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View Full Version : Kearns for Clement? No thanks!



11BarryLarkin11
01-28-2006, 06:41 PM
I try to base most of my opinions about the Reds and their potential personnel moves on the economics of the game. Whether we like it or not, the Reds are not a high payroll team. That's the way the collective bargaining agreement is setup and that's the nature of the beast. The Reds can cry and complain about it or they can accept it and try to work within its framework.

There are undoubtedly some changes that need to be made to equalize the financial playing field of the game, but there is a part of me that enjoys the way it is now. Personally, I couldn't be a Yankee fan. The Yankees win because they have more money than everyone else and a bit of intelligence to go with it. Period. Buying the best talent year after year isn't fun or impressive. I like being the underdog. It'll make winning that much sweeter.

When evaluating potential moves, I look at production. Production is what determines wins and losses. You have to get a certain amount of production on offense, defense, and pitching to win ballgames. It is often times more important to look at aggregate production provided by a roster as a whole than the individual players who comprise the roster. Everyone, myself included, can get caught up in the players themselves (personalities, reputations, etc), but in reality it is the production they provide (HRs, Walks, etc) that really matters.

The key to being successful as a small/mid-market organization is simple: Get more production per dollar spent than the larger market teams. That's the whole deal. If you can't do that, then the larger budget teams will beat you. If you only get as much production per dollar spent as the large market teams, you will lose because they have more money to spend. That's why the Reds have to be innovative and try new things. They have to be SMARTER when they spend the money.

What it means, in essence, is that the mid-market Reds CAN'T AFFORD to sign players at their fair market value. The Reds can't pay players what they are "worth". They can pay one or two the going rate and build around them, but they can't just go out and acquire players who are at their peak earning power.

As such, the Reds have to exploit the collective bargaining agreement in order to be competitive. They need to use it, not curse its existence! Find the loopholes and exploit them. Seek out the inefficiencies. And, the inefficiency that the Reds need to exploit in this instance is the first 6 years of a players MLB career. The three when the team owns the rights and the three arbitration years. Those are the years the Reds can afford. After that, the player's cost skyrockets.

The Reds HAVE TO MAXIMIZE their talent/assets. They have to make sure that they squeeze every last drop of production out of every asset. That goes for trades, minor leaguers, draft picks, Rule 5 picks, and free agent signings.

Which brings us back to Kearns for Clement. The reason I don't like the deal is the same reason I don't like signing free agent pitching. Clement is getting what he is "worth". He's already reached his peak earning power. As such, he's not a player the Reds should target.

In fact, trading Kearns for Clement would be even worse than signing Clement as a free agent. Signing him as a free agent would only cost us cash. Trading Kearns for him would cost us cash and talent. That's a double negative. We would be trading Kearns for the right to pay Clement what he is "worth" on the open market. How does that make sense? And, personally, I think Clement is overrated, so in my mind he's getting much more than he is worth. So, I REALLY don't like the trade. The Reds have to choose wisely when handing out big money contracts. That's why I'd love for them to lock up Dunn, because I think he's worth it. I have no problem with paying big bucks to the guys who are worth it, but Clement clearly isn't one of them.

But, if you really think that acquiring Clement for $9.5M plus possible incentives is a good idea, why not just sign Jeff Weaver?

Here are Clement's career stats:
ERA: 4.37
WHIP: 1.38
K/9: 7.84
BB/9: 4.09

Here are Weaver's career stats:
ERA: 4.44
WHIP: 1.32
K/9: 6.04
BB/9: 2.46

Weaver and Clement are comparable pitchers. Weaver would likely sign for what Clement is making and wouldn't cost us Kearns in the process. So, why trade for Clement? Why not keep Kearns and sign Weaver? I find it hard to believe that Jeff Weaver would pass up a 2/3 year deal worth ~$10M per season, which is essentially what Clement earns.

Here's an example that may illustrate the point. Which of the following packages is preferable?

A) Matt Clement
B) Austin Kearns + Jeff Weaver
C) David Bush + Zach Jackson + Jeff Weaver

I'm not sure if it's B or C, but I know it isn't A.

