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TheNext44
08-06-2009, 06:46 PM
Theo Epstein is famous for his quote about making sure that his team first has league average players at every position, before going out and getting stars.

I agree with that quote, but unfortunately, itís has been misconstrued by many into meaning that you donít need stars to win, that if you just get rid of the players that suck, you will be a contender.

Without getting into a huge debate over that quote specifically, I would first like to suggest a new way to look at the construction of a winning team. It is similar to the Epstein quote, but more detailed.

This is what I think every contending team must have, and where the 2010 Reds (if healthy) now stand in regards to this:

1 big star on the whole team

Votto

4 above average in the lineup

Votto, Phillips, Rolen, Bruce

No more than 1 below league average in lineup

Taveras, Gonzo

At least 2 above average SP

Cueto, Harang

No below average starter unless you have at least one true TOR SP

Bailey

1 power arm in bullpen

Cordero

No more than 1 below average RP

Lincoln, Burton

Zero players below replacement value

Taveras, Rosales, Tatum, Gonzo, Lincoln, Burton.

If this construct is accurate, then Epstienís rule really is very meaningful for the Reds. They donít seem to need more stars or above average players, they need more average players and less sucky one.

Basically, the Reds need at least league average production from either CF or SS, and at least replacement value production from CF, SS, 5th Starter, two bullpen spots, backup infielder/outfielder and back up catcher.

So really, that should be easy to do. A little more difficult with Taveras and Lincoln tied up for next year, but still doable for the amount of payflex the team has. They donít need to go get a TOR SP, or top LF, or a top SS. They just need to replace some players that have sucked with some that donít.

I know this has been said before, but this is just a slightly different way to look at it.

Brutus
08-06-2009, 06:52 PM
Theo Epstein is famous for his quote about making sure that his team first has league average players at every position, before going out and getting stars.

I agree with that quote, but unfortunately, itís has been misconstrued by many into meaning that you donít need stars to win, that if you just get rid of the players that suck, you will be a contender.

Without getting into a huge debate over that quote specifically, I would first like to suggest a new way to look at the construction of a winning team. It is similar to the Epstein quote, but more detailed.

This is what I think every contending team must have, and where the 2010 Reds (if healthy) now stand in regards to this:

1 big star on the whole team

Votto

4 above average in the lineup

Votto, Phillips, Rolen, Bruce

No more than 1 below league average in lineup

Taveras, Gonzo

At least 2 above average SP

Cueto, Harang

No below average starter unless you have at least one true TOR SP

Bailey

1 power arm in bullpen

Cordero

No more than 1 below average RP

Lincoln, Burton

Zero players below replacement value

Taveras, Rosales, Tatum, Gonzo, Lincoln, Burton.

If this construct is accurate, then Epstienís rule really is very meaningful for the Reds. They donít seem to need more stars or above average players, they need more average players and less sucky one.

Basically, the Reds need at least league average production from either CF or SS, and at least replacement value production from CF, SS, 5th Starter, two bullpen spots, backup infielder/outfielder and back up catcher.

So really, that should be easy to do. A little more difficult with Taveras and Lincoln tied up for next year, but still doable for the amount of payflex the team has. They donít need to go get a TOR SP, or top LF, or a top SS. They just need to replace some players that have sucked with some that donít.

I know this has been said before, but this is just a slightly different way to look at it.

I believe in this philosophy wholeheartedly. This is why I advocate starting Jonny Gomes in LF. While whether or not he's "average" depends on one's interpretation or definition of the word, I feel like for the finances involved to sign him, you could have an average or around average player at that position for much, much cheaper than most. This would save enough money to allow the team to spend money on above-average players at other positions.

It does not have to be Gomes, per se, but since he's already on the roster and could arguably be signed for $2-$2.5 mil next season (average is $7 mil for MLB left-fielders), this is a chunk of savings that theoretically could be applied toward a shortstop or another pitcher.

Not to make this about Gomes, though, I absolutely agree with this strategy. I think Stubbs (or Heisey) will be able to give no worse than average production next season if they take over in center. That's a good start considering the absolute hole they have there now.

Falls City Beer
08-06-2009, 07:08 PM
Bruce is nowhere near above average for a RF. Likely won't be next season. If the Reds are serious (and I doubt they are), they find a placeholder RF or replace an average bat with a monster bat at another position to offset the loss of O from Jay.

Raisor
08-06-2009, 07:41 PM
Bruce is nowhere near above average for a RF. Likely won't be next season. If the Reds are serious (and I doubt they are), they find a placeholder RF or replace an average bat with a monster bat at another position to offset the loss of O from Jay.

