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Paul Janish Rumors
Let's take a look at some items out of the NL Central, including a Point-Counterpoint on the Cardinals and Jason Bartlett..
- The Reds' biggest need at the trade deadline will be at shortstop if Paul Janish doesn't turn things around at the plate, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The 28-year-old is hitting .221/.250/.260 so far this year.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals should be "all over" Jason Bartlett if the Padres make him available. While Gordon likes what Ryan Theriot has brought to the table this year, he believes that his substandard defensive play at shortstop is hurting the club.
- Meanwhile, Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch presents a respectful dissent to the case for Bartlett. While Bartlett is a better option defensively than Theriot, the gap between the two at the plate is too large to overlook.
- Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald wonders if it's time for a regime change with the Cubs’ baseball operation. Miles points out that GM Jim Hendry is getting to rebuild his club for a third time, something few major-market GMs get to do.
More Saturday linkage..
- Ty Wigginton of the Orioles will likely see his number of at-bats decrease after the team's signing of Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com says that the 32-year-old could be a trade candidate in Spring Training.
- The sale of the Rangers to Chuck Greenberg's group is complete and an announcement is forthcoming, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- Phil Wood of MASNSports.com understands the Nats' pursuit of Orlando Hudson, but not their reported interest in Orlando Cabrera. Hudson is reportedly seeking $9MM per season whereas Mike Axisa estimates that Cabrera can be had for $3MM.
- Veteran infielder Mark Loretta is expected to retire this week and take a job with an unspecified major league club, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. The 38-year-old, who spent 2009 with the Dodgers, has a career .754 OPS.
- Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes that signing Hunter Pence to one-year, $3.5MM deal makes sense for Houston. McTaggart senses that there is some kind of a groundswell of support by Astros fans to lock up the 26-year-old, but the club still has three years of contractual control to make such a deal happen.
- Signing Brad Penny saved money for the Cardinals, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While it may seem as though Penny's $7.5MM deal is similar to Joel Pineiro's two-year deal that will pay him an average of $8MM per season, the extra year on Pineiro's contract didn't fit into the Cards' budget.
- Due in part to the team's overload of left field options, top Reds prospect Todd Frazier could see some time at shortstop this season, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Frazier played shortstop in his time at Rutgers University but was moved to the outfield as he was considered to be "too big for the spot." GM Walt Jocketty said that there will be open competition for the role of starting shortstop, though Fay says that it will likely go to the light-hitting Paul Janish.
To put it mildly, this has been a rough year for Reds fans. Edinson Volquez had the Cincinnati faithful buzzing after posting a 3.21 ERA with 9.5 K/9 in his first full season in 2008. After logging just nine starts in the 2009 campaign, Volquez needed surgery to repair damage in his right elbow. The Reds faded fast as their depleted staff wasn't getting much of a lift from their sagging offense. Injuries to Joey Votto and Edwin Encarnacion (prior to being dealt to Toronto) certainly didn't do them any favors.
However, if the team's recent performance is any indication of what lies ahead, Reds fans might have something to cheer about in 2010. Dusty Baker's squad has gone 19-11 since September 1st, thanks in part to stronger pitching (3.39 team ERA) and the return of Jay Bruce, who missed two months with a broken wrist.
Buster Olney, Baseball Prospectus and the ESPN Insider staff compiled a glance at this past season and what to expect next year in Cincy. An ESPN Insider account is needed to read the article, but here are the brass tacks for those without:
- It's no secret that the Reds don't have a top-flight budget. They opened this season with a payroll of $73MM and owner Bob Castellini isn't going to "go all Steinbrenner" and tack-on much more.
- Further exacerbating their financial woes are their pricey commitments to Bronson Arroyo, Francisco Cordero, Aaron Harang and Scott Rolen. Combined, these four players are owed $46.5 million next season.
- Olney says that considering their lack of flexibility this offseason, Homer Bailey might be their best chance for improvement as he recorded a 2.41 ERA in September. The velocity that made Bailey such a highly-coveted prospect has returned, with his fastball being clocked at an average of 94.5 MPH this year. This is a big step-up from his previous big league work and could spell an even bigger jump in 2010.
- Baseball Prospectus says that their "acceptable" rate of 4.5 runs allowed per game is due in part to their much-improved defense. It will be interesting to see if defensive-minded yet weak-hitting shortstop Paul Janish will be the Reds' starter next season. Manager Dusty Baker said on Friday that a "definitive decision" hasn't been made yet.
- Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus notes that the combined efforts of all Reds batting in the top two lineup spots resulted in a slash line of .245/.301/.354. When Willy Taveras hit the DL in August, Dusty Baker put rookie Drew Stubbs and the aforementioned Janish at the top of the order. The team has gone 27-15 since then, but Jaffe attributes most of the credit for that to the improved performance of the pitching staff.
- The "Rumor Central" portion of the piece encourages Reds fans that are anxious to see the team acquire a big bat to consider what the offense is capable of if they are healthy. Injury-free seasons from Bruce and Votto should give Cincinnati a major boost.
- The report says to expect the Reds to tender Jonny Gomes an offer as he is arbitration-eligible. This should come as no surprise as Gomes has belted 20 HRs in 311 plate appearances while posting .266/.338/.540.
- Jaffe says that Jocketty could deal Arroyo or Harang to give the team room to make a mid-level signing this winter. He adds, "…It's difficult to envision this team breaking out of the middle of the pack without keen vision and bold steps."
It has been an eventful day for the Reds, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, and not just because they let go of pitching coach Dick Pole. Other Cincinnati notes from Sheldon:
- When asked if Paul Janish will be the Reds' starting shortstop in 2010, manager Dusty Baker said that he had yet to "come up with a definitive decision." GM Walt Jocketty indicated that surrounding Janish with more dangerous bats would help justify keeping his glove in the lineup. The 26-year-old shortstop has a +17.8 UZR/150 in 2009, but has hit just .215/.297/.308 in over 250 plate appearances.
- Edinson Volquez is pleased with his progress recovering from Tommy John surgery. Cincinnati expects him back around the All-Star break next season.
- Jay Bruce no longer plans to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He has been on a tear since coming off the disabled list on September 14, hitting .316/.422/.684, though he says the hot streak isn't a major factor in his decision. He should be healthy and ready to produce a stronger campaign in 2010.