Table of Contents

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reds Acquire Wladimir Balentien

Wladimir Balentien 002Wladimir Balentien is the newest Cincinnati Red. Image by Baseball player photos via Flickr

Short post, as I'm beat tonight. The Reds picked up RHB OF Wladimir Balentien tonight for Robert Manuel.

Stats in quick 'n dirty fashion via fangraphs:
Year Age Team PA %K %BB %LD BABIP AVG OBP SLG ISO wOBA RAA WAR
2006 22.0 AA 522 27% 13% --- 0.280 0.230 0.337 0.435 0.205 0.342 0.4 ---
2007 23.0 AAA 542 19% 10% --- 0.323 0.291 0.362 0.509 0.218 0.376 15.0 ---
2007 23.0 SEA 4 0% 0% 25% 0.333 0.667 0.500 2.000 1.333 0.810 1.6 0.2
2008 24.0 AAA 274 18% 12% --- 0.256 0.266 0.354 0.584 0.318 0.385 9.4 ---
2008 24.0 SEA 260 30% 6% 14% 0.266 0.202 0.250 0.342 0.140 0.257 -15.4 -1.0
2009 25.0 SEA 170 25% 8% 13% 0.264 0.213 0.271 0.355 0.142 0.274 -7.6 -0.3
2009 25.0 ZiPS (RoS) 178 22% 8% --- 0.267 0.235 0.298 0.414 0.179 0.312 -2.3 0.3
2009 25.0 ZiPS (Update) 348 24% 8% --- 0.265 0.224 0.284 0.385 0.161 0.295 -9.5 0.0
He's hit well in the minors, and even has shown a decent eye, despite his reputation for swinging at everything. Hasn't translated to the big leagues, though, at least not yet. High strikeout rate, slightly higher than Phillips walk rate, but good power in the minors. Major league pitchers have carved him up in 434 PA's, so he must have some major holes and/or is easy to fool--consistently low BABIP and LD%'s might support both explanations, though perhaps there's some bad luck in there too.

But maybe he can fix it and get better. His ZIPS over the rest of the season is actually above-replacement level, and that was in the tougher AL. We have a guy who's quite a bit below replacement level playing center field for us these days. And, of course, Bruce and Dickerson are on the DL, so we need all the help we can get.

Fielding-wise, not sure. His LF numbers are good (+4 UZR), but CF and RF numbers are weaker (-2 and -2). Fan's Scouting Report rated him as a below-average fielder last year, which I trust more than UZR givne the small sample sizes. The breakdown on him shows somebody who's somewhat toolsy but quite raw--average speed, plus arm strength, but poor instincts, hands, and release on his throws. Again, maybe there's the possibility that he could get better...

He's still under club control for what should be four more years. He's definitely a project. But there's something to like here, especially given that it "only" cost the Reds a solid relief prospect in Robert Manuel. I like Manuel, but the Reds need some offense--especially from the right side--and while I doubt that Balentien is likely to deliver that this year, he might just be a decent hitter down the line.

The only "bad" thing I see about him is that he basically looks like a raw-er, less good version of Johnny Gomes. Maybe with better fielding, but there's no guarantee of that. And I'd like to see the Reds try to keep Gomes on this team next year. No reason they can't have both players, of course...except that it works against the defense first, offense second strategy the Reds tried to employ this year. Maybe the complete lack of offense is making the front office re-evaluate.