Table of Contents

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Santos out, Stone in

Via Josh Katzowitz, via Shun, the Reds announced today that they designated Victor Santos of assignment. He will be replaced by 32-year old RHP Ricky Stone. My response was, "Stone? I didn't know he was pitching for Louisville." Stone, a local kid (can I call someone a kid when they're older than me?) who was born in Hamilton, pitched for the Reds in 2005. But I hadn't heard heads or tails from him since his departure that year. Apparently, he spent last season working in the family business and hanging drywall. He managed to walk on to Louisville's roster this year, and now has the good fortune of playing again for his home town team. Good for him--let's get re-acquainted:

Ricky Stone was a 4th-round selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1994 amateur draft right out of Hamilton High School. Among other players drafted in his round was a right-handed pitcher named Daniel Peter Graves out of the University of Miami, drafted three slots ahead of Stone by the Cleveland Indians.

Stone made his pro debut in the Pioneer league at 19 years old, which is pretty impressive for a prep selection (at least, these days it would be), and he held his own as he split time between starting and relief. He didn't exactly skyrocket through the minors, but reached AAA-Albuquerque by age 23. Unfortunately, he would languish there, not putting up particularly good numbers in the desert highlands (runs park factor there is a completely absurd 1.30--by comparison, Coors' Field is 1.12), and eventually left as a 6-year minor league free agent following the 2000 season.

The Astros signed him, and after putting up solid numbers for AAA-New Orleans, Stone finally made his pro debut in 2001 at age 26. He would go on to post two very solid seasons in the Astros' bullpen from 2002-2003 before struggling in 2004 with Houston and San Diego. The Reds signed him prior to the 2004 season and gave him a shot, but he did not pitch well.

Recent Stats:
Team Age IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP R/9 ERA FIP
2002/HOU 27 77.3 7.3 4.0 1.05 0.290 4.19 3.61 4.40
2003/HOU 28 83.0 5.1 3.4 1.19 0.243 3.90 3.69 4.91
2004/HOU-AAA 29 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.00 0.250 4.50 4.50 3.20
2004/SDN-AAA 29 5.3 3.4 3.4 3.40 0.335 8.49 3.38 8.48
2004/HOU 29 19.0 7.6 3.3 2.37 0.339 5.68 5.68 6.04
2004/SDN 29 32.7 6.1 2.5 1.65 0.309 7.43 6.89 5.07
2005/CIN-AAA 30 14.0 9.6 1.9 0.00 0.270 2.57 2.57 1.70
2005/STL-AAA 30 16.3 8.8 1.1 0.00 0.267 2.76 1.65 1.60
2005/CIN 30 30.7 4.4 2.1 2.35 0.342 7.04 6.75 6.29
2007/CIN-AAA 32 42.3 5.7 1.5 0.64 0.187 1.91 1.70 3.34
I included Stone's good seasons in Houston for reference. Unfortunately, looking at his peripherals and DIPS, indications are that Stone was probably a bit lucky to perform at the levels he did those years, particularly in 2003. His FIP was in the mid to high 4's both years, and his BABIP was a very lucky 0.243 in '03. That finally caught up with him in '04, especially when his HR/9 rate skyrocketed to absurdity.

Looking at these five seasons worth of data, the picture that emerges is that of a pitcher who has seen his strikeout rate and his walk rate steadily decline since his peak at age 27. This season, returning from whatever he was doing last year, Stone's peripherals have continued in this direction. He has shown amazing control and has kept the ball in the park to a degree not seen since before his big league debut. But he has also shown a rather low strikeout rate, which is bound to get worse against big league hitters. How has he produced his 1.70 ERA? His BABIP is 0.187. Now, Louisville may be playing some great defense. And it is true that pitchers can have an effect on BABIP, especially when they are dominating the way a big league veteran might versus AAA hitters. But a sub-0.200 BABIP screams of tremendous good fortune, and is unlikely to be repeatable against major league hitters. In short, while I love the fact that a local guy is pitching for the Reds, and while I will absolutely root for him to succeed, I wouldn't expect much from Stone. The best we can probably hope for is a pitching line similar to his 2003 season, when he posted a 4.91 FIP.

