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Thread: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

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    "Let's Roll" TeamBoone's Avatar
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    Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    01/18/2006 10:00 AM ET

    Around the Horn: Catcher
    Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise
    By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

    CINCINNATI -- As a catching duo in 2005, Jason LaRue and Javier Valentin were downright offensive.

    The Reds took no issue with that. Opposing pitchers probably didn't enjoy it as much.

    LaRue and Valentin connected for 26 homers while catching, which tied them for the Major League lead among backstop combos. Their 101 RBIs were tops in the league.

    "If we would be fortunate enough for them to repeat that production as a twosome, we'd be elated," Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said.

    All Reds manager Jerry Narron has to do is continue determining the best time to start each catcher. Last year, LaRue started 104 of his 110 games played. Valentin appeared in 76 games, with 58 starts behind the plate.

    "As a two-man tandem, they were outstanding," Narron said. "I'm sure they would both like to play more. They have contrasting skills, but both contribute a lot."

    Both players' personal statistics certainly thrived under the 2005 system. LaRue, who turns 32 in March, established career highs in average (.260), doubles (27) and RBIs (60), while hitting 14 home runs.

    Improvements were also noticeable defensively. LaRue caught 32.9 percent of runners stealing, up from 29.6 percent in 2004, and reduced his number of passed balls allowed from 15 to six.

    Last month, Cincinnati rewarded LaRue with a two-year contract for $9.1 million.

    "I'm tickled to death that LaRue is signed," Narron said. "I don't think he gets the credit he deserves as a leader on this team."

    Overlooked or not, that should change in 2006. Longtime first baseman and clubhouse leader Sean Casey was dealt away this winter, which made LaRue -- who first appeared in the Majors with the Reds in 1999 -- the longest tenured member on the club. He embraces the responsibility of leading.

    "I try to play the game the right way -- or the old way, as I consider it," LaRue said, after his new contract was announced on Dec. 21. "I'll just go and take care of business and try to be a leader like Casey was. I'll step up, do the right things and help the younger guys along to do the right things."

    Valentin, who avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $1.15 million contract on Jan. 15, is coming off the most productive campaign of a big league career that has spanned parts of seven seasons. His .281 average, 14 homers and 36 runs scored all were career bests.

    Further down the depth chart, Dane Sardinha will have a chance to win a spot on the 25-man roster with a solid Spring Training. Sardinha, a second-round pick in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, spent the past two seasons at Triple-A Louisville. Miguel Perez, 22, made the sizeable leap from high Class A Sarasota to the Majors last season and is considered a promising prospect.

    Meanwhile, issues remain for LaRue and Valentin in the present. They handled a staff that ranked lowest in the National League with a 5.15 ERA and 219 home runs allowed last year. Reds pitchers will lean on them for help working deeper into games and staying out of trouble.

    "They go over and beyond to get better defensively and really make an effort to work with our pitching staff," O'Brien said. "In the second half last year, they helped our younger pitchers get acclimated to the Major Leagues. That played a part in our second-half improvement."

    No doubt, that type of work will be key if there is to be any full-season progress made in the NL Central during 2006.

    http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/NASAp...=.jsp&c_id=cin
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  3. #2
    You know his story Redsland's Avatar
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    I understand that the new guy has a learning curve here, but it's been a couple months and he's still printing garbage like "Dane Sardinha will have a chance to win a spot on the 25-man roster with a solid Spring Training."

    DanO is apparently his only source and everything he says is printed as gospel. At this point in his journalitic career, Mark Sheldon is nothing but a mouthpiece for the front office.

    Or maybe that's what MLB.com wants.
    Makes all the routine posts.

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    Puffy 3:16 Puffy's Avatar
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    I was thinking the same thing - if you have two catchers who deserve starting time (meaning one is always on the bench when he rightfully could be playing) why on earth would you waste a third precious spot on a catcher, who can't hit I might add, when you have so many other needs.

