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Thread: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Here's Lonnie Wheeler's column in today's Cincinnati Post:

    Dealing budding slugger Pena a risk worth taking

    Column by The Post's Lonnie Wheeler

    They traded the right guy for the best they could do. Wily Mo Pena may hit 60 home runs in some not-distant season, but a general manager cannot allow himself to be hogtied by the potential of a conspicuously imperfect player.

    It comes down to scouting, which Wayne Krivsky, the Reds' new guy, has done a lot of in recent years. So informed, he was able to peer over the vast shoulders and recognize that Pena, for all his spectacular power, remains a can-miss prospect. The big fellow demonstrates it with each fly-ball adventure and every awkward strikeout.

    An athlete like Pena can put fear in the other team, and even more in his own. No GM wants to be the guy who traded Babe Ruth. The best ones are sufficiently self-assured to act on the probabilities that they calculate with discerning eyes and seasoned judgment.

    In the essential arithmetic of the Reds, Pena's number was up. The team needed pitching more than it needed him. Had he been immobilized by the possibility that Pena will become a more complete ballplayer, Krivsky, in the tradition of more timid executives, would have turned down Bronson Arroyo for his starting left fielder. He chose, instead, to accept the cardinal commodity that was being offered, rather generously, for the Wily Mo we know.

    Some guys are just ballplayers. Pena isn't one of those. The young slugger, at 24, is not without prodigious gifts, chief among them being the ability to send baseballs far out of ballparks when met squarely; but in his sport, the more fundamental skill is the meeting squarely. It's the command of the game, the instinct to adjust to clever pitches and twisting line drives and sudden scenarios. On those accounts, Pena's upside is seriously compromised.

    Credit Krivsky for the courage to act on that sober truth and suppress the dread of what Pena's brute strength might enable him to one day do. Credit Krivsky for making a deal that Cincinnati badly needed.

    His eager owner, Bob Castellini, has been spinning optimistic takes on the Reds' pitching staff; but Krivsky knew better. So, deep down, did Castellini. Especially after Saturday.

    On that unsettling afternoon, two of the Reds' new pitchers started games simultaneously. Dave Williams, the dividend for Sean Casey and an immediate member of the Cincinnati rotation, surrendered eight earned runs in just over three innings against the Braves. Michael Gosling, once the leading candidate to occupy the fifth starting slot while Paul Wilson works his way back, gave up the same number while recording just one out against the Pirates. Meanwhile, over the first three weeks of the Grapefruit season, Wilson and Eric Milton have pitched just two-thirds of an inning between them.

    Suddenly, the need was so blatantly urgent that somebody had to go. Adam Dunn would have fetched a better pitcher than Arroyo, but a Dunn deal would have sent away a singular player and severely lessened the everyday lineup. With Pena, it isn't necessarily so.

    His departure from the outfield strengthens it defensively, which wouldn't have been the case if Austin Kearns had been the traded player. Without Pena - with Dunn back in left field and Scott Hatteberg (a prior and forward-looking purchase on Krivsky's part) at first base - manager Jerry Narron, a defensive kind of dude and big fan of little things, can tinker with his several professionals, putting to better use some combination of Ryan Freel, Tony Womack, Quinton McCracken and Matt Kata.

    So it's all good if Arroyo can pitch. He is a reasonable return for a player of Pena's unpredictability, a solid starter on the rise - his last two seasons have been his best - and arriving in his prime. The same, of course, could have been said last year of Milton, and we know how that worked out; but Arroyo is less expensive and more likely to keep the ball in the county.

    A lanky right-hander who records grunge-rock guitar and was actually named for Charles Bronson (the tough-guy actor), Arroyo surrendered only five home runs to right-handed batters last year, a curious thing considering he pitched at Fenway Park. He gave up 17 to lefties, which suggests, wrongly, that he surmounted Boston's peculiar parameters.

    The fact is, he was a far better pitcher in other places, as attested by his road earned run average, which was fifth-best in the American League. His frequency of walks was 10th best. His opponent batting average was ninth.

    He pitched 205 innings. He won 14 games. His 20 quality starts were the most on the Red Sox and one more than Aaron Harang engineered in leading the Reds.

    Put it all together, and he was pretty fair.

    The same could be said for the trade.

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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    It is amazing how every move they make seems to make the 2006 team worse. Unless the fascination with Womack and Hatteberg is nothing but a smokescreen. I for one think they actually believe that those two have value as everyday players.

    Well they do have value as everyday players, it's just that it's negative value.
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    I'm all for leaving Dunner at first and putting Denorfia in the outfield. Leave Hatteberg on the bench and sneak Womack on the plane to Boston with Wily Mo!

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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by scounts22
    I'm all for leaving Dunner at first and putting Denorfia in the outfield. Leave Hatteberg on the bench and sneak Womack on the plane to Boston with Wily Mo!
    Yeah, they don't know Wily, except that he's big. Krivsky could just say he's so big that he looks like two guys.
    Next Reds manager, second shooter. --Confirmed on Redszone.

