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Hot Stove Thoughts-Reds, Dbacks, Indians deal

I've been thinking of the recent flurry of baseball transactions and decided to put my thoughts in writing.

I believe each team came out a winner in last night's 3 team trade between Cincinnati, Arizona and Cleveland.

The evening began when Cleveland shipped outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and utility infielder Jason Donald to the Reds for shortstop Did Gregorious and outfielder Drew Stubbs. The deal built from that foundation and ended with the following:

Cincinnati adds Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald from Cleveland.

Arizona adds SS Didi Gregorious from Cincinnati, left-handed reliever Tony Sipp from Cleveland, and first baseman Lars Anderson from Cleveland.

Cleveland adds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer from Arizona, relief pitcher Bryan Shaw from Arizona, relief pitcher Matt Albers from Arizona and outfielder Drew Stubbs from Cincinnati.

Here is my take on each club's yield:

CINCINNATI

Choo is an outstanding left-handed line drive hitter. He is a Major League average to a tad above average defender in right field. He has a cannon for an arm. However, I have seen him get poor reads on balls, taking bad routes and arriving late. His outfield play isn't consistent. At times he makes outstanding plays, and at times he scuffles.

Offensively, I feel he is best suited in the 5th hole in the lineup. He does have some pop in his bat and playing in Cincinnati will benefit his overall power game. However, he is brutal vs. left-handed pitching. He hit only .199 vs. lefties and .327 vs. righties in 686 plate appearances. He struck out a whopping 150 times. That's an issue. It's an issue because the Reds plan to hit him in the leadoff position. He hit there a great deal for Manny Acta as an Indian. For me, a leadoff hitter can't strike out as much as Choo. That said, he did have an on-base percentage of .373 last season. My point? It could have and should have been better. He's a good hitter. He has to cut down those strikeouts and improve against lefties.

My other concern regarding Choo is the pressure he will place upon himself in his walk year in Cincinnati. He will be a free agent at the end of next season and I doubt his agent, Scott Boras will encourage him to extend his contract with the Reds. In fact, that's why Cleveland traded him.

I am one that believes Choo will not be playing centerfield for the Reds. I believe Jay Bruce will move to center and Choo will remain in right. Just a hunch.

From a fantasy standpoint, I think Choo will be an outstanding choice in a draft or at auction. He will be in a hitter's haven. He will get lots of at-bats. Every category should improve, including his 21 stolen bases. But especially his home runs. He could go from 16 to 22 to 25.

Jason Donald is a nice player off the bench but won't help much in fantasy. The Reds signed another former Indian, Jack Hannahan as a back up third baseman. I don't know if Donald has much future with the Reds.

ARIZONA

Didi Gregorious is an outstanding defensive shortstop. He can play Major League shortstop right now. His range is outstanding. His arm is strong and fairly accurate. His first step quickness is among the best I've seen. In fact, he was the best overall athlete I saw in this season's Arizona Fall League.

Dbacks General Manager compared Gregorious to Derek Jeter as a youngster. I won't go that far.

Gregorious is a left-handed hitting line-drive hitter. I believe his power will continue to develop.

Right now, I'd say he is a little too much "pull happy" and I haven't seen him take many pitches to the opposite field. But he is growing and learning as a hitter. I believe he will be playing in Arizona before 2013 is over. Once he begins his big league career, he will become an All Star player and remain at shortstop in Arizona for years to come. As he has 6 years of control left, his future for that length of time is set. And very bright.

The Diamondbacks got Gregorious because they did not want to extend the contract of Stephen Drew, who is now a free agent.

If you have roster space and patience, Gregorious is the type of player that will pay dividends with his extra base hits and increasing power. He can also steal more bases than he has shown so far. He's sneaky fast. I look for him to run in Arizona.

He actually passed through Cleveland on the way to Arizona. It is believed the Dbacks had a preference for Didi over Asdrubal Cabrera in their dealings with Cleveland. Hence, to get Bauer, the Indians traded Gregorious to Arizona. Personally, I wish they had kept Didi and traded Cabrera.

Tony Sipp is a situational left-hander that can actually be more than that. He can get right-handed hitters out as well. However, it is tempting for managers to contain his work to getting lefties out. He has a wicked slider and curve ball. However, I don't like his sudden losses of command. He loses it quickly and it lasts for a few hitters. He can become frustrating at times. But he'll help the Diamondbacks pen. His fantasy value is limited to those leagues where "holds" are valued.

Lars Anderson is an organizational, 4A type player the Indians got from Boston this past season.

He will provide depth for Arizona at a position of weakness. He doesn't have much power. He's an above average defender and he may shine if given a sustained opportunity-something he has never experienced. He could be a sleeper. His fantasy value is limited. But I have seen players like Anderson come out of nowhere. It may happen. He's that type of hitter. Don't write him off. Watch and see what happens in Triple-A.

CLEVELAND ,p. Trvor Bauer is the cornerstone of the deal from Cleveland's perspective.

The team is desperate for starting pitching. Before the trade the rotation was to be Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco who is returning from injury. Yikes!

Bauer may or may not start the season in the rotation. If I had to guess, the 21-year old might be shipped out to gain more seasoning.

Bauer lost velocity on his fastball in 2012. He has a weird and unorthodox workout/training/preparation routine that scared many, many teams away from him before he was drafted 3rd overall in 2011. The Dbacks agreed to let him keep his different methods and they paid a price.

The team tired of Bauer's lack of command on his fastball. They soured on his workout regimen, thinking it was hurting instead of helping his progress. They didn't like his attitude and approach in the big league clubhouse during his brief 3 start trial at the Major League level. They rushed him to the big leagues and it was a mistake. He had a very rough time against Major League hitters. He didn't listen to his catcher, Miguel Montero. As a rookie, he shook off Montero all night long. That was a huge mistake. One for which he paid a price in the clubhouse.

