Stat Wanker Hodiernus
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Chicago, IL
Re: Look Sharp (from Nate Silver @ BP)
Very true D-Man, the Reds are certainly not locked in to the current state of the roster. However, that doesn't mean we're in a great situation. You astutely point out the acquisitions of Rijo and Jackson. However, you make it sound like it's easy to go do that.
The Reds were extremely "lucky" that both Rijo and Jackson turned out to be such great pitchers. We could go get two similarly promising prospects and not be so lucky this time around. Also, consider who we gave up to those guys:
Kurt Stillwell: #2 overall pick in 1983, just 22 when traded
Ted Power: great reliever just off a season as solid league average starter
Dave Park: slugger coming off seasons 34/125, 31/116, and 26/97
So who are the comps on the current Reds for these guys:
Jay Bruce? Matt Belisle? Ken Griffey Jr?
So what happens if those two pitchers you acquire don't pan out the way they did. The key issue is that with a team like the Reds, you have to get star level talent to really improve. If you trade Griffey and get a league average starter, how much better are you? Are you going to get Joe Nathan for Jay Bruce?
Where you say "the Reds can be turned around fairly quickly if the Reds take a few chances on players"
I say "the Reds can be turned around fairly quickly if the Reds take a few chances on players and those chances work". You cannot overstate that last point and just how difficult it is. If it were easy to trade mediocre players for stars, you'd see it happen a lot more often. More often than not though, you end up just swapping your mediocrity for somebody else's. It takes skill and luck to trade your way to success, not just skill.
I agree with your points 100%. This sort of analysis isn't the be-all end-all. However, what's truly telling to me is the lack of teams in the 3S quadrant. Teams with star level players (and thus a great variation -- aka Sharp) just don't suck, regardless of the rest of their talent-base unless it's truly horrible.
As an organization, my focus would be on developing that core of a few star players and spend less time and resources on the rest. Once you've got a core in place, then fill the gaps, hopefully on the cheap with talent that might develop in to your next stars. The Reds never were able to get a core of top talent good enough to take them to the top. The kept on throwing dirt around the sides hoping it would build the mountain higher when they were just flattening it out.
As Stormy has very well articulated, if this team cannot win in it's current configuration, it should be devoting itself to identifying the core that can. Yes, I've oversimplified the issue. However, the Reds continue to fill our a roster with low upside, low-mid salary guys. The Reds have spent an all-star's worth of money on players that will not be positively contributing to the team. For a team with limited financial resources, those resources need to go towards production that cannot be gained elsewhere, not on production that is more easily replaced on the cheap. Meanwhile, they need to be taking every opportunity to realize potential talent from within.
You're right, it can be turned around quickly by trimming frivolous payroll expenses and focusing it on talent that is more difficult to develop in house, freeing roster spots for higher potential youth, and making a few smart trades than pan out to build that star level producing core. I'm just not convinced that current leadership is following that plan.
One of the disadvantages of such a flat roster is that any single upgrade carries slightly more risk and less potential gain. Let's say you have two rosters:
Team A: 3 100 VORP players, 22 0 VORP players: 300 VORP
Team B: 25 12 VORP players: 300 VORP
If this is a winning team, I'd rather team B without a doubt because of the security involved. However, if this is a losing team, give me A by all means. I have 22 chances to gain a whole lot of production with very little risk. If I swap 3 0 VORP players for a top prospect and he doesn't pan out, oh well. I'll just grab 3 more from my organization and give them a shot. If that guys odes pan out, I'm up 100 VORP and can replace the other two 0 VORP guys.
However, if I'm team B, I have to risk the 12 VORP I'm getting already to hopefully get improvement over that amount. If I do get it, I'm up 88 VORP (12 fewer than team A). If he doesn't, I'm down 12 and have to hope I can replace it. There's a certain momentum, if you will, that is difficult to break. In order to give Votto a chance, the Reds have to risk losing the production they're getting from Hatteberg. Sure, Votto might be a big improvement. But if he doesn't pan out, we're a worse team than we were. On the other side, if Bobby Livingston doesn't work out, we've got 5 more guys who might.
Of course, the real goal is getting the most total team production possible. The most productive teams, namely the Mets and Red Sox, are almost exactly neutral. Why is this? Two reasons: 1.) They have star players giving them lots of production and 2.) They have decent players surrounding those star players giving solid production and keeping the roster from being too sharp. However, building a roster like that usually takes a lot of money because you have to pay the stars and then you have to either be very lucky to have that much more decent talent or you have to spend good money on those mediocre filler guys.
Teams like the Reds don't have the money to pay both the stars and the mediocre guys. If you pay the mediocre guys, you have to develop the stars and then move them out when they get too expensive. If you pay the stars, you have to develop the mediocre guys. If you go the second route, you leave open the opportunity that you will develop stars to compliment the ones you are already paying and BAM, you can compete with the big boys.
The 2003 Marlins won the World Series with a payroll of about $45M. They paid 4 players more than $3.5M. Those 4 players were the top 4 hitters in terms of VORP, including team leader and hired gun Pudge Rodriguez. However, they also got massive contributions from Juan Pierre, Brad Penny, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, and Mark Redman -- all young guys in arbitration making a few million bucks at most with a ton of upside. How did the Marlins get those guys? They either developed them or traded for them by shipping out mediocre talent which was overpriced given the production and upside (Matt Mantei, Antonio Alfonseca, Charles Johnson, Preston Wilson, etc.) By developing the vast majority of the roster and paying a "sure thing" good money, the Marlins caught lightning in the bottle in 2003 and built the foundation of a sustainable talent base for the future. They currently sit as a slightly sharp team with a league average run differential and flexible roster and payroll. A good place to be for future growth.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.
Last edited by RedsManRick; 05-31-2007 at 11:37 PM.