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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Griffey Traded to White Sox

Today brought an end to Ken Griffey's long and embattled tenure with the Reds. I will do a more comprehensive recap of his career in the next few days, but today I'm going to restrict myself to analyzing the trade itself.

The deal as far as best I can tell: The Reds send Griffey plus $4 million in exchange for 2B Danny Richar and RHP Nick Masset.

Let's start with Griffey.

Recent Hitting:
2005 35 CIN 555 17% 10% 22% 0.305 0.301 0.369 0.576 0.275 0.945 -0.467 7.3 46.7
2006 36 CIN 472 17% 8% 15% 0.248 0.252 0.316 0.486 0.234 0.802 0 5.0 12.8
2007 37 CIN 623 16% 14% 16% 0.284 0.277 0.372 0.496 0.219 0.868 0.583 6.3 35.5
2008 38 CIN 425 15% 14% 19% 0.258 0.245 0.355 0.432 0.187 0.787 -0.467 5.2 13.8

2075 16% 12% 18% 0.276 0.271 0.355 0.503 0.231 0.858 -0.351 6.0 108.7
An optimist might say that Griffey's been bouncing between good seasons and poor seasons over the past four years, and that he's in line to have a good season next year. A pessimist would say that the first half of 2007 was an aberration, and that Griffey has otherwise shown a steady decline. Griffey's overall performance over the past four years has been good: 0.353 OBP, 0.500+ SLG--not All-Star material, but pretty good hitting.

Perhaps the best way to project his offense is to make use of Sal Baxamusa's recently-released "Quick 'N Dirty Marcel" calculator. I've been putting together a post that talks about it, but basically it allows a current Marcel projection based on 2005-2008 statistics. This way, we do take the current season into account (and, in fact, weight it heavily), but we also recognize that the best way to forecast a player's future performance is by considering his work over the past few years, as well as his age, and a bit of regression to league means.

This projection forecasts that Griffey will hit 0.256/0.343/0.461 (0.804 OPS) over the remainder of the season, and finish the year with a hitting line of 0.249/0.351/0.442 in 654 PA's. The playing time is optimistic (pro-rated based on this season's playing time), and would be his highest PA total since 1999. But if we go with it, that works out to about 25 runs above replacement on offense in 2008.

Projecting into next year, using a 5/4/3 weighting for 2006-2008, we can estimate 25.5 RAR in 2009, without aging.

Last year, I had him as a -7 runs fielder by range in RF (weighted average of FSR, ZR, and RZR), and John Walsh's arm metric had him as a -8 thrower in right field. Subtracting another 3 runs in value for playing an "easy" position had him as a -18 runs fielder in 2007.

This year, an average of ZR and RZR has him at -6.5 runs. Extrapolating that to a full season puts him at -10 runs in the field. We don't have an arm statistic for him this year, but we can probably regress last year's rating a bit and forecast him as a -5 thrower, mostly because he doesn't get to balls fast enough to stop a fast runner. So that would put him at a -15 runs fielder in 2008. Subtract another 3 runs for playing RF puts him again at -18 runs.

Summing it up
So, this year, I'm projecting him as a +25 RAR hitter and a -18 run fielder, which gives him a projected total value in 2008 of +7 runs above replacement. In the free agent market leading up to the 2008 season, that gives him an estimated value of ~$3 million. He's being paid $12.5 million, so we can reasonably argue that he'll cost the Reds the wins equivalent of $9.5 million this year (about 2 wins).

In 2009, I'm projecting him as a +25.5 runs hitter, a -18 runs fielder, and I'll subtract 5 runs for aging, which puts him at a total value of +2.5 RAR--essentially a replacement player.

So, leading up to today, the Reds seem to have had three options for 2009:

1. Pick up his option and pay $16.5 million to a replacement player. Wins will probably cost about $4.8 million next season on the free agent market, so this move would essentially result in the loss of a bit more than 3 wins next year.

2. Pay $4 million to not have him on the team. This option results in the net loss of just less than 1 win next year due to the salary payment.

3. Trade him to a team that will take him and try to get the other team to at least pay his buyout this offseason. This results in zero lost wins in 2009.

The Reds managed to find a taker for Griffey, and thus were able to choose option #3. It is true that they will pay the rest of his salary in 2008, but that was true in any of the above three options. Therefore, strictly from the vantage point of removing his salary and lack of performance from the roster, it looks like the Reds did well by this deal.

