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Jpup
07-14-2006, 01:49 PM
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=keri/060714



By Jonah Keri
Special to Page 2

The e-mail came in from my buddy Rich about 4 p.m. Thursday.

"As a Reds fan, I have to ask: What the hell was that trade about? It has to be a joke, doesn't it? Krivsky fleeced by Jim Bowden? Say it ain't so."

Scenarios quickly flashed through my mind. All but out of the race, the Nats were known to be shopping Alfonso Soriano, their most expensive and most marketable player. What could GM Wayne Krivsky and the Reds possibly have given up for him? Austin Kearns and some B-level prospects? Or would they do an all-prospects deal for Soriano, something that would help them now but come back to haunt them later?

Then again, by his normally calm standards, Rich was practically frothing at the mouth over this deal. I mean, how bad could it be?

I plunged into the AP story:

"Worried their rickety bullpen was dragging them out of playoff contention, the Cincinnati Reds swung an eight-player trade ... "

Wow, eight-player trade!

" ... with the Washington Nationals on Thursday, getting relievers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray ... "

OK, Bray's a good, young lefty reliever, first-round draft pick. Majewski's a useful bullpen guy. Not great, but no biggie if they didn't give up much of value.

" ... but giving up two everyday players."

Wait, what? Which two players?

"The Reds parted with right fielder Austin Kearns and shortstop Felipe Lopez, hoping to shore up one of the majors' worst bullpens."

WHAAAAT???

Uh, who else did the Reds get? Turns out they picked up Daryl Thompson, a 20-year-old minor league pitcher with shoulder problems, and Brendan Harris, an uninspiring utility infielder -- for a team that has 32 guys just like him. The Nats also picked up Ryan Wagner, another first-round pick but one who has failed to live up to potential.

OK, that's seven players. The other guy the Reds got must have been Soriano, right?

"Besides the right-handed Majewski and lefty Bray, the Reds acquired shortstop Royce Clayton ... The 36-year-old Clayton will take over at shortstop for Lopez, who made his first All-Star team last year."

I think Rich needs a reply.

From: Jonah
To: Rich
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 4:10 PM

This may be the worst trade I've ever seen.

If you want a detailed analysis of this train wreck of a trade, Keith Law does a great job breaking it down. Set aside scouting reports, prospect hounding and in-depth statistical analysis for a second, though.

On a broader scale, how can someone call a trade the worst ever, the best ever or anything else? A lot of trades end up looking terrible after the fact. The Tigers wanted to make a run at the title in 1987 and were prepared to give up a good, young talent to get a veteran starter who could make the difference for them. The trade they made, viewed from that angle, met that goal. Even in the post-analysis, they did well for themselves. Doyle Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts for Detroit, and the Tigers went on to win the AL East. The player Detroit gave up was then prospect, now future Hall of Famer John Smoltz. But if a team in the race is willing to trade a top prospect for a win-now player, mazel tov. After all, flags fly forever.

The fairest way to evaluate a trade isn't years later -- it's right here, right now. What do we know about the players being traded? What's their real value? What's their perceived value? Using the information we have now, what are they likely to do in the future?

A couple of years ago, Page 2 ran through the worst trade deadline deals in MLB history. Page 2 also ran readers' responses on the worst deals. The deadline deal gained popularity as teams grappled with the new free-agent and arbitration structures, starting in the 1970s and accelerating from there. Page 2 rated Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio as the worst deadline deal ever, but it happened before the free-agent era -- and before my time.

Other, more recent trades that stood out on those lists:

July 31, 1997: The Mariners trade Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb

And ...

July 31, 1997: The A's trade Mark McGwire to the Cardinals for T.J. Mathews, Eric Ludwick and Blake Stein

Ugly day in history for two AL West rivals. The M's chase the always dangerous, always overpriced Proven Closer, giving up two future All-Stars in the process. The A's trade a first-ballot Hall of Famer for three people who have never been in my kitchen.

