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dabvu2498
09-21-2006, 11:21 AM
Rebuilding, the Marlin Way
by Jeff Sackmann
September 21, 2006

Short of a miraculous final two weeks, the Marlins will miss the playoffs this year. To be writing that sentence in September is a bit of miracle in itself: aside from the Royals and the Devil Rays, the Marlins entered the 2006 season with the lowest expectations in baseball. Their winter fire sale may have positioned them well for 2008, but in March, it looked like the only records they'd set would involve the number of rookies in the Opening Day lineup.

Despite a minuscule payroll and a roster filled with unfamiliar faces, the Fish may still finish the season near .500, and they have a reasonable shot at catching the Phillies for second place. Eighty-one wins for $15 million bucks? Sounds like a worthy sequel to Moneyball.

A full analysis of how general manager Larry Beinfest turned a tiny payroll into a contender is a topic for another article. Instead, it's worth looking at which teams could benefit from an offseason makeover, Florida-style. If other general managers recognize the qualities of the Marlins method, we could see a handful of teams hold fire sales—with the intent to compete almost immediately. It's a bold strategy with a downside that can suck the heart out of a team's fanbase. But executed well, it could turn a franchise around right away, setting it up with inexpensive talent for a half-decade.

The Marlins method is simple. Build around a couple of young (read: cheap) stars, sell your veterans to the highest bidder, don't spend money on free agents, and stockpile young pitching.

Of course, not just any team could put the plan into action. It requires having a reasonable stock of youngsters in the majors or high minors to begin with, combined with a few tradeable veterans. Preferably, at least one of those vets is signed to a below-market contract or still in his arbitration years (as Josh Beckett was). The third guideline—skipping the free-agent market—isn't necessary: as we'll see, some of the teams best-suited for a fire sale could end up with a substantial 2007 payroll.

Indeed, imagine if the Marlins had combined their aggressive deal-making with a single splashy deal, like signing Brian Giles. Even ignoring the Petco Park effect, the difference between Giles (.269/.381/.400) and Florida's right fielders (.245/.325/.388) would put the Marlins in the middle of the Wild Card race. While it would have required a long-term commitment, Florida's 2006 payroll would've probably stayed under $30 million.

With that in mind, let's look at four teams who could benefit from a winter fire sale.


Atlanta Braves

Until this season, the Braves under John Schuerholz have done a tremendous job mixing in youngsters to complement their veteran core. This season didn't work out as planned, and 2007 holds plenty of question marks as well. Andruw Jones and John Smoltz have no-trade protection, and Chipper Jones isn't going anywhere, but Schuerholz still has plenty of room to maneuver. Tim Hudson has a very tradeable contract, Edgar Renteria is a perfect sell-high candidate, and Adam LaRoche may be redundant. Marcus Giles could be moved, as well.

If Andruw could be persuaded to accept a trade, the Braves could pile up a lot of youngsters. A starting rotation that includes Kyle Davies, Horacio Ramirez, and Chuck James already sounds like a component of a rebuilding team. If Brian McCann can build on his strong 2006 season, he will ably fill the Miguel Cabrera role, and someone among Willy Aybar, Tony Pena, and Martin Prado could become a solid regular, if not the second coming of Hanley Ramirez.


Cincinnati Reds

Adam Dunn could be this year's Carlos Delgado, only cheaper, younger, and quite possibly better. Could the Reds swap Dunn for a slugging corner outfielder and a Yusmeiro Petit-like pitching prospect? Bronson Arroyo also provides a nice parallel for Beckett. He doesn't have the postseason laurels, but he'll get plenty of Cy Young votes this year. And he's signed well below market: under $4 million for each of the next two seasons.

Parting with those two players—and, perhaps, finally sending Ken Griffey Jr. somewhere he can DH—still leaves the Reds with a strong core consisting of Aaron Harang, a returning Brandon Claussen, and Edwin Encarnacion. Chris Denorfia is poised for a breakout season, and Homer Bailey could be next year's Josh Johnson. Wayne Krivsky may prefer to stockpile veteran relievers, but a far better course is open to him.


