See discussion of the Reds' specific list here. I'm basically with everyone else- resign Asadoorian and Perez and *maybe* Ramirez, let the rest walk. Part 2 will cover "reclamation projects".
Here's some other names on the big list that might be of interest:
Player ages as of April 1, 2008
Ezequiel Astacio, RHS/RHR (Rangers). Astacio, 28, was sort of the Astros’ version of Elizardo Ramirez for a few years; a skinny Dominican with good control. (In fact, the Phils had sent Astacio to Houston in the Billy Wagner deal of 2003.) Ezequiel gave up 23 homers in 81 IP in 2005 for Houston, however (thanks, Juice Box) and ended up signing with Texas for ’07, where he put up a 5.50 ERA for AAA Oklahoma City with nine homers in 52.1 innings (but 56 Ks). I realize that the Reds play in a launching pad of their own, but if this guy could just chop his homer rate by half or even a third, he stands the chance of being effective in the major leagues.
Jeff Bajenaru, RHR (Diamondbacks). Much like Buddy Hernandez and Lee Gronkiewicz below, Bajenaru, 29, has consistently pitched well in the high minors without getting a real big-league chance. In 2006 he slumped to a 4.50 ERA in the launching pad at AAA Tucson, but prior to that he turned in a 1.41 mark in 2005 (AAA Charlotte) and 1.51 in 2004 between AA and AAA. He missed 2007 due to injury. According to Wikipedia, he also may be the only active player that is a member of the Society of American Baseball Research.
Colter Bean, RHR (Yankees). It’s somewhat tragic- the 31-year-old Bean has had the misfortune of a career spent in an organization that won’t give NDFA types a real look. Since reaching AAA in 2003, Bean posted ERAs of 2.87, 2.29, 3.01, and 2.65 before collapsing to 5.95 in ’07. The Yankees rewarded him with a grand total of six appearances spanning seven innings. Colter may not light up radar guns, but he consistently misses bats, doesn’t walk people, and has allowed just 0.4 homers per nine innings in his career.
William Bergolla, 2B (Giants). I know the Reds let him walk before, but Bergolla, 25 and coming off a .306/.363/.433 campaign at AAA Fresno, is a better and younger candidate for big-league utility infielder-dom than most of his competition. More line drives in the bat, more speed on the bases, and maybe even some developing patience (31 BB in 356 AB).
Angel Chavez, INF (Yankees). 26-year-old hits a little more than many while playing all four infield positions. Batted .291/.336/.433 at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2007, and did approximately that well in previous AAA stints in the Phillies and Giants organizations as well. Angel was once traded by the Phillies to the Orioles for the Jeff Conine (’06 trade deadline).
J.D. Closser, C-1B (Athletics). Closser, 28, was an Indiana native and Arizona draftee sent to Colorado in a 2002 trade. He ascended to the Rockies and spent parts of 2004 and 2006 and all of 2005 there, but was claimed by Milwaukee after the ’06 season. Finding little opportunity there, he surfaced at AAA Sacramento and hit .238/.345/.423 in 81 games. J.D. has a career minor-league line of .277/.379/.455, and while his defense reportedly isn’t great at catcher, he’s been good enough to avoid being moved to another position.
Francisco Cruceta and Franklyn German, RHRs (Rangers). Cruceta was traded from the Dodgers to the Indians as part of a three-player package for Paul Shuey (?!) in 2002, then claimed off waivers by Seattle in 2005 and Texas in 2006. Meanwhile, the 26-year-old Dominican had reached AAA at age 22 and struck out more than a man per inning each of the past two seasons at that level. Texas had him primarily working out of the bullpen at AAA Oklahoma City, where he allowed a meager 38 hits in 65.2 IP (3.02 ERA) while whiffing 70 in 2007. The year before, he struck out 185 in 160 IP as a starter for AAA Tacoma. Sure, he’ll walk some people (3.8 per nine as a pro) and can give up the longball as well, but more time spent in the bullpen might pay off.
