Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Farney - 26th "Man"

The first major deal of the off-season for the O's has gone down, with "Razor" Ramon Hernandez being traded to the Reds for Ryan Freel and a couple of prospects (with the Birds throwing in $1 M).

The Reds get:

Ramon Hernandez, 32 year-old C, hit .257/.308/.406, 15 HR, .319 wOBA, 94 wOBA+ in 2008. He's making $8 M in the last year of his contract ($1 M buy-out for 2010 option) and is just barely a Type-A free agent right now. With a full-time job, he's a 1.5 WAR player (worth $7.6 M).

The Orioles get:

Ryan Freel, 32 year-old 2B/3B/OF, hit .298/.340/.359, .323 wOBA, 99 wOBA+ in 2008. He's making $4 M in the last year of his contract. Combining position adjustments at all of the position he'd play, I'd call him +0 on defense - maybe a shade above that. With an about average bat, Freel is an average player who provides some flexibility but is injury prone. With 350 PA, that's a 1 WAR player (worth $4.9 M).

Brandon Waring, 22 year-old third-baseman, hit .270/.346/.467, 20 HR, .361 wOBA, 110 wOBA+ in A-ball this year. He strikes out a lot (35.4% of the time) which is pretty bad for a guy his age at that level. Has some power, but isn't a particularly good defender at third. As a righty, he could form a pretty solid power-only platoon with Mike Costanzo at Triple-A one day.

Justin Turner, 23 year-old second-baseman, hit .289/.359/.432, 8 HR (in 280 AB), .356 wOBA, 104 wOBA+ in Double-A this year. Line-drive hitter with gap power with a quality glove. I like the OBP, but he's probably going to top out as a gritty utility guy. Then again, I never thought Dustin Pedroia would win an MVP award. If only Turner the range to play short.

My hope is that this is the first in a series of moves in which the O's spin Freel for something of reasonable value (another prospect like Turner) and sign a cheap catcher (like former Oriole Gregg Zaun; switch-hitter, league-average bat - seriously... wOBA+ of 97, 95, 104, 99, 100, 100 the last six years in the majors) to begin the year as the starter and give way to Matt Weiters after a month or so. Even if the keep Freel then it's a good move. The team frees up some money and gets a pair of C-level prospects. They free themselves of the headache of dealing with Ramon as a potential back-up, and get a decent utility player. Plus, as an extra added bonus to me, the team now has a guy who's scrappy, gritty, and plays the game the right way. Maybe they'll sign David Eckstein to play short, just to guarantee that I'll yell at the broadcasters during each game. Actually, it comes to my attention that the O's currently don't have a shortstop or a catcher on the 40-man roster. I imagine there are more moves to be made.

[Edit: Finding this out makes the trade even more worthwhile:
"Freel gained some notoriety in August of 2006 when The Dayton Daily News reported that Freel talks to an imaginary voice in his head named Farney. Said Freel: "He's a little guy who lives in my head who talks to me and I talk to him. That little midget in my head said, 'That was a great catch, Ryan,' I said, 'Hey, Farney, I don't know if that was you who really caught that ball, but that was pretty good if it was.' Everybody thinks I talk to myself, so I tell 'em I'm talking to Farney." Freel later said that Farney's name arose from a conversation with Reds trainer Mark Mann: "He actually made a comment like, 'How are the voices in your head?' We'd play around and finally this year he said, 'What's the guy's name?' I said, 'Let's call him Farney.' So now everybody's like, 'Run, Farney, run' or 'Let Farney hit today. You're not hitting very well.'" - Wikipedia]

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