Milwaukee Brewers

There's no veteran hitter here in the Delgado or Paul Lo Duca mold. But after a strong finish, Ben Sheets could become the hottest trading chip this winter. Teams will be wary of his injury history, but the Marlins managed to get a very nice package for Beckett, who might as well endorse blister pads. In addition to Chris Capuano, who established himself as a potential ace this year, Milwaukee is stocked with young pitchers who encourage wishcasting: Dave Bush, Carlos Villanueva, Dana Eveland, and Zach Jackson, with Yovani Gallardo, Steve Hammond, Tim Dillard, Manny Parra, and Mike Jones right behind them. If a Sheets deal brought in another Dave Bush-type hurler, Ned Yost would quite literally have more options than he would know what to do with.

There are plenty of obvious trade candidates in the Milwaukee offense, though none of them would bring much in return. Geoff Jenkins, Kevin Mench, and Brady Clark are all coming off of disappointing years, and all three could be redundant with Corey Hart, Gabe Gross, and Tony Gwynn Jr. right behind them. One intriguing possibility would be for Milwaukee to trade Bill Hall. Can you think of any teams who could use a young, defensively credible, power-hitting shortstop? Me too.


Toronto Blue Jays

If Vernon Wells is headed out of town, J.P. Ricciardi might as well explore more options. Troy Glaus is expensive, but he has re-established himself as an offensive force (and a healthy one), and Lyle Overbay's respectable season has probably created a market for his services, as well. Reed Johnson is still young and cheap, but if a trading partner can be convinced that his 2006 performance (.322/.393/.485) is his true talent level, Johnson ought to play elsewhere next season.

If Ricciardi really wants to institute a youth movement, he could throw in a few million bucks and find a new home for A.J. Burnett, who has pitched reasonably well since he got healthy this spring. It's tough to judge young pitching when the Red Sox and Yankees are such frequent opponents, but the Jays have plenty of options. If they could add a young arm or two while shedding the risk and expense of Burnett, they may well increase their chances of putting together a solid rotation behind Roy Halladay.

Fire sales aren't for everyone, but for teams on the bubble of mediocrity, tearing down and starting over—at least in part—may be a more efficient route to the top than incremental improvements. If nothing else, you save your owner some money for a year or two, and find out who your real fans are!

Jeff Sackmann is the creator of MinorLeagueSplits.com and BrewCrewBall.com. He also contributes to the fantasy magazine Heater and PackerBackerBlog.com. He welcomes comments via e-mail.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/rebuilding-the-marlin-way

Krusty
09-21-2006, 11:35 AM
Here is an idea:

Dunn and another player to the Angels for RHP Ervin Santana and OF Juan Rivera.

Reds bolster their starting rotation with Arroyo, Harang and Santana. The remainder of the rotation can be rounded out with Milton, Lohse and Claussen. Rivera has put up numbers similar to Austin Kearns and has a cannon for an arm to play RF. The Reds would shift Griffey to LF while Denorfia and Freel share CF.

flyer85
09-21-2006, 11:39 AM
Reds have little to sell and a farm system mostly bereft of talent. They are in a world of crap. Trading Dunn may happen but it won't help unless WK pulls off a deal of epic proportions.

Reds also are already short on LH bats.

westofyou
09-21-2006, 11:49 AM
Chris Denorfia is poised for a breakout season,

Hope he brings some rocks to facilitate the breaking.

In other news Dunn is 6 months older than Denorfia, if Chris is gonna break out he best do it soon.

Danny Serafini
09-21-2006, 12:03 PM
I'm still trying to figure out how strong core and Brandon Claussen wound up in the same sentence.

MississippiRed
09-21-2006, 12:11 PM
I'm still trying to figure out how strong core and Brandon Claussen wound up in the same sentence.

Yes this is the thought that I had, as well. Just because he once pitched for the Yankees doesn't mean he is our savior.

Another interesting quote, "It requires having a reasonable stock of youngsters in the majors or high minors to begin with, combined with a few tradeable veterans. " Do the Reds qualify? All I hear from RZ is that the minors are depleted and have been for some time.

