Win Shares

A win share is basically one-third of a win. "Why one-third of a win?" you might ask. "Why not one-tenth of a win or a half of a win?" Well, because we can confidently say that a player who adds one-third of a win is significantly better than another. For instance, we can confidently say that a player who has 12 win shares this year is better than another who has 11. This difference has statistical significance.

It's pretty easy to think of a player's win shares in the following manner--a bench player or reliever would routinely get 1-10 win shares per year, a regular player would usually get 10-20, an all star 20-30, and an MVP candidate would get 30+. For comparison, Barry Bonds had 54 win shares in 2001. . . I think it goes without saying that that doesn't happen very often. Additionally, win shares evaluation is a fair to both starters and relievers, middle infielders and sluggers, players from the 1920s and 1990s, etc. Overall, it is a nice tool to use in evaluating everything related to baseball.

Some people have problems with win shares, but I've found it largely interesting and a great tool.

Bill James invented the concept and has a couple of books out on the topic if anyone is interested.

Evaluating Trades

Evaluating trades is tough to do, even when using win shares as a tool. The world is an infinitely complex place, and no trade occurs in a vacuum. There are plenty of other factors to consider, such as payroll implications, roster depth, areas of organizational strength and weakness, free agency, clubhouse politics, etc. There are limitations to what win shares can offer. But they do provide a good starting point for the discussion.

GMs can be evaluated on other criteria, as well. They are responsible for adding players into the system through the draft and free agency; they also are also responsible for overseeing the player development, and ensuring that the scouting/development guys are on the same page. So the trading aspect is only one part of the GM's job description.

Note that I only have the # of win shares through 2001, so they can't be evaluated through this year.

Evaluating Trades with "Long Legs"

It's hard to evaluate trades when players re-sign with teams after they are traded. That seems to happen a lot. For instance--
Dave Burba (CLE)
Paul O'Neill (NYY)
Dan Wilson (SEA)
Mike Remlinger (ATL)
Bret Boone (CIN)
Ed Taubensee (CIN and CLE)
Griffey (CIN)
Shaw (LA)
Norm Charlton (SEA)

So how do you fairly analyze these guys in trades that re-sign with clubs? Is it fair to count O'Neill's 9 years of win shares in New York against the Roberto Kelly trade that happened in 1992? I don't think so. I figured the best way was to do it was to not include their free agency years. If anyone wants to correct me about who was a free agent and when, please feel free to indicate that. I have a feeling that my rough approximates for free agent status are wildly incorrect.

Here's who I counted and for how long-
Dave Burba (CLE through 2001)
Paul O'Neill (NYY only through 1994)
Dan Wilson (SEA through 1999)
Mike Remlinger (ATL )
Bret Boone (CIN through 1998)
Ed Taubensee (CIN through 1997 and all CLE)
Griffey (CIN through 2001)
Shaw (LA through 2001)
Norm Charlton (SEA through 1996)

Likewise, I didn't count guys who were shipped off to third parties (e.g., Fordyce's years in BAL counting against the Reds' totals). I'm simply evaluating how well the Reds did, not how well they did against their competitors. Plus, that would require a lot of time that I just don't have to give to this mini-project.

Bowden's Trade Record Overall
By my count, he has added +169 win shares by trading in his nearly 10 years on the job. That means that his trading alone has added ABOUT 6 WINS TO THE REDS' TOTAL PER YEAR WITH HIS TRADING ALONE. For sake of comparison, Bowden has brought in about 17 win shares per year; last year, the Reds' best player (Sean Casey) only had 18 win shares. . . So Bowden, from up in his office, was better for the club than any other Red was that actually played on the field. Think about that--this total is absolutely amazing.

I don't see how anyone could say that his trading ability is anything other than a prime asset of this team.

Bowden's Best and Worst Trades

Without further ado, here are Bowden's five best trades by the win shares method:
1.) John Smiley and Jeff Branson for Danny Graves, Damian Jackson, Jim Crowell, and Scott Winchester (1997, +54 win shares). There's little doubt about this one. Smiley's arm broke before he could offer any help for the Indians, and Branson served a middle-infield backup for a couple of years. Graves, on the other hand, became an all star and Jackson was used to acquire Greg Vaughn for the Reds' 1999 run.

2.) Dmitri Young for Jeff Brantley; and subsequently, Dmitri Young for Mike Kelly (1997, +45 WS). Dmitri was actually traded to the Reds twice after the 1997 season because he was picked up in the expansion draft by the D-Rays (can you believe he was traded for Mike Kelly??). Both the Cards and D-Rays gave up on him, meaning a tip o' the cap to Bowden is well deserved on this one.

Tied-3*.) Ed Taubensee for Ross Powell (1994, +33 WS). Because of the evaluation method outlined above, I only included Taubensee's 1994-97 campaigns because I think his first walk year with the Reds was 1997 (please correct me if I'm wrong). This doesn't include Taubensee's 16 WS in 1998 or 15 WS in 1999, meaning this trade was probably a lot better than it appears.

T-3*.) Hector Carrasco and Scott Service to KC for Jon Nunnally and Chris Stynes (+33 WS). This might seem like eons ago, but both Nunnally and Stynes looked like potential all stars in 1997. They contributed a whopping 22 WS combined in only a half-season in Cincinnati. Nunnally eventually fell off the face of the earth, and Stynes became a nice utility guy.

