Re: Freel traded for Ramon Hernandez
Equalized for Outs and assuming same offensive performance as 2008, Ramon Hernandez would project to be worth about 18 more Runs than Paul Bako. That might seem good, but I'd suggest only a dumb team would allow Paul Bako to play that much anyway. Ryan Hanigan likely projects a similar gain over Bako, but I think we pretty much knew that Jocketty, Baker, and Co. weren't going to go into 2009 with a rook at C, unless said rook was a big-time prospect (particularly defensively). That being said, Hanigan lacks power, but his IsoD skill set is legit and a combination of the he plus Hernandez may offer the Reds a league-average battery behind the plate offensively if things go right in 2009 (I HATE that qualifier).
Hernandez speaks Spanish, so that's a good fit from a subjective value standpoint. He had the third-highest Caught Stealing rate in baseball for qualified Catchers in 2006. Unfortunately, that was the only season since 2003 in which he threw out more than 28.4% of basestealers. Since 2001, we've seen only 8 qualified Catcher seasons lower than Hernandez' 19.5% success rate from 2008. From a volume standpoint, only 6 qualified Catcher seasons have been posted during that same period allowing more than the 99 Stolen Bases credited to opponents while Hernandez was behind the plate in 2008. Get ready for a basepath barrage from opponents, folks. Just a warning.
Now, onto what was given up...
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Freel. You're one of those little gems teams sometimes find right before they're about to hit their age-prime seasons who've always been undervalued, but who also have skill sets that project and play with max effort. Had you ever actually been able to control your body while playing with said max effort, you'd have been able to avoid many injuries to both yourself, others, and outfield walls (ballparks are people too). However, without max effort you also wouldn't have been able to drive some teams mad on the basepaths after you avoided getting picked off yet again. And I would have missed one of the best catches ever and no one would have ever had a chance to place a baseball previously on the ground into your glove while you unconsciously recorded one of the funniest (and scary) Outs ever.
Justin Turner is one of those guys. MiLB career stats look very good for a 2B (.310 BA/.377 OBP/.445 SLG), but his only special season was 231 AB at Billings in 2006 at age 21. After that, he's been flirting (slightly above and over) with the .800 OPS level through Chatt this year. He's 24 now (as of November 23rd). I don't see anything extremely wrong with Justin Turner.
Brandon Waring strikes out a lot. His IsoD isn't great. He's likely not a 3B. Ok, and that could be a breaking point when it comes to his trade value. Yet, the guy who possesses the most natural power in the Reds system isn't the guy wrongly ranked on both Redszone's and John Sickels' top 10 lists (Juan Francisco, who also isn't likely a 3B in training). It's Brandon Waring.
The Reds just gave up two prospects and one of them was most likely included only to mitigate the salary inequality between Freel and Hernandez. Let's think about that for a second. The Reds just got a player who projects slightly below-average offensively, below-average defensively, they didn't get any salary relief, and they dealt two prospects who probably represent more than what they'd receive even if they ended up receiving picks if Hernandez leaves.
These are not deals I like because they generally hinge on the acquisition somehow becoming much better than he'll likely be. There are other more creative options available so strike this one up as a negative. Might not be the popular position, but it is what it is.
"The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer
"The single most important thing for a hitter is to get a good pitch to hit. A good hitter can hit a pitch that’s over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a ball in a tough spot.”