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757690
05-18-2008, 01:32 PM
Reds by the numbers
Numbers say Dunn, Griffey should go
BY JOHN ERARDI | JERARDI@ENQUIRER.COM

Seven straight losing seasons and a bad start have made Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn lightning rods with Reds fans, most of whom want them gone - regardless of what can be had in return. The numbers so far are with the fans.

Here is how the Reds position players rank in OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) among the position players of the 16 teams in the National League:

C - 6th (Paul Bako will revert to the back of his bubblegum card soon enough; for now, he's Ernie Lombardi).
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1B - 6th (Lower than we'd have thought, but Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Derrek Lee are a tough crowd).

2B - 6th (Brandon Phillips still isn't good at getting on base, but he can really slug it).

SS - 5th (Oh, are the Reds ever going to miss Jeff Keppinger ).

3B - 6th (Edwin Encarnacion still has the most upside of any Reds hitter).

LF - 9th (Earlier this week, Dunn got some talk-show points for hitting a sacrifice-fly on a pitch outside the zone, but it's going to take a lot more than that).

CF - 8th (Thanks to Ryan Freel ).

RF - 14th (Ken Griffey Jr. figures to move up in the rankings - he always "comes around" - but FIRST let him get hot, THEN move him into the 3-hole).

Pinch-hitters - 12th.

Not just cattle need range: Last year, Griffey Jr. got to nine FEWER fly-ball outs than the average major league right-fielder based on his chances. This year, he's already about five below average (second-worst among all MLB right fielders) and there's still three-fourths of the season to go.

Dunn's range is improving, 1.5 fewer fly-ball outs; making him 20th of 28 left fielders with more than 150 innings; last year, he got to 15 fewer fly balls than his fellow left fielders.

SO, WHAT TO DO

The Reds should be entertaining all offers for Griffey - even before he hits his 600th home run. With Jay Bruce tearing up Triple-A, the Reds have plenty of firepower to replace Griffey. It will be bittersweet to see him hit "600" elsewhere, but turning around this franchise will take some tough decisions from management. What better time to start making them than now?

CALLING BRANCH RICKEY

Reds management lacks the requisite ruthlessness to deal aging veterans to make room for younger players. Take a page from former Reds general manager Bob Howsam who was all for putting fans in the seats, but knew the best way to draw is through winning - and traded Tony Perez, 36, after the Reds title in 1976 to make room for Dan Driessen.

DUNN OR PHILLIPS?

With men on base, Dunn has 22 fewer plate appearances than Phillips, is hitting 86 points lower, slugging 52 points lower, and has the same number of HRs (3) - yet has 1 more RBI in those situations ... Is Dunn a witch?

SPEAKING OF BRUCE

Jay Bruce still isn't close to the on-base average of plus-65 points over batting average the Reds want ... but he's edging up.

With his .366 batting average, .398 on-base average and .662 slugging percentage, Bruce will be here within a few weeks, when he won't trigger an early arbitration date and cost the Reds millions more.

Still, there there isn't a "Bruce" alive or dead - not Lenny, not Willis and not Hornsby (unless it's Rogers) - who can put this moribund Reds offense over the top. The Reds are 12th in the NL in runs scored.

PUT PHILLIPS AT SS

The numbers don't support concerns that the Reds would be weakened at shortstop AND second base by moving Phillips. In the minors he played 356 games at SS (.950 fielding percentage), compared to Jerry Hairston's 34 (.921) - and Hairston doesn't have a shortstop's arm. Going into this season, Phillips had played five big league games at SS, Hairston six. Why are the Reds using a lesser fielder at arguably the most important defensive position?

The average 2B who moves to SS makes about six fewer plays per year than the average SS. But Phillips made about 15 MORE plays last year than the average 2B (among the NL's best), so at worst he figures to be average at SS. The Reds need the offense with Phillips at SS and Freel at 2B, when he's not in the outfield.

EASY DOES IT, BIG FELLA

Phillips THINKS he can hit anything, but the numbers say no. He swings at 33 percent of the pitches he sees that are out of the strike zone. That's the 13th highest rate in the bigs.

Swinging at pitches out of the zone isn't all bad. But No. 1 bad-baller Vlad Guerrero makes contact on 66 percent of those pitches; Phillips makes contact on 47.

Even a bad-ball hitter has to be realistic about just how bad a ball he can put a crushing on.