Now, as I've stated before, I think the Reds could've gotten a David Bush & Zach Jackson package for Austin Kearns. But, I'm just using that as an example to put some names in the deal. It's a deal that is in the ballpark, if not totally agreeable to both sides.

The point is if you want to bring in another $9M pitcher, which I don't, there are better ways to go about doing it. I don't want to do it, because it isn't the best way to maximize production per dollar spent. If you bring in Clement and the payroll is around $65M, then in 2006 the salaries of Clement and Weaver combined will make up about 28% of the Reds payroll. That's a lot of money for two pitchers who will post league average production at best.

The Reds can utilize Kearns in a different manner to increase the amount of production on the team. Trade him for young talent and use the savings to sign free agents. Trading him for Clement doesn't even come close to maximizing the aggregate production of the team's assets. You can get Clement's production from Weaver, while keeping Kearns' production in the lineup. Or, you can get Clement's production from Weaver and use Kearns to bring in young talent in another trade. Either way is preferable to me, because either scenario brings in more talent than Kearns for Clement straight up.

You can say that the Reds need to boost payroll to $100M, but that's not overly realistic. Even if it was, it would STILL be advantageous to maximize the production per dollar spent. Personally, I think the Reds can go to $70-75M in payroll by making a few wise business decisions to increase revenue, but $100M isn't realistic.

So, they aren't likely going to be a top payroll team. Which means, they have to be one of the smartest teams, because they won't ever be one of the richest teams.

Maximize production and value out of every asset. Trading Kearns for Clement doesn't do that. In fact, leaves a tremendous amount of unrealized value on the table. The Red Sox picking up a significant portion of Clement's salary would help, but not enough that the Reds would be right in making this deal.

That's why I think it's a bad idea.

As per usual, just my $.02.

SteelSD
01-28-2006, 08:56 PM
In fact, trading Kearns for Clement would be even worse than signing Clement as a free agent. Signing him as a free agent would only cost us cash.

Travis Wood. The team losing a Type B Free Agent acquires the signing team's top draft pick. Because the Reds selected in the first half of Round One, they could not lose that pick. But they would have lost the pick used to select Travis Wood.

The same thing would happen if the Reds signed Jeff Weaver. Again, no first round pick loss. But their 2nd rounder is toast. Therefore your scenario becomes:

A) Matt Clement
B) Austin Kearns + Jeff Weaver - 2nd Round Pick

Now, good analysis on Clement vs. Weaver at first glance:

DIPS ERA:

Matt Clement
2002: 3.45
2003: 4.24
2004: 4.06
2005: 4.17

Jeff Weaver
2002: 3.76
2003: 4.32
2004: 3.91
2005: 4.52

That results in a Median DIPS ERA of 4.12 for both pitchers (egad!). However, the DIPS ERA numbers used by espn.com don't take into account Park Factors. And that's a biggie because while Clement has pitched in a slight pitcher's park (Wrigley), Weaver has pitched in real caverns excepting his Yankees stint. Weaver quite obviously isn't as bad as his 2003 season in New York when he was maybe the unluckiest guy alive (.355 BABIP), but he's not as good as his DIPS numbers suggest. And take a look at this:

LH/RH Splits 2003-2005:

Jeff Weaver vs. RH: .238 BA/.277 OBP/.355 SLG (.632 OPSA)
Jeff Weaver vs. LH: .309 BA/.369 OBP/.506 SLG (.875 OPSA)

Matt Clement vs. RH: .225 BA/.293 OBP/.340 SLG (.633 OPSA)
Matt Clement vs. RH: .253 BA/.343 OBP/.417 SLG (.760 OPSA)

Here are those three-year splits broken down year-by year:

Jeff Weaver:

2005 vs. RH: .208 BA/.239 OBP/.345 SLG (.584 OPSA)
2005 vs. LH: .297 BA/.353 OBP/.511 SLG (.864 OPSA)

