There have been rumors floating out there of Jeremy Reed being dealt to Boston for either Matt Clement or Bronson Arroyo. The reports are that we offered Matt Clement and the Mariners countered with Bronson Arroyo. The Coco Crisp rumors appear to have been overblown and certainly took a huge hit now that Nomar Garciaparra signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. What does not appear to be overblown, however, is the potential for a Jeremy Reed deal. People have expressed trepidation over the fact that Reed does not hit for power, and while he will never hit 20 HRs – let alone even ten – he still would be a great acquisition for us.
Firstly, we would give up Matt Clement or Bronson Arroyo. If Jarrod Washburn signs a four-year deal with the Mariners as expected, the Mariners would certainly insist on Bronson Arroyo instead of Matt Clement because of the dollars involved. If (however unlikely) Washburn spurns the Mariners, they may agree to acquire Matt Clement instead. If they acquire Arroyo, then we have lost a solid starting pitcher who can pitch effectively out of the bullpen, who is cheap. If we lose Clement, we lose a personal favorite of mine who was an undeniable ace the first half of the season and the possibility he can string two halves together and contend for the Cy Young Award.
The Arroyo for Reed trade is more likely to happen than the Clement swap. Count me among those who would like to see Jeremy Reed in the outfield next year. Arroyo is a great trading chip, as he is still relatively young, has come off an effective season and has cemented himself as being “for real” and is still cheap enough that it’s not a detriment to the acquiring team. In addition, it gives us the confidence to not go above and beyond to retain Johnny Damon. Four years and $40 million is a stretch either way, so let’s not stretch it any longer. The pending Reed/Arroyo swap would relax a lot of concerns about Damon. I would even do this trade right now, even if it would depress Damon’s value and make him likely to be a Yankee. If Damon really wanted to return to the Red Sox, he’d be back. He is, however, holding out for top dollar. Jason Varitek held out for quite a while, but was there ever really any question he would be back?
This Jeremy Reed acquisition is good in my books for three specific reasons. One, he is a superb defender, as he ranked sixth in fielding percentage last year (.992, with Damon 17th at .985), first in Range Factor (3.05 – Nook Logan of Detroit was second at 2.93, tied with Johnny Damon), and first in Zone Rating with .943, with Aaron Rowand second at .939 and Damon 15th at .874. Reed also had seven assists and Damon five. Reed also has a “solid” arm, and we all know what type of arm Damon has.
A scouting report on Reed says this about his hitting: Reed makes contact easily with a line-drive stroke that sprays balls to all fields. He has good gap power, hits lefties successfully and consistently totals more walks than strikeouts.
This was written prior to the 2005 season. Let’s do a little digging and find out what Reed is on offense. We’ll cover his 2005 season in the majors, then take a look back at what he accomplished in the minor leagues. Reed hit .254/.322/.352 for a discouraging .675 OPS. There is reason for optimism, though. Reed had 33 doubles, 3 triples, and 3 home-runs. He posted abysmal numbers against left-handers, and if the scouting report is to be believed, that’s a fluke. He had a .711 OPS against righties with a line of .269/.335/.376. That makes things better – at least he’s over the .700 OPS line. He had a .644 OPS at home, and a .705 OPS on the road – and all triples and homeruns came on the road. Reed’s singles were distributed evenly all over Safeco Field, but his doubles tilted to left and right-center field which are 331 to 405 feet away. His doubles generally lied at the 331 line, and 390ish line in center field. In Fenway Park, these doubles down the 331 line would have ended at 310 feet and his doubles around 390 feet in right-center would have rattled around at 380 feet. The point? Some of these doubles will turn into homeruns. Some of the fly ball outs and singles will turn into doubles. So maybe the doubles bounce up to 40, the HRs to 7. Not bad, right?
Another encouraging sign is what Jeremy Reed did with the bases empty. Commenter Sean O mentioned in the previous column how dominant Choi’s numbers had been in the #2 slot, and so I took a look at Reed to see if there were any aberrations. There is one. With the bases empty, Reed hit for a (very) acceptable .289/.355/.412 line, and did his damage most batting 5th or 6th. Now remember that most first innings end with the #4 or #5 hitter. Not all, but most. So Reed batted quite a bit with bases empty – 291 AB, to be correct. His Runners On, Runners in Scoring Position and RISP with 2 outs are all too disturbing to put here, but hopefully they will improve. He did succeed with Bases Loaded, however. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to bat Jeremy Reed leadoff.