Ultimately, Stone's promotion indicates a few things to me. First, Kirk Saarloos and Gary Majewski have fallen pretty far down the Reds' depth list to be passed over by Stone. And second, the Reds' front office probably doesn't understand defense-independent pitching statistics.

On Victor Santos

Before I close, a few words about Santos. In my piece on the Reds written for The Hardball Times 2007 Season Preview, I wrote that "Stanton, Saarloos, or Santos could help stabilize the pitching staff." For a time, it seemed as though Santos would do just that. His final numbers, unfortunately, did not show the improvement I thought they might with his conversion this year from a starter to a reliever, primarily because his walk rate soared even as his strikeout rate surged to the highest of his career. In that way, Stone is probably going to be a mirror-image of what Santos did for the Reds. Low walk rate, but also very low strikeout rate. Perhaps less frustrating to watch, but not necessarily better.

Santos's final numbers as a Red, assuming he does not accept a demotion to Louisville or clear waivers: 5.06 ERA, 7.2 k/9, 4.3 bb/9, 1.4 hr/9, 4.83 FIP. Good luck to him--hopefully he can catch on somewhere else and continue his career.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Managing Bronson Arroyo

Today, Bronson Arroyo threw just his second quality start since May 16th, when he went eight innings and threw 129 pitches. Since that superb outing, Arroyo as struggled miserably, seeing his ERA shoot from 2.64 all the way to 5.24 heading into today's start. There have been repeated suggestions by both fans and media observers that that the extraordinarily high pitch count (the highest of his career) that he racked up on the 16th is a direct cause of his struggles.

I've been concerned about Arroyo's high workload for some time now. When the Reds signed Arroyo to his contract extension this past winter, I wrote "...Arroyo led the league in innings pitched last year (240.7) and was 6th in baseball in Pitcher Abuse Points. Unlike Harang, Bronson isn't a big guy (though I always forget that he is 6'5") and, as Joel pointed out, he does have a somewhat herky-jerky delivery. Therefore, even though he proved to be amazingly durable last season, I think the Reds really need to watch how they use him in the coming seasons if they want him to remain effective throughout the course of this contract."

Tonight, I decided to do a quick study to see if I could bring some numbers to bear on the issue. The specific question I tried to evaluate was whether high workloads in one start caused poorer performance in starts that followed. To test this, I looked at all of Arroyo's starts since arriving with the Reds in 2006. I then categorized his starts based on the number of pitches Arroyo threw in the prior start (I threw out his first start in 2006 and 2007). For example, on May 1st, Arroyo threw 95 pitches while going 7 innings and allowing one run against Houston. I therefore placed his next start, a 120-pitch outing against Colorado on May 6th, into the 90-99 pitches bin. And then, his next start, a 117-pitch outing against Los Angeles, went into the 120+ pitches bin. The result is a dataset that allows me to see whether there has been a relationship between how many pitches Arroyo throws in one start and his performance in the next start.

Here are the data, first in table form, and then graphically:
Pitches in Prior Start Number of Starts
0-80 1 4 7 6 6 1 4 0 13.50 13.50 9.45 0.0 9.0 2.3
80-89 2 12.7 17 10 10 3 5 11 7.09 7.09 5.72 7.8 3.5 2.1
90-99 6 40.7 36 14 14 2 10 32 3.10 3.10 3.00 7.1 2.2 0.4
100-109 14 95.7 95 38 33 10 22 67 3.10 3.57 3.85 6.3 2.1 0.9
110-119 21 142.7 137 66 56 18 41 108 3.53 4.16 4.19 6.8 2.6 1.1
120+ 5 29.3 30 18 18 4 15 16 5.53 5.53 5.42 4.9 4.6 1.2

Arroyo's runs allowed per nine innings and FIP (fielding independent pitching, uses peripherals to estimate ERA), plotted by the number of pitches Arroyo threw in the prior appearance. For the graph, I opted to ignore the first two bins in the table due to the minuscule sample sizes.

As predicted--though I am somewhat surprised at how clean it looks--Arroyo's performance in a start historically has been predictable, to some degree, based on his workload in his previous appearance. Lower pitch counts in a start have generally been followed by great performance in the subsequent start. Even if you look only at the center two columns that have the best sample sizes--the 100-109 and 110-119 bins--the effect is fairly dramatic. An extra 10 pitches in one start tended to result (by cause or correlation) in about an extra half-run allowed per nine innings in the subsequent start.

