This post also marks a new collaboration between the BKR series and fellow Reds blogger Red Hot Mama's Human League series. The Human League endeavors to take a "human" approach to featuring the players, providing a glimpse into the lives and characters that make up the Cincinnati Reds. We plan to coordinate our releases for players moving forward, and to provide reciprocal links. It should be a great complement to the BKR series, which is a primarily intended to be an objective stat-based look at past player performance and future projections.
Today we turn our attention to 27-year old lefthander Dave Williams (click on his name to access his Human League page). The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Williams in the 17th round of the 1998 amateur draft out of Delaware Technical & Community College. The then-19 year old steadily progressed through the Pirates' organization and made his MLB debut for the '01 Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was reasonably successful as a starting pitcher. He seemed to lose his control the following year, however, and was sent down to AAA until 2004, when he returned as a late-season call up. In '05, he was moderately effective out of the back end of the Pittsburgh rotation. The Reds acquired Williams on December 6, 2005 in a trade for media favorite Sean Casey. They expect him to contribute out of the rotation this year.
It is also worth nothing that Williams has been better away from PNC park than at home. A big part of the dramatic ERA difference was the miniscule BABIP he had the good fortune to receive on the road last year, but he also allowed homers at twice the rate at home than away. This is a bit surprising given that HR park factor at PNC is low: 95. I think we're seeing small sample size issues here.
Based on this evaluation of Williams, how would I evaluate the Sean Casey trade? Unfortunately, I can't give it high marks. I was fine with trading Casey, as he was a bit overpriced for his production and we desperately needed pitching. But Williams doesn't look to be much of a return for a guy with a lifetime 0.371 OBP. The Williams trade happened fairly early in the offseason, didn't do much to improve the ballclub, and hurt our flexibility to make additional moves. It looks as though it would have been better to hold onto Casey and focus on a dealing someone else who could bring a better pitcher...perhaps a Wily Mo for Bronson Arroyo-type of deal. To me, this offseason's lack of a deal for a quality pitcher was Dan O'Brien's biggest failure and really demanded his dismissal.
The Baseball Cube
Baseball Prospectus '06 Annual
Baseball Think Factory
Hardball Times '06 Annual