This offseason, the Reds only made one substantial trade: they acquired Ramon Hernandez and cash from the Orioles for Ryan Freel and a pair of lesser prospects. It didn't receive a lot of attention. Both Hernandez and Freel appear on the decline. Moreover, Hernandez received a lot of criticism about his effort level with the struggling Orioles last season, while Freel has missed enormous amounts of time over the last several years due to injuries. To some, it seemed like a pair of teams that were just swapping problem players.To put it another way, if Hernandez can be an average-fielding catcher, and hit as projected, the boost in offense at catcher plus the defensive gains in the outfield can negate the loss of Adam Dunn.
And yet, it may turn out to be the most important acquisition of the offseason, at least in terms of the Reds' win column. The reason is that Hernandez, even in decline, represents a major upgrade over the 2008 Reds "starting" catcher, Paul Bako.
Lots of "if"s there, of course...
Thanks to everyone who participated in the NL Central chat at BtB today. It was fun--I've never been on the other side before, and it's bewildering. Never quite appreciated the extent to which moderation is needed in that kind of thing, but Sky did a nice job of getting the majority of good questions into the discussion. CoverItLive is a nice piece of software for this purpose, too.
Update: looking at the chat log, looks like I missed a question targeted at me. Here it is:
[Comment From Chris Quick (xanthan)]Answer: The Reds had a great opportunity to do so this offseason. Keppinger or Hairston could have been installed at 3B while moving Eddie to LF. But they didn't do it. That means either a) they still think he can improve (which, honestly, at this point seems absurd) or b) they are trying to trade him and think he has more value as a corner infielder. Or c) they just don't realize how bad he is. I think all of these are misguided and not good enough reasons to not move him. But if they weren't going to move him this past offseason, then I don't see how they're ever going to move him.
Question for Justin, will the Reds ever move EE defensively? LF maybe? He's always rated very poorly at 3B.