Johnny Cueto: Superman or Stopper?
Hall o' Famer Hal isn't sure what the "S" on Cueto's chest stands for, but either one is appropriate. Cueto's 1.98 ERA would be the best in NL if he had enough innings to qualify for that prestigious distinction, but he's about two innings shy. He's pretty good, yeah?
It's possible that there are more top-tier pitchers available this summer than we might have initially thought
The Rays are now seven games out and could be persuaded to part with James Shields. In that event, the Reds are interested. They are still looking at Ubaldo Jimenez, but Shields would make a perfectly suitable alternative just in case.
A quick comparison of the two: Shields is two years older and has club options for the next three years of his contract that total $28 mil. Jimenez is due $10 mil for the next two years, with an $8mil option for a third that turns into a player option if he gets traded. So Jimenez is definitely cheaper. He's better too, as his career FIP is 3.57. Shields is no slouch though, as he clocks in at 3.92. Obviously I'd rather have Jimenez, but if the rumors are true and O'Dowd is asking for the moon, perhaps the Rays would be more reasonable with their asking price for Shields. Of course, it's entirely possible that neither of these guys are available at all.
Many trade rumors are swirling right now
and one has the Reds interested in Chone Figgins. I don't think this rumor has any particular merit to it, mostly because Figgins is the worst player in baseball this year. He's hitting worse than Paul Janish and would only fit in LF for the Reds. There really is nothing to see here. But I would like to talk a bit about the kind of player that Figgins is and an aspect of player valuation that I think goes unnoticed, or at least undernoticed.
Figgins reminds me a bit of RR favorite Ryan Freel. Freel was one of the best players on the Reds in '05 and '06, compiling about 7 fWAR over those two seasons. He made his bones by getting on base at a ~.370 clip and stealing 36 and 37 bases, respectively. He was also a plus fielder, totaling around 25 UZR over those two years. But I think the most valuable aspect of his games goes uncalculated in these WAR totals.
Freel played 10 or more games at 5 different positions, covering 3B, 2B, and all three OF positions for those injury-riddled Reds teams. That kind of versatility off the bench is definitely worth something that I think WAR fails to understand. Roster redundancy has been an issue with recent Reds teams. Joey Votto cut his teeth as a platoon partner with Scott Hatteberg, Miguel Cairo does everything Edgar Renteria can do, and there have been long stretches where the Reds have carried three catchers. Filling roster spots with players that do the same thing means one fewer spot for a more useful player. Having both Cairo and Renteria means having only one left-handed bat on the bench. And while an optimized roster means only a few potential additional runs on the margins, those runs are precious nevertheless.
These were runs that Ryan Freel brought to the team by being able to cover so many positions so well. These are runs I think Chone Figgins could provide, or at least did back when he was good. So I guess my point is that while we all know that WAR isn't the omnibus stat we wish it was, this is an area I think it would be worth investigating. Does anybody know of any research that has been done on this issue?
Jon Morosi is reporting that the Braves are interested in Jonny Gomes
Though I'm not sure how reliable he is, since he also mentions that Fred Lewis is making more starts and therefore means Gomes is expendable. All that aside, if the Braves really are interested in the Gomer, I would shed only a few tears. He's hit much better since his putrid start to the season, but he's still a very limited player. If the Reds could get something at all for him and get Chris Heisey more playing time, it would probably be a positive move.
Mike Newman at Scouting the Sally says the Bats are brimming with botential brade bait
He went to the Bats/Braves game to check out Devin Mesoraco, Yonder Alonso, Dave Sappelt, and Todd Frazier. He doesn't even mention other chips in Travis Wood, Brad Boxberger, and Juan Francisco. The Reds definitely have the resources to massively upgrade the big league roster. Whether they do or not is big question.
Jon Heyman lists his top trade chips for the deadline
These are the names we'll see floating around over the next week or so. The guys I'd most like to see in Red are #6 Ubaldo Jimenez, #2 Jose Reyes, and #1 Carlos Beltran. This list is a bit stale though, as JJ Hardy is listed at #12 even though he just signed a three year extension with the Orioles.
It looks like Jonathan Correa's suspension is for lying about his age
rather than another drug use charge. 'creds convinced me he was a good prospect, so I had high hopes for the guy, but if it turns out he's in his mid-20s I'm going to be thoroughly unimpressed with his 2.46 ERA in rookie ball. See ya next spring, Jonny. Maybe.
Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was severely beaten by Dodger fans on Opening Day,
had a seizure early this week which precipitated an emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. Remember, this happened on Opening Day and the guy is still in serious condition. Doctors still aren't sure exactly how he'll end up, as he could possibly remain in this limbo near-vegetable state or even see a full recovery and return to normal function.