2004 vs. RH: .231 BA/.271 OBP/.332 SLG (.603 OPSA)
2004 vs. LH: .291 BA/.371 OBP/.472 SLG (.843 OPSA)

2003 vs. RH: .290 BA/.338 OBP/.406 SLG (.743 OPSA)
2003 vs. LH: .342 BA/.386 OBP/.535 SLG (.922 OPSA)

Matt Clement:

2005 vs. RH: .244 BA/.308 OBP/.344 SLG (.652 OPSA)
2005 vs. LH: .275 BA/.354 OBP/.447 SLG (.801 OPSA)

2004 vs. RH: .224 BA/.290 OBP/.356 SLG (.646 OPSA)
2004 vs. LH: .234 BA/.339 OBP/.395 SLG (.734 OPSA)

2003 vs. RH: .209 BA/.283 OBP/.322 SLG (.605 OPSA)
2003 vs. LH: .246 BA/.335 OBP/.405 SLG (.740 OPSA)

Here are your average split differentials for their three-year splits:

Clement BA: .026 BA
Weaver BA: .067 BA

Clement OBP: .049 OBP
Weaver OBP: .087 OBP

Clement SLG: .075 SLG
Weaver SLG: .145 SLG

Clement OPS: .124 OPS
Weaver OPS: .233 OPS

The reason I'm looking at differentials here is to give Weaver half a chance after his ridiculously BABIP-unlucky season in 2003. But still we find that Clement is the more consistent pitcher right now when faced with both. That's a Big Deal because you don't want someone you're spending actual money on just folding against his worst matchup. RH pitchers may have a more difficult time retiring opposite-handed batters, but Weaver has simply been awful at it over the past three years. Twice as not-as-good at it as Clement. Clement hasn't actually been bad at it over the past three seasons. His OPSA versus LH is an average of .758, which is pretty darn near the average MLB OPS for that time frame. That's worth something. Would I be concerned about Clement's K rate decrease in 2005. Absolutely. I'd want an MRI before consummating any deal.

But if he's healthy, is Matt Clement- at his price- worth the current version of Austin Kearns? That's the question. The answer is "Yes...if the Red Sox kick in another projectible player." Frankly, if the 'Sox offered Clement and Youkilis, that's a done deal as long as I can confirm that Clement's arm is sound. Then I turn to the A's and start talking to them about some of the pitching they have available.

11BarryLarkin11
01-28-2006, 09:32 PM
Travis Wood. The team losing a Type B Free Agent acquires the signing team's top draft pick. Because the Reds selected in the first half of Round One, they could not lose that pick. But they would have lost the pick used to select Travis Wood.

The same thing would happen if the Reds signed Jeff Weaver. Again, no first round pick loss. But their 2nd rounder is toast. Therefore your scenario becomes:

A) Matt Clement
B) Austin Kearns + Jeff Weaver - 2nd Round Pick

Now, good analysis on Clement vs. Weaver at first glance:

DIPS ERA:

Matt Clement
2002: 3.45
2003: 4.24
2004: 4.06
2005: 4.17

Jeff Weaver
2002: 3.76
2003: 4.32
2004: 3.91
2005: 4.52

That results in a Median DIPS ERA of 4.12 for both pitchers (egad!). However, the DIPS ERA numbers used by espn.com don't take into account Park Factors. And that's a biggie because while Clement has pitched in a slight pitcher's park (Wrigley), Weaver has pitched in real caverns excepting his Yankees stint. Weaver quite obviously isn't as bad as his 2003 season in New York when he was maybe the unluckiest guy alive (.355 BABIP), but he's not as good as his DIPS numbers suggest. And take a look at this:

LH/RH Splits 2003-2005:

Jeff Weaver vs. RH: .238 BA/.277 OBP/.355 SLG (.632 OPSA)
Jeff Weaver vs. LH: .309 BA/.369 OBP/.506 SLG (.875 OPSA)

Matt Clement vs. RH: .225 BA/.293 OBP/.340 SLG (.633 OPSA)
Matt Clement vs. RH: .253 BA/.343 OBP/.417 SLG (.760 OPSA)

