Rumor and Reality

This past week has been one filled with hope and disappointment. After taking the series against the Atlanta Braves, there was a revived sense of hope surrounding this year’s Reds. A four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets brought a substantial part of that hope to a screeching halt. While some have chosen to shelve all thoughts of a repeat for this season, others remain optimistic. I’m starting think those of the latter train of thought might be sadistic, but that’s how fandom works.

The three “big names” our beloved Reds were rumored to be attached to are the now Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Hunter Pence, the still Tampa Bay Rays starter James Shields and the still Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Well, none have materialized with the Reds as the receiver of these names (there are still reports saying the Jimenez deal isn’t dead yet) leaving even the most hardened of Reds fans to believe that nothing will get done. The only thing that has was Jonny Gomes shipped to the nation’s capital. And with that, a groan some a portion of the fanbase.

Going to the Jimenez rumors for a minute. Apparently, the Rockies are still wanting three high-quality prospects and/or major league ready players (The Yankees apparently went that route and they were rebuked. Colorado wanted a certain player New York was unwilling to deal). To me, that may be too steep a price to pay despite a team friendly contract. If Jiminez is dealt, the 2014 year of his current contract is somewhat voided. If a deal were to go, Jimenez would be a Red until 2013. Two years, at least. After that, who knows. Would you seriously be willing to part with Devin Mesoraco, Aroldis Chapman and Chris Heisey?

Me? Nope. Glad that deal didn’t go down. The future backstop, the fireballer and a guy that’s no worse than a 4th outfielder (would start on some clubs) is what the Reds would be sending to the Rockies. Pull Meso or Chapman away from the deal, and I do give it some serious thought.

The one aspect that always makes giving up prospects is that those guys will build a chip on their shoulder and/or become stars after departing from the organization. Some make a big issue of the fact that these young players are only “prospects” and seem to think there’s not a big deal in sending them packing. With the evaluation of young talent developing into a more defined process, it makes those decisions to deal prospects doubly difficult. The Reds hold many, many chips should GM Walt Jocketty decide to use them.

I had written about the Reds possibly pursuing another Astro, Michael Bourn. Those words have sparked some consideration from the Reds front office. Okay, not by my doings, but those rumors are out there now. As I stated the other day, I have a few issues even with acquiring Bourn.

1. He’s arbitration eligible next season. He will get paid. He deserves to get paid.
2. He’s a Scott Boras client. Bourn is eligible for free agency after next season. He will test that market as a lot Boras clients tend to do. If he doesn’t, that will mean the Reds will have presented Bourn with a deqal tha the simply cannot refuse. Translated: overvalued.
3. Where would you put him defensively? Center? Even with Drew Stubbs manning the position? Left? Isn’t that seen as a power hitting position? Oh, and this thought could all be for naught because Stubbs was thought to be the guy going to Houston if such trade occurred.

In other words, there are too many doors that may be opened and someone will likely get their fingers caught in the jamb with it closes. Don’t get me wrong here. I really like Michael Bourn as a player. He would be a nice addition, but my points (especially 1 and 2) echo through my head in my sleep.

For every trade rumor that is launched, there is a reality of sorts behind every one. Teams are in need of upgrading the roster at this time of the year. And that brings me to something that has bounced in my head since spring training. The off-season is a time to upgrade your roster as well.

We heard that the Reds brass liked this team and felt that the off-season deals they made were upgrades. Yes, hindsight is always 20/20, but all I can ask is, “Really?” Examine.

Two minor league contract signings: Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Hermida. BOth have had nice years for the Bats. Hermida didn’t exactly get a full opportunity when he was promoted. Most of us are used to that path. Willis has pitched well despite having nothing to show for his efforts. Both will most likely not be back in 2012. Willis may cost too much and Hermida will certainly be viewed as a viable option for a lot of teams if their outfield looks shaky.

Two major league signings: Edgar Renteria and Fred Lewis. Two areas of where the Reds thought to have needs, short and left (sounds like my golf swing).

I don’t think I need to re-hash the disdain a lot of Reds fans feel for the 2010 World Series MVP, so I’ll move on to Lewis. And that in itself is a curious matter. It’s not that I’m unhappy of what Lewis has done for the Reds in any way. Two of the biggest reasons he was brought in was to leadoff and steal bases as he was to platoon (of sorts) with Gomes (after all, Gomes had 80+ RBI last season). How has that worked?

If you think about it, these two “big” signings have not worked so well. One, not at all. The other, misused to an extent.

And should Walt Jocketty now pull the plug on a deal, remember this. The Reds were not considered to be a contender when he traded Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke and Zach Stweart for Scott Rolen. The next season resulted in the Reds winning the NL Central. Food for thought, I know.

In other words, it’s not too late…or too early.