Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hernandez is a Red; O's Get Freel and Two Prospects

Andy MacPhail shipped Ramon Hernandez to Cincinnati yesterday for utility man Ryan Freel and two infield prospects.

Matt Wieters has made Hernandez expendable. His defense has declined and his heart didn't seem to be in it for Baltimore last season. Hernandez had really bad luck with the bat last year. His batting line of .257/.308/.406 was in stark contrast to his PrOPS line of .292/.341/.457 and he managed to hit .285/.341/.446 in the 2nd half. He hit the ball hard but didn't catch a lot of breaks. He's still got something left in the tank offensively and he'll be moving to a hitter's park in a weaker league. The Reds may get a good year at the plate from him even if they don't get a good year from him behind it.

Freel is a good glove who can play 2B, 3B and all outfield positions. I don't think he'll be able to hit his way out of a wet paper sack in the AL even if he's healthy and he's expensive at $4 million a year but a good defensive replacement and he's only signed through the end of '09.

I like that MacPhail was able to get some prospects although they are not great ones. Brandon Waring is a 22 year old 3B who hit .270 with 20 homers with the Class A Dayton Dragons. But he struck out 156 times to only 43 walks and at 22 was pretty old for that level of ball. Still, it was an .813 OPS from a thirdbaseman and he could be a late bloomer.

Justin Turner is a light hitting 2B who has shown potential to play other positions. He hit .289 at Chattanooga last year with 8 HR in 78 games and got on base at a .359 clip. Interesting guy who should start at Bowie next season at age 24.

Since we were getting rid of Hernandez anyway, this was a pretty good deal though the real impact is the room made for Matt Wieters, not the players we got in return.

Many O's fans are pretty excited to get Freel but he's not really that great at playing baseball. Great attitude, fine glove, mediocre player.

And now a word about Buck Martinez. I'm in the minority, I think, when it comes to Buck. People seem to hate Rick Dempsey and find him annoying as a color guy. I enjoy Dempsey enormously and find Martinez cringeworthy. People complain about Jim Palmer talking about what things were like when he played but at least he was a Hall of Fame pitcher! Why do I have to listen to Buck talk about his lackluster playing career or his pitiful managerial record?

Anyway, Roch talked to Buck Martinez about the Hernandez-Freel trade and in between the hurky-jerky gesticulations and spasmic shoulder shimmies, Martinez said this about Ryan Freel:

"He plays with a lot of energy. He's kinda like Brian Roberts with a lot more enthusiasm, you know, he does the same types of things."

Really. Brian Roberts with more enthusiasm? First, if I was Brian Roberts, I would be enormously offended. You think I am Ryan Freel with less enthusiasm? Really? Roberts has slugged over .400 for the last four years. He's hit double digit homers in three of the last four seasons. He has played in 138 games or more for the last 5 seasons. He hit 50 doubles last year!

Freel has never slugged .400, has a lower batting average than Roberts for his career (.284 vs. .272) and only beats out Brian's OBP by .002! Guess all that enthusiasm saps your energy. I'll take the more reserved Roberts, thanks. There's more:

"He'll bunt more than Brian Roberts. He won't steal as much but he'll steal key bases. He's a great baserunner."

Forgetting the fact that Roberts has stolen 226 career bases to Freel's 142, Freel has a career success rate of 74% to Brian's 79%. And Freel's numbers have regressed over the last three years (77%, 65%, 60%) while Roberts have gotten better (83%, 87%, 80%). There's little to support the assertion that he's a "great" baserunner. And outside of the fact that Freel can play secondbase too, he's nothing like Brian Roberts.

Freel's a nice utility player but let's not get carried away.

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