Meanwhile, German, 28, struck out 72 (and walked 46) in 59.1 innings for the same OKC club with a 3.45 ERA. You may remember him from his days in Detroit (after his acquisition by the Tigers along with Jeremy Bonderman in a 2002 three-way trade), where he struggled with his control through parts of four seasons. Claimed by Florida at the beginning of 2006, he then missed most of that year before landing in the Texas organization. Control problems have dogged German his entire career, but you just never know when things could suddenly click into place.
Yurendell DeCaster, UT (Pirates). This 28-year-old Curacao native, player of first, second, third, and the corner outfield, has languished at AAA Indianapolis the past three seasons with lines of .280/.346/.453, .273/.330/.418, and .280/.380/.413. What in the world is Pittsburgh doing?
Matt Erickson, INF (Diamondbacks). Sort of the Craig Counsell of the high minors, the 32-year-old Erickson has been at AAA since 2001, compiling a career .300/.391/.390 line with just six big-league at-bats to his credit. Erickson might be a better alternative as a backup utility infielder who can play shortstop than some of the no-stick, decent-glove Pedro Lopez types floating around.
Ron Flores, LHR (Athletics). Flores, 28, has posted better than a strikeout per inning in the minors and a 3.05 ERA in 53 big-league appearances, yet is held in light-enough regard to be denied a 40-man spot.
Travis Foley, RHR (Athletics). A fourth-round pick in 2001 by the Indians out of a Louisville high school, Foley has pitched well in Double-A the past three years and is still just 25.
Mike Gallo, LHR (Rockies). Gallo appeared in 160 games for the Astros between 2003-2006, so that’s why you remember the lefty- as the guy consistently coming in to ground Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr. out to second base to end the seventh inning. Anyway, Gallo’s 4.11 career ERA in those 160 games isn’t terrible considering the home park (1.5 homers per nine, yep). He was cuffed around at AAA Colorado Springs in 2007 (5.10 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) but could probably hold his own at GABP given all that experience with the launching pads.
Tony Granadillo, 2B-3B (Red Sox). Just 23, Granadillo was swiped from the Cardinals organization in the minor-league Rule 5 draft back in December 2004. He hit .326/.411/.492 for High-A Lancaster this year and .280/.357/.451 for AA Greenville in 2006.
Buddy Hernandez, RHR (Braves) and Lee Gronkiewicz, RHR (Blue Jays). These two have had uphill battles their entire careers. Hernandez, 29, is a five-foot-nine NDFA who, outside of the loss of nearly two entire years to injury, has never posted an ERA higher than 3.42. Fellow NDFA Gronkiewicz, five-ten and also twenty-nine, has never been above 3.27. Lee is/was a member of Team USA’s 2007 World Cup squad (the one that Jay Bruce had to ultimately back out on). Neither pitcher walks many and both keep the ball in the park.
Michel Hernandez, C (Rays). The 29-year-old Hernandez’ .260/.330/.340 career line may not say much, but the Cuban consistently shows good plate discipline and excellent contact skills, walking as often as he strikes out. Just trying to make the point that catchers who aren’t offensive zeroes are out there for the taking.
Travis Hughes, RHR (Red Sox). Hughes, 30, has dominated the International League each of the past three seasons as a late-inning guy (the previous two for AAA New Orleans when it was the Washington affiliate). He was 7-6 with a 1.91 ERA, 24 saves, and just three homers allowed in 75.1 IP for Pawtucket in ’07.
Justin Knoedler, C (Giants). Another Miami grad, the 27-year-old Knoedler was a fifth-round pick in 2001 by San Francisco. He had three brief stints in the bigs with the Giants in 2004-2006, but didn’t get the call in ’07 despite his best offensive year yet (.288/.346/.470 in 89 games at AAA Fresno). With a career pro line of .266/.335/.412, he hits better than many big-league backup catchers.
