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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Transaction catch-up: Bobby Livingston

On December 14, the Reds claimed LHP Bobby Livingston off of waivers from Seattle. There was a minor controversy over the claim, but nonetheless, he is now a Cincinnati Red. Let's take a look at what we got.

Livingston was drafted in the 4th round out of Trinity Christian high school in Lubbock, Texas, in 2001, and has steadily risen through Seattle's minor league system, almost exclusively as a starter. Last year he came up to appear in three games, none of them starts. Nevertheless, Krivsky indicated that Livingston has a chance to compete for the #5 spot in the rotation in spring training.

Recent stats:

2004/SEA-A+ 186.7 6.8 1.4 0.72 0.291 3.57 3.22 4.84 11.1 --
2005/SEA-AA 116.3 6.0 2.1 0.54 0.262 2.86 3.34 4.18 18.5 51%
2005/SEA-AAA 51.7 7.1 2.6 0.35 0.309 4.70 2.99 3.44 -1.5 49%
2006/SEA-AAA 135.3 4.6 2.4 1.20 0.304 4.59 4.71 5.45 0.6 46%
2006/SEA 5.0 5.4 10.8 3.60 0.368 18.00 10.80 11.44 7.7 43%

Livingston seems to be a fairly classic soft-tossing lefty. His strikeout totals have generally been ok in the minors, but the big drop this past year makes sense if he only throws in the 80's. He does seem to have excellent control, however, and, prior to last year, did a great job of keeping the ball in the park. That can be enough to have success, especially if you're a southpaw. Livingston turned 24 on September 3rd of last year, so he certainly has a chance to get better.

While I'm sure Livingston is in the running for the #5 rotation slot, I think the edge at this point certainly has to go to Elizardo Ramirez. Livingston wasn't particularly brilliant in AAA last year, and with this sort of pitcher (poor stuff, good control), I'd certainly like to see some success at that level before inserting him into an important role in the rotation. Compare his performance to Ramirez's, for example, who had a 4.22 ERA in the major leagues through July 27th last season (and eventually came down with shoulder tendinitis after being abused by Narron). I see Livingston as more of an insurance policy for the rotation.

I also don't see him making the bullpen, given that the Reds are already carrying three left-handers (Bray, Stanton, Cormier). Therefore, I think we'll mostly likely see Livingston start the season in AAA, provided we can send him down. He certainly should still have options, so I think that as long as they keep him on the 40-man roster they can ship him back and forth to Louisville as much as we like--similar to what they did with Mike Gosling last year, who was another waiver claim. Please correct me if I'm wrong on that--it'd be a shame to lose this kid before he's ready to be useful.