Here are those three-year splits broken down year-by year:

Jeff Weaver:

2005 vs. RH: .208 BA/.239 OBP/.345 SLG (.584 OPSA)
2005 vs. LH: .297 BA/.353 OBP/.511 SLG (.864 OPSA)

2004 vs. RH: .231 BA/.271 OBP/.332 SLG (.603 OPSA)
2004 vs. LH: .291 BA/.371 OBP/.472 SLG (.843 OPSA)

2003 vs. RH: .290 BA/.338 OBP/.406 SLG (.743 OPSA)
2003 vs. LH: .342 BA/.386 OBP/.535 SLG (.922 OPSA)

Matt Clement:

2005 vs. RH: .244 BA/.308 OBP/.344 SLG (.652 OPSA)
2005 vs. LH: .275 BA/.354 OBP/.447 SLG (.801 OPSA)

2004 vs. RH: .224 BA/.290 OBP/.356 SLG (.646 OPSA)
2004 vs. LH: .234 BA/.339 OBP/.395 SLG (.734 OPSA)

2003 vs. RH: .209 BA/.283 OBP/.322 SLG (.605 OPSA)
2003 vs. LH: .246 BA/.335 OBP/.405 SLG (.740 OPSA)

Here are your average split differentials for their three-year splits:

Clement BA: .026 BA
Weaver BA: .067 BA

Clement OBP: .049 OBP
Weaver OBP: .087 OBP

Clement SLG: .075 SLG
Weaver SLG: .145 SLG

Clement OPS: .124 OPS
Weaver OPS: .233 OPS

The reason I'm looking at differentials here is to give Weaver half a chance after his ridiculously BABIP-unlucky season in 2003. But still we find that Clement is the more consistent pitcher right now when faced with both. That's a Big Deal because you don't want someone you're spending actual money on just folding against his worst matchup. RH pitchers may have a more difficult time retiring opposite-handed batters, but Weaver has simply been awful at it over the past three years. Twice as not-as-good at it as Clement. Clement hasn't actually been bad at it over the past three seasons. His OPSA versus LH is an average of .758, which is pretty darn near the average MLB OPS for that time frame. That's worth something. Would I be concerned about Clement's K rate decrease in 2005. Absolutely. I'd want an MRI before consummating any deal.

But if he's healthy, is Matt Clement- at his price- worth the current version of Austin Kearns? That's the question. The answer is "Yes...if the Red Sox kick in another projectible player." Frankly, if the 'Sox offered Clement and Youkilis, that's a done deal as long as I can confirm that Clement's arm is sound. Then I turn to the A's and start talking to them about some of the pitching they have available.

SD, good statistical analysis, as always. I actually wasn't advocating that the Reds should lock up Weaver, rather I was using him (the only big money free agent pitcher left on the market) as an example to illustrate that I don't think trading Kearns for a veteran pitcher signed at the going market rate is a good idea.

If you are trading Kearns, you can get more value out of the deal, in my estimation, by targeting a pitcher who hasn't recently been signed to a large free agent contract. The Reds can sign one of those themselves, without trading an Austin Kearns. If Kearns is to be dealt, I think he has to bring a young pitcher in his first few years in the league back in return. The Reds need to exploit the first 6 years of a players career. Those are the affordable years and that's where the Reds need to make their living, so to speak.

But, you are correct, I forgot about the draft pick compensation. I was thinking in generalities and using names just to generate a bit more impact for the different scenarios. But, you are right, I should have mentioned that certain free agent signings may cause the Reds to lose a draft pick.

However, unless the Reds were to get substantial salary relief from the BoSox, I'm not sure how much actual value they would be receiving in return.

Personally, I don't think Clement is even worth the ~$10M that he is receiving. And, if you are trading Kearns, I think you can get more total value (talent, performance, and cost savings) than you would get by bringing in the erratic, expensive Matt Clement.

