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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ross DFA'd: What the hell?

Let's say a team has three catchers: players A, B, & C. They want to give a cup of coffee to another catcher in their minor leagues and see how he does against big league pitching. So they need to get rid of one of their three catchers. All three are free agents at the end of the season, though there's a buyout on player A for $380k for 2009.

Below are forecasted AVG/OBP/SLG for each player, based on the a Marcel projection of their 2005-2008 performances. Note: This is NOT what their final 2008 stats are expected to look like. This is what you'd expect them to hit the rest of the way, and therefore an indication of their hitting talent.

Player A 0.229 0.318 0.420 0.738 +
Player B 0.264 0.325 0.414 0.739 -
Player C 0.221 0.291 0.321 0.612 +

Now, obviously none of these guys is particularly awesome. Of the three, though, Player A is clearly the best player, right? Hitting on par with player B, and good fielding to player B's crappyness. Still not sure? Player A is also the youngest (by one and a half years) of the bunch. So it seems pretty obvious that he should stay on the roster, right?

Depending on how important the defense is--it's hard for me to tell with catchers, as we still don't have particularly good metrics to evaluate their contributions to runs allowed--the player to go would probably be either player B or player C. I'd probably ditch player B, but that's based on a long-held (and largely groundless) dislike of bad defensive catchers.

So why on earth did the Reds DFA David Ross (Player A) today?

Well, he's right-handed, and so is Hanigan. Valentin (Player B) and Bako (Player C) both bat lefty. ... I don't think that's a particularly good reason.

He also makes more money than the other players, so the Reds might save a good $900k million if you include the remainder of his salary and the buyout next year--assuming someone claims him off of waivers. $900k's something, but in an era when a win will likely cost roughly $4.8 million in the coming offseason free agent market, it's not much. Ross projects as a plus-replacement level player, and so he would probably have contributed at least even value on his $3.5 million salary.

Look, I can deal with the Reds making a decision to not have Ross on the roster next year. The buyout's a drop in the bucket, and he's not particularly special. But I think if you make that decision, you also have to decide that Bako and Valentin won't be on the roster next year, right? And if you come to the decision that they've all got to go, don't you ditch the worst players before you ditch the better players? Especially if you're still trying to "win" (play 0.500+ ball, which is probably out of reach anyway) this year? What I see today is my "favorite" team ditching their best catcher in favor of two inferior players. It's a minor move, and probably doesn't matter much in and of itself. But I'm just getting sick of all of this nonsense.


John Erardi has a nice article today comparing the Pirates to the Reds. It states at the bottom that I was a contributor, but that's being overly generous, because I didn't do anything for it. But I do agree with just about everything that's in there.

I have to tell you, I'm pretty tired of following a club that is not only bad, but is apparently making bad decisions. I mean, how can you feel good about a team that is doing things like this?

And here are the Pirates, now effectively in my back yard, hiring smart general managers and good front office people, and doing a freaking fabulous job at the trading deadline (holding onto Bay until he rebounded from his bad 2007 is exactly what a smart team would do--heck of a payoff). Their AA club is less than 15 minutes from my house, and the big league club is only 1.5 hours I can watch HD broadcasts of their games virtually every night.

So why on earth would I choose to follow the Reds instead of the Pirates? Childhood loyalties? That's about all I have these days, and that's fading fast... Maybe I'll start covering both teams around here... I dunno, we'll see.


  1. Wow, I don't think I've ever seen you be so ticked about the team. I totally agree on all points, and watching the Pirates make such bold and seemingly forward thinking moves...while the Reds add Bill Bavasi to the frustrating. I haven't tuned in once since the Rockies series and I bet I watched bits and pieces of 85% of the games before that.
    I want to have some faith in Jockety's past success, because that's really the only shred of hope in here, but this Ross move has me doubting.

  2. Yeah, I usually try to reign it in a bit, but I'm pretty frustrated right now. I just wish that I had some confidence that they knew what they were doing. Hopefully they'll prove me wrong.

    I think Bob Castellini really does want to win. But I think he also isn't particularly open to the kinds of introspection and perspective that will allow him to do so.

    And when you see a team like the Pirates doing everything that I wish the Reds were doing...yeah, pretty frustrating.

  3. I'm sure the lefty-righty thing has something to do with it, plus the fact that Baker apparently wants Bako to mentor Hanigan. Still, I can't help remembering that, coming out of spring training, Baker finagled with Ross and the DL to open up a spot for Bako. Ross thought he was healthy, but Baker disagreed. Then, instead of putting him on the DL retroactively, he used him in a major-league ST game so he'd have to spend the full 15 days on the DL, allowing Bako to get off to a hot start and win the starting job. It's Jocketty's decision ultimately, but I'm sure Baker had plenty of input.

  4. I actually have no problem with Bako being on the roster. But seriously, what's the point of having Valentin instead of Ross? Spanish skills?

  5. The remainder of Ross' 2008 salary is guaranteed whether he plays or not, for Cincinnati or anyone else. But if someone claims him off waivers, I think his new team will only be on the hook for pro-rated amount of the minimum salary. The Reds are responsible for the rest.

  6. If that's true, then this move is even worse. I thought the claiming team would assume all that is left of his salary. -j

  7. They seem to think Valentin has value as a pinch hitter, but his splits, both for this year and for his career, suggest otherwise.

  8. I share your general opinion entirely, Justin. Even before today's trade. (If they get Owings or Scherzer back, as Rosecrans is hinting, it's a good deal).

    I am still sick of them, though.

  9. Justin, as a displaced Reds fan who spent time in Pirate, Twins, Brewers, and now Cubs/Sox county since leaving Ohio in June '90, I completely understand your sentiment. Being a Reds fan is embarrasing, provides little reward or pride. If I had the opportunity to select my fandom from all 30 teams, the Reds would probably be in the bottom 5.

    There is a small cadre of teams who simply don't have (or deserve) respect of a fan base beyond their immediate geography. The Reds have been flirting with this group for a few years. With the Rays having made their exit, and the Pirates waiting for their exit paperwork to clear legal, the Reds, along with the Astros, are poised to take their seat at the table.

    I also agree 100% with your 2nd paragraph in comment #2. Castellini wants to win badly, but seems uninterested in adopting the modern business practices which are required to do so.

  10. RMR, I've been living in Arizona for the past 7 years, and yet I never seriously considered moving over to their fanbase. This is despite their winning a world series my first year there (2001), and despite them rebuilding a team with some very exciting prospects last year. My wife and I went to a playoff game last year and had a blast...but even then, I was a Reds fan through and through... Something's happened this year. I can't put my finger on it, but I'd guess that it probably dates back to the firing of Krivsky...

    I read something the other day...I can't remember where it was, though it wasn't a Reds board. But someone said something like "I keep reminding myself that I'm loyal to the uniform, and not the personnel." And it struck me that this was nothing sort of absurd. Why wouldn't I throw my loyalties to a team that is doing things intelligently? Why wouldn't I root for teams that are good because they embrace a philosophy consistent with my own? Why would I keep rooting for a team that isn't making smart decisions, and isn't on a winning path? I don't have an answer for those questions right now. -j