As bad as Bruce has been this year (and he's been pretty darn bad), he's not THAT off the NL average OPS for RF

NL Average .260 .335 .433 .769
Jay Bruce .207 .283 .441 .725


Career wise he's at .235 .301 .448 .749 at just roughly a year's worth of PA's.

Dude needs to get on base more, which is like saying everyone needs to get on base more.

All that being said, I think he needs some AAA for a month or two early next season,

TheNext44
08-06-2009, 07:49 PM
Bruce is nowhere near above average for a RF. Likely won't be next season. If the Reds are serious (and I doubt they are), they find a placeholder RF or replace an average bat with a monster bat at another position to offset the loss of O from Jay.

From fangraphs.com:


Value
Show Projections | Show Minor Leagues | Quick Glossary

Season Team Bat Field Replace Position RAR WAR Dollars

2008 Reds -1.4 -5.7 15.1 -3.1 4.8 0.5 $2.2
2009 Reds -6.0 8.7 11.1 -3.8 10.0 1.0 $4.5

Even with his terrible offense, Bruce's defense makes him 1 win over replacement. While that is not above league average for a RF, I think there is no way he's as bad next year as he was this year. He should be a solid 2-3 win player next year. If he can just not suck against LHP, he'll put up some solid numbers overall.

RedsManRick
08-06-2009, 09:04 PM
Replacement level production costs league minimum salary. Every unit of production beyond that costs geometrically more money. It's sort of linear in the middle, but particularly at the star level, it gets really expensive. Luckily the production itself count the same. So yeah, particularly when experiencing budget constraints, focus on the production gains at the bottom of the roster. That's where you can get the most marginal bang for your marginal buck.

The challenge in doing that of course is that it differences in talent at that level are more easily disguised by variance. It's a very rare thing when a mediocre player puts up a superstar season -- Brady Anderson seasons are exceptions that prove the rule. Meanwhile, dozens of eminently replaceable guys put up respectable seasons every year. Some GMs simply don't get this and happily spend millions to get guys who have been adequate in the past, even if thorough analysis (scouting and stats) suggests they are not likely to be adequate again, than to trust in a young guy who analysis suggests should be adequate but hasn't yet done so. That's how you end up with Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston, Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lincoln, etc.

While many things have sunk the Reds over the last decade, their complete and utter ineptitude at telling the difference between the Taveras's and the Dickerson's of the baseball world has certainly been among the biggest.

Will M
08-06-2009, 09:09 PM
Basically, the Reds need at least league average production from either CF or SS, and at least replacement value production from CF, SS, 5th Starter, two bullpen spots, backup infielder/outfielder and back up catcher.



Certain things MUST happen for the 2010 Reds to win. They include improvement by the key youth - Bruce, Cueto, Bailey. No matter how we adjust the roster these guys must do better.

IF the Reds get a shortstop the actual lineup could be just fine. Rolen helps immensely. I think taveras should be DFAed and CF be open to competition between Dickerson/Stuubs/heisey. A platoon here could be average especially considering their defense. I want to see how Gomes does in August & September before spending $100M on Bay or Holliday. Gomes +- a LH bat could be league average in LF. That gives us the 4 above average starters if Bruce develops & average at SS, C, LF & CF.

starting pitching is another 2010 key. you state we need at least 2 above average SP & no below average starter unless you have at least one true TOR SP. IMO there is no way this happens unless we go out and get Lackey, Webb, etc to head the rotation. i personally feel the Reds starters are mentally tired and expect 2010 to be better for Cueto & Harang. I also expect Bailey to improve but he has BOR starter for 2010 written all over him.
IF the Reds can shed Bronson prior to 9/1/09 and use that money to improve his slot i'll be optomistic for 2010.

the 2010 pen will be fine. Cordero, Rhodes, Masset, Herrera & Fisher are a nice top 5. the last two spots can go to Burton, Owings, Lincoln (if healthy), Viola. plus Walt may sign a vet to replace Weathers.

the bench has to get better. one issue we have had this year is massive injuries. most good teams probably have 2 bench guys who get any playing time & a backup catcher & a couple specialists (PH, UIF, etc)

so...
C - Hanigan (average)
C - acquistion #1
1B - Votto (Above average)
2B - Phillips (Above average)
SS - acquistion #2 (average)
3B - Rolen (above average)
RF - Bruce (above average)
CF - Dickerson/Heisey or Stubbs (average)
LF - Gomes +- Dorn or acquisition #3 bench LH bat