FLY INTO THE DANGER ZONE

Johnny Cueto is getting killed on pitches up in the zone - hitters have a .667 slugging percentage against him there (compared to a .394 slugging percentage down). We agree with Dusty Baker that Cueto should let the catcher call the game and focus on putting his stuff where not even the best big leaguers can hit it.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE

Did you know that even though Bronson Arroyo 's ERA is 6.08, his strikeout rate (8 K's per nine innings) is well above his career norms (6.2/9)? His ground ball rate is almost exactly where it was last year. His walk rate is up a bit this year, but not enough to explain his struggles.

So what gives? This year, batters have a .342 adjusted batting average against Arroyo on balls in play, compared to a .285 average the previous three years. And why are hitters batting 57 points higher? Probably just bad luck. Pitchers have very little control over batting average on balls in play. Hang with Arroyo; he'll turn it around.

Joel Luckhaupt, Justin Inaz and Greg Gajus contributed.

Some good stuff, as usual, and some not so good stuff, as usual.

Here are the few points I have a problem with.

1) Switching Phillips to SS is great in theory, but is a mess in practice. First, I have a feeling that Janish will be playing more and more in the future, and it looks like Alex is starting to run, which means he is probably less than a month away. So this move really is not necessary, and will only be for a short time period. Second, the switch from 2B to SS is a much bigger move than people think. It will take a lot of extra work by Phillips to get back to thinking like a SS. This involves not just the DP, which is huge in itself, but also in covering the bag, being the cut off man, positioning for hitters, and so much more. Even someone who has played it in the past, really needs a few weeks to work the kinks out, and do the Reds really want to distract one of its best hitters, just for a small and brief improvement in the field?

2) I agree that Bronson will get his act together, heck he already has, but his BABIP will (has) improve(d) not because of luck, but because he is hitting his spots better, and making less mistakes. Just watch Matt Belisle to understand that BABIP is not always an issue of luck, it often is an issue of making bad pitches.

3) This is probably the worst mistake Erardi has ever made. The Tony Perez trade to make room for Dan Driessen, was one of the worst moves ever in the history of the Reds. I think it was worse than the Frank Robinson trade. First, the Reds got nothing good in return for Doggie. Second, the four years after Tony was traded, he was a much better player than Driessen ever was as a Red. Even Bob Howsem who made the trade said it was his biggest mistake. Using that trade as an example of why a team should trade a veteran to make room for a younger player, is like using Shelly Long's departure from "Cheers" as an example of how to improve your career by leaving TV for movies. Seriously, I like Erardi, but that mistake in inexcusable.

big boy
05-18-2008, 04:38 PM
3) This is probably the worst mistake Erardi has ever made. The Tony Perez trade to make room for Dan Driessen, was one of the worst moves ever in the history of the Reds. I think it was worse than the Frank Robinson trade.

Did you look up the stats? The two players weren't much different for the next 3 years. The reason the trade was regretted was because of Perez' presence in the clubhouse. Also, I don't think Eradi's point was that the Reds "won" the trade. He was saying, correctly, that you shouldn't be afraid to move older players even if they are popular.

gedred69
05-18-2008, 06:08 PM
Driessen had tremendous physical talent, but was too much of a doofus in the brain to ever begin to mean to the Reds what the "Big Dog" did.

757690
05-18-2008, 11:31 PM
Did you look up the stats? The two players weren't much different for the next 3 years. The reason the trade was regretted was because of Perez' presence in the clubhouse. Also, I don't think Eradi's point was that the Reds "won" the trade. He was saying, correctly, that you shouldn't be afraid to move older players even if they are popular.

Here they are:

Perez:


Year Ag Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG *OPS+ TB SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1977 35 MON NL 154 559 71 158 32 6 19 91 4 3 63 111 .283 .352 .463 120 259 0 9 15 2 14
1978 36 MON NL 148 544 63 158 38 3 14 78 2 0 38 104 .290 .336 .449 119 244 1 5 9 2 10
1979 37 MON NL 132 489 58 132 29 4 13 73 2 1 38 82 .270 .322 .425 104 208 0 7 4 3 14
1980 38 BOS AL 151 585 73 161 31 3 25 105 1 0 41 93 .275 .320 .467 108 273 0 8 11 1 25

Driessen



Year Ag Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG *OPS+ TB SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1977 25 CIN NL 151 536 75 161 31 4 17 91 31 13 64 85 .300 .375 .468 124 251 0 5 8 3 12
1978 26 CIN NL 153 524 68 131 23 3 16 70 28 9 75 79 .250 .345 .397 108 208 3 6 7 4 13
1979 27 CIN NL 150 515 72 129 24 3 18 75 11 5 62 77 .250 .330 .414 102 213 2 7 11 3 6
1980 28 CIN NL 154 524 81 139 36 1 14 74 19 6 93 68 .265 .377 .418 121 219 0 9 17 6 14

You are right, the first three are close, but the fourth is a blow out for Perez.

