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Friday, April 20, 2007

Is Drew Stubbs hitting? And other Reds news.

Is Drew Stubbs Hitting?
2006 first round pick Drew Stubbs, who struggled to make contact in his pro debut last season, is hitting 0.371/0.405/0.429 at Dayton, with 2 bb's and 8 k's in 37 plate appearances. K-rate is down a bit, 22% this year vs. 26% last year. Encouraging.... though it's worth noting that his BABIP is an absurdly high 0.481, which indicates that much of his surge might be due to nothing more than good fortune. I'd be more excited if he were showing a bit more pop (0nly a 0.058 ISO).

Freel Extended

Freel signed a 2-year contract extension worth a total of $7 million, plus some modest incentives based on (rather lofty) plate appearance levels. This contract will keep him through his age 33 season.

I'm a fan of Ryan Freel, but I'm glad they didn't spend an enormous amount of money on him. It's also just two years, so it's a managed risk. But one has to question how long Freel will remain effective, given his playing style and age. My guess is that he'll decline a bit either this or next season from his typical 0.370 OBP of the last three years, but will continue to be valuable given his patience at the plate, plus defense, and especially his tremendous versatility.

For what it's worth, PECOTA projects Freel's biggest decline (from "regular" to "fringe") to happen in the 2008 season, with fairly steady projection from there out through age 35. But looking at the actual projections, the biggest expected decline is in his stolen base rate--mid 30's to mid 20's. Overall, they project his bat to remain pretty solid, staying in the 0.350-0.360 OBP range for the next 5 years. If he does that, this deal will clearly be well worth it.

I also need to applaud Freel for the completely selfless attitude about the Josh Hamilton situation that he displayed in his conversation with Trent Rosecrans. I'm not sure that I'd be as selfless as he has been about both this and the Phillips situation, but I respect him for keeping his head on straight. Or, at least, saying the right things.

Josh Hamilton IPO'd on Protrade

...and I couldn't help but pick him up. I'm not positive that he'll take the league by storm, but I'm starting to believe despite understanding that his spring was due to a lot of good fortune. He debuted at $139/share, and I bought it about 30 seconds later at $142.86. He's currently trading at $144.05. If he can stay hot before entering his inevitable slump, I think he might fetch upwards of $160 or $170 before declining again. But maybe I'm just being optimistic.

I might well lose "money" on this, but I like having another reason to root for the kid. :)

Update: Heh, this was before I found out that he hit ANOTHER one last night. :)

Coffey lit up

For the record, I think Thom Brennaman was correct in yesterday's broadcast (which I finished listening to today--yay xm radio) to suggest that the Reds should have brought in a lefthander to face Berkman with two outs and a man on 2B. At least, that's what you do in an ideal world...especially because Coffey was pitching his third consecutive game. If the lefty (either Cormier or Coutlangus) was unable to retire Berkman, then you bring in either Weathers or Saarloos to face Lee. I would bring in Weathers, because Saarloos had pitched the prior two games--and I'm a big fan of bringing in a closer early in the game in a high-leverage situation.

Speaking of which, did anyone else's jaw hit the table when Marty mentioned Bill James yesterday--and not only mentioned him, but indicated that he very well may be right about something based on statistical evidence? I mean, holy cow, I nearly peed myself.

Moeller out, Hopper In

When the Reds' signed Moeller in the offseason, I wrote this:
Honestly, I'd be surprised if he lasts the season. The Reds always have roster size issues, and this year will be no different (e.g. we already have too many outfielders already on the roster). He should be an easy guy to cut.
So, while there's a sense in which this is a relief (i.e. Krivsky really *isn't* insane), it wasn't really surprising that the Reds activated Norris Hopper and DFA'd Moeller yesterday before the game. It removes the log-jam at catcher while giving the outfield depth a much needed boost. This was especially important because the outfield was starting to get stretched really thin, especially as Hamilton moves from backup to a most-of-the-time player.

It will be interesting to see whether Moeller will accept demotion to AAA. I hope he does, simply because I'm not wild about the Reds AAA catching crew and it'd be nice to have him for depth if/when either Ross or Valentin get hurt.

My computer is hurt

Finally, my desktop's hard drive is apparently fubar. Well, maybe. I'm hopeful that I can still recover stuff off of it, which includes all of my baseball research, not to mention a lot of family photos. It had been behaving strangely for a few days, and then yesterday evening it just wouldn't boot. I hate it when this kind of thing happens, but hopefully a fresh install of windows will be all it needs...though I have a feeling that I'll need a new drive. Bleh.

Josh Hamilton and Norris Hopper photos by AP/Al Behrman