The effect looks most dramatic in the 120+ bin, though I would caution that the sample size here is still very low. In fact, despite the 5.53 ERA in this group, three of the five starts in this bin were quality's just that Arroyo got shelled in the others, most notably the 2 IP, 6 run effort against Washington on May 21st. If one removes the Washington outing, his ERA in this group drops to a tidy 3.96, though the FIP remains a high 4.92 thanks to a low strikeout rate and high walk rate.

What is the cause of Arroyo's struggles following high pitch-count outings? His peripherals show steadily increasing walk and hr-allowed rates, which both seem to indicate poorer control. Much of his success seems to depend on his ability to locate his slow curve ball, and perhaps that's more difficult to do when his arm is still tired from the previous outing. He may also have taken a hit on his strikeout rate following extremely long outings, though I'm hesitant to make much of a conclusion given the sample size issues with the 120+ pitch group.

Comparing Arroyo and Harang

The effect we see in Bronson above, despite having relatively small sample sizes, is consistent with what has been observed in other pitchers in other studies of how pitch count and other factors affects performance. Keith Woolner has a nice article in the 2007 Baseball Prospectus Annual that gives a good overview. Nevertheless, I thought it might be informative to compare Arroyo's results to those of the Reds' ace, Aaron Harang. While both Harang and Arroyo have had similar success over the past season and a half, they are different sorts of pitchers--Harang is a big man with smooth mechanics, while Arroyo is smaller and more "herky-jerky." Therefore, we might expect less of an effect of heavy work on Harang than on Arroyo.

My procedure was the same: take all of Harang's starts since April 2006 and categorize them based on the number of pitches in his prior starts (exception: there was one appearance last season when Harang was used in relief--I skipped over that appearance and the next start because I didn't know how to categorize them). Here are the data:
Pitches in Prior Start Number of Starts
<80 1 8 4 0 0 0 1 6 0.00 0.00 2.08 6.8 1.1 0.0
80-89 2 15 8 1 1 0 4 12 0.60 0.60 2.40 7.2 2.4 0.0
90-99 6 40.3 41 25 21 6 11 41 4.69 5.58 3.92 9.2 2.5 1.3
100-109 14 91.8 85 40 40 11 18 88 3.92 3.92 3.43 8.6 1.8 1.1
110-119 18 120.7 132 52 46 11 30 113 3.43 3.88 3.26 8.4 2.2 0.8
>120 7 48.4 45 23 22 6 10 40 4.09 4.28 3.78 7.4 1.9 1.1

Harang's runs allowed per nine innings and FIP (fielding independent pitching, uses peripherals to estimate ERA), plotted by the number of pitches Arroyo threw in the prior appearance. For the graph, I again opted to ignore the first two bins due to the minuscule sample sizes.

Needless to say, Harang does indeed show far less of a consistent relationship between workload and performance. In fact, he seems to steadily improve in subsequent starts as his workload increases in the prior start, at least until you start to cross the 120-pitch threshold. The one stat that seems to be a predictable response to increased workload is a drop-off in Harang's strikeout rates among starts following those with high workload. Nevertheless, he has been able to compensate for this with better control and fewer HR-allowed.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The critical reader will no doubt identify that this little study is based on limited sample sizes, and evaluates only two pitchers. It does rely on other research on pitcher workload and carryover effects to ground it, but nonetheless I will try to be cautious in my conclusions.

Historically, since arriving with the Reds, Arroyo has been substantially better when his workload in the previous start is kept down. For every 10 extra pitches above 90, he has tended to allow about a half-run more per nine innings. The effect has been even more dramatic following starts in which he tops 120 pitches. The effect is not absolute--Arroyo has pitched well following long outings, and has pitched poorly following short ones. But the average effect is sizable enough that it is probably worth paying attention to. While one obviously has to consider the present game situation when managing a pitcher, not to mention what the pitcher is telling you verbally and via body language, it would seem a "best practice" to try to keep Arroyo's starts under the 110-pitch mark when possible.