Jan. 10, 1991: The Baltimore Orioles trade Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley for Glenn Davis

Somehow, the Orioles missed the oh-so-subtle warning signs, like Davis missing 69 games the year before he was traded. He spent the next three seasons mostly on the DL, and never came close to the power he showed in his 20s. Harnisch and Finley made three All-Star games between them, enjoying long, successful careers. That Schilling fella's pretty good too.

Aug. 31, 1990: The Red Sox trade Jeff Bagwell to the Astros for Larry Andersen

Andersen was terrific for Boston down the stretch that season, posting a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings. Of course, those might have been the most expensive 22 innings in Red Sox history.

All horrendous deals. But maybe if you squint really hard, you can see teams either going for it all now at the expense of a great prospect ... or three (Slocumb, Davis, Andersen deals) or hoping to strike gold with some prospects, only to whiff badly (McGwire).

The two trades not mentioned in the Page 2 surveys (one was too recent, one wasn't a deadline trade) that stood out most for me:

November 14, 2003: The Giants trade A.J. Pierzynski to the Twins for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser

Nathan had a great arm, but he was also a failed starting pitcher with command issues. Liriano was a great prospect, but injuries were holding him back at the time. Some prospect mavens saw Bonser as the plum of the deal at the time. The trade looks like grand theft larceny now, with Nathan one of the top closers in baseball, Bonser a decent prospect on the cusp and Liriano only the best young pitcher in the game, with a shot at both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards. But it wasn't quite as bad at the time.

July 30, 2004: The Mets trade Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz to the Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato

Brutal. Zambrano had decent stuff but terrible control problems. Fresh off pitching coach Rick Peterson's molding Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito into aces in Oakland, the Mets might have thought he could cure all Zambrano's ills and make him a star. That was a stretch. Meanwhile, Kazmir had some command issues of his own. But he also was widely regarded as one of the best young pitchers in the game. He made his major league debut less than a month later and is now on the verge of stardom. Injuries and ineffectiveness have washed out Zambrano's career. This trade looks brutal now. But it looked really bad then, too.

So was Thursday's Reds-Nats deal really the worst trade ever? Probably not. The Reds said they needed bullpen help. Bray and Majewski should contribute, even if neither one is Joe Nathan. The Reds said they needed defensive help. Lopez might have been the worst defensive shortstop in baseball, so anyone's an upgrade with the glove. The team also made room for top outfield prospect Chris Denorfia by dealing Kearns, and it shed some salary in the process. Kearns is injury-prone. Young pitching is hard to find.

Of course, that ignores how the Reds gave up the two best players in the trade; they didn't acquire any premium prospects to help them down the road; they're still in contention in the NL Central and not far off the wild-card lead, but they didn't pick up any difference makers to help them now; they gave up two of their best trading chits; and they might give serious playing time to Clayton. That's the same Royce Clayton whose reputation outstrips his actual ability -- he's well below average going by advanced defensive metrics. He also rarely gets on base, but he makes up for it with zero homers in 87 games played.

On the scale of worst trades I've ever seen, I rate The Royce Clayton Fiasco about fourth on my list -- not as bad as the Kazmir Krisis, but worse than Smoltz Under Siege.

"We paid a steep price," Reds general manager Krivsky said after the deal was announced. "I'm sure this will be a controversial trade. I know a lot of people will be leaving nasty messages on my voice mail, and I'll have some who think it's great."

Really? Who thinks this trade is great? Krivsky's cousin Ed? The local barbershop community, after seeing Majewski's head shot? The St. Louis Cardinals?

I couldn't find anyone who liked this trade for Cincinnati -- outside the Reds' organization. These were some of the other comments I read from friends in and around the game yesterday:

"I keep thinking I'm missing something. Is there a player to be named later, like perhaps the U.S. Treasury going to Cincy as part of the deal? Seriously, it doesn't seem possible."

"That's an awful deal ... unless Kearns is hurt or a [really nasty, baseless accusation deleted]."

