So what's a fan of a recently eliminated baseball team to do? The hot stove isn't really ablaze until the playoffs are over and the flames begin to lick those twin logs, "trade rumors" and "contract talks." I'm already in off-season form with that horrible extended metaphor.
EDIT: This item reared its head on the Rotoworld ticker: Reds GM Walt Jocketty hinted Wednesday that the club is unlikely to exercise Orlando Cabrera's $4 million mutual option for 2011."It's probably more than we want to exercise, we'll try to find a happy medium," Jocketty told WKRC Sports Director Brad Johansen. "If not Janish would be our (shortstop)." One way to parse this is that the Reds want to bring Cabrera back at half price. But since he's unlikely to return as a bench or platoon player, they could just as well move on. It's worth bearing in mind that there's not much on the market available to the Reds which would be a big upgrade over Cabrera and Janish. And the subtext of not picking up the $4MM option could also be that the Reds are trying to trim where they can to make room for contract extensions and a possible marquee free agent acquisition. That's called benefit of the doubt and you earned it!
Mayor Mallory fetes the Reds for their successful season
Hear ye, a platitudinous proclamation hast been issued. I for one, like to buy into the illusion that team and town are one. It beats rooting for an ownership group. And though the economic ROI for professional sports is questionable, the Reds have produced at least a little goodwill and good press for their efforts this year.
The 2010 Reds took their turn in Big League Stew's "Dear John Letters"
Mo Egger of ESPN 1530 steps to the plate. He offers an entertaining and clear-eyed love-hate letter to the Reds season, listing MC Hammer's GABP performance as the #2 moment and flogging our cause célèbre, putting Janish at short next year. This was a particularly slick use of analogy:
The Good Times: God, where do I start? Joey Votto. He was a walking good time, even if he constantly had a look on his face that made you think he just remembered he had an overdue library book.
I think this expression stems from the fact that Votto is both highly focused and fairly perfectionist - so what ends up registering on his face is something that resembled slight perturbation.
Hall o' Famer Hal takes a look at the state of the financial house for the offseason
Not sure who he's citing, but Hal tells us "industry insiders peg Votto’s arbitration worth in the $7.5 million category for 2011." Seems a little low considering Howard's $10MM following his MVP season at firstbase, but Votto did not put up the counting stats that Howard did. I'm still not sure what to make of Votto's response to talk of a contract extension, which Hal describes as "a polite, non-committal, 'I don’t know." There probably isn't much to be read into a vague answer about contract status in-season, but I'm one who thinks the Reds should have moved on this last season. They have far less leverage now that Votto has played an MVP-caliber season - they'll have to offer Votto something above what he can expect in his arbitration years, in exchange for, hopefully, a few of his free agent years. How far below market value the salary falls depends on how much security Votto is hoping for, rather than, ultimately, testing the free agent waters. Now that he's established himself as an elite player, this gap has narrowed like the mind of a Philadelphia sports writer. Even if Joey's sure he wants to stay in Cincinnati, his best offer from the Reds may come from waiting. If I were the Reds, I'd start importing a lot more poutine to the area.
Some Thoughts on Nakajima from FanGraphs
The Japanese NPB star may be the most eligible free agent shortstop on the market if he's posted. I'd assumed his fee would be more, but I've heard $5MM as a possible figure. I don't think the Reds are in a position to pay $5MM this offseason just to negotiate with a free agent, buy "Nakaji" is also probably the only free agent for which it'll be worth shelling out. The other top alternatives bandied about are Juan Uribe (31, fresh off a career year, with a rock-bottom lifetime OBP) and Derek Jeter (not really a free agent, for all practical purposes). Without Stephen Drew on the block, it's almost inescapable to me that Janish is the best we've got.
Throwing an obscure, nearly useless tool into the works, this MLB Trade Rumors poll on Orlando Cabrera
calls our attention to the fact that Cabrera actually posted a better UZR/150 than Janish this year. I think this has to be a result of the limits of defensive data over a single season and Janish's small sample. Defensive metrics, it can be fairly said, are highly flawed. No one, based on multi-season numbers or firsthand observation, would say Cabrera is a better defender than Janish, though he may not have been as bad as detractors would like to believe. Still, is there any justification for bringing back Cabrera at $4MM? I have trouble believing they would pick up options on both Gomes and Cabrera, largely on their clubhouse contributions, and Gomes looks like a shoo-in right now.