It might not be what you want to hear if you’re a Reds fan, but chances appear slim that the team will make a big move before the trading “deadline” on July 31.
Here is why: What are the three biggest needs on the team? A shortstop, a starting pitcher and a left fielder, in that order.
However, as bad as the starting pitching has been, I don’t see the Reds going out and dealing for a top-of-the-line starter. And no way they’ll trade for a No. 4 or No. 5 type. They have plenty of those guys in their system that they can turn to (like Travis Wood and Dontrelle Willis).
There are several other teams across MLB looking for starting pitching help and I’d be surprised if the Reds are aggressive enough to land one of the few top guns that will be on the market. Would I like it if they could flip Yonder Alonso and maybe another prospect for a good starting pitcher? Absolutely, but I just don’t see general manager Walt Jocketty pulling it off.
Also, there is a good chance the front office believes the starting pitching will round into form. Johnny Cueto is looking like an ace, Mike Leake is pitching well and Homer Bailey is making his return against the Orioles Sunday.
The club also has Edinson “I Can’t Believe We Traded Josh Hamilton For This Fucking Guy” Volquez … and as horrible as he is, they aren’t giving up on him anytime soon.
Also, Bronson Arroyo is his usual solid self despite starting the year with a bout with mononucleosis and that gives Cincinnati five starting pitchers for the rotation. And like I said, if one of those guys goes down with an injury, or if Volquez continues to have an injury to his brain, the Reds can turn to Wood or Willis. Wood has struggled this year, but he’s still as good as anything the Reds are going to get in a trade. And Willis is experiencing what could be a career revival in Triple-A Louisville this year. The team was going to make him a reliever this year, but he remained a starter and might eventually get his chance with the Reds.
So, I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t see the Reds trading for a top-shelf pitcher.
What about shortstop?
The Reds definitely aren’t going to trade for a shortstop considering their SS-of-the-future is sitting there waiting to be called up from Louisville. If you don’t already know the name Zack Cozart, get ready to hear a lot about him. He’s 25, was the Reds’ second-round draft pick in 2007 out of Ole Miss, plays well-above-average defense and is batting .318 with seven homers and 29 RBIs. (OPS of .852 with a robust 26 doubles in 283 at-bats.) When Cozart was drafted, it was his offense that many analysts questioned would ever be Major League-ready. However, he has put those doubts to rest.
Therefore, if the Reds decide to finally do something about the atrocious tandem of Paul “Punch-and-Judy” Janish and Edgar Renteria, they won’t trade for a SS, they’ll call-up Cozart.
What about left field?
This is the one area of concern that I thought Jocketty might address with a big trade, but I’m going back on that now. First of all, like I blogged about after his three-HR explosion against the Yankees, I think Chris Heisey has won the starting LF job for now.
Furthermore, Jonny Gomes is a favorite of manager Dusty Baker and will continue to get playing time. Gomes broke out of his funk where he was beyond awful and is now just kind of bad. Unfortunately, that will be good enough to get him spot starts in left the rest of the way. Baker can also use Fred Lewis on occasion, a player that has been a disappointment, but hasn’t received much PT.
Also, the Reds have three options they can turn to in Louisville: Alonso, Jeremy Hermida and Dave Sappelt. I know, I know, you don’t think Hermida is a legit option. He’s always struggled in the Majors, including early this season when the Reds gave him a brief shot. However, Hermida is tearing up the Triple-A ranks to the tune of .362 with 6 HRs and 29 RBIs. (OPS of .981 in 199 at-bats.) I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jocketty give him another shot instead of trading for someone like Ryan Ludwick.
Ryan Ludwick? I mean, give me a break. He’s not even better than Heisey and people want the Reds to actually give up a real prospect for Ludwick? Sorry, but no.
As for Sappelt, he’s batting .336 with five homers and 17 RBIs. (.939 OPS in 146 at-bats. Missed a month due to injury.) He likely won’t get the call until next season – or perhaps this September when rosters can be expanded past 25 – but he is an option that the team could turn to.
Therefore, I just don’t see Jocketty making a blockbuster deal for a left fielder when he has six different guys he can turn to: Heisey, Gomes, Lewis, Alonso, Hermida and Sappelt.
Alonso, Mesoraco selected for Futures Game
The prestigious Futures Game – an all-star game featuring the best players from any level of the minor leagues (mostly Triple-A and Double-A) – will take place Sunday, July 10 before the MLB All-Star game and will include two players in the Reds’ system: Alonso and catcher Devin Mesoraco. Both players star for the Louisville Bats.
Alonso, 24, is batting .306 with nine homers and 42 RBIs (.863 OPS, 268 at-bats). He’s been forced to adjust to playing LF this year due in part to the Reds’ need at the position and in part to being blocked by Joey Votto at first base long-term. Well, unless the Reds fail to re-sign Votto after the 2013 season. (And it will take a truckload of cash to keep him.)
Mesoraco, 23, is batting .320 with eight homers and 44 RBIs (.936 OPS, a crazy 28 doubles, 247 at-bats). He is without question the No. 1 prospect in the Reds’ minor league system and will definitely be with the big club next year. Ramon Hernandez will be a free agent after this season and as good as he is, the Reds have no reason to re-sign him with all the depth they have at the C position. Ryan Hanigan is signed through 2013, Mesoraco might be a future star, and the team also has 2010 first-round pick Yasmani Grandal who was recently promoted to Double-A Carolina.
So, next year look for a tandem of Hanigan and Mesoraco, and eventually Grandal will be in the mix unless he’s traded.