Personally, I think a better strategy for building the pitching staff is for the Reds to target "The Next John Patterson" (TNJP ;)) to fill up their rotation. Good young pitchers who could/should be on the verge of breakout seasons, but aren't going to cost an arm or a leg to acquire. Anther recent example is the A's acquisition of Danny Haren. They traded Mulder for Haren, Calero, and Barton and a case could be made that Haren actually outpitched Mulder last year. Granted, the A's had to give up Mulder to get him, but the point is that that is the type of pitcher the Reds should target. Not erratic, veterans signed what they are "worth".

These pitchers would be young and inexpensive, which would free up cash to bolster the bullpen. You could bring in young, inexpensive starting pitchers with significant upside and build a very strong bullpen with the cost savings. Essentially shorten the game to 5 or 6 innings. This would allow for the inevitable growing pains from the young starters and still enable the Reds to field a solid pitching staff.

Also, it would likely be more cost effective (despite this offseason's high cost for relievers), than bringing in veteran starting pitching.

The Reds could build their pitching staff from the 9th inning forward. Good innings are valuable whether it is the 1st or the 8th. In fact, a case could probably be made that good late inning pitching is more valuable than good early inning pitching.

But, I think the idea that the Reds should continue to acquire high paid veteran starting pitching is flawed. If it's Johan Santana or Mark Prior, then I'm on board. But, it needs to be a bona fide ace or a great #2. Not another Eric Milton and not Matt Clement. If you are trading for a veteran pitching signed to that size contract, he had better be as close to a can't miss guy as possible. He had better be a special talent, otherwise you can find similar production on the free agent market. A Kearns trade needs to bring in either cost savings on a pitcher's contract or talent/production that can't be acquired on the free agent market.

Until then, I think they need to be hot on the trail of "TNJP". ;)

SteelSD
01-29-2006, 10:51 AM
SD, good statistical analysis, as always. I actually wasn't advocating that the Reds should lock up Weaver, rather I was using him (the only big money free agent pitcher left on the market) as an example to illustrate that I don't think trading Kearns for a veteran pitcher signed at the going market rate is a good idea.

Oh, I understand. It's just that Weaver really doesn't comp with a guy like Clement.


If you are trading Kearns, you can get more value out of the deal, in my estimation, by targeting a pitcher who hasn't recently been signed to a large free agent contract. The Reds can sign one of those themselves, without trading an Austin Kearns. If Kearns is to be dealt, I think he has to bring a young pitcher in his first few years in the league back in return. The Reds need to exploit the first 6 years of a players career. Those are the affordable years and that's where the Reds need to make their living, so to speak.

Sure. I agree. I'd rather find the "next" guy than the "current" high-priced guy too. That being said, I don't think it's wise to necessarily snub our noses at a productive high-priced guy if that's what's on the table.


But, you are correct, I forgot about the draft pick compensation. I was thinking in generalities and using names just to generate a bit more impact for the different scenarios. But, you are right, I should have mentioned that certain free agent signings may cause the Reds to lose a draft pick.

And if you're going to sign a Type A or Type B Free Agent, do it while you you suck.


However, unless the Reds were to get substantial salary relief from the BoSox, I'm not sure how much actual value they would be receiving in return.

Personally, I don't think Clement is even worth the ~$10M that he is receiving. And, if you are trading Kearns, I think you can get more total value (talent, performance, and cost savings) than you would get by bringing in the erratic, expensive Matt Clement.

I'm not sure that classifying Clement as "erratic" is entirely accurate. But your reasoning above is why I wouldn't make a straight-up swap of Kearns for Clement. I'd want more value coming back.


Personally, I think a better strategy for building the pitching staff is for the Reds to target "The Next John Patterson" (TNJP ;)) to fill up their rotation. Good young pitchers who could/should be on the verge of breakout seasons, but aren't going to cost an arm or a leg to acquire. Anther recent example is the A's acquisition of Danny Haren. They traded Mulder for Haren, Calero, and Barton and a case could be made that Haren actually outpitched Mulder last year. Granted, the A's had to give up Mulder to get him, but the point is that that is the type of pitcher the Reds should target. Not erratic, veterans signed what they are "worth".