Harang, on the other hand, be it due to his delivery, body type, or just stochasticity, has historically handled higher workloads better than Arroyo, at least in terms of carry-over effects from subsequent starts. While I certainly would not recommend regularly extending Harang beyond 120 pitches (much less 135) because of the risk that he might injure himself due to pitching while tired, I would probably worry less about pitch counts with him and let the game situation dictate how long to keep him in the least until he gets into the 110-120 pitch range.

References and related studies
Pitcher Abuse Point Analysis by Keith Woolner
Pitcher Abuse Point^3 FAQ
Baseball Prospectus Annual 2007 (Keith Woolner's article)

Photo by AP/Ted S. Warren

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Trade him, or let him walk?

David Cameron at USSM has a really interesting post today (via Tango's outstanding blog) about what to do with Ichiro Suzuki--trade him for prospects, or let him walk and take the Class-A free agent draft pick compensation.

I've always been in the "trade him before he leaves" camp when it comes to players like this, but Cameron's work indicates that the draft pick compensation may be even greater, or at least is comparable, in value. Rany Jazayerli's draft study certainly indicates that draft picks are far more reliable than I ever imagined them to be, but my impulse until now has always been to go after good prospects in other systems rather than letting someone walk for "nothing." My reasoning was that these players will be closer to The Show than a draft pick, and therefore more likely to actually contribute in the major league level. However, I think the issue I hadn't considered is that, usually, you're not likely to get the outstanding prospect via those deals that you might get in the draft.

Furthermore, it's apparent from his data that the players received in trades aren't particularly more reliable (on average) in their ability to reach and perform at the majors than players taken via a draft. It's just that drafted players take longer to reach the majors than the returns from trades.

If the Reds are dead-set against picking up Adam Dunn's option at the end of the year, which is what John Fay, at least, believes (ref: Fay's on-air conversations with Marty), then the Reds are in the same position with him as the Mariners are with Ichiro. And I'm not sure what the best solution would be, given this new information...perhaps letting Class-A free agents walk is the better alternative, unless a truly outstanding prospect is made available via trade.

Kudos to Cameron for a nice study--I love it when I have to reconsider my views in light of new information.

Interesting tidbit: the Reds are currently in possession of two of the best returns on mid-summer deals for prospects: Aaron Harang (for Jose Guillen) and Brandon Phillips (via Cleveland along with Grady Sizemore, for Bartolo Colon). So clearly those deals can work out too.
Photo by AP/Jeff Chiu

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

College World Series

The Reds haven't been on TV since mid-April, and probably won't be until the Diamondbacks visit Cincinnati next month. But in the meantime, over the past four days, I've been watching the College World Series and my adopted Arizona State Sun Devils.

Tonight's game was amazing. What began as a pitcher's duel morphed into a back and forth game by mid-innings, and then, when ASU's offense finally seemed to get going in the 7th and 8th, it looked like it would be a sizable defeat in ASU's favor. But the UC Irvine Anteaters somehow put together a 4-run 8th inning, and eventually would win it in the 10th. I would love to look at a fangraphs-style win probability graph for tonight's game. The leverage index was probably in the red (over 5.0) about once every half-inning from the 8th onward. Amazing baseball, even if the defeat is tough to take. Fortunately, a good number of the key players on this team (Wallace, Jarvis, etc) will be back next year, so the future is bright in the Valley of the Sun.

One of the fun things about these games is that ESPN is making substantial use of win probability throughout these games, as well as other work following Tom Tango's lead, including probability estimates of how many runs will be scored in different situations. As far as I can tell, all of their win probability figures are recalculated for college baseball games, which, if true, deserves commendation. They are making an innovation that I don't think has commonly been done at other sites that commonly do win probability, in that they take position in the batting order into account, as well as the traditional base/out/inning states. I hope ESPN continues to roll out these stats in MLB games...though I have to say, when the win probabilities get extreme (e.g. 95%-5%), they really should avoid displaying them, as sort of hurts the suspense. Where it gets really interesting though is when the trailing team gets a 50+ win probability thanks to their base runners. I love the perspective that gives. :)

I also want to say that I just love the double-elimination format that the NCAA uses in the College World Series tourney. It is so much better than the awful round-robin with tiebreakers format of, say, the World Baseball Classic. Tiebreakers are completely irrelevant in the CWS, and a team is never truly out of it until that last out is made. Tonight, by the time the 9th inning rolled around, both teams had already pulled their ineffective closers in favor of the pitcher they had wanted to start in Wednesday's game. No matter who won, the victor was going to have to face an undefeated and rested Oregon State team tomorrow after having used their top three starters in tonight's game. As the game went into extra innings, the problem of who would be available to actually throw a baseball come tomorrow's 7pm first pitch loomed ever larger. But it didn't matter--all that mattered was winning tonight and staying alive. Awesome, awesome baseball.