As a bonus, the Reds also got a few players in return! Let's take a look.

Danny Richar, 25-year old LHB 2B
Year Age Lvl PA %K %BB
2005 22 A+ 503 13% 6%
0.314 0.300 0.347 0.537 0.237 0.884 0.174 6.4
2006 23 AA 548 14% 9%
0.334 0.292 0.360 0.415 0.123 0.775 0.29 5.5
2007 24 AAA 444 16% 8%
0.345 0.305 0.365 0.505 0.200 0.870 -0.935 6.5
2008 25 AAA 271 17% 7%
0.289 0.262 0.321 0.427 0.165 0.748 0.991 5.1
4years --- --- 1766 15% 8%
0.324 0.293 0.348 0.475 0.182 0.822 0.52 5.9
2007 24 CHW 206 16% 8% 22% 0.245 0.230 0.289 0.406 0.176 0.695 -1.226 3.7 0.4
Richar has posted fairish numbers during his minor league career. 2007 was reasonably impressive, and much of his success came after leaving hitter-friendly Tucson. It earned him a trip to the big leagues after a spot opened up on the club. He didn't hit particularly well last year in the big leagues (small sample size), though, and he has carried those struggles into this year...although a stress fracture in his rib cage delayed the start of his season.

Fielding is hard to tell without more data, though early returns are mixed. Richar was -6 runs in just two months of play according to both ZR and RZR last season at 2B with the White Sox. The Fan's Scouting Report, which I consider to be the most reliable source given his minimal playing time, had him as a slightly above-average fielder. He reportedly has a good first step, good speed, and good instincts...but poor hands and average (at best) throwing ability. Similar fielders were Jason Bartlett, Erick Aybar, and Chone Figgins.

Unless his bat comes around quickly and in a big way, I don't see Richar as a starter based on these initial impressions. But he might work as a bench player next year, provided the Fans are right about his fielding.

RHP Nick Masset, 26-year old RHP
Year Age Lvl IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9

2005 23 AA 157.3 6.0 3.5 1.1
0.348 6.18 4.77 0.302 0.378 0.455 0.833 6.1

2006 24 AA/AAA 115.0 8.2 3.8 0.3
0.326 3.68 3.21 0.255 0.334 0.320 0.654 3.9

2007 25 AAA 45.3 6.6 1.8 1.2
0.317 4.57 4.13 0.277 0.319 0.441 0.760 4.9

3years --- --- 317.6 6.9 3.3 0.8
0.336 5.04 4.11 0.282 0.354 0.405 0.759 5.1

2006 24 TEX 8.7 4.1 2.1 0.0 53.6% 0.321 4.15 3.61 0.300 0.361 0.433 0.794 3.4 1.8 1.3
2007 25 CHW 39.3 4.8 6.0 0.5 42.7% 0.352 7.09 4.97 0.323 0.415 0.435 0.850 6.3 -5.2 -0.7
2008 26 CHW 44.7 6.4 4.2 0.8 54.2% 0.354 4.63 4.39 0.312 0.384 0.460 0.844 5.7 -2.7 2.3
3years --- --- 92.7 5.5 4.8 0.6 49.0% 0.350 5.63 4.49 0.316 0.320 0.447 0.767 5.7 -6.0 2.9
While Masset began his career as a starter, he has pitched largely in relief since 2007 (and almost exclusively in the big leagues). His minor league stats show him as someone with modest stuff and modest control, but not someone who is particularly exceptional in either area. Since arriving in the majors, his strikeouts are down (though he's looking better this year), and his walks are up. He does do a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the park, with a near-50% GB ratio thus far and a suprisingly-good 0.6 hr/9 rate in 92 innings in homer-have Chicago.

Masset's RAR looks dreadful so far, but his BABIP is on the high side, and his FIP looks adequate. He's already 26, so he's not likely to get a whole lot better. But he might be a fair middle reliever over the next few seasons.

With this trade, the Reds managed to dump a financial and performance liability and come out of it $4 million richer next season. I don't expect that the players they're receiving in return for him will amount to much of anything, but given that they are making the league-minimum, it doesn't matter all that much. Overall, I think the Reds "win" this deal.

From a sentimental standpoint, though, this is kind of a tough pill to swallow. I'm going to miss having Griffey on our team. I liked knowing he was there, and was proud of have him on our team--even if his skills were no longer an asset. Sometime in the next few days, I'm going to put together a retrospective on his career, as it'd be nice to go out writing something positive about the guy.