Redhook
09-21-2006, 12:15 PM
Cincinnati Reds

Adam Dunn could be this year's Carlos Delgado, only cheaper, younger, and quite possibly better. Could the Reds swap Dunn for a slugging corner outfielder and a Yusmeiro Petit-like pitching prospect? Bronson Arroyo also provides a nice parallel for Beckett. He doesn't have the postseason laurels, but he'll get plenty of Cy Young votes this year. And he's signed well below market: under $4 million for each of the next two seasons.

Parting with those two players—and, perhaps, finally sending Ken Griffey Jr. somewhere he can DH—still leaves the Reds with a strong core consisting of Aaron Harang, a returning Brandon Claussen, and Edwin Encarnacion. Chris Denorfia is poised for a breakout season, and Homer Bailey could be next year's Josh Johnson. Wayne Krivsky may prefer to stockpile veteran relievers, but a far better course is open to him.

Dunn.....Like many in Redzone have stated, if Dunn is traded he better bring back a rather large return. And, I would hope that Vernon Wells is already here too before Dunn leaves.

Arroyo.....IMO, Arroyo is the type of pitcher the Reds desperately need and need to keep. He's still cheap for 2 more years. Unless Krivsky is overwhelmed with a trade, Arroyo needs to stay.

JR.....He'll still be here.

Denorfia....."Poised for a breakout season"? I don't think so. He may develop into a good player, but at this point in his career he can't be counted on to be an everyday player.

Claussen.....I wouldn't include him as a core player. Has this guy seen Claussen pitch?

As much as I want 2007 to be a winning season, I think it'll be very similar to this year, .500ish, unless Wayne pulls off some miracles in the offseason. I'm looking forward to 2008 and beyond. By then, Milton and LaRue will out of here, $15 million saved. Homer and Votto should be up here. Wayne will have had a couple of years to build a decent ballclub. With the right moves, cross your fingers, 2008 should be the start of a very successful run for the Cincinnati Reds.

RedsBaron
09-21-2006, 12:55 PM
I'm still trying to figure out how strong core and Brandon Claussen wound up in the same sentence.

Me too. The Reds do not have a strong core, or at least not a very large core. Harang, Arroyo, EE and Dunn are about the only players they have that have much long term value.

steig
09-21-2006, 01:25 PM
if the reds were to do a compete fire sale then it would have to be everyone, from including harang and arroyo. But teams usually do that when they have players in place in the minors and the reds don't have that situation. I believe you need to trade dunn in the off season and keep griffey. in a couple of years griffey's contract will be over and HOPEFULLY one of the young, power hitting outfielders in the minors will be ready to take his place.

I don't think we will get even return for Dunn, or at least even return in the eyes of Reds fans. I think we may be over valuing Dunn. I know he will hit 40 hr and drive in about 100 runs a year but I don't think he has the "clutch factor". I don't mind his strike outs in general but i can't stand his striking out so much with runners in scoring position.

danforsman
09-21-2006, 01:32 PM
I don't see how trading a pitcher as affordable and effective as Arroyo was could possibly benefit the Reds. I imagine the return would be rather average. He seems the type of player that you try to acquire, not deal.

flyer85
09-21-2006, 02:13 PM
I don't see how trading a pitcher as affordable and effective as Arroyo was could possibly benefit the Reds.all depends on what you get in return.

Krusty
09-21-2006, 02:19 PM
You won't see a firesale but more like a major retooling this offseason. The outfield defense needs upgraded. We need another starter and closer. Add to that either a second baseman or shortstop depending where Phillips play.

Which brings the Angels the team to deal with. They are deep in starting pitching and could be looking for a big bat this offseason. Dunn could DH there and occassionally play LF with Garrett Anderson getting some DH time. The Angels will look to move second baseman Adam Kennedy in order to get Kendrick more playing time.

Hate to say it but Dunn is the most marketable player the Reds have if a retooling is instore this offseason.

5DOLLAR-BLEACHERBUM
09-21-2006, 02:51 PM
Hope he brings some rocks to facilitate the breaking.