Agree in principle. Disagree that productive veteran pitching shouldn't be attractive just because it costs more. It should cost more. It's less risky and can help immediately.


These pitchers would be young and inexpensive, which would free up cash to bolster the bullpen. You could bring in young, inexpensive starting pitchers with significant upside and build a very strong bullpen with the cost savings. Essentially shorten the game to 5 or 6 innings. This would allow for the inevitable growing pains from the young starters and still enable the Reds to field a solid pitching staff.

Also, it would likely be more cost effective (despite this offseason's high cost for relievers), than bringing in veteran starting pitching.

The Reds could build their pitching staff from the 9th inning forward. Good innings are valuable whether it is the 1st or the 8th. In fact, a case could probably be made that good late inning pitching is more valuable than good early inning pitching.

Good Innings are good Innings, but if you're looking at things from a cost effectiveness standpoint, productive vet SP's tend to be far more cost-effective than productive vet RP's. Without good Innings early consistently, good Innings late are practically valueless.

And yes, I'm all for "young and inexpensive and productive". But I'm also for proven immediate help. I don't think the two concepts need to be mutually exclusive. Good teams can win by focusing on both avenues concurrently.


But, I think the idea that the Reds should continue to acquire high paid veteran starting pitching is flawed. If it's Johan Santana or Mark Prior, then I'm on board. But, it needs to be a bona fide ace or a great #2. Not another Eric Milton and not Matt Clement. If you are trading for a veteran pitching signed to that size contract, he had better be as close to a can't miss guy as possible. He had better be a special talent, otherwise you can find similar production on the free agent market. A Kearns trade needs to bring in either cost savings on a pitcher's contract or talent/production that can't be acquired on the free agent market.

The Reds shouldn't continue to acquire high-paid veteran Starting Pitching. They should start acquiring productive Starting Pitching- and I think that statement holds true without qualification.

Would I trade Kearns straight-up for Matt Clement? No- and I think you did a good job of covering the some of the cons for that scenario. Would I have rather signed Matt Clement as a Free Agent? Yes.

However, if the Reds traded Austin Kearns for Matt Clement/Youkilis, you're now in a scenario of value efficiency. Yes, Clement will be making about 9.5M (he's also got some performance clauses above that) in 2006 and 2007. In my estimation, Kearns will probably average about 2.25M over those two seasons. That ends up at about 7.25M per season after the swap. Furthermore, you're freeing up another resource to trade by adding a guy like Youkilis. If the guy you're dealing is Pena, you're freeing up about another milion bucks per season. If you flip Youkilis, you're not freeing up cash, but you're still looking to flip him for "young, inexpensive, productive" pitching. Finally, if Clement ends up where you hope he'd end up, you've got the potential to receive two additional high draft picks if he prices himself out of town as a Type A Free Agent.

Do it right and the scenario really becomes:

-Austin Kearns
- 14.5M
+ Replace Milton's slot = cut your Run Differential deficit in half
+ Young inexpensive productive Starting Pitcher
+ One or two high draft picks

Again, the caveat is that Clement would have to be healthy and fully capable of recapturing his K rate. Yes, you lose a player (Kearns). Yes, I think Kearns is fully capable of being a whole lot better than he has been. Yes, I would love it if the Reds could swap him for TWO young projectible guys. But for that to happen, he's going to need to dramatically improve his performance this season. As is, you can adequately replace Kearn's 2005 performance with players on the current roster while, at the same time, halving your RD deficit from the pitching side.

And yes, the presence of Eric Milton makes that 14.5M hit over two years sting a whole lot more than it would normally. Stupid signing.


Until then, I think they need to be hot on the trail of "TNJP". ;)

Surely. But at the same time, I don't see a reason they can't do that AND immediately improve the MLB product.

11BarryLarkin11
01-29-2006, 01:46 PM
Oh, I understand. It's just that Weaver really doesn't comp with a guy like Clement.