Ben Kozlowski, LHR (Yankees). Familiar name, yeah, but Koz, 27, last seen in the Reds organization in early 2006 when he was the PTBNL sent to the Dodgers in exchange for organizational stalwart Cody Ross (Dan O’Brien had claimed Ben on waivers in October 2004 from the Rangers), might be worth another look. Released by LA after the ’06 season, Kozlowski landed with AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre, where he put up a 3.00 ERA as a (mostly) reliever in 81 IP. Ben gave up eight homers, but just 71 hits and 31 walks with 80 Ks.
Marshall McDougall, UT (Dodgers). Recovering from injuries that cost him almost all of 2006, the 29-year-old utilityman and former College World Series MVP (1999, with Florida State) bounced back to hit 22 homers and drive in 95 runs between AA Jacksonville and AAA Las Vegas in 2007. Perhaps primarily a third baseman, McDougall has also played second, first, short, and the outfield.
Salomon Manriquez, C (Rangers). Only 25, the Venezuelan hit .275/.341/.518 at AA Frisco in 2007 and also hit pretty decently at High-A Potomac and AA Harrisburg with the Nationals the two seasons before that.
Roman Martinez, RHR (Mariners). The 23-year-old Martinez’ 4.48 ERA in High-A in 2007 doesn’t look particularly special- until you take into account that it was in High Desert, the minors’ most extreme hitting environment. On top of that, Martinez struck out 85 in 88.1 IP and walked only 26. If a pitcher can succeed at High Desert, he has a solid chance of succeeding a lot of places.
Adam Morrissey, UT (Angels) and Jason Bourgeois, UT (White Sox). The 26-year-old Australian Morrissey has a career minor-league line of .274/.366/.402 and can play third, second, outfield, and a little short. Once traded by the Cubs to the Athletics for Mark Bellhorn (2001). He reached AAA at age 23 and has still never had a single major-league at-bat. The Texas native Bourgeois, also 26, is basically the same player with a little less power but a little more speed (career line .273/.339/.382, 38 SB in 2007 between AA and AAA). If you think back to when the Reds signed Ryan Freel, either of these are basically the same guy with a different accent and differing preferences in barbecue.
Val Pascucci, OF-1B (Marlins). After missing 2005 due to injury, the former Expos/Nationals slugging prospect battled his way back into pro ball after spending 2006 with the Chiba Lotte Marines. He then hit .284/.389/.577 for AAA Albuquerque with 34 homers, 98 RBI, and 67 walks. Pascucci, 29, has a real possibility of being the next Jack Cust, although Pascucci never got the chances Cust did prior to breakout and is a better fielder (damning with faint praise).
Scott Patterson, RHR (Yankees). Unsigned out of college, the six-foot-seven Patterson (now 28) pitched in the independent leagues for four and a half years before the Yankees signed him in mid-2006. He dominated at Trenton (2.33 ERA in 20 games in 2006, 1.09 in 43 games in 2007) but-like so many others- didn’t get the chance to move forward.
Matt Peterson, RHR (Pirates). Acquired in 2004 as part of the Kris Benson three-team deal, Peterson underachieved in Double-A for a couple of years. Pittsburgh shifted him to the bullpen in 2007 and his fortunes took off; he posted a 1.98 ERA in 51 appearances with 29 saves… still in AA. That’s right- he didn’t even get promoted to AAA, much less the big leagues. Peterson, 26, has a grand total of three career AAA appearances. Sometimes I don’t get the Pirates. Make that “often”.
Justin Pope, RHR (Yankees). It’s amazing what the Yankees do to some of their minor-leaguers. Acquired from St. Louis in 2003 in the epic Sterling Hitchcock trade, New York proceeded to let the former first-rounder (28th overall, 2001) rot at AA Trenton for most of the last four seasons despite good numbers. That’s right- despite the pedigree and ERAs of 4.08, 2.81, 2.47, and 3.08 in Eastern League stints between 2004 and 2007, Pope couldn’t even get a permanent trip to AAA! Stunning. He’s now 28 and sorely in need of a change of scenery.