Also the Reds failed to make the playoffs the next two years, with virtually the same team, which nearly everyone associated with the team blamed on losing the clubhouse leader Perez.

So, Perez was a great clubhouse presence, and trading him resulted in the Reds losing more games, so that is a good example of why a team should not be afraid to trade away popular veterans to make way for young talent? I agree that a team shouldn't be afraid, but there are hundreds of better examples of this. The example that Erardi used is one of the worst he could have used.

big boy
05-20-2008, 01:57 PM
So, Perez was a great clubhouse presence, and trading him resulted in the Reds losing more games, so that is a good example of why a team should not be afraid to trade away popular veterans to make way for young talent? I agree that a team shouldn't be afraid, but there are hundreds of better examples of this. The example that Erardi used is one of the worst he could have used.

I agree that there are better examples of that like Craig Biggio. However, the 1977 Reds were very good offensively. Driessen and Perez' numbers were similar. They scored the 2nd most runs per game in the league but gave up the 3rd most. The Dodgers were 3rd in the league in runs scored but gave up the least. Of course, I was not there but I have a hard time believing that Perez' presence would have given them the 10 more wins needed to catch the Dodgers. It sounds good when Joe Morgan says that he made a huge difference but they wouldn't have won the division with that kind of pitching anyway. Did they win the trade? Maybe not (although it was close for the next 3 years) but the point remains that keeping old guys is not the best way to win games.

757690
05-20-2008, 03:00 PM
I agree that there are better examples of that like Craig Biggio. However, the 1977 Reds were very good offensively. Driessen and Perez' numbers were similar. They scored the 2nd most runs per game in the league but gave up the 3rd most. The Dodgers were 3rd in the league in runs scored but gave up the least. Of course, I was not there but I have a hard time believing that Perez' presence would have given them the 10 more wins needed to catch the Dodgers. It sounds good when Joe Morgan says that he made a huge difference but they wouldn't have won the division with that kind of pitching anyway. Did they win the trade? Maybe not (although it was close for the next 3 years) but the point remains that keeping old guys is not the best way to win games.



I was there, and I can promise you that everyone who was there will say not only that the trade was a terrible trade for the Reds, but that it signaled the end of the Big Red Machine. Tony was not just the most popular player in the dugout, but the considered as the heart of the Big Red Machine.

And even if you do not believe in dugout presence, the numbers show it had a big effect on the offense. Don't look at league rankings, look at the actual numbers and league averages. I believe that will give you a more precise picture of how much an effect the trade had.

In 1976 the Reds lead the league with 5.29 runs a game. The next closest team only had 4.75 runs a game, and only one more averaged more than 3.88. The league avg. was 3.98. The Reds dominated the league. They averaged 1.33 more runs a game than the average NL team. They were the Big Red Machine and earned that name. In 1977, they dropped to 4.95 runs a game, but that year, every team but one had at least a 4.10 average. The league had an average of 4.40 runs a game. The Reds in one year went from averaging 1.33 runs a game more than the average NL team, to just .55 runs a game, almost a run a game. That is a huge drop. I think that easily results in 10 games over the season.

BLEEDS
05-20-2008, 03:01 PM
Agree across the board.

I think the message on the trade was off also because both Junior and Dunn have LESS THAN ZERO fan love, although Dunn seems to have 1 billion times more clubhouse presense, especially for the younger guys. I don't give a crap about Junior and his $1500 in pennies for Fogg; I'll take Dunn and his antics with Votto/Bruce every time over that.

Plus, if KGJ hits better than Jay Bruce 4 years from now, that should be considered the final Sign of the Apocalypse.

PEACE

-BLEEDS

big boy
05-20-2008, 09:48 PM
I was there, and I can promise you that everyone who was there will say not only that the trade was a terrible trade for the Reds, but that it signaled the end of the Big Red Machine.

You make some good points. I still don't see it. Anyway, are you saying you were on the Reds or in the clubhouse in 1977?

BLEEDS
05-21-2008, 10:14 AM
You make some good points. I still don't see it. Anyway, are you saying you were on the Reds or in the clubhouse in 1977?


I guess merely being "alive" was good enough to merit "being there"... :D

PEACE

-BLEEDS