Originally Posted by camisadelgolf
The Reds were in contention when they traded for Cormier, and Cormier wouldn't allow the trade unless there was an extension, so I don't think it's fair to include him in this part of the conversation. Jeff Conine has been worth his salary so far, so I'm not going to complain about trading for him. Juan Castro is making less than $1M, so I'd be nitpicking if I complained about that.
However, here is a list of every single pitcher who was signed in the most recent off-season who made more than Stanton's salary of $2M and less than the $7.175M the Reds would have saved if they hadn't signed Juan Castro, Jeff Conine, Rheal Cormier, and Mike Stanton. Please tell me which of these pitchers you would have signed before the season started.
I see only a couple players who could've made a noteworthy difference for the Reds. One is Jamie Walker, who will be 38 years old and making $4.5M in 2009. The other is Justin Speier, who will be 36 years old and making $5.25M in 2010. Those two are two huge investments for middle relief, if you ask me. I'm not sure the Reds can afford those kinds of risks. I think Mike Stanton was worth a shot. Also, Stanton still has a chance to turn things around.
And you've made my point for me, twice.
Firstly, if you have to give an old, mediocre at best reliever an extension to acquire him, or give a 40 year old middle reliever a 2 year deal with an option to sign him, he probably isn't worth it -- and he knows it. Hence the request for as much guaranteed money as possible before the end of the line rather than an opportunity to get a more lucrative offer after a successful season. And I don't care if we were in contention, adding Rheal Cormier doesn't improve a bullpen. If adding Rheal Cormier does improve your bullpen, you're not really in contention.
Secondly, I wouldn't have signed any of those pitchers, and that's my point. Signing a middle reliever in free agency costs you a few million bucks and likely doesn't even improve your team. We have people on the board crying poor about Adam Dunn, wanting to cut him loose rather than give him a $3M boost that still leaves him below market price. The free agent market is a very inefficient use of money when it comes to pitchers. For $13M would you rather have Dunn or Joe Borowski, Joey Table, and Woody Williams?
Stop trying to find the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th guys on your pitching staff in free agency and save your FA dollar for a guy you can count on to make a real impact. And yes, there aren't very many of those. Sometimes it might mean sitting on your hands one year so you don't have $3M already committed to an ineffective 41 year old the next.
I won't even touch the idea that when a pitcher pitches determines whether he's the league ERA leader or a scrub. There are shades of gray, but it's pretty simple. Good pitchers pitch well, bad pitchers pitch poorly. Misuse can make a good pitcher worse, but it's pretty hard to make a crappy pitcher better through usage patterns. And if you can do that, why not just sign good pitchers and then make them even better...