Let me start by saying I am no longer confident the Reds can win the division with the current 25 man roster. While hope does spring eternal in my heart I simply do not believe this team has all of the ingredients to consistently win. The frustration I feel is because in many ways this is the same team we fielded last year but the pieces have all aged and the less experienced pieces with notable exception of Jay Bruce are playing as they did last year or slightly worse while the more experienced veterans are playing notably worse on the season. This information is not news, so what might allow us back to the promised land or even better? Let’s examine the problems and talk about a stray trade rumor I picked up today.
First, inconsistent play in left field and short stop. We might be able to upgrade in left but for any significant improvement the price will be too high. To replace Janish at short would most likely be a case of the cure being worse than the disease. Janish plays an exceptional brand of defense and to replace him would be a challenge. I am not convinced Reyes will be worth the price.
The next hole is starting pitching. The price for a great starting pitcher will be over the moon.
Finally, since 1990 I can never remember a time when the Reds bullpen was as good as you wanted it to be. Last year was the best but I am certain I was not the only person who sweated through a number of games.
In order for a trade to be consummated there must be something the other team desires. This is always the challenge because baseball like any other business enterprise is defined by the laws of supply and demand. Anything someone else wants is probably worthy of keeping. Usually.
This afternoon the local ESPN affiliate in the Pittsburgh area were talking about the Pirates. This is significant because aside from occasional ridicule the Pirates get very little interest among Steeler and Penguin disciples throughout the community. Even the Pitt Panthers and WV Mountaineers tend to draw more interest. But an unfamiliar situation has developed this season. The Pirates are only a half game behind the Reds and are playing .500 ball. So what you say. The last time the Pirates finished a season with a .500 winning position was 19 years ago. A generation of apathy is slowly being cast off and the fans, with rekindling hope, are looking to see what needs fixed for them to get over the “hump”.
What do they need you ask? They need a Catcher and they need one bad! Ryan Doumit a fractured wrist and is gone at least for the rest of June. Yesterday backup catcher Chris Snyder felt stiffness in his back and today they announced that he will undergo surgery on Friday and is out indefinitely. They have 3 other catchers on the 40 man roster but of those Dusty Brown is hitting .143 with wo hits in just 14 at bats. Wyatt Toregas has only 51 ML at bats in his career with 9 hits and even in their AAA affiliate Jason Jaramillo is on the 7 day DL.
Now in order to have value the seller needs competition between buyers. I would suggest the SF Giants are a perfect counterpoint to the Pirates. As the dust settles on Buster Posey‘s terrible season ending injury they are left with no one behind the plate who is batting over .200.
That brings us full circle. The Reds are blessed with catching depth. Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez are solid major league catchers. Devin Mesoraco is playing exellent baseball in Louisville and Yasmani Grandal is on the 40 man working as hard as he can to move through the system and should be ready to move up in the next couple of years to the major league club. Hernandez contract is up at the end of this year while Hanigan is signed relatively cheaply for the next 3 years.
That Pittsburgh radio station felt the same way and were encouraging the Pirates to consider trading for Hernandez to help them through the crisis they now face. I say sure but we want quality in return. From the Pirates I would ask for lefthanders Paul Maholm or Danny Moskos. Maholm has a deceptive 2-7 record. In 13 starts, 8 are considered quality starts. He has one complete game. In each of his 7 losses he received only 2 or less runs in support of his pitching effort. Moskos was a number one draft pick in 2007 but has never really found a niche. He is currently the best left handed arm in the Pirates bull pen.
From San Fransisco I would look at 3 pitchers. They are 21 year old lefty Madison Baumgarner, lefty Jonathan Sanchez, or right handed reliever Ramon Ramirez. Baumgarner also is 2-7 and 6 of his 7 losses he received 2 or less in run support. His 3.42 ERA looks good for a pitcher as young as he is. Sanchez is 4-4 with a 3.51 ERA. Ramirez has a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings allowing only 4 runs.
Situations like these give the team rich in a commodity a lot of leverage. Now would be a wonderful time to take advantage of this opportunity and create a bidding war.
Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz