Friday, June 24, 2005

The Trade Winds Are Blowin'

With 48 hours between ballgames, there's a lot of free time to play armchair GM. Today's Times takes a stab at it, and the message boards are full of it (In a few senses of the word!).

Obviously Bowden is going to make a move. It's a matter of when, whom, and how much pillaging.

The first step, though, is recognizing what the team's needs are. And from some of the names being floated out there, I'm not entirely sure that Bowden's sure of what they are.

Earlier this month, I compared the team's offense to league average at each position. While not a perfect measure, it's a quick guide to where we're weak.

Those numbers created a dilemma. For the most part, we were league average everywhere. (We're ignoring Guzman) That makes it hard to find a place where we can make a clear upgrade.

  • Second base is a problem. Jose Vidro is the answer. And he's close to returning too.

  • Short stop is a problem. But, we've been over why a fix to that probably isn't coming.

  • Third base wasn't really a problem then. But, it is now. Vinny's in a free fall.

    Some have mentioned moving Vidro to third and letting Spivey stay at second. That's a possibility, but Vidro played third early in his career, and it didn't work out. He wasn't comfortable playing the position, and he didn't do it well. Plus, they wouldn't ask a veteran, especially one who's been as faithful to the organization as Jose, to switch positions mid-season for a newcomer like Spivey.

    More likely is that Spivey and Carroll will increasingly take time away from Vinny.

    An outside possibility could be someone like Joe Randa. The Reds have Edwin Encarnacion ready to take over third, and Randa is cheap and expendable. It probably wouldn't take too much to acquire him. He'd give solid defense, and a league-average bat at the position.

  • Despite the Juan Encarnacion and Preston Wilson blather, outfield is fine. There's no reason to make an upgrade there, unless they think that Wilkerson's arm troubles are going to escalate.

    And for the record, take a look at Juan Encarnacion's June. Danger Frank Robinson! Danger!

    Hopefully the emergence of Ryan Church as a force has convinced Bowden that that's not a position that needs upgrading. (Unless Adam Dunn really is available -- then you ship whatever you can to Cincinnati!)


    The more realistic options involve the pitching staff.

    1-3 our starters are fantastic. You don't have to worry about Livan, Loaiza or JPII (as long as their various body parts aren't stiff).

    It's 4 and 5 that you have to worry about. Tony Armas has been shaky, and that's being charitable. He pitches like a power pitcher, but he doesn't have the stuff to consistently blow by hitters. He lives on the edge.

    Ryan Drese is still a question mark. But, Sunny Kim and a now-rehabbing Zach Day could fill in if Drese keeps up his season-long implosion.

    The relievers have been great, and are probably the single biggest factor of why we are where we are despite being outscored on the season. All have been a breath of fresh air. But, therein lies the problem. We're going to them night after night after night. We can't expect them to continue the kind of success they've had with the workload they're carrying.

    Gary Majewski, in particular, looks like he's starting to tire.

    Some of that strain will be helped by the return of Joey Eischen. He's not a particularly good reliever, but it adds depth and another arm that Frank trusts in critical situations.


    If I was Jim Bowden, and if I was, I wouldn't be able to pull off the leather pants like he does, I'd focus on pitching.

    Starter is one possibility. They seem obsessed with having a left-handed pitcher, even though they really should focus on the best arm available. RFK doesn't favor one handed batter over another, and it's not a particularly left-handed-hitting division either.

    Names like Ted Lilly and Mark Redman have been floated around. Both would be decent possibilities, and could provides some Armas insurance.

    But, it'd be really nice to add another arm to the relief staff. They don't need someone who's earned the 'proven closer' tag, but someone who's been an affective setup man would be a nice addition. And without the 'closer' tag, the cost in prospects won't be nearly as high.


    They key in all deals for us is that we're not going to be able to outbid other teams. We simply don't have the prospects. Our best hitting and pitching prospects (Larry Broadway and Mike Hinckley) have been disappointing this year, and probably aren't worth all that much.

    But, we do have an advantage. We've got more spare money then most teams, so we might be able to take on salary in lieu of giving up prospects.

    But, one thing to keep in mind, is that if we're talking about someone like Adam Dunn, it's worth it to pillage the farm system. None of our prospects project as All-Stars. If you have to unload 5 players and cash to get Adam Dunn, you do it.

    Where it gets tricky is when you start unloading those players for Ted Lilly.

    But, that's the decision that Bowden will have to make over the next month.

    And that's why he gets to wear the leather pants.

    What do you say? What should we acquire? Any names strike your fancy?


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