Sure. I agree. I'd rather find the "next" guy than the "current" high-priced guy too. That being said, I don't think it's wise to necessarily snub our noses at a productive high-priced guy if that's what's on the table.



And if you're going to sign a Type A or Type B Free Agent, do it while you you suck.



I'm not sure that classifying Clement as "erratic" is entirely accurate. But your reasoning above is why I wouldn't make a straight-up swap of Kearns for Clement. I'd want more value coming back.



Agree in principle. Disagree that productive veteran pitching shouldn't be attractive just because it costs more. It should cost more. It's less risky and can help immediately.



Good Innings are good Innings, but if you're looking at things from a cost effectiveness standpoint, productive vet SP's tend to be far more cost-effective than productive vet RP's. Without good Innings early consistently, good Innings late are practically valueless.

And yes, I'm all for "young and inexpensive and productive". But I'm also for proven immediate help. I don't think the two concepts need to be mutually exclusive. Good teams can win by focusing on both avenues concurrently.



The Reds shouldn't continue to acquire high-paid veteran Starting Pitching. They should start acquiring productive Starting Pitching- and I think that statement holds true without qualification.

Would I trade Kearns straight-up for Matt Clement? No- and I think you did a good job of covering the some of the cons for that scenario. Would I have rather signed Matt Clement as a Free Agent? Yes.

However, if the Reds traded Austin Kearns for Matt Clement/Youkilis, you're now in a scenario of value efficiency. Yes, Clement will be making about 9.5M (he's also got some performance clauses above that) in 2006 and 2007. In my estimation, Kearns will probably average about 2.25M over those two seasons. That ends up at about 7.25M per season after the swap. Furthermore, you're freeing up another resource to trade by adding a guy like Youkilis. If the guy you're dealing is Pena, you're freeing up about another milion bucks per season. If you flip Youkilis, you're not freeing up cash, but you're still looking to flip him for "young, inexpensive, productive" pitching. Finally, if Clement ends up where you hope he'd end up, you've got the potential to receive two additional high draft picks if he prices himself out of town as a Type A Free Agent.

Do it right and the scenario really becomes:

-Austin Kearns
- 14.5M
+ Replace Milton's slot = cut your Run Differential deficit in half
+ Young inexpensive productive Starting Pitcher
+ One or two high draft picks

Again, the caveat is that Clement would have to be healthy and fully capable of recapturing his K rate. Yes, you lose a player (Kearns). Yes, I think Kearns is fully capable of being a whole lot better than he has been. Yes, I would love it if the Reds could swap him for TWO young projectible guys. But for that to happen, he's going to need to dramatically improve his performance this season. As is, you can adequately replace Kearn's 2005 performance with players on the current roster while, at the same time, halving your RD deficit from the pitching side.

And yes, the presence of Eric Milton makes that 14.5M hit over two years sting a whole lot more than it would normally. Stupid signing.



Surely. But at the same time, I don't see a reason they can't do that AND immediately improve the MLB product.


True, the reason I'm against acquiring another high priced veteran starting pitcher is the Eric Milton signing. To me, the Reds can only afford a couple of players at the going market rate. And, sadly, they chose to make Eric Milton one of those guys. Once Milton and Paul Wilson come off the books, I'd be all for adding another quality starting pitcher, regardless of the cost. You have to have an anchor for the staff. But, if they add Clement and keep the overall payroll at $65M, then Clement and Milton combined make up about 28% of the payroll. That's just too much for league average innings.

As for veteran starting pitching being more cost effective than veteran relievers, I'm not ready to concede that. If you are talking about Billy Wagner types, then sure. But, I was thinking more along the lines of David Riske types. Good middle relievers who can shorten up a game effectively.

And, I think you hit it on the head, when you said they need "effective" starting pitchers. All too often, that hasn't been the case.

I still think Clement is erratic. But, maybe that's just me. Anyone with a career WHIP of 1.38 and career BB/9 of 4.1 one is erratic. Or, maybe I should say "consistently wild".

I don't think Clement is the answer. In the end, I think he's overpaid and underproductive.