ineffectiveness. He made it back once, only to get roughed up again. Burns is one of those guys who could turn into a serviceable reliever, as his minor league performance has included great walk rates and impressive strikeout rates. But he's starting to get near the latter half of his peak years and has yet to have any success on a major league ballclub. It won't surprise me if he gets claimed off of waivers...but then again, it won't surprise me if we keep him either.