One of the most innovative ideas of the winter had to be the Reds' acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo from the in-state rival Indians. The Reds wanted Choo to bat leadoff and play center field, though he was known for neither.
So far overall, the move has been a big hit.
Choo clearly has work to do as a center fielder (so far he's been a good sport while looking somewhat confused), but as a leadoff hitter he's been boffo by any standard.
The Reds needed him most for his ability to get on base after posting a baseball-worst .254 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot in 2011. And so far, Choo's on-base percentage is not only double last year's Reds anemic leadoff percentage, but at .523 it leads all players in the majors.
Choo was an easy choice to lead Stock Watch. Here are all the bulls and bears.
1. Shin-Soo Choo, Reds, OF: Choo has reached base in every game he's played going into Monday, but the past two games have been his best. Choo reached 11 times in 12 plate appearances over the weekend to help the Reds keep a share of first place in the NL Central. Overall, he has three homers, nine RBI and a .382 batting average, helping the Reds' cause, and his own. He is a free agent at year's end.
2. Yu Darvish, Rangers, SP: Rangers GM Jon Daniels took a calculated gamble when he spent $111.7 million on a pitcher who never had pitched in the majors. The posting fee of $51.7 million was said at the time by sources to have been significantly ahead of the second-place finisher. No matter, the Yu Darvish deal looks like a bargain now. Daniels explained this week on CBS Sports Radio that they did extensive research on Darvish, loving that he was as competitive as he was talented. He was also the physical opposite of Daisuke Matsuzaka, overall a $103 million Red Sox disappointment. Darvish turned in a nice rookie season, making the All-Star team. But he appears primed for stardom this season, starting with his near-perfect game against the Astros in his debut. His 10 strikeouts in seven shutout innings vs. the Mariners this week give him an MLB-leading 38 strikeouts to go with a 3-1 record, 0.79 WHIP and 2.03 ERA.
3. Bryce Harper, Nats, OF: Harper's four-hit performance in a win at Miami -- on a night he was said to have thrown up four times (he looked at least that ill) -- was one of the season's better performances. Overall, he's hitting .369. With seven home runs out of the No. 3 spot for the favored Nats, he is a leading MVP candidate. Not bad for a 20-year-old.
1. Rick Porcello, Tigers, SP: Who else? Poor Rick Porcello. The big spring is all but forgotten after a Tigers outing at Anaheim in which he allowed nine runs in 2/3 of an inning. For the non-math majors, that's a 121.5 ERA. Overall, the ERA is 11.68, which doesn't sound so bad considering. After his big spring, many outsiders warned against trading him on the cheap (yours truly included). Now that doesn't seem like such a terrific idea.
2. Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians, SP: Indians manager Terry Francona says they are not about to give up on Jimenez. Part of that is because they gave up a decent amount to get him, and part of it is because they don't have a ton of great alternatives. None of it is because Jimenez has showed anything. Another rough start left Jimenez with a 0-2 record and 10.06 ERA. He has more starts coming, Francona said. But at this rate, it can't be forever.
3. Adam Dunn, White Sox, DH: Dunn snapped a career-long hitless streak of 0-for-31 Sunday with a homer, raising his batting average to .108 and reminding folks that 2011 wasn't so long ago. Dunn has hit three home runs, which is something but not nearly enough. He has so few other hits that his slugging percentage is a meager .262, which won't cut it, especially at $14 million a year. A White Sox weakness going into the season was the need for another left-handed batter. If Dunn isn't doing it, they are really at a deficit.