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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reds Exchange Conine for Castro & Henry

The Reds finally managed to find a home for Jeff Conine in the last 6 weeks of his career, sending him to the Mets for two players from the Florida State League. I wrote in my evaluation of the trade that brought Conine to the Reds would need to rebound to at least his 2005 (0.304/0.374/0.403) performance level to be valuable to the team. Looking back on it, that may have been a bit strong. Jeff's performance with the Reds this year (0.265/0.320/0.409) wasn't up to those standards, and while he didn't particularly help the Reds this season in his platoon role at first base (3 VORP), he wasn't really harmful either. At the same time, I think the Reds can quite reasonably expect similar or slightly better performance levels from Jorge Cantu, so losing Conine is not much of a hit.

Let's look at what they got in return:

Jose Castro, 20 years, SHB SS/2B
2005/NYN-Rk 18 17 6% 12% 0.308 0.286 0.412 0.286 0.000 0.697 -0.5 1 0.341
2005/NYN-Rk 18 128 7% 5% 0.311 0.293 0.359 0.379 0.086 0.739 0.4 16 0.334
2006/NYN-A 19 474 11% 4% 0.247 0.217 0.285 0.245 0.028 0.530 -0.8 31 0.251
2007/NYN-A+ 20 331 6% 3% 0.336 0.318 0.363 0.383 0.065 0.746 -3.4 40 0.336

Castro, a Puerto Rican native, looks like a fairly classic light-hitting middle infield prospect. After a terrible year at the plate last year, he has shown decent on-base ability this season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He's done it entirely via hits though, as his walk rate has steadily declined each of his first three seasons. He also doesn't strike out much, indicating a very aggressive hitter. However, his line drive rate looks rather low (just 32 of 281 balls in play), so this aggressive approach of his may not work at higher levels--we'll see.

If Castro doesn't get in base, he doesn't seem to have much in the way of additional skills. He has shown absolutely zero power thus far, and while he has tried to show off some speed, he hasn't been very successful (just 7 steals in 17 attempts this season). He has also apparently received some criticism for his defense, but I can't find anything other than error rate on him, which I consider to be all but irrelevant--I'm much more interested in a young infielder's range. On the plus side, he is only 20 years old, and the Reds think he's ready for AA. So he has a lot of development time left.

Sean Henry, 22 years, RHB OF/2B
2004/NYN-Rk 19 228 19% 10% 0.342 0.282 0.364 0.436 0.153 0.800 -1.1 33 0.354
2005/NYN-Rk 20 177 24% 12% 0.314 0.255 0.350 0.416 0.161 0.766 2.2 27 0.338
2006/NYN-Rk 21 170 17% 12% 0.319 0.275 0.365 0.463 0.188 0.828 2.6 28 0.362
2006/NYN-A 21 71 23% 4% 0.286 0.254 0.282 0.463 0.209 0.744 -0.4 7 0.314
2007/NYN-A+ 22 502 15% 8% 0.325 0.293 0.355 0.456 0.162 0.810 -2.0 74 0.353

Henry has gotten far more action this year than any other in his still young career (he just turned 22 last Saturday), and he's performed reasonably well. His walk rate has been decent, and he's shown a nice combination of speed and power over the last two years. This year, he hasn't been as effective in employing his speed as he has been in the past, but I like that he has shown good percentages in the past--and you never know what sort of emphasis they put on these guys in the minor leagues in terms of base stealing percentage. His strikeout rate has fluctuated at times over his career, but generally he seems to make good contact. If his speed and position are any indication, he's likely to be a pretty good fielder...but again I have no data on that.

He doesn't look like an outstanding prospect, but he might eventually make an impact. Toby Hyde at MetsMinors predicted that he has a shot at being a major league CF, though a 4th outfielder seems more likely. That matches my initial impressions of him.

Overall, this looks like a decent return for Jeff Conine, and on par--if not better than--what we paid to get him in the offseason. I'd probably rate Henry about equivalent to Javon Moran (Moran has less SLG, but more OBP), while Castro has to be better than Brad Key. It's a pretty small deal in the grand scheme of things, but for what it is, Krivsky did fine.

I'd have a hard time rooting for a New York team in the postseason, but for Conine's sake, I hope they make it.