As things are now just about done, it’s appropriate to review the Reds 2006. At the beginning of the year I predicted that the Reds would win about 72 games, good for fifth place in the NL Central. As it turns out, they went 80-82, secured third place, and at one point not so long ago were tied for the division lead.
What went better than expected?
The acquisition of Brandon Phillips and David Ross. The Indians gave up on Phillips after several years, and he played a decent second base in Cincy. Given that the Red gave up nearly nothing for him, I’d say that the move worked out. David Ross came over from San Diego and hit .257/.351/.584 in 245 ABs at catcher, shoring up the position as Chesty LaRue collapsed.
The fogeys came through. For some reason, Scott Hatteberg had a career year. For some even more unfathomable reason, Rich Aurilia also had a great year, hitting .300/.349/.518 and playing at least 10 games at four different positions.
At some point on the way from Boston to Cincinnati, Bronson Arroyo was transformed from an adequate innings-eating fourth starter into one of the best pitchers in the National League.
What went as expected?
Adam Dunn was fine, if perhaps just slightly disappointing with a .492 slugging percentage. Ryan Freel cemented his claim to be the best “scrappy white guy” in baseball by turning in a .363 OBP and playing good defense at several positions. Ken Griffey Jr. posted the worst year of his career in rate stats, but played in 109 games, which about evens out the expectations.
Edwin Encarnacion turned in a nice season, although he sometimes gets lost in the noise supplied by all the great young third basemen in the National League. Aaron Harang had a very good season.
What went worse?
On July 31 the Reds traded Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Wagner for Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Daryl Thompson, Brendan Harris and Royce Clayton. Harris, an infielder, didn’t contribute at all to the Reds. Clayton hit .236/.292/.331 in 148 ABs. On the pitching side, Majewski turned in 15 innings of 8.40 ERA ball, Bray turned in 27 innings at 4.23 ERA (and was lucky at that), and Thompson didn’t contribute. Both Kearns and Lopez hit considerably better than the players they replaced. The Reds are likely to finish 3.5 games behind the Cardinals for the division title, and it’s quite likely that, in the absence of this trade, they could have won the division. Indeed, while it’s hard to know what else was available, it’s extremely difficult for me to imagine that another, better trade could not have been made with Kearns and Lopez the bait. Moroever, the failure of the trade was entirely predictable, although the collapse of the Cardinals perhaps was not. Given what the Reds picked up for free in the ensuing weeks (Ryan Franklin, Jason Johnson), dumping Kearns and Lopez for nothing was inexcusable, and probably cost the Reds the division.