In other news Dunn is 6 months older than Denorfia, if Chris is gonna break out he best do it soon.
Not sure I follow this, best do it soon stuff. He's barely been in the bigs and has already broke out in the minors. Are you saying its his fault that there isn't a spot for him full time. Someone who has hit as well as he has in the minors can only show what they can do when given the chance.

westofyou
09-21-2006, 02:57 PM
Not sure I follow this, best do it soon stuff. He's barely been in the bigs and has already broke out in the minors. Are you saying its his fault that there isn't a spot for him full time. Someone who has hit as well as he has in the minors can only show what they can do when given the chance.

I'm saying that "breaking out" isn't something that just occurs in every player, it's a factor of skill, age and the level of competition that the player goes against. Age 27 is supposed to be the peak for a players lifecycle, if Denorfia is poised to break out at the MLB level I'm wary of what the end result will bring, especially playing a CO position.

ochre
09-21-2006, 03:31 PM
Claussen has a strong core. It's the peripherals, id est shoulder, elbow, et alibi, that are at issue.

Will M
09-21-2006, 03:57 PM
I want the Reds to build on the core of decent players they have NOT start over

The Reds have stunk for a long time.
Fans want a decent team to root for , not another 'rebuilding project'

for every Marlins type rebuilding I'll show you 10 that never went anywhere

westofyou
09-21-2006, 04:01 PM
I want the Reds to build on the core of decent players they have NOT start over

The Reds have stunk for a long time.
Fans want a decent team to root for , not another 'rebuilding project'

for every Marlins type rebuilding I'll show you 10 that never went anywhere

Five-Year Plans lead not to pennants but only to new Five-Year Plans.

Bill Veeck

ochre
09-21-2006, 04:03 PM
for every Marlins type rebuilding I'll show you 10 that never went anywhere
Most of which probably involve a minor league system more similar to the Reds than then Marlins.

Patrick Bateman
09-21-2006, 09:36 PM
I don't see how trading a pitcher as affordable and effective as Arroyo was could possibly benefit the Reds. I imagine the return would be rather average. He seems the type of player that you try to acquire, not deal.


Players who teams try to acquire bring a better return than players teams try to trade.

Crosley68
09-21-2006, 09:52 PM
I hope I am wrong, but I dont see Brandon or Deno ever making it to the average range let alone solid core.

WMR
09-21-2006, 10:04 PM
Talk about grasping at straws... Brandon Claussen???

nmculbreth
09-22-2006, 12:23 AM
It's kind of hard to take any article seriously when they're including Claussen in the core of players to build around but I'd be all for a full scale firesale, provided it was done properly.

I think it's pretty obvious that our current core of players just isn't enough to be competitive and I'm not convinced the organization has the financial means to make the necessary free agent acquisitions nor enough major league ready prospects to make a meaningful impact on next season. Quite frankly I'm tired of the band-aid approach that the Reds have been using for the past decade and I think it's time to go in a radically different direction.

What difference does it make if the club goes .500 or finishes in dead last? I'd gladly accept a few years of being the cellar dweller if I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

With that being said I'd make the entire big league roster (minus Encarnacion and probably Phillips) available to the highest bidder. I would think that pitchers like Harang and Arroyo would be able to bring in a couple really good prospects given the dirth of quality starting pitching in major league baseball. If we were able to get two or three quality prospects for each of them I think we'd be crazy not to deal both.

I think the real question is what is to be done with Adam Dunn, he's certainly young enough to be a part of our core but I just can't envision him in right field five years from now. Giving his inability (or unwillingness) to play first base it might be an opportune time to trade him and add multiple building blocks for the future.

5DOLLAR-BLEACHERBUM
09-29-2006, 02:45 PM
I'm saying that "breaking out" isn't something that just occurs in every player, it's a factor of skill, age and the level of competition that the player goes against. Age 27 is supposed to be the peak for a players lifecycle, if Denorfia is poised to break out at the MLB level I'm wary of what the end result will bring, especially playing a CO position.
and no that is not a water stain its diet mr pibb.