Coverage of professional baseball will resume with the next post. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Trade Season

Outlook for the rest of 2007

As I write this, the Reds are 26-41, 10.5 games behind the NL Central-leading Brewers (graph courtesy of The Hardball Times). In order for the Reds to win 90 games this season, which would be enough to have a good shot at the playoffs in this division, they'd need to go 64-21 (0.753) for the remainder of the season. Needless to say, that would be well above any mark they've posted over even a just month's time the past two seasons, including the brilliant 17-8 April of 2006.

Ok, maybe 90 wins is overkill. The Brewers are currently 36-30. If they play 0.500 ball the rest of the way, and if no one else catches them, they'd win 84 games. To match that total, the Reds would have to go 58-37 (0.610). That's not inconceivable, but it is higher than the Reds have posted any month except April 2006 over the past season and a half, with the 15-12 (0.556) June of 2006 being the sole exception.

Some more data: Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA-adjusted odds report gives the Reds an 0.5% chance of making the playoffs. Cool Standings' "Dumb" rankings, which assume every team is of equal talent, give the Reds a 3.0% chance of making the playoffs. Their "smart" estimates are even more harsh (1.3% chance).

While there certainly is a measurable chance remaining, for all practical purposes, the Reds' 2007 season is almost certainly a wash. The prudent thing is to think towards 2008 and 2009. Which brings us to the title of this post.

Trade Season

I am not a fan of 5-year plans. As Bill Veeck once said, "It has been my experience that the Youth Plans and Five-Year Plans lead not to pennants but only to new Five-Year Plans," (source: Baseball Between the Numbers). Subsequent (though admittedly not overwhelming--it's something I have on my to-do list) research has supported the idea that most teams do not regularly undergo periodic fluctuations between excellence and misery. Instead of alternating between youth movements or sell-the-farm-and-win-now approaches, the best model seems to be to constantly work toward both immediate and sustainable success.

Therefore, I do think that a team should do what it can to be competitive each season, while at the same time planning for seasons to come. But when a season is lost, as 2007 almost certainly is for the Reds, one has to focus one's energies on the future. The period of time between now and the trade deadline presents a fantastic opportunity for the Reds, but they will have to execute trades with a shrewd eye toward the future, rather than simply the present.

Who to trade

My (not exactly radical) mid-season trading philosophy for teams out of contention is to focus on dealing away the players who are declining in value, or otherwise will not help the team win in the coming two seasons. This generally means older, veteran ballplayers who are still productive, but might not be next year or the following season. It also means trading players who are going to depart as free agents at the end of the season. These players can give contending teams a boost into the playoffs and beyond this season, while holding little value if retained by the non-contender. In return, the non-contender should seek younger, cheaper players that ideally both have potential and are close to being major league ready.

What I do not advocate in this situation is dumping salary for the sake of dumping salary. A player in his prime, and yet a player that is still under contract for the following season (or more) can still help the team the subsequent season. Trading away that player for prospects will, in general, reduce the talent level of the team the next season, which hurts one's ability to contend in that season. The goal should be to get the team in the best possible shape to contend in the subsequent two seasons, not some year in the distant future.

The Reds are currently the 9th oldest team in baseball--and that's after the addition of the 21-year old Bailey--so they have some age to shed. Courtesy of, here is the current Reds' roster, sorted by age (includes salary--I had to estimate three players' salaries, and I defaulted them to the league minimum):