    Not to mention with a pitching staff this bad you're gonna have to carry 12 pitchers, which eats up a roster spot, thereby making it virtually impossible to carry a third catcher.

    Great reporting.
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamBoone
    "I'm tickled to death that LaRue is signed," Narron said. "I don't think he gets the credit he deserves as a leader on this team."[/url]
    I totally agree with Narron and for that I'm going to say right now that the Reds are going finish at least at 81-81 this year. The days of the Reds being soft are gone and now they will play up to their ability which with their current roster is a .500 ballclub. There is no Sean Casry to go crying to in the clubhouse when you have an ERA of 6.47. The lack of true leadership is something the Reds have lacked since Barry Larkin left and with LaRue stepping up it will make the Reds at least somewhat better.

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by harangatang
    The lack of true leadership is something the Reds have lacked since Barry Larkin left and with LaRue stepping up it will make the Reds at least somewhat better.
    I think the lack of true pitching probably had alot more to do with it.

    Leadership is overrated when a team is ranked dead last in pitching year after year.

    Softness had nothing to do with it.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by wheels
    I think the lack of true pitching probably had alot more to do with it.

    Leadership is overrated when a team is ranked dead last in pitching year after year.

    Softness had nothing to do with it.
    But that is what he thinks made a bad problem worse. Did it? Personally, considering that this team needs to be gutted, it probably doesn't matter.

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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by wheels
    I think the lack of true pitching probably had alot more to do with it.

    Leadership is overrated when a team is ranked dead last in pitching year after year.

    Softness had nothing to do with it.
    Well no one is going to disagree that the Reds need pitching but at the same time maybe some the pitchers will be better also from not being soft. I realize that Eric Milton will never have an ERA under 4 but having a jump from 4.75 to 6.47 and no injury is from being soft. If someone pulled the team around together as a group the Reds could have easily finished .500 with no problem. So wheels do you remember what happened the first game Eric Milton pitched after Danny Graves got DFA'd? He pitched 8 innings gave up 3 runs and only one of them earned while striking 7 against Washington. All of a sudden things changed and someone took charge of that clubhouse. Something Dave Miley and Sean Casey didn't do. Milton realized he better shape up but unfortunately it last too long. Leadership doesn't only apply to the offense it applies to the pitching staff also. I personally think Larue wanted to get on guys like Milton but Casey would always defend everyone because baseball in his mind is about having fun, not about winning.

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by Aronchis
    But that is what he thinks made a bad problem worse. Did it? Personally, considering that this team needs to be gutted, it probably doesn't matter.
    How in the world would it make it worse?

    Does anyone really think that Sean Casey being gone will make ERA's go down, and homers stop leaving the yard?

    We can sit here a kvetch about a "lack of intangibles" till we're blue in the face, but nothing, I mean nothing supercedes a hideous pitching staff as the number one culprit.

    I have no idea how a better attitude will make sucky pitchers not as sucky all of the sudden.

    Attitude couldn't help Paul Wilson (who purportedly has a very good one) stay healthy.

    I've never heard one bad thing about Eric Milton's attitude. The guy even shows up early for Spring Training every year. Where did that get him? Second worst pitcher in all of baseball is where that got him.

    Ever hear a bad thing about Luke Hudson or Josh Hancock's work habits? I haven't.

    We all like to believe that if we work hard enough, or pray hard enough, or help old ladies cross the street it will pay off with better life's results. Truth is, if you're just flat out not good at what you do, you will remain as such. People will just like you a little more.

    Frankly, I'm sick of liking the Reds. I'd rather they be a bunch of foul mouthed filthy troglodites if it meant better results.