TOR acquisition #4 Lackey, Webb, etc
TOR potential Cueto
MOR Harang (but I expect better in 2010)
BOR Bailey
BOR Owings, Maloney, Wood

RP Cordero (power arm)
RP Rhodes (above average)
RP Masset (above average)
RP Herrera (above average)
RP Fisher (average)
RP acquisition #5 (average)
RP Viola, Burton, Owings, etc (???)

in summary switcheroo Arroyo with a TOR starter & get a league average SS.
these are the key moves to compete next year.
can it be done? maybe
will it be done? unlikely

jojo
08-06-2009, 10:21 PM
Here's Epstein's quote:



ďWhat we like to do is be league average at every position, and then be way above league average at as many positions as we can. We try to have no weak links and be at least league average at every position. Itís well-documented that thereís not a lot of elite catching out there, but weíll figure it out.Ē

Theo would argue that to contend being average at every position clearly is not enough.

corkedbat
08-06-2009, 11:13 PM
For this team to have any chance of contending, it needs a leadofff hitter who can consistently get on base, a cleanup bat that can consistently drive in runs, an upgrade at SS, Votto to continue whathe's doing, Rolen to remain healthy and productive, Phillips to do no worse than this year, Bruce tp get it together at the plate, Heisey, Stubbs and/or Dickerson to step up and another Hanigan at the very least). And even at that, it only gives them a slight chnce.

With the loss of Volquez, the rotation needs a TOR and a number three starter at the least as well as a big step forward by Cueto. There is no way that Harang can be consdered an above-average starter anymore. Even calling him average (when you look at his performance the last year and a half) is debatable.

The presence of he and/or Arroyo on the pitching staff next year will probably mean that any thought of adding the parts needed to contend will be financially impossible, so we will need a couple of young starters to step up. I think they will be able to put forward a decent bullpen and its the least of the worries.

TheNext44
08-07-2009, 12:05 AM
Replacement level production costs league minimum salary. Every unit of production beyond that costs geometrically more money. It's sort of linear in the middle, but particularly at the star level, it gets really expensive. Luckily the production itself count the same. So yeah, particularly when experiencing budget constraints, focus on the production gains at the bottom of the roster. That's where you can get the most marginal bang for your marginal buck.

The challenge in doing that of course is that it differences in talent at that level are more easily disguised by variance. It's a very rare thing when a mediocre player puts up a superstar season -- Brady Anderson seasons are exceptions that prove the rule. Meanwhile, dozens of eminently replaceable guys put up respectable seasons every year. Some GMs simply don't get this and happily spend millions to get guys who have been adequate in the past, even if thorough analysis (scouting and stats) suggests they are not likely to be adequate again, than to trust in a young guy who analysis suggests should be adequate but hasn't yet done so. That's how you end up with Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston, Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lincoln, etc.

While many things have sunk the Reds over the last decade, their complete and utter ineptitude at telling the difference between the Taveras's and the Dickerson's of the baseball world has certainly been among the biggest.


Perfectly put.

And this is why it is so important to have a good farm system. The Reds are lucky that many of their top producers are young, cheap talent: Votto, Cueto, Bruce, Volquez. There is no way they could compete if they had to pay market value for their production. Getting above average, young, cheap talent as the core of your team is the only way a mid market team can survive.

Which is why it is more important that they fill out the roster with players who are worth their contracts. Signing guys like Taveras, Lincoln, Weathers, Rhodes, Hairston to contracts more than $1M each is a waste of the cheap talent that they have with Votto, Cueto, Bruce and Volquez.

As was signing Harang, Arroyo and Cordero to such big, long term contracts when they didn't have to. Imagine what the Reds could do if they didn't have those three, and instead had those three slots filled by players who actually paid near what they produce.

According to fangraphs.com, the three combined are worth 3 wins exactly. That works out to being worth $13.5M. Together they are paid $32.5M. Even if the Reds overpaid their replacements by twice what they are worth, they would still have an extra $10M to spend elsewhere.

HokieRed
08-07-2009, 01:17 AM
On starting pitching, how about an approach that seeks to solidify the average rather than seeking a TOR arm, which I doubt we'll get anyway: thus Marquis and Pineiro, say, rather than Lackey.

corkedbat
08-07-2009, 02:10 AM
On starting pitching, how about an approach that seeks to solidify the average rather than seeking a TOR arm, which I doubt we'll get anyway: thus Marquis and Pineiro, say, rather than Lackey.

Does Dave Duncan come with them? :D

TheNext44
08-07-2009, 02:32 AM
Here's Epstein's quote:



Theo would argue that to contend being average at every position clearly is not enough.

You just have to look at his teams to know that that is true. :)