Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yeah, I'll Sign That

During my off-season, where the Reds Rocket has many other endeavors, the Reds have been busy. Signing some new but mostly old faces. The team, with crotchety old genius Jocketty manning things, is getting very close to what will be their opening day roster. Starting with the returning players who've decided to stick around or at least not go through the hassle of having an unbiased arbitrator decide what sort of money they deserve to be making.

Jay Bruce: all the way back in December the Reds signed Ray Jay to a 6-year $51 million extension. The deal includes a a $1 million buyout of a 2017 option year, which would pay $17 million. So, the Reds, assuming Ray Jay keeps up the fine work in right, lock up a fine ballplayer at what certainly appears to be a pretty favorable rate. Without the extension, Jay was looking at free agency after the 2014 season. The Reds Rocket will forget about the majority of the first half of last season and injury-marred 2009 and place this acquisition into the "favorable" category.

Joey Votto: after speaking in cryptic terms to the media about the possibility of an extension, Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo thought about it and decided that he'd like to stick around, at least for the time period that he would have been obligated to do so anyway. The three-year deal, worth $38 million, took away some of the Ryan Howard-induced nervousness associated with a 26-year-old reigning MVP heading to arbitration. Howard actually received a little more, and he's not even Canadian ($44 million over the same time frame), so the Reds look like they walked away with a deal. This, as with Bruce, is presuming no major injuries or mental breakdowns. We don't hear much about Joey's mom but the hope is that she is in good health - drinking her cup of maple syrup every morning and washing down her vitamins with a pint of Molson. Either way, the Reds Rocket would prefer to have our best player not sulking at his locker thinking about how much better he is than teammates who are pulling in a big stack of clams.

Johnny Cueto: the team also decided to buy out his arbitration with a new nice 4-year $27 million deal. Cueto's been reliable (only a single trip to DL) and shown some gradual improvement in his three full seasons with the team. There was always the worry about his frame's inability to withstand the pressures of a Dusty Baker workload but, as my nerd friends at Baseball Prospectus point out, over the last three years Cueto has only exceeded 120 pitches three times and kept his total starts at a reasonable level (31 in 2008, 30 in 2009 and 31 in 2010). This is contrasted with Mark Prior under the Toothpick, who, funky mechanics or not, threw 120 or more pitches 9 times in 2003. And what Cueto lacks in height, he makes up for in weight. He's about 5'8" 280, or so. That's a frame that will toss some innings over the next 4 years. The caveat with Cueto is assuming he is not left off the All-Star team, when deserving. In 2009, he didn't have much interest in pitching competitively for about 10 starts. So, maybe a slow start is the way to go, then pound the opposition down the stretch.

Edinson Volquez: on Monday (1/31) the Reds signed Eddie to a one-year $1.65 million deal with some incentives included. The incentives, obviously, are based upon not getting suspended for 50 games for trying to knock your wife up. Or at least come up with a little better excuse. I still like Eddie quite a bit, maybe partly to justify not having Hambone roaming around center hitting bombs and recovering from a crack addiction. Just think of all of the spots for local churches that would be airing around Cincinnati if Hamilton was still in town. "Hi, I'm Josh Hamilton and if you like God like I like God, have I got some good news for you." So, anyway, Edinson's back at a reasonable price having no idea where the ball is going to go. Nothing not to like there.

Miguel Cairo: signed a two-year $2 million deal so that he can play many positions and certainly repeat his performance from last year. No question about it.

Bill Bray: signed to a 1-year $645,000 deal, again avoiding arbitration. Bray plans to pitch 4 or 5 garbage innings at the end of the year and, probably look pretty solid.

Now on to the new faces. The big acquisition is one Walt's old pals, Edgar Renteria who I cannot believe is only 34-years-old. It seems like he has been playing since the late '80's. He's going to be making little less money than the Giants were paying him last year ($10 million?) at $2.1 million. The Reds continue to show how little faith they have a Janish-Yanish as their everyday shortstop. The nerds agree with the decision, implying that Janish's line last year (.260/.338/.385) may have been a result a small sample size. I would have said give the boy a shot but, as an admitted homer, I don't question the leadership. When you've got Bill Bavasi in your front office, you don't question things.

Fred Lewis: Lewis, essentially, provides a replacement for Laynce Nix who had a nice two-year run with the club. He's a better option in center, has some speed off the bench, but offers less power. I seem to recall Fredo hitting for the cycle when he was with the Giants which, for some reason, is memorable. He's making a shade under a mil ($900,000) and likely will see some time at the leadoff spot, as a non-base clogger and actually offers a little bit of on-base ability for a change (.348 OBP for his career). So, he doesn't appear, at least from this perspective, to be a Willy Tavares-level cancer.

There you have it. I plan to do some additional writing as the season approaches but, I frequently intend to write more, then there are months of inactivity. Reds had a couple of February acquisitions last year, so the roster may not be quite set. I'll make the trip out to Goodyear one of these days and tell you what I think of the team up close. At least for those of you's who don't live in the desert with me. I'll tell Volquez you like his new hair cut.