Originally Posted by Joseph
You may well be 100% right, but when did this become a method of scouting?
I for one would welcome the addition of Lopez to the Reds rotation in ’07. Here's my long-winded argument:
Upon first glance, it’s very easy to turn a nose up at Lopez. His ERA last season sucked. It was bad. His scouting report doesn’t summon visions of greatness since he’s a crafty sort depending upon changing speeds and location and with a fastball that tops out in the high 80’s though it has good movement. However, a closer look reveals he is more valuable than a passing glance would suggest.
2002: K/9: 6.22; BB/9: 2.84; HR/9: 1.05; FB%: 38.2; HR/FB: 10.1; LOB%: 75.4; FIP: 4.36; ERA: 3.57; IP: 196;
2003: K/9: 6.31; BB/9: 2.63; HR/9: 1.47; FB%: 35.0; HR/FB: 13.7; LOB%: 67.5; FIP: 5.00; ERA: 5.82; IP: 147;
2004: K/9: 6.38; BB/9: 2.85; HR/9: 1.11; FB%: 36.2; HR/FB: 11.0; LOB%: 78.2; FIP: 4.37; ERA: 3.59; IP: 170;
2005: K/9: 5.07; BB/9: 2.71; HR/9: 1.20; FB%: 35.8; HR/FB: 10.9; LOB%: 67.0; FIP: 4.81; ERA: 4.50; IP: 209;
2006: K/9: 6.38; BB/9: 2.82; HR/9: 1.48; FB%: 35.1; HR/FB: 13.9; LOB%: 66.7; FIP: 4.93; ERA: 5.88; IP: 189;
Upon closer look, Lopez’s ERA of 5.88 in ’06 was not representative of his peripherals. For his career, Lopez has been remarkably consistent across the board concerning his skill set with the exception of two *unrepeatable skills* that pitchers cannot control- HR/FB and LOB%. Basically LOB% or HR/FB has largely determined whether his ERA was good or bad-IMHO, random variation has clouded his value. Importantly, if you compare his peripherals to the ’06 MLB average for starters, Lopez has the skill set of a league average starter.
2006 MLB Starter Averages:
K/9: 6.27; BB/9: 3.05; HR/9: 1.14; HR/FB: 11.0; FIP: 4.60; ERA: 4.61;
Interestingly he even has neutral GO/FO tendencies. Lopez won’t be an ace-there is no chance of that as he doesn’t have *upside* in that sense. However, you’ll know exactly what he’ll give you. It will be somewhere near league average and he’ll do it while eating a significant number of innings. Those attributes are valuable. As an added bonus, when becoming a Red he would get to pitch around the #8 hitter so that he can pitch to the pitcher. Importantly, he’ll do all that for roughly $4M a year and would only require a 1 year commitment. Baltimore has tried to trade him since the winter meetings and it is looking like it won’t ultimately require a lot to get him.
Now compare that to Milton and his extreme fly ball tendencies.
2002: K/9: 6.37; BB/9: 1.58; HR/9: 1.26; FB%: 45.8; HR/FB: 9.6; LOB%: 63.8; FIP: 4.19; ERA: 4.84; IP: 171;
2003: K/9: 3.71; BB/9: .53; HR/9: 1.06; FB%: 51.2; HR/FB: 7.4; LOB%: 83.3; FIP: 4.08; ERA: 2.65; IP: 17;
2004: K/9: 7.21; BB/9: 3.36; HR/9: 1.93; FB%: 52.5; HR/FB: 13.5; LOB%: 76.5; FIP: 5.51; ERA: 4.75; IP: 201;
2005: K/9: 5.94; BB/9: 2.51; HR/9: 1.94; FB%: 46.5; HR/FB: 13.9; LOB%: 64.6; FIP: 5.37; ERA: 6.47; IP: 186;
2006: K/9: 5.31; BB/9: 2.48; HR/9: 1.71; FB%: 50.3; HR/FB: 11.9; LOB%: 68.5; FIP: 5.35; ERA: 5.19; IP: 153;
Milton has not been a good pitcher since his injury in 2003. He basically was aided by an unsustainable LOB% during his rebound/contract year that masked his decline. Unfortunately, the Reds are now paying the price. Telling it like it is, Milton is a $9M a year replacement level starter. Milton’s production is easy to replace (E. Ramirez would do it for close to league minimum) and at this point there is no reason to expect him to have a turn around type of year. He stunk in Philadelphia and he stinks as a Red. Clearly Lopez represents an upgrade.
There is another guy with potential value in the mix for the Reds. Enter Kyle Lohse:
2002: K/9: 6.18; BB/9: 3.49; HR/9: 1.30; FB%: 41.7; HR/FB: 11.0; LOB%: 75.1; FIP: 5.01; ERA: 4.23; IP: 180;
2003: K/9: 5.82; BB/9: 2.01; HR/9: 1.25; FB%: 39.3; HR/FB: 11.1; LOB%: 69.4; FIP: 4.46; ERA: 4.61; IP: 201;
2004: K/9: 5.15; BB/9: 3.53; HR/9: 1.30; FB%: 36.9; HR/FB: 11.2; LOB%: 68.7; FIP: 5.22; ERA: 5.34; IP: 194;
2005: K/9: 4.33; BB/9: 2.22; HR/9: 1.11; FB%: 33.7; HR/FB: 10.5; LOB%: 76.8; FIP: 4.73; ERA: 4.18; IP: 178;
2006: K/9: 6.89; BB/9: 3.13; HR/9: 1.07; FB%: 37.3; HR/FB: 9.9; LOB%: 65.4; FIP: 4.39; ERA: 5.81; IP: 126;
His peripherals have been more variable as a starter than Lopez’s presumably because of tinkering by the Twins designed to help him finally reach his potential (’06 was effected by a trip to the pen). Or maybe the variability speaks to his main issue. While he clearly has pretty good stuff, his big knock is being able to consistently put it all together. At this point he shouldn’t be expected to. However, he has the potential to eat innings somewhere roughly around a league average starter as well. The Twins had better options but the Reds are looking for options to do just that. His salary and commitment are similar to Lopez’s-1 yr/approx. $4M. The Reds control Lohse though.
Assuming no big trade brings a starter, a rotation like this could
give the Reds a fighting chance with a little luck:
5. E. Ramirez/Livingtson as placeholders until Homer is called up (looks like the end of July???)
Milton would be my $9M long reliever/mop up guy.
That’s two guys you can safely assume are above league average (though Arroyo will regrees from '06 likely), two that should be league average, and a backend guy you hope could do something like Elizardo did during the first half of ’06 until Homer arrives. That rotation would at least be better on the backend then the ’06 rotation. Importantly, the Reds wouldn't have to blow a hole in their offense via trade to do it....