Here is the Reds Hot Stove League show report for 1-4-06. Steve Stewart was the host tonight. Steve said John Fay would call in later so that should please you if you are a Reds fan (Why? Is he announcing his retirement?)
After commercial Steve mentioned the Pirates signed Jeremy Burnitz and the Dodgers and Mets made a trade with Jae Seo and Tim Hamulak going to L.A. and Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmole going to N.Y. and Baltimore signed Jeff Conine.
John Fay called in and Steve asked him about Rich Aurilia. Fay said he gets the sense Rich will re-sign with the Reds since he would get more of an opportunity to play here than elsewhere. He said the only thing that might change that is if someone wanted him to be their starting SS or 2B. He said he'd be surprised if Rich weren't re-signed. Steve asked Fay what Rich's role would be besides insurance for Encarnacion. Fay agreed and said that the Reds won't say that but that would be a reason they would bring him back. Fay said that EE had his moments last year but he is very inexperienced and only 23 and it wouldn't hurt him to spend more time in the minors. (And that solves what, exactly?) He said it opens up a lot of possibilities where Freel could go to 3rd and Rich plays 2nd but Narron played Rich a lot at 3rd last year. He said Rich may not get as much playing time as he wants (Oh, you think so, Doctor?) Steve said he was a good clutch hitter last year. Fay agreed and said he's a different hitter than Freel and Womack since he has more power and can hit in the middle of the order. He said that he may play some 1st base since they don't have a true backup there. Steve said that assuming EE plays well enough to make the club it will be a moving target for Narron to fill out the lineup card every day since Freel can play OF and Aurilia and Womack can play other positions as well. (2006: The Year of the Crappy Utility Infielders) Fay said last year before some injuries Narron would spot EE against certain pitchers and he did well then but struggled when he had to play every day. (I'm speechless) Fay thinks EE is the 3B of the future and will come through and play well but it's anyone's guess whether it will be this year or after that.
The first caller said they didn't understand where this team is headed with signing Womack and Aurilia and Freel not being able to start. Fay said that if you talk to the Reds they will say that they believe Freel is better when he doesn't play every day. He said their overall philosophy is that they are trying to build around younger players but they are a much better team with Rich. He said Womack has to play like he did 2 years ago and not like last year. (Thank you, Captain Obvious) Fay said that things could change in a few weeks when new ownership is brought in. He thinks the offseason was somewhat on hold because of that.
The next caller asked if new ownership would sign a front line pitcher. Fay said there isn't a whole lot to choose from now. The best one out there is Jeff Weaver and he's no sure thing for the money they would pay him. He thinks one of the OFers could still be traded. The caller asked whether Kearns would be traded for a pitcher. Fay said it was possible but it isn't going to be a top line pitcher. The caller asked if the Reds would sign a closer. Fay said that the Moneyball credo says you don't pay big money for a closer. He said Weathers was pretty successful last year and the Reds are high on Coffey. Fay said based on last year's numbers that Coffey probably won't be a good closer but if he can regain his splitter he can be a lot better. Steve mentioned Wagner. Fay said he has the stuff to do it but he's still pretty young. He has a great GB to FB ratio and he could come around but no one's counting on him.
After commercial the next caller asked if Jose Contreras could be had in a trade. Fay said he's a vast improvement over what we have but questions whether you give up prospects for him. He said unless payroll goes up a lot the Reds will have to develop their own. He said if he could be had for Pena he'd do it.
Thus endeth the Hot Stove League show report for 1-4-06. So let it be written. So let it be done.