"I swear to God I've read the deal four times now trying to get it."

"Man ... "

Sorry, Rich. Bengals' season starts Sept. 10.

redsrule2500
07-14-2006, 01:51 PM
lame

flyer85
07-14-2006, 01:53 PM
Only Reds fans drinking the Wayne's World Kool-Aid can see it differently than that. However, ultimate success or failure is defined on the field by the W-L column.

dsmith421
07-14-2006, 01:59 PM
That article is pretty much spot on, and echoes the thoughts of more or less everyone from Cincinnati I've talked to recently.

Turns out Krivsky is just as incompetent as O'Brien. Who knew?

writerdan33
07-14-2006, 03:19 PM
That article is pretty much spot on, and echoes the thoughts of more or less everyone from Cincinnati I've talked to recently.

Turns out Krivsky is just as incompetent as O'Brien. Who knew?

Rare post by me, but I had to respond after seeing this comment.

In truth, only time will tell if this trade is good or bad, but I for one think it makes the Reds a better team today and, likely, for the future. Whether that corresponds into a postseason berth this year, who knows? But ultimately I believe the organization is headed in the right direction.

Consider:

- Kearns has been a non-factor on this team for, what, three years? His first half of this season was productive, yes, but with Kearns you always felt like there's more he should be giving. His work ethic has been openly questioned by people much closer to the organization than I, which is cause enough to look to jettison a player after the five-year stretch this team has been through. If Castelinni and Krivsky have shown us anything, it's that malingering will not be welcome in the new Reds regime (see Hancock, Josh).

- Lopez, for all his physical gifts, has had one - count 'em - one good season. Last year. His erratic defense and poor right-handed hitting are reasons enough to question his long-term wealth to this team. For all the good he's done, it's clear he's taken a step backwards this season.

In return for these two you get two young, strong arms who, if you could somehow project their current performances into the Reds season, surely would have cut down on the 13 blown saves this bullpen has accumulated by half, maybe more. At their current level of performance, both outclass most of the Reds bullpen as it stands now, and the ceiling on both appears to be high.

The name of the game, folks, is pitching. This team will score runs without Kearns and Lopez, in my opinion. But how many runs can we keep the other team from scoring with a better bullpen and, in Clayton, a short-term shortstop who at the very least isn't going to kick the routine play?

It's a gamble, I believe, worth taking.

And then there's this. Both are making less than $2 million this year. Both likely stand to get healthy raises if they go to arbitration this offseason (despite Lopez's falloff). It's not out of the realm of possibility that both could go to $3.5 million or so.

Seems to me, some of that money could go toward more pitching in the offseason.

Which, again, makes this a better team.

Here's to a strong final 2 1/2 months...:beerme:

registerthis
07-14-2006, 03:30 PM
The name of the game, folks, is pitching. This team will score runs without Kearns and Lopez, in my opinion. But how many runs can we keep the other team from scoring with a better bullpen and, in Clayton, a short-term shortstop who at the very least isn't going to kick the routine play?

It's a gamble, I believe, worth taking.

Clayton may not boot the routine play, but Lopez's offensive talents outstripped his defensive liabilities--and its likely that he was destined for a position other than shortstop in 2007 anyway. Clayton is a slight defensive upgrade, and a tremendous offensive downgrade. On no planet that I've inhabited could that be considered a good deal.

As far as the pitching is concerned--again, no one's arguing that the reds didn't need to upgrade their pitching staff. And no one's arguing that this trade didn't acocmplish that. But, good grief, the price to do so was astronomical.

You say that the team will score runs without Lopez and Kearns, but where are those runs going to be coming from? Both players were solid run producers. Even if Denorfia steps in seamlessly to the void kearns left behind--a big if--you still have a blackhole at shortstop that's going to give you nothing in the way of offensive production.

