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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Trading Deadline Ramblings

So, in the end, only two moves were made prior to the non-waiver trading deadline this season, and only one involved moving a player (Lohse) who was going to walk for no return at the end of the season. The other three candidates that I most expected to be traded -- Hatteberg, Weathers, and Conine -- are staying with the Reds, at least for now.

It's not impossible that one or all of them could squeak through trade waivers and be traded over these last two months. But it has to be considered less likely to happen than a trade prior to the deadline. The biggest surprise, to me, was the failure to move Hatteberg. I really like him, but I figured these last two months would be a great opportunity to bring up Votto and give him some big league experience, at least against right-handed pitchers. Hatteberg would be a great injury replacement for a team at first base, and would be a fantastic guy to have on your bench when you're making a playoff run. He's an ideal pinch hitter--a high OBP, high contact guy that is exactly who you want at the plate when you have a runner on third base. So it seems like he would have had value. ... But at the same time, he wouldn't have brought a top-flight prospect in return either.

Nevertheless, there are some good things that come from this rather uneventful deadline. Adam Dunn was not traded, and while we won't hear anything about it for a while, I'll be surprised if the Reds would take the talent hit of not picking up his extension for next year. As Joel points out, there is certainly room in the budget to keep him.

I had argued for a trade of Griffey (for good return). But Joel's runs scored analysis, which was featured in the Sunday Enquirer article, does provide a compelling argument about why the Reds should keep him (and Dunn). I think it's a bit risky, but if you're going to gamble on a hitter to keep producing at age 38, you can do worse than gambling on Griffey. If he comes through, and we see the improvements we expect to see next season among some of our other young offensive players, the Reds could have an outstanding offense next season. And a truly outstanding offense could mean that a playoff run is a legitimate possibility with only modest improvement in pitching and defense.

The surprising Matt Morris trade today indicates, to me, that the Reds got a reasonable return on Lohse--Rajai Davis has some on-base skills, but at 26.8 yrs, he's hardly a prospect, and I'm happier taking Maloney for the Reds' needs. At best, Davis seems comparable to Chris Denorfia with less power, and Denorfia "just" brought Marcus McBeth in return. Pittsburgh is taking on a sizable salary both this and next season, but Morris is still a decent pitcher, and they get control over him next year. Morris also has a better track record than Lohse, though Lohse's performance this season is a bit better. So I would have rated their value to a contender as more or less equivalent this season. He should help Pittsburgh.

So overall, while I would have liked to see another small deal or two, the Reds could have done a lot worse. Despite all the rumors about Adam Dunn's departure, Krivsky stuck to his guns and demanded the appropriate high price for Dunn. It meant that he didn't get a deal done, but it also meant that he didn't accept a return below Dunn's worth.