Friday, July 14, 2006


So, Mr. Krivsky...when I said I hoped you weren't done dealing to make the Reds better, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

For those who missed it, yesterday the Reds traded right fielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe Lopez, and pitcher Ryan Wagner to the Washington Nationals for pitchers Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, and Daryl Thompson, shortstop Royce Clayton, and infielder Brendan Harris. This trade came as a complete shock to me when I found out about it yesterday afternoon, since the Reds were getting rid of two starters that played a key role in their success so far this season, as well as a young pitcher who has shown good potential. It was a big move, one that probably wouldn't have been made by Cincinnati in years past, under different general managers. Teams have been after Kearns in particular for years, and I always thought that it would take a big-name guy in return to finally pry him away from the Reds. I think that was what surprised me the most about this deal--the lack of any big names coming back to the Reds in return for a couple of key everyday players.

The more I think about this trade, though, the more I like it. It shows that the Reds, under new management, are making a serious push for the playoffs this year. They needed to upgrade the bullpen--a process they started with the acquisition of "Everyday" Eddie Guardado from Seattle--and Majewski and Bray will fit that bill. They also had issues with defense of the left side of the infield, and Clayton will be an improvement over Lopez in that regard, although he won't be quite as much of an asset offensively. This trade makes the team better. Sure, it'll totally change the offensive makeup of the team, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The lineup has definitely lost some power, but there are still plenty of guys in there capable of hitting the ball out of the yard. The problems the Reds have had offensively have been with getting clutch hits--when guys are on base, or when they're behind and need to start a rally--and it's hard to know how these changes will affect that until the lineup is set and these guys start playing together.

As far as the guys they're giving up, I'll say right off the top that I hate losing Kearns. I actually was in favor of trading him before the season started, when the Reds had a glut of outfielders, because he had struggled so much in recent years. But this year he was finally showing some of the potential everyone said he had, and was definitely one of the Reds' best all-around players. The other two I don't mind losing so much. Lopez is a defensive liability, and I was actually getting ready to advocate sitting him down anyway. Wagner is a bit of an unknown quantity--he showed great promise when he first came to the major leagues, but arm problems and recent struggles have left him as a question mark. He wasn't going to help the Reds this year, at any rate, so for the purposes of this trade, he was expendable.

With the league and division they're in, the Reds have primed themselves to make a run at the postseason. I still would like to see them try to swing a deal to upgrade their starting pitching, but the price may be prohibitive for someone who could actually help. Either way, this will make the second half of the season more interesting.

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