Mike Stanton P 40 $2,000,000
Jeff Conine 1B 40 $2,000,000
David Weathers P 37 $2,250,000
Scott Hatteberg 1B 37 $1,500,000
Ken Griffey Jr. RF 37 $8,446,647
Eddie Guardado
P 36 $500,000
Juan Castro SS 34 $925,000
Chad Moeller C 32 $700,000
Eric Milton
P 31 $10,333,333
Javier Valentin C 31 $1,250,000
Ryan Freel
CF 31 $2,325,000
Bronson Arroyo P 30 $4,375,000
Victor Santos P 30 $500,000
David Ross C 30 $1,600,000
Alex Gonzalez SS 30 $3,500,000
Aaron Harang P 29 $4,250,000
Kyle Lohse P 28 $4,200,000
Norris Hopper CF 28 $380,000
Matt Belisle P 27 $390,000
Gary Majewski P 27 $390,000
Adam Dunn LF 27 $10,500,000
Jared Burton
P 26 $380,000
Todd Coffey P 26 $407,500
Jon Coutlangus P 26 $380,000
Marcus McBeth P 26 $390,000
Josh Hamilton CF 26 $380,000
Brandon Phillips 2B 25 $407,500
Bill Bray
P 24 $382,500
Edwin Encarnacion 3B 24 $407,500
Jerry Gil SS 24 $380,000
Homer Bailey P 21 $390,000
With those data and principles in hand, here are the players I think the Reds absolutely must try to trade this season. All could bring good to great value in return:
  • Ken Griffey Jr. - Griffey may never again have the trade value that he does right now. His contract extends through next season, so he would not be a rent-a-player. He is adequate in right field defensively, and is hitting very well this season. Furthermore, he'd be a great draw to whoever picked him up. Junior would have to accept any deal, but his comments that he "live[s] in Florida, I work in Cincinnati" this past offseason indicate to me that he'd be willing to leave for the right contender. With the novelty of playing for the Reds having disappeared, I'd think one of his primary interests would be to get another shot at a World Series title before it's too late. And if he gets hurt before the Reds trade him, the Reds may never have another chance to move him for great return again.
  • Scott Hatteberg - Hatteberg's resurgence since his arrival in Cincinnati was unexpected, but he's been superb for us at a very low price tag. Nevertheless, at 37 years old, you can't expect that to continue for much longer. It's time to cash in on him. There are several contending (or wannabe contending) teams in need of a first baseman (Detroit, Yankees, etc), and Hatteberg would make a fine addition to most lineups--particularly if packaged with his platoon partner, Jeff Conine. Both are one-year deal players, but are certainly signable and affordable if a team wishes to extend their contracts.
  • David Weathers - Weathers has been far better than I expected him to be after last season's noticeable declines in all of his peripherals. I frankly think he's a ticking time bomb, but a contender looking to sure up the bullpen might gobble Weathers' veteran presence up--and might even give a prospect on the level of a 2006 Justin Germano in return. This trade needs to happen as soon as possible, before he turns into a pumpkin.
  • Mike Stanton - His peripherals indicate that Stanton hasn't been as bad as his numbers indicate, but his track record and recent success might also bring a return--though perhaps not as strong as that by Weathers. I'd probably hold on to Stanton until close to the deadline and hope that he continues to improve his numbers before dealing him.
  • Kyle Lohse - I'm pretty sure that Lohse is a free agent at the end of the season (anyone know a good source for this info?). If that's the case, I think the Reds should make a strong effort to re-sign him right now. He's still fairly young at 28, and he has really helped stabilize the middle of the rotation since his acquisition last July. But if that proves impossible before the trading deadline, I'm sure a lot of contenders would be happy to add a #3/#4 starter to their roster and would give a good return for him.
  • Of course, finding a good home for Juan Castro, Chad Moeller, & Victor Santos would be nice. But they're not going to bring much in return.
There's been a lot of talk about trading Adam Dunn, including a huge speculative article on the subject at Baseball Prospectus today. Personally, unless the return is overwhelming, I don't think that's a good idea. At 27, Dunn is still pretty young, and should have several more good years left in him. It is true that he has what Bill James referred to as "old players' skills," and therefore may decline faster than average. But PECOTA, which compares him to similar "old player skills" players of a similar age, still predicts that he'll be a "star" through 2010.

More to the point, Adam Dunn is a major part of the Reds' offense. If the Reds trade Griffey, as they should (see above), the Reds would need Dunn next season even more than they currently do. Trading away both players would remove the two best offensive players on the team, shifting the offense to below average levels next year. I know he frustrates the hell out of people, but the Reds really need Dunn's bat for at least another year--and perhaps beyond that.

