Nick Kirby scans the team's roster to determine where the Reds may be able to most efficiently upgrade the squad. He thinks that Zack Cozart is an appealing option on the surface, but that upon closer inspection, the Reds should concentrate on improving another position. Kirby believes that people focus too much on Cozart's shortcomings and not enough on his strengths. As Kirby says, Cozart has "been miscast as a top of the order hitter."
Cozart hit .254/.284/.381 last season. The National League's eighth-spot batters hit .238/.302/.346; the league's shortstops hit .254/.309/.372*. Cozart is an acceptable bottom of the order hitter. Sure, we would all like to see him walk another 20 or 30 times a year, but he's not a complete black hole at the plate. In addition, Cozart is an above-average defender, saving 20 runs in the field since making his major league debut in 2011 (Baseball-Reference). Finally, he won't be arbitration eligible until 2015, so he will remain very cheap in 2014. The Reds are getting good value out of Cozart as long he remains inexpensive, so the team is probably better off upgrading other positions this winter.
*Note: These numbers differ slightly from Baseball-Reference's listed splits, because I removed Cozart's numbers and recalculated the averages without them. This avoids the problem of comparing Cozart to himself.
Jay Bruce got half of what he deserved Wednesday when he was named winner of a Silver Slugger, emblematic of being the best offensive player at his position (outfield).
Bruce deserved a Gold Glove, emblematic of being the best defensive player at his postion, which he was. But he didn't win.
Have you ever noticed that Jay Bruce possesses key qualities of players who tend to be underrated as well as qualities of players who tend to be overrated? We tend to overlook well-rounded players -- those who hit well, run well, and field well -- at the expense of players who do one thing very well (see: Mike Trout v. Miguel Cabrera). Bruce does lots of things well. He has a bazooka for an arm, possesses good range in right field, hits for power, and holds his own on the bases. Bruce's critics harp on his inability to live up to the hype that surrounded him in the minor leagues. While Bruce hasn't been the MVP-type offensive force some were predicting, he has developed into an All-Star due to his diverse skill set.
At the same time, almost all of Bruce's offensive value is concentrated in his ability to hit for power. More people are aware of the value of on-base percentage than ever before, but fans still love to see eye-popping counting numbers. Bruce delivers the big numbers in spades. Since arriving in the big leagues in 2008, he has averaged 32 home runs and 95 RBI per 162 games.
So what's the takeaway from all of this? Jay Bruce is better than Marty Brennaman thinks and probably not as good as the Reds' blog-o-sphere believes.
Terence Moore comments on the recently released ballot for this year's Veterans Committee election. He spills a great deal of ink on the managers and non-players, which is fine, because there are many interesting candidates in those categories -- Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Marvin Miller, and others. However, Moore writes just two paragraphs about the eligible players, ultimately supporting Dave Concepcion and no one else. I'm not completely sold on any of the players, to be honest, but Concepcion is an odd choice. Don't get me wrong, he was a very good player, but the Hall of Fame needs another shortstop with an 88 OPS+ about as much as ESPN needs another NFL program. But let's say you do support Concepcion for the Hall of Fame. He certainly wouldn't be the worst player in Cooperstown. My bigger question is how Moore supports Concepcion, but not Ted Simmons, who is also on the ballot.
It will be interesting to see if some contending teams shy away from Curtis Granderson rather than forfeit a draft pick by signing him. The first eleven picks are protected in next year's draft. Are any of those teams likely landing spots for Granderson? I'm not sure, but I could see Philadelphia pursuing him.