    The whole "winning attitude" mantra bores me to tears.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by harangatang
    Well no one is going to disagree that the Reds need pitching but at the same time maybe some the pitchers will be better also from not being soft. I realize that Eric Milton will never have an ERA under 4 but having a jump from 4.75 to 6.47 and no injury is from being soft. If someone pulled the team around together as a group the Reds could have easily finished .500 with no problem. So wheels do you remember what happened the first game Eric Milton pitched after Danny Graves got DFA'd? He pitched 8 innings gave up 3 runs and only one of them earned while striking 7 against Washington. All of a sudden things changed and someone took charge of that clubhouse. Something Dave Miley and Sean Casey didn't do. Milton realized he better shape up but unfortunately it last too long. Leadership doesn't only apply to the offense it applies to the pitching staff also. I personally think Larue wanted to get on guys like Milton but Casey would always defend everyone because baseball in his mind is about having fun, not about winning.
    First thing...Eric Milton's got a degenerative knee. Degenerative means "getting worse". There's your injury right there. I frankly see no correlation between Graves' departure and a supposed Milton resurgence. Every pitcher tosses a gem here and there, even the putrid ones.

    Jason Larue went out of his way to defend Milton at every turn. He simply wasn't going to trash a guy to the media, it had nothing to do with Sean Casey for crying out loud.

    Even if it did, we'd have no way of knowing, because we aren't in the clubhouse.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by wheels
    Does anyone really think that Sean Casey being gone will make ERA's go down
    If players know they have to live up to the expectations that they are capable of then I think it will lower ERA's on the team.




    Quote Originally Posted by wheels
    I've never heard one bad thing about Eric Milton's attitude. The guy even shows up early for Spring Training every year. Where did that get him? Second worst pitcher in all of baseball is where that got him.
    It's not the fact that Milton's attitude is bad it's the fact that Casey would defend him (and did) if he didn't live up to the expectations of what is he capable, a 4.75 ERA. Guys knew they could get away with things and no one would check them because there was no leadership that put an emphasis on winning.

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    You seem to think a 4.75 ERA is something to live up to.

    I'll say it again.

    Your argument that Casey "stuck up for him" and that's why he stunk holds less water than a thimble full of holes.

    Neither you, nor I are a fly on the wall of that clubhouse.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by wheels
    First thing...Eric Milton's got a degenerative knee. Degenerative means "getting worse". There's your injury right there. I frankly see no correlation between Graves' departure and a supposed Milton resurgence. Every pitcher tosses a gem here and there, even the putrid ones.

    Jason Larue went out of his way to defend Milton at every turn. He simply wasn't going to trash a guy to the media, it had nothing to do with Sean Casey for crying out loud.

    Even if it did, we'd have no way of knowing, because we aren't in the clubhouse.
    I know LaRue has defended Milton in the media but you know the LaRue has to be upset when he is off the record. Yet if he would have tried to do anything to make Milton better overall, I guarantee Sean Casey would have defended Milton to the bitter end because that the way the clubhouse was with Sean Casey as it's leader.

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Awwww....Forget it.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    Quote Originally Posted by wheels
    You seem to think a 4.75 ERA is something to live up to.

    I'll say it again.

    Your argument that Casey "stuck up for him" and that's why he stunk holds less water than a thimble full of holes.

    Neither you, nor I are a fly on the wall of that clubhouse.
    A 4.75 ERA is nothing to live up to but its what Milton is capable of, not a 6.47 ERA.

    I'll tell you what wheels, I know that you'll never believe what I have to say so let's do this, we'll let the Reds decide if your right or if I'm right. I'll guarantee the Reds will finish at least .500 this year without Sean Casey in the clubhouse and come October you'll see that I'm right.

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    Re: Majors' best catching combo, LaRue, Valentin try for reprise (1/18)

    It's sad that the really great things on the Reds - Dunn, Griffey's semi-rebirth last year, this offensive output from the catchers - are buried under the front office's incompetence.

    There are some special things like this going on with this team, but O'Brien sort of ruins it all.

    I think this season I'll be able to enjoy individual accomplishments like this more, since my expectations for the team could not possibly be lower and my anger at O'B is pretty much spent.


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