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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Transaction catch-up: the departed

There are a number of players who have left over the past month via free agency/waiver claims:

Andy Abad (free agent)
Rich Aurilia (free agent)
Grant Balfour (waivers claim by Brewers)
Ryan Franklin (free agent)
Eddie Guardado (free agent)
Todd Hollandsworth (free agent)
Sun-Woo Kim (free agent)
Joe Mays (free agent)
Chris Michalak (free agent; Signed by Nationals)
Dane Sardinha (free agent)
Scott Schoeneweis (free agent)
Jason Standridge (waiver claim by Mets)
Dewayne Wise (free agent)

A few names I'd like to chat about:

Rich Aurilia

I haven't yet announced my picks for the Reds 2006 Hitter of the Year, but Aurilia may well be the guy I pick. Following his resurgent 2005 campaign, most pundits (myself included) expected him to decline back to his '04 numbers. Instead, he improved dramatically, hitting 0.300/0.349/0.518, and perhaps most importantly, was just about the Reds' only offensive weapon in September. Not only that, Richie played all four infield positions, including a surprising (given his career prior to 2006) number of games at first--a position where he performed splendidly.

While he ultimately resigned with the Reds after leaving as a free agent in 2005, I have a feeling he's gone for good this year. A middle infielder coming off a year in which he hit 23 homers (in only 440 AB's) and batted an even 0.300 is a hot commodity, so he'll demand some quality money this year. But I don't think he'll earn that money, as I just can't imagine him coming close to doing what he did this year again in his career. Given his age (turned 35 in September), the Reds should just let him go. But we'll miss that production next year.

Edit: Red Hot Mama came to the same conclusion after reading a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Grant Balfour

It's a shame to see Balfour go. He has been rehabbing an injury for the past year with the Reds, so it's hard to say what his status is--given the Reds' apparent comfort with losing him, the impression is that he's not recovering very well. Nevertheless, prior to the injury, Balfour was a promising reliever who had posted good strikeout numbers:
Team         IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA FIP
2003/MIN 26.0 10.4 4.8 1.38 0.284 4.15 4.51
2004/MIN 39.1 9.7 4.8 0.92 0.292 4.35 3.99
I have a warm spot in my heart for Aussie's, so I hope he's able to recover.

Eddie Guardado

For just over a month this year, the Reds had a legitimate closer. It was wonderful. But Guardado had a bum arm when he arrived--this was well known to the Reds--and by the beginning of August he was pretty much done. Eddie turned 36 in October, and is having surgery to repair his arm. I'm not even sure if he'll pitch next year. But he's probably not worth bringing back for anything more than the minimum plus incentives. And I doubt he'd sign for that.
Team         IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA FIP
2004/SEA 45.1 9.0 2.8 1.60 0.203 2.78 4.44
2005/SEA 56.1 7.7 2.4 1.12 0.272 2.72 3.91
2006/SEA 23.0 8.6 4.3 3.13 0.309 5.48 7.24
2006/CIN 14.0 10.9 1.3 1.29 0.342 1.29 3.06
Jason Standridge

Standridge is a guy who we've seen a fair bit the last few years since he was signed as a free agent in mid '05. As a former first-round pick, his career has to be viewed as something of a disappointment, though he did perform modestly whenever he was around:
Team         IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA FIP
2004/TB 10.0 6.3 3.6 4.50 0.281 9.00 9.50
2005/TEX 2.1 8.6 4.3 0.00 0.619 11.57 2.72
2005/CIN 31.0 4.9 4.6 0.87 0.315 4.06 4.91
2006/CIN 18.2 8.9 6.9 0.99 0.291 4.82 4.96
At his best, Standridge is a high K, high BB, low HR kind of guy. He could still be useful. But having just turned 28 the past year, he's unlikely to get any better, and could decline quickly if he loses whatever stuff he has. I won't stay up at night fretting about having lost him.

Dane Sardinha

It's also a bit shame to see Sardinha go. He's been the prototypical all catch, no hit-type catcher since being our second-round selection in 2000. He did manage to hold his own on a steady diet of promotions in his initial years with the Reds, but tailed off miserably this year, declining from a 0.262/0.294/0.404 line in his first year in AAA (2004) to a 0.175/0.231/0.231 line this year at the same level. Hopefully he can catch on somewhere and rediscover something in his swing that can earn him a backup catcher role in the bigs. But it was time to say goodbye.

Minor League Free Agents

Finally, here are this year's minor league free agents (copy and pasted from Marc, 'cause he rocks):

C Ryan Jorgensen
C Rafael Motooka
1B Earl Snyder
2B William Bergolla
2B Matt Kata
3B Habelito Hernandez
SS Javier Colina
SS Aaron Herr
SS Gary Patchett
SS Hector Tiburcio
OF Gary Varner
RHP James Abbott
RHP Giancarlo Alvarado
RHP Joel Barreto
RHP Tim Bausher
RHP Jeff Bruksch
RHP Josh Hall (signed by Nationals)
RHP Jake Robbins
RHP Edward Valdez (signed by Nationals)
LHP Chad Bentz
LHP Jan Granado
LHP Richard Stahl

In truth, only a few names I know anything about in that list. Jorgensen and Kata were both Krisvky acquisitions this past year, neither of which did anything surprising in AAA. Bergolla is a guy who some people really like. He's never hit a ton, but he's held his own despite steady advancement through the Reds' minor league system. He only turns 24 in February, but has 6 years of professional ball in the United States under his belt. And, by all accounts, is a wonderfully slick fielder. He'll have no trouble finding somewhere to sign, but hopefully the Reds can make him an offer and get him back.

I am sorry to see Josh Hall go. He missed all of 2004 with an injury, but battled his way back to AAA this year after doing well in AA. He'll only be 26 next year, so he still has a year or two of improvement years available to him. The Nationals did well in picking him up--he very well could be contributing in the majors by mid-next year. Stats:
Team         IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA FIP
2005/CIN-A+ 29.0 6.5 4.3 1.55 0.383 6.83 5.44
2005/CIN-AA 112.1 7.4 2.8 0.56 0.307 3.53 3.31
2006/CIN-AA 116.2 5.3 2.6 0.85 0.299 3.39 4.12
2006/CIN-AAA 35.0 5.7 3.6 0.77 0.272 4.11 4.26
....

With all that unpleasantness behind us (I hate watching gobs of players disappear), I'm looking forward to checking out some of our recent acquisitions. New trades and signing analysis coming up next...