We’ll come back to the lineup pronostications. Let’s break out The Baseball Cube. Here is Reed’s Slugging Percentage (I do not use OPS because that factors in Reed’s generally solid to excellent plate disclipline, which can skew the numbers) year by year, level by level. All but his 2004 MLB level are with at least 210 AB, so that’s a solid sample size. His 2004 MLB AB total was 58.
Another thing to remember when perusing these statistics: He was 21 in 2001, and 24 in 2005. This is one young guy here.
Reed is not going to light the world on fire with his power, but I can definitely see Reed at least over .400 SLG for the duration of his career, especially if he heads to Fenway Park which is more conducive to hitters than Safeco Field. For the Mariners to give up on Reed when he’s only 24 and declare that he has no power, that’s pathetic. But then again, Bill Bavasi and the entire Mariners organization is currently pathetic. (Does anyone really think Carl Everett will contribute to the Mariners? And who were the Mariners bidding against? Themselves?)
But one team’s coal is another team’s Christmas gift. If I wake up for Christmas and I find Jeremy Reed donning red and white threads, I’ll be thrilled. This team will be getting younger, more athletic, more dangerous. Jeremy Reed would only add to that equation the Red Sox are pursuing.
If we’re going young, then we’re going to have growing pains next year. If we can temper our enthusiasm, I think we can get away with trying Jeremy Reed as our leadoff hitter. Now, this means Hee Seop Choi (by no means definitely coming to Boston) could not bat second if we acquired him. Reed, Choi, and Ortiz are back-to-back-to-back lefties. That doesn’t work much. While Choi is an absolute beast at the #2 spot (.316/.391/.646 in 2004), he’s also enjoyed success in the five- and six spot (.217/.354/.455, .269/.380/.451). Reed does do a fine job in the six spot as well, but I’d hesitate to put Reed there over Choi. If we were to lead Reed off, our lineup could look like thus (versus RHP):
Reed CF, Loretta 2B, Ortiz DH, Ramirez LF, Choi 1B, Lowell 3B, Nixon RF, Varitek C, Gonzalez SS.
The only shame about this lineup is that Nixon is so far down, but Choi has got to bat behind Ramirez because he has a much better eye than Nixon. Not as much power, however, but his numbers in the seventh spot career are abysmal. Granted, they’re a small sample size, so we could try Choi in the seven slot and perhaps get away with:
Reed CF, Loretta 2B, Ortiz DH, Ramirez LF, Nixon RF, Lowell 3B, Choi 1B, Varitek C, Gonzalez SS.
The best case scenario would be Nixon in fifth and Choi in six with Lowell seventh, but we need Lowell in there to break up the lefties. Varitek is a switch-hitter, so I hesitate to slot him in there as well – although he could simply turn around against lefties, but part of this set-up is to make it conducive to Lowell which I think it does. Perhaps the team may feel Lowell would benefit more hitting behind the high OBP of Choi… If Lowell is sandwiched in there, it would make it difficult for a LOOGY to come in to face our team because if they come in to face Ortiz, then they’d need to burn another lefty (if they even have one) to face Nixon and Choi (who are terrible against lefties).
Against lefties, you could see such:
Loretta 2B, Youkilis 1B, Ortiz DH, Ramirez LF, Varitek C, Restovich RF, Lowell 3B, Gonzalez SS, Reed CF. Reed would only be down that low until he proved he could hit lefties.
Who is this Restovich, you ask? He’s someone I’ve felt the Red Sox should sign ever since he was cut by the Pirates. Career, he owns a .281/.336/.467 line against lefties and would be extremely affordable – I’m talking Minor League Contract affordable – and he is only 26! He can cover both outfield corners and center in a pinch. I only include Alex Gonzalez on the assumption we sign him, which I hope to do. He’d be a nice stopgap until we found a more appealing option – either via trade or free agency next year. We could move Dustin Pedroia back to shortstop. We might also want to consider moving Luis Soto (check out this picture of Soto – this guy looks like he could be massively, awesomely good – and just turned 20 two weeks ago) back to shortstop (we moved him to right field prior to the 2005 season).
Growing pains next year may equal dominance in the years to come. What if Reed blossoms in Fenway as a 25-year old? What if Dustin Pedroia continues his mashing at the major league level, Andy Marte develops into a force, Josh Beckett cures his blister woes, and Hee Seop Choi, finally given a fair shake and played near every day, turns into what he can? However unlikely all these factors coincide, they may. If they do, there’s no telling the streak of championships we go on.