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85
    It is amazing how every move they make seems to make the 2006 team worse. Unless the fascination with Womack and Hatteberg is nothing but a smokescreen. I for one think they actually believe that those two have value as everyday players.

    Well they do have value as everyday players, it's just that it's negative value.
    I would respectively disagree. I don't think this move made the 2006 team worse. I think it was absolutely clear last Saturday that this pitching staff was deeply inadequate. It has been improved.

    I think too that we all knew that when Hatteberg was signed that something would be in the works. Clearly he is a stopgap. He's not the future at first base (and that may well be Adam Dunn, only time will tell). As for Womack, the Reds are saddled with him or his salary because of the dimwitted trade for him. I suspect, there's still something in the works there too. I don't think it's an accident that the Reds picked up Matt Kata. I don't know what that will be or if it will be, but my guess is, something will happen there. If it doesn't, these are the cards we've been dealt because of the late transfer of the ownership.

    joe

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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz
    I would respectively disagree. I don't think this move made the 2006 team worse. I think it was absolutely clear last Saturday that this pitching staff was deeply inadequate. It has been improved.
    and the offense has clearly been made worseby replacing WMP with Hatteberg. A lateral move at best.

    Project 2006 VORP
    WMP +18.3
    Hatteberg -4.0

    Arroyo 25.6
    Germano 6.4

    When you consider the poor defense of Hatteberg it is really hard to see how this is anything but a wash for the Reds.
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    It is amazing how every move they make seems to make the 2006 team worse.
    Worse than what?

    The last 5 years has been a blur of bad, losing a bopper without many other skills is hardly the end of an era of great play by the Reds.

    What's more amazing (to me) is that Reds fans actually think that it can get worse... this season was circling the drain at the end of last season, any move that didn't include complete total roster revamp would result only in a stray win here or there.

    I'll gamble that the Reds are about as bad as they were last year, maybe with better pitching this year and a little worse runs scorced, that said they still smell like rotton milk.

    But at least someone started to clean out the fridge, WMP was the first move.

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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    But at least someone started to clean out the fridge, WMP was the first move.
    Trouble was he bypassed all the really stinky cheese. I don't know how you clean your fridge but I don't do it by starting with the stuff that hasn't expired yet and ignoring all the containers that expired years ago.
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Hatteberg has always been known as a great defensive first baseman. When did he lose his skills?
    Am I a five tooler?

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Worse than what?

    The last 5 years has been a blur of bad, losing a bopper without many other skills is hardly the end of an era of great play by the Reds.

    What's more amazing (to me) is that Reds fans actually think that it can get worse... this season was circling the drain at the end of last season, any move that didn't include complete total roster revamp would result only in a stray win here or there.

    I'll gamble that the Reds are about as bad as they were last year, maybe with better pitching this year and a little worse runs scorced, that said they still smell like rotton milk.

    But at least someone started to clean out the fridge, WMP was the first move.
    Thank you.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Worse than what?

    The last 5 years has been a blur of bad, losing a bopper without many other skills is hardly the end of an era of great play by the Reds.

    What's more amazing (to me) is that Reds fans actually think that it can get worse... this season was circling the drain at the end of last season, any move that didn't include complete total roster revamp would result only in a stray win here or there.

    I'll gamble that the Reds are about as bad as they were last year, maybe with better pitching this year and a little worse runs scorced, that said they still smell like rotton milk.

    But at least someone started to clean out the fridge, WMP was the first move.
    Of course if your not restocking the fridge while you clean it out you wind up real hungry. Replacing sour milk with moldy bread doesn't really help.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85
    Trouble was he bypassed all the really stinky cheese.
    The real trouble is that everyone assumes that the cheese is the meal and not just something that sits there in case some mold needs to be removed and sustenance is needed.

    Every year some relic is assigned a saviour tag and every year millions of zeros and ones are wasted on debating the merits of guys that will eventually play themselves out of a position.

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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by graveyard
    Hatteberg has always been known as a great defensive first baseman. When did he lose his skills?
    he is a catcher converted to first. He has always been below average at first. He has less speed and range than Casey, basically a short statue. There isn't any objective data(but there is anecdotal evidence in the babblings of Narron) to suggest that Hatteberg was anything but poor at 1b. Maybe there was a reason Hatteberg spent most of last year as the DH and Dan Johnson played first for A's.
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Every year some relic is assigned a saviour tag and every year millions of zeros and ones are wasted on debating the merits of guys that will eventually play themselves out of a position.
    but what faith should be placed in a GM and manager that can't identify the relics at a distance but instead must have the ineptitude proven to them?
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Wheeler's Take on the Trade in the Post

    I really don't think that the Hatteberg/Womack spectre will hang around long.

    Both of those guys are going to go into serious funks at one time or another, and they'll be quickly exposed.

    Let's just hope that Encarnacion and an improved and healthy Kearns can shoulder that load until Narron wakes up.

    ...I still have a feeling that Womack won't make the club.

    I'd like to think that Krivsky's IQ is significantly higher than DanO's.

    It's Narron that I worry about.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn


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