Spring training is just under way and baseball fans across the fruited plain are primed with anticipation. Many teams made deals over the offseason, some good and some bad. The Cincinnati Reds are no exception. They have been moving and shaking, hoping to become one of the game's elite. After a late start, they now are set with what they will use as the season begins.
I thought this was a good time for me to rank the acquisitions that the Reds have made. Having said all of that, let's begin.
Ryan Ludwick brings experience and stability to the Reds' outfield. From 2008-2010 with the St. Louis Cardinals Ludwick averaged (using 162 games) 25 HR with 106 RBI and an OPS+ of 121.
He was signed as a free agent and joins Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo as former Cards on the Reds squad.
Some think that he will be platooned with Chris Heisey in left field even though both men bat from the right side.
Even though Ludwick has some good seasons behind him, he appears to be on the downward spiral.
This acquisition gets only four stars from me.
The Mat Latos trade was a shot that is still being heard today. I realize how good Latos is and I still like to remind folks that he was pitching in a place, Petco Park, that could be called "pitcher's paradise".
When you look at what was given up for Latos you must just shake your head with amazement. For starters, you can look at Yonder Alonso, the No. 1 draft pick who really hasn't had an opportunity with the parent club.
His offensive potential is immense, and if he can be placed at first base will, in my opinion, become an All-Star caliber player within two years.
Yasmani Grandal, yet another No. 1 draft pick, was rated as one of the best catching prospects out there. He was considered to be below Devin Mesoraco in the Reds' pecking order. He could be playing for the Padres this season.
Edinson Volquez, the man the Reds traded MVP Josh Hamilton for, was also in the package. The All-Star pitcher had many problems last year, but if he can clear his head, he has the potential to be a solid starting pitcher.
Throw in first round draft pick Brad Boxberger and you have a deal that is underwater in my humble opinion. Let us summarize, the Reds gave up an MVP (once removed), and three No. 1 draft picks, two of which will be starting within two to three years, for what? A pitcher with a career record of 27-29 and an ERA+ of 108.
To give up the quality of players the Reds sacrificed for Latos still staggers me. In my thinking, he would have to produce an ERA under three and win 14 or more to even say it was a decent deal.
This deal only gets five stars from me.
Trading pitcher Jeremy Horst to the Philadelphia Phillies for Wilson Valdez was a no-brainer in my book. He pitched in only 12 games for the Reds and produced an excellent ERA of 2.93. Unfortunately for him, he was on a team with a plethora of relief pitchers.
Valdez is a valuable utility player who can be used nearly anywhere. He gives the Reds a solid backup at shortstop behind apparent front-runner Zack Cozart. He can also spell Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and give help in the outfield if needed.
To me this deal gets six stars.
A very good setup man, Sean Marshall will be probably the most valuable asset to the Reds, not only this year but in the three more to come. Not only is he one of the best setup men in the business, he has closing experience which is what may be needed after 2012.
As a setup man for the Chicago Cubs the last two years Marshall earned 56 holds in 69 situations and only 16 of his 71 inherited runners scored.
The Reds had to give up starting pitcher Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and infielder Ronald Torreyes. At first glance that looks like a bit much, as I first thought. The Reds have more than enough starting pitchers and Wood was probably a heavy favorite to be back at Louisville at season's start.
Sappelt had a spring training to be proud of in 2011 yet played in only 38 games for the Reds. He showed promise but was disappointing at the plate, with a line of .243/.289/.318/.607.
Torreyes, 19 is a minor leaguer with the credentials of a PTBNL, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
After thoughtful analysis I would give this deal seven stars out of 10.
Ryan Madson is something the Reds needed more than anything. The cardiac units were on standby every time Coco Cordero would take the mound for the Reds. He was cleared for takeoff in my view.
He was signed for only one year, so that tells me that the Reds are all-in and ready to go for broke in 2012.
Madson is one of the best closers now and with the acquisition of Sean Marshall, give the starting pitchers some piece of mind that is been much needed. Last year with the Philadelphia Phillies he saved 32 games in 34 attempts, with an ERA+ of 164.
Since this deal only acquired cash, I rate it eight stars, and the best of them all.