The Baltimore Orioles today traded disappointing catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Ryan Freel and minor league prospects Brandon Waring and Justin Turner.
Freel was a fourth outfielder for Cincinnati this year and hit .298 with 10 RBI, 17 runs, and six stolen bases in 131 at bats. He is a very talented ball player who just needs to get his chance to be good in the majors.
In 2006, he hit eight home runs and stole 37 bases with the Reds.
"Orioles fans will love the way he plays," manager Dave Trembley said of Freel. "I view him as two players in one. He brings a lot of versatility and a lot of passion to the game. He'll leave it all on the field. I think it's a real good acquire for Andy."
Waring, in my opinion, is a fantastic signing. Melvin Mora had a great year at third base this year, but is 37 years old. Waring is a 22-year old third basemen who hit .270 with 20 home runs and 71 RBI in Triple A this year. The Orioles are also wondering about shortstops. To shore up the gap at short, they threw in Justin Turner to the deal. Turner hit .289 with 42 RBI in Double A this year. He can play shortstop, but also second base.
One of the reasons Hernandez is out of Baltimore is Matt Wieters. Wieters won Minor League Player of the Year in 2007, when he hit 27 home runs, along with 91 RBI, and a solid .355 batting clip. The Orioles may have called him up in August to get some experience, but were drawn away from him because of his 'lack of intensity' behind the plate.
"From our standpoint, this trade is more about Matt Wieters," MacPhail said. "As you know, he was the Baseball America Minor League Prospect of the Year. It had been our goal to introduce Matt to the major leagues some time during the 2009 season, though not necessarily to have him start. We have no catchers on our 40-man roster, so you can assume we'll add at least one veteran major league catcher before spring training."
Since Guillermo Quiroz was optioned to Triple A Norfolk, for now, the O's don't have a catcher and it is obvious Wieters will be called up to the team. In 2006, the Orioles signed Hernandez as a free agent from the Oakland Athletics. When getting him, he was an energetic catcher who hustled and could hit.
In 2008, he was the exact opposite. He showed a complete lack of drive and was terrible at the plate. He's even nicknamed 'Rally Killer' by some O's fans.
But Reds GM Walt Jocketty was convinced it will change.
"We do think a change of scenery will help him immensely," said Jocketty.
Despite this deal getting done, it does not mean the Orioles will not attempt to acquire Cubs outfielder Felix Pie.
Personally, I am happy for this trade. Me, along with other O's fans, are ecstatic to see Hernandez go. He was beginning to become a Sidney Ponson-like cancer to the clubhouse. He didn't hustle, couldn't hit in the clutch and behind the plate, he didn't even put up a target, devastating to young pitchers.
Also, I think an outfield that includes Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Freel, Luke Scott and possibly Pie is a scary one.