And, of course, you could argue that the fact that he'd be a rent-a-player hurts his trade value--unless the other team is able to negotiate a contract extension to replace the option year that will become invalid upon the trade.

What the Reds should try to get

I won't speculate on particular deals, because there are just too many possible combinations. Until some "genuine" trade rumors surface that come from inside sources, I won't even bother to reflect on them. But I will present a few general guidelines of what I would try to do with mid-season trades (you'll notice a theme):
  • Get the best young talent you can get, and don't worry about filling holes.
    • Position players can be reassigned to a new position, and current players can get hurt (see Griffey, 2001-2004). And you really cannot have too much pitching. Mid-season deals for non-contending teams should go for talent above all else, and the offseason can be used to patch holes for the subsequent year. Since the current season is already lost, we'll just suffer through the loss of the veterans and give some young players a chance to fail. Note: Mr. Krivsky, this means that you should not focus all of your efforts on finding a closer.
  • Get the best young talent you can get, even if it means paying the salary of the departing players.
    • None of these players I've identified are signed longer than through 2008, and most are only signed through this season. If faced with a decision between trading with a team that will give a good talent return but will require the Reds to pay most of their former players' salaries, and trading with a team that will take on the salary but given a less talent return, the Reds should go with the former option. This is about building for the future. The money has already been committed--the best use of it is to acquire the best young talent you can find.
  • Get the best young talent you can get, even if it's not quite ready for the Show. I don't recommend trading for 18-year olds except in special circumstances, but trading for an outstanding talent that can't be expected to arrive in the majors until 2009 is a perfectly acceptable thing to do right now. If their ETA is more like 2011, of course, I'd probably hold off...unless that player is part of a package of propects.
It will be interesting to see what Krivsky does with this opportunity. In many ways, I think these next few months may have more to do with his ultimate success (or failure) as a general manager than anything he has done thus far. I'm cautiously optimistic that he will rise to the occasion.

Friday, June 15, 2007

May 2007 Reds Review Part 3: Hitting and Pitching

Teaching summer session has sapped away a lot of my time and energy this month. Given that it's already mid-month in June, I'm going to forgo the in-depth May graphical hitting and pitching analysis. Nevertheless, for posterity, here are hitting and pitching stats for May, with limited commentary.