Guillermo Quiroz, C (Rangers). Formerly a power-hitting phenom for Toronto who reached the big leagues at age 22, Quiroz (now 26) has been unable to stick in the Show, both with the Jays as well as the Mariners (who claimed him in early 2006 on waivers). He batted .266/.307/.398 for Oklahoma City in 2007, but has done a little better than that in previous AAA stints. His resume and skillset aren’t a huge amount different than one David Ross’, really (although Ross did hit ten homers in forty games in a 2003 stint); why not have some AAA depth that can hit a little?
Erasmo Ramirez, LHR (Marlins). The thing separating this 28-year-old from many of his portsiding peers is simple: pinpoint control. Ramirez has walked just 1.6 batters per nine innings in the minors and just 1.74 in 91 big-league appearances with Texas (2003-2005), Oakland (2007) and Florida (2007).
Juan Richardson, 3B-1B (Cardinals). The 27-year-old Richardson, a Miami (OH) graduate and former NDFA signee by Philadelphia, has hit .311/.381/.500 and .291/.369/.472 the past two seasons at AA Springfield but can’t seem to get a promotion to AAA.
Ryan Roberts, UT (Blue Jays). Roberts, 27, can play six or seven positions (he even caught two games at AAA Syracuse in 2007) and has a career pro line of .268/.370/.445. Remember, it was the Blue Jays who first discarded a scrappy second baseman named Ryan Freel.
Felix Romero, RHR (Orioles). Simply put: this guy has struck out almost eleven men per nine innings professionally while walking less than three. Why he’s never made it above Double-A at age 27, I don’t know.
Mike Rose, C (Indians). Thirteen pro seasons and nine organizations in, the 31-year-old catcher and his fifty-four big-league at-bats have a career .263/.371/.407 line in the minors. Rose is probably the best-hitting six-year free-agent catcher on the market this offseason.
Bobby Scales, UT (Red Sox). Scales, 30, switch-hits and can play first, second, third, and the outfield. Originally a Padres property before passing through Philadelphia and Boston as a six-year guy, Bobby has spent almost all of the previous four seasons at AAA. His lines in the last three of those years: .274/.372/.447, .291/.369/.451, and .294/.373/.472.
Jason Stanford, LHS (Indians). I’m still not sure why the 31-year-old Stanford re-upped with Cleveland for the ’07 year after getting less than a hundred big-league innings in the previous four years despite consistently solid AAA numbers. He made it up for 26.1 innings in ’07 after a 4.11 ERA in Buffalo, but here he is on the six-year list again. The guy’s lefthanded, has a 3.61 career big-league ERA in 87.1 innings, and has clearly overcome the injuries that cost him most of 2005- will he wise up and try someone else this year?
Jorge Vasquez, RHR (Rangers). After reaching the big leagues at 22 (KC in 2004, Atlanta in 2005), Vasquez was a six-year free agent at 24, signing with the Pirates for the ’06 year. He was inexplicably stuck at AA Altoona and left there despite dominating the Eastern League (2.08 ERA, 87 K in 65 IP, 45 H, 20 BB). Texas picked him up for ’07, where he again whiffed a bunch (69 in 52.2 IP between AA and AAA) despite missing some time with injuries. I’m not sure why this 26-year-old Dominican gets no respect; I guess 11.1 Ks per nine innings as a pro isn’t enough.
Anthony Webster, OF (Rangers). Webster, 24, spent 2007 at AA Frisco after reaching AAA the year before. He was part of the 2003 deadline trade in which the White Sox acquired Carl Everett from Texas. The lefty-swinging Webster has stolen at least sixteen bases in each of his professional seasons, makes nice contact (never more than 69 Ks in a season), and is young enough to develop more power. Batted .277/.320/.411 at Frisco and has a career pro line of .296/.353/.424.