Slice it, dice it, flip it--view it however you wish. This trade is a 1976 Gremlin of a deal that looks bad now, and has a very high likelihood of looking even worse later.

writerdan33
07-14-2006, 04:12 PM
You may be correct. Time will tell. In the meantime, I'll stand by my opinion.

I believe that Kearns and Lopez, age aside, are as good as they're ever going to get. History, I suppose, will be the final judge.

Let's make it two straight tonight.

Unassisted
07-14-2006, 04:29 PM
Only Reds fans drinking the Wayne's World Kool-Aid can see it differently than that. However, ultimate success or failure is defined on the field by the W-L column.Whose Kool-Aid are you drinking? And will you still be drinking it in late September if the Reds are in the playoff race? ;)

KronoRed
07-14-2006, 04:50 PM
Funny stuff

Never take ESPN serious :)

CrackerJack
07-14-2006, 05:38 PM
yeah regardless of how you feel about the trade, that ESPN "article" read more like something you'd see on a bulletin board...

"my buddy e-mailed me and said this was the worst trade ever dude! Clayton sucks! I didn't really go into any detail about the pros and cons for each team, but, since the Reds didn't trade for anyone I immediately recognized, and included Clayton, it must suck!"

End of article...

dsmith421
07-14-2006, 07:02 PM
yeah regardless of how you feel about the trade, that ESPN "article" read more like something you'd see on a bulletin board...

It's on Page2, which is dedicated to humor articles and the kind of things you would read on a blog like Deadspin. Bill Simmons writes there, the Uni Watch guy writes there. It's not supposed to be serious journalism.

redsrule2500
07-14-2006, 11:57 PM
Because ESPN is actually against the trade probably makes even more reason to like it.

Hap
07-15-2006, 09:47 AM
Clayton may not boot the routine play.....

friday's game.....two outs in the eighth.......

Ltlabner
07-15-2006, 10:05 AM
Because ESPN is actually against the trade probably makes even more reason to like it.

It is amusing that some here who normally refer to ESPN (and baseball media as a whole) as a bunch of know nothing dolts are using the "baseball media" bashing the trade to support their argument that it was a horrible trade.

redsfan30
07-15-2006, 10:17 AM
In fairness to Wayne Krivsky, many people were making these exact same comments about him after the Wily Mo/Arroyo deal.

That's worked out pretty well.....

Falls City Beer
07-15-2006, 10:19 AM
In fairness to Wayne Krivsky, many people were making these exact same comments about him after the Wily Mo/Arroyo deal.

That's worked out pretty well.....

True. But I think many more loved that deal; comparatively, this trade has garnered a number of shoulder shrugs.

westofyou
07-15-2006, 12:32 PM
Because ESPN is actually against the trade probably makes even more reason to like it.
The Writer is a BP author writing a special for ESPN... if that matters (not that it really does)

Unassisted
07-15-2006, 12:40 PM
friday's game.....two outs in the eighth.......Two words: sample size.

Johnny Footstool
07-16-2006, 05:41 PM
Because ESPN is actually against the trade probably makes even more reason to like it.

If you have to hunt for reasons to like a deal, it's probably not that great of a deal.

As for the article, the writer's points were all valid. The Reds gave up two quality everyday players (both in the top 10 in OPS at their relative positions) and received some slightly above average bullpen arms in return. Plus Royce Clayton.

KronoRed
07-16-2006, 05:45 PM
If you have to hunt for reasons to like a deal, it's probably not that great of a deal.

As for the article, the writer's points were all valid. The Reds gave up two quality everyday players (both in the top 10 in OPS at their relative positions) and received some slightly above average bullpen arms in return. Plus Royce Clayton.
Don't forget an injury prove single a pitcher :evil:

oneupper
07-16-2006, 06:29 PM
I'll say what I said in the other thread:

We NEED A POLL!

I'm like Bill Clinton. I need a public opinion poll to decide what I think! :)

Jpup
07-16-2006, 09:46 PM
I'll say what I said in the other thread:

We NEED A POLL!