But. But Bauer has outstanding upside. He could become a big winner. The risk/reward for Cleveland was a no brainer. They were going to lose Choo after this coming season. Instead, they turned him into Bauer and Drew Stubbs. And bullpen help as well.

Stubbs is a puzzle. He's a guy with huge potential. He hasn't realized it yet. Maybe the change of scenery will help. Maybe not.

A right-handed hitter, Stubbs scuffles against righties. So Choo has trouble with lefties and Stubbs with righties.

Stubbs also strikes out way too much. How about 166 times last season in 544 plate appearances. He will be in the same lineup with Mark Reynolds. I believe hot humid nights in Cleveland will be aided by the breeze generated from the bats of Stubbs and Reynolds combined.

I find it interesting the Reds were looking for a leadoff hitter. That could become, and probably will become Choo. But Stubbs should have been that guy in Cincinnati. He had his chances and he flopped.

In the right scenario, because of his trouble hitting right-handed pitching, Stubbs should hit 8th in the Indians order against righties and lead off against lefties.

Stubbs can run. He can steal bases. 30 last season. He was caught only 7 times. Not bad. Will Terry Francona allow him to run? Will Stubbs get on base is the bigger question? And where will he play? Left, center, right? Who knows. The Indians other outfielder (they have only one more quality outfielder) is Michael Brantley. I am not a huge Brantley fan but I'm warming up a bit as he is maturing as a hitter. But can he stay healthy?

Bryan Shaw came over from Arizona. In 2011 he was amazing out of the pen. He can bring pitches at 97 MPH. But last season he just "lost it." If he hadn't regressed he would still be with Arizona today. Kevin Towers knows his bullpen pitchers. He builds teams around bullpens. He traded Bryan Shaw. Believe it or not, if he returns to form, Shaw could be a top set-up man. It eats at me that Towers traded two bullpen arms. To Cleveland.

Matt Albers has been around a long time. It seems we still associate him with Houston. Yes, it's the same Matt Albers. He can bring his fastball in the high 90's. I like him in Cleveland's bullpen. He doesn't have a broad enough repertoire that he can command to become a starter. Stick him in the pen and give him the early bullpen innings. But there's that Towers bullpen thing haunting my mind again. Does he know something Chris Antonetti doesn't? It doesn't matter, really. The Indians didn't forfeit a great deal for the gamble.

This next part is important-building a quality bullpen will continue to be crucial for Cleveland. Their starting pitching is so bad they will be in the pen early every single game, regardless of the starter. They do not have one starter to stop a losing streak or that can be called an "ace." And that's why Shaw and Albers are important to the trade they made with the Reds and Dbacks. This was all about pitching for Cleveland. Stubbs is nice addition-but they had to improve their pitching. This trade was all about pitching-even if Kevin Towers soured on Shaw and Albers.

For me, this deal is a winner for all 3 teams.

The Reds get a big bat in Choo that they like at the top of the order. The Dbacks get a potential All Star shortstop (3 years from now) in Gregorious and a lefty for their pen. The Indians get a top prospect starting pitcher and two bullpen arms along with a roll of the dice in Stubbs. Both Stubbs and Bauer were former 1st round draft picks. Nice haul for Choo, Sipp and Anderson.

Follow me during the hot stove season on Twitter @BerniePleskoff. I'm active when things get popping. You can read my weekly columns on MLB.com under the Voices section on the MLB.com home page. As always, your comments and questions are always welcome.

Comments

By: Erik Siegrist
On: 12/12/2012 11:19:00 AM
I have a really hard time calling the D-backs winners on this one. Even given that they're soured on Bauer, they still should have been able to get more in return for him. Majority opinion still seems to sees him as a future ace, and to only get an all-glove shortstop and org depth in exchange for him is much, much too little.
 
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 12/12/2012 11:30:00 AM
Erick Siegrist-Thanks for your comments. I wouldn't call Gregorious an "all glove shortstop." He will be way more than that. Let's wait and see how Bauer performs before calling this trade a loser for the Dbacks. I think it's very tough to find the type of talent Gregorious will eventually bring to Arizona. It just may not happen overnight or even this season. But I don't think Bauer breaks out this season, either.---Bernie
 
By: Erik Siegrist
On: 12/13/2012 10:46:00 AM
Hey Bernie. Obviously we don't know how either Gregorius or Bauer will develop... Didi may well end up being the more valuable player in the long run. And yes, "all glove shortstop" may well be harsh, but he hasn't shown much in the minors with the bat to indicate he'll hit at an all-star level.

My point was just that, based on the view of both prospects around the league, it seems like Arizona should have been able to get more for Bauer than Gregorius and some organizational depth, even if they believed him to be the better player.
 
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 12/13/2012 6:06:00 PM
Eric Siegrist- I think Bob Nightengale put it best in his article yesterday about Bauer. I saw every one of Bauer's home starts. Believe me-team's do not give up on 1st round draft choices easily or quickly. There were reasons a plenty. We have to wait--there is no other way to judge the deal. Both Gregorious and Bauer are unproven prospects. Nothing more.---Bernie
 
By: lvtdude
On: 12/15/2012 6:50:00 PM
Hey Bernie, great stuff. However, I'm surprised you're worried Choo may put too much pressure on himself? This is the same guy that had to win a championship to avoid military service and carried his team with a .571 batting average. If he can handle that pressure, I think he can handle anything thrown his way.
 
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 12/16/2012 5:16:00 PM
lvtdude-Good point. However, I still think he will feel the pressure of playing for the biggest contact of his life and for that specific agent.---Bernie
 

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