2012 MLB Free Agency: 5 Reasons Cincinnati Reds Shouldn't Sign Josh Willingham
I moved to Norwalk, Connecticut a few months ago, so I don't have the ability to read the Cincinnati newspapers the way I used to. Therefore, I rely on my dad, who still lives in the area, to provide me with the general nonsense that talk radio and newspapers tend to produce.
Today he told me something that immediately made me want to punch babies, or maybe puppies.
That sounds innocent enough, but the reason it causes such a violent reaction is because anybody that's been a Reds fan long enough can envision a scenario where the Reds give Willingham an Eric Milton-esqe four-year, $28 to $32 million contract.
The Reds would market that as their major offensive acquisition and he'd go on to strike out 175 times and bat .230 next season. We'd be stuck with an aging, mediocre player with a bad contract.
It's such a bad move, that it probably will happen.
However, here are five reasons why the Reds shouldn't pursue signing Josh Willingham.
1. He Wouldn't Protect Joey Votto
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I'm on record as stating that the Reds don't need starting pitching.
Their biggest concern should be finding someone that offers protection to Joey Votto, someone who opposing pitchers will fear enough to give Votto a few more pitches to hit.
Josh Willingham's .246 average with 150 strikeouts last season isn't the answer to that problem.
2. Yonder Alonso Is Better
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Count me as a believer.
Alonso can hit, and he proved it in 98 at-bats last season. Yonder could be the protection we've been seeking for Votto.
The Reds need to be careful of falling into the familiar trap of coveting thy neighbor's left fielder more than they value what they already have.
They drafted Alonso in the first round in the 2008 draft. They've put time and effort into teaching him to become an adequate left fielder and they've been patient to not rush him to the big leagues.
They need to be just a little bit more patient and give him the opportunity he deserves in 2012.
3. Willingham Would Cost Too Much Money
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The Reds are a small market club and a contract that calls for $7 to $9 million per year can be crippling if it doesn't yield quality results.
The Reds learned this lesson with both Eric Milton and Francisco Cordero.
Cordero's contract was a little bit different in that he did produce quality results, but the money was misallocated.
There's absolutely no reason to spend $12 million a year on a closer. None. It's an especially big problem for a small market team.
The Reds need to put that money into scoring runs and allow one of their other relievers to close games out.
Closer is the most overrated position in all of sports. Paying $12 million for your closer is like spending $40 on your kicker in a Fantasy Football Auction.
4. Willingham Is an Adam Dunn Era Cincinnati Red
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The Adan Dunn era Cincinnati Reds were bad. I mean bad.
They struck out a lot, hit into double plays, and failed to get runners home from third with less than two outs.
They had talent, but they played the game the wrong way.
The Joey Votto Reds teams have been the exact opposite. Votto and Rolen have been an example for the young players and shown them how to have quality, major league at-bats.
Signing Josh Willingham would be a step backwards. The Reds would be bringing in another Austin Kearns, Edwin Encarnacion, Wily Mo Pena, or Adam Dunn.
They definitely don't need that.
5. There Are Better Options
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As I stated in a previous slide, I think the Reds should just put Alonso out in left and look for upgrades in other areas.
My preference would be center field and shortstop.
Grady Sizemore is going to be signed relatively cheaply and he definitely won't be looking for a long-term contract. He'd be a perfect gamble to replace Stubbs in center field.
If he pays off and actually stays healthy for a full season, the Reds would have a Lance Berkman, Comeback Player of the Year kind of find on their hands.
If he gets hurt fifty games in to the season, at least they aren't locked into a long-term deal that could cripple their finances.
The best option at shortstop is of course Jose Reyes. The Reds aren't going to spend the money on Reyes. I know it. You know it. Everyone in baseball knows it.
But they should.
If they are entertaining the idea of giving someone like Willingham $8 million a year (which nobody knows if they actually are), why not just spend the extra $4 to $5 million and bring in a superstar that can effect the teams performance and attendance?
The first thing people will point to with both of these players is their injuries, but that's a short-sighted view masquerading as wisdom.
Players with injury histories heal. Talent is talent. Some players have it and others don't. Reyes and Sizemore have the talent the Reds need. If they don't sign them then other teams like the Cubs or Cardinals will.
The Cardinals signed Lance Berkman and won a World Series. What could the Cubs do with Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols and Grady Sizemore?
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