K. Griffey 134 14% 15% 0.282 0.306 0.403 0.595 0.288 0.998 1.013 0.409 27 2 100%
A. Dunn 121 34% 13% 0.327 0.252 0.355 0.573 0.320 0.928 0.900 0.389 21 2 67%
B. Phillips 128 15% 5% 0.320 0.294 0.336 0.496 0.202 0.832 0.802 0.350 20 3 60%
A. Gonzalez 123 18% 4% 0.224 0.228 0.285 0.482 0.254 0.767 0.883 0.326 16 0 0%
S. Hatteberg 82 10% 11% 0.317 0.310 0.402 0.521 0.211 0.924 0.904 0.402 15 0 ---
E. Encarnacion 71 10% 8% 0.283 0.286 0.366 0.476 0.190 0.842 0.876 0.369 11 0 ---
R. Freel 101 13% 6% 0.263 0.242 0.287 0.400 0.158 0.687 0.755 0.298 11 3 60%
D. Ross 77 36% 10% 0.306 0.232 0.312 0.464 0.232 0.775 0.774 0.306 10 0 ---
N. Hopper 53 17% 2% 0.442 0.365 0.377 0.462 0.096 0.839 0.613 0.368 9 3 60%
J. Hamilton 60 15% 5% 0.267 0.255 0.300 0.418 0.164 0.718 0.766 0.310 7 2 67%
J. Conine 64 9% 13% 0.280 0.259 0.344 0.296 0.037 0.640 0.660 0.298 6 1 100%
J. Valentin 25 4% 4% 0.182 0.208 0.240 0.417 0.208 0.657 0.876 0.278 2 0 ---
C. Moeller 20 35% 0% 0.333 0.250 0.250 0.400 0.150 0.650 0.615 0.278 2 0 ---
J. Castro 31 19% 0% 0.240 0.200 0.194 0.233 0.033 0.427 0.512 0.185 1 0 ---
J. Keppinger 9 0% 11% 0.250 0.250 0.333 0.250 0.000 0.583 0.685 0.280 1 0 ---
  • The most impressive thing about Griffey's brilliant month? He may have actually been a bit unlucky. His BABIP was only 0.282, and my BABIP-adjustment to OPS would put him 0ver 1.000 on the month. Amazing.
  • Dunn looked like the Dunn we almost take for granted. But my goodness, if you take away the last two months of the '06 season, how many players have been as consistently productive at the plate over the past three and a half seasons?
  • Phillips' month was solid, but somehow looks a bit disappointing for a guy who had a 22-game hitting streak in May. As always with him, it's that OBP that brings him down. Still, he's a middle infielder with nice power, and has the second-best range in baseball this year at 2B. When all is said and done, he may turn out to be Krivsky's best pickup.
  • Gonzalez looked like he had turned back into a pumpkin, but his May BABIP was an absurdly low 0.224. He's having a heck of a resurgence at the plate this year. Now if only his glove was equal to the hype...
  • Did I mention that Eddie Encarnacion is back? 'Cause he is. Welcome back, Eddie.
  • Hopper's 0.839 OPS on the month was driven almost entirely by his 0.442 BABIP. It's been fun, but he won't maintain this level of productivity.
  • On the other side of the coin, Valentin looks like he was much better than his 0.657 OPS would indicate, thanks to a very unlucky 0.182 BABIP. My BABIP-adjustment to OPS puts him in the mid-0.800's for the month.
A. Harang 42.7 6.7 1.9 0.8 0.275 4.43 4.22 3.69
M. Belisle 38.3 6.1 1.6 1.2 0.357 5.64 4.93 4.17
B. Arroyo 37.7 5.7 4.5 0.7 0.347 6.92 6.45 4.55
K. Lohse 32.3 4.5 2.2 1.1 0.362 7.24 6.41 4.75
V. Santos 19.0 7.6 3.8 1.9 0.334 5.68 5.68 5.52
D. Weathers 14.0 9.6 4.5 0.0 0.265 5.14 5.14 2.77
K. Saarloos 11.7 3.1 5.4 0.8 0.341 9.23 9.23 5.42
M. Stanton 11.3 7.2 4.8 0.0 0.441 6.37 5.58 3.73
T. Coffey 11.3 5.6 4.8 3.2 0.236 3.98 3.19 8.16
J. Coutlangus 11.0 5.7 4.1 0.8 0.281 4.91 4.91 4.47
E. Milton 10.3 4.4 3.5 0.9 0.352 6.99 6.12 4.66
B. Salmon 10.0 9.0 3.6 0.9 0.174 4.50 4.50 4.00
J. Burton 8.3 9.8 3.3 1.1 0.250 7.59 4.34 4.40
B. Livingston 5.3 1.7 1.7 1.7 0.429 6.79 6.79 5.84
G. Majewski 2.7 3.3 0.0 0.0 0.455 6.67 6.67 3.57
  • Harang continues to underperform his peripherals. But I'd rather have that then the other way around, even if it means poorer in-game performance, because solid FIP predicts future success. He's a good one.
  • Belisle, Arroyo, and Lohse all look ok when judged by their peripherals and FIP, even if they got severely lit up on the month. Look at those BABIP's. It's hard to imagine that much of your pitching staff running into that much bad luck at once, but that's exactly what happened in May. Of course, Bronson's 4.5 bb/9 and Lohse's 4.5 k/9 didn't help much.
  • Not looking ok is Coffey. What the heck happened? I can write off the hr/9 to bad luck. But 4.8 bb/9? That's very uncharacteristic for him.
  • Speaking of uncharacteristic, David Weathers struck out more than a batter per inning in May. But he also walked 4.6 bb/9, which is high for him. His FIP looks great, but his ERA didn't. I'm still worried about him. If the Reds can trade him soon and get something valuable in return, I think they should cash in now.
  • I mentioned this over at Red Reporter, but Stanton seems to be more a victim of bad luck than of being a bad pitcher. His peripherals on the season are right in line with his career norms, and his 3.73 FIP in May was in stark contrast to that 5.58 ERA. Hang with him, I think he's still a quality reliever.
  • Both Salmon and Burton reached the 9 k/9 barrier on the month.