I'm like Bill Clinton. I need a public opinion poll to decide what I think! :)

there is one on Live!

GAC
07-16-2006, 09:54 PM
I'll tell ya one thing!

After this deal, GMs all over are shaking in their boots as to what it's now gonna cost them to acquire pitching. ;)

MartyFan
07-17-2006, 10:53 AM
Clayton may not boot the routine play, but Lopez's offensive talents outstripped his defensive liabilities--and its likely that he was destined for a position other than shortstop in 2007 anyway. Clayton is a slight defensive upgrade, and a tremendous offensive downgrade. On no planet that I've inhabited could that be considered a good deal.

As far as the pitching is concerned--again, no one's arguing that the reds didn't need to upgrade their pitching staff. And no one's arguing that this trade didn't acocmplish that. But, good grief, the price to do so was astronomical.

You say that the team will score runs without Lopez and Kearns, but where are those runs going to be coming from? Both players were solid run producers. Even if Denorfia steps in seamlessly to the void kearns left behind--a big if--you still have a blackhole at shortstop that's going to give you nothing in the way of offensive production.

Slice it, dice it, flip it--view it however you wish. This trade is a 1976 Gremlin of a deal that looks bad now, and has a very high likelihood of looking even worse later.


I would have a problem keeping Royce Clayton as our everyday SS for 2007...do I mind if he is on the team? nope...but lets face it this team can still produce a boatload of runs without Kearns or Lopez. It has not been the Reds inability to produce runs that has been the problem it has been poor RP and poor defense that allows the other team to score more runs than the Reds.

Krivsky is on his way to being identified as one of the greatest GM's in the game...watch...it will happen.

princeton
07-17-2006, 11:01 AM
I'll tell ya one thing!

After this deal, GMs all over are shaking in their boots as to what it's now gonna cost them to acquire pitching. ;)

agree, it's an interesting situation-- Krivsky drove the market for young pitching way up. Personally, I've long thought that this market was undervalued. Did Krivsky overpay, or did he actually get true (but not traditional) value?

and will we ever have pitching enough to spare in order to realize some of this value in return? That's a nice dream. A very longterm dream.

registerthis
07-17-2006, 11:35 AM
Krivsky is on his way to being identified as one of the greatest GM's in the game...watch...it will happen.

Not by making deals like this, he's not.

M2
07-17-2006, 06:52 PM
agree, it's an interesting situation-- Krivsky drove the market for young pitching way up. Personally, I've long thought that this market was undervalued. Did Krivsky overpay, or did he actually get true (but not traditional) value?

and will we ever have pitching enough to spare in order to realize some of this value in return? That's a nice dream. A very longterm dream.

Interesting notion. I'm doubtful the Reds can drive the market though. They don't have the resources in cash, talent or stature for it. My guess is this deal will only have major impact on the market if it works out like gangbusters this season. Otherwise it might be the cautionary tale against moving everyday talent for middle relief.

Though, if this is the harbinger of where the young pitcher market is at or headed, then Homer Bailey becomes a fascinating chit.

As for Krivsky, I thought you made a good point about Krivsky's daring in one of these many threads about the trade, noting the hot streak he's been on since he arrived. This trade certainly smacks of a GM who thinks he's acquired the Midas Touch (and it does happen in some seasons).

This deal seems to me like Krivsky's set-for-life wager. Supposedly one of the beautiful things about running a casino is that even if someone's winning all night long they eventually think they're invincible and make a monster longshot wager in the hopes of parlaying their good fortune into a comfortable and immediate retirement. Usually the house recoups its losses thanks to that bet, but every now and then someone hits jackpot, convincing waves of others to put their faith in the fickle hands of fortune.

As you noted in that other thread, Krivsky deserves to feel emboldened after Phillips, Arroyo and Ross (not to mention Hatteberg). IMO, he's played some long odds that middle relief will deliver this team and that Majewski and Bray are the arms to do it. I think the house is going to get even with him on this wager, but I do admire the fearlessness of the move.