5.) The Shaw/Griffey family of trades (+30 WS). Why is this a family of trades? It's easier for me to organize it that way. The guys in the original trade have come and gone. As a result, I chose to evaluate at the trade like this: 1998-2001 Jeff Shaw for 1998-2001 Reyes, 1998 Konerko, 1999 Cameron, and 2000-2001 Griffey. That's one heck of a trade, even if Griffey has been hurt for the past few years. If you add in the 2001 Pokey Reese/Reyes trade for Gabe White and Luke Hudson, this is an outstanding series of talent upgrades. The Reds obviously came out ahead in this group.

Five worst:
T-1*.) Bobby Ayala and Dan Wilson for Bret Boone and Erik Hanson (1993, -30 WS). This one comes as a bit of a surprise to me. But the Reds gave up an outstanding reliever and all-star catcher for a all star 2b and one-year rental. If Hanson had stayed a Red for longer than a year, this likely would've been an even trade, since the Boone/Wilson part of the trade was essentially a wash.

T-1*.) Reggie Sanders, Damian Jackson, and Josh Harris for Greg Vaughn and Mark Sweeney (1998, -30 WS). This one looks a lot worse on paper because the Reds gave up two guys who became regulars and only got one everyday player back. Damian Jackson wasn't going to play over Pokey Reese in 1999, so the Reds dealt from an area of organizational depth. Having both Vaughn and Reese (42 combined WS) playing in 1999 rather than Sanders and Jackson (30 WS) was a huge plus for the Reds that year; as a result, I'm not sure if this loss presents an accurate read on this trade.

3.) Paul O'Neill for Roberto Kelly (1992, -23 WS). Obviously, it could've been much worse if I counted all of O'Neill's season in NY.

4.) Brook Fordyce for Jake Meyer (1999, -16 WS). This really wasn't a big loss because the Reds had catching depth in 1999 (Taubensee and Johnson at the major league level, plus LaRue was fresh of his batting title year in AA). Moreover, Fordyce was out of options. Fordyce had a nice 1999 (12 WS) for the Sox, but other than that, there's not really much lost here.

5.) Gabe White to COL for Manny Aybar (2000, -15 WS). This was just a dumb, dumb, trade. Since White is back in Cincy, I guess all is well that ends well. FYI, the guy who the Reds traded for Aybar later in 2000, Jorge Cordova, looks like an interesting power reliever in AA.

The fact that Bowden only has four trades where he lost more than 10 win shares in telling. Bowden gave up more talent in only two of his five worst deals (the trading away of White and O'Neill). Add in the fact that in two of those three deals, the big difference makers were guys who weren't going to play in Cincinnati (Damian Jackson and Brook Fordyce) but who ended up getting a shot elsewhere. I think this is pretty strong evidence that Bowden is an astute trader.

Moreover, Bowden's only bad trades happened awhile ago (O'Neill, Boomer Wells, and Ayala/Dan Wilson) with the exception of the Gabe White to COL deal. And the Reds managed to get White back pretty cheaply.

Salary Dump Trades (-5 WS)
No real talent was lost here (Stynes is the exception), and the Reds couldn't afford these bloated salaries.

Chris Stynes for Donnie Sadler and Michael Coleman (2000, -8 WS).
Ron Villone for Jeff Taglienti and Justin Carter (2000, -1 WS).
Tim Belcher to the White Sox for Johnny Ruffin and Jeff Pierce (1993, +10 WS).
Michael Tucker to the Cubs for Ben Shaffar and Chris Booker (2001, -6 WS). Shaffar was used to pick up Jose Silva this year.

The Boone/Neagle Family of Trades (0 WS)
Bret Boone and Mike Remlinger for Denny Neagle, Michael Tucker, and Rob Bell (+3 WS). This one had the potential to be a huge deal for the Reds, but now Bell has crapped out, and Tucker and Neagle are both gone. Interestingly, Remlinger actually outperformed Neagle (24 WS to 17) during the 1999-2000 span.

Denny Neagle for Drew Henson, Jackson Melian, Brian Reith, and Ed Yarnall (2000, -3 WS). Many people think this was a bad trade, but I think it would've worked out much better if Reith hadn't been rushed to the big leagues in 2001 (after he had only had a handful of starts above A ball). He has struggled with his confidence and consistency ever since his first promotion. I see this clearly as player development issue, NOT a trade issue.

Michael Coleman and Drew Henson for Wily Mo Pena (2001, no effect).

Rob Bell for Ruben Mateo and Edwin Encarnacion (2001, no effect).

This original trade is now responsible for adding Pena, Mateo, Reith, and E. Encarnacion to the system. Those are some of the best players currently in the Reds' farm system. This trade family might be in the positive column in a few years.

The O'Neill/Burba Family of Trades (+46 WS)
Like the Boone/Neagle family, this series of trades has added a bunch of players to the system, so the original trade is not nearly as bad as one might think initially. Through a series of trades, Roberto Kelly eventually brought the Reds Sean Casey. This trade chain, believe it or not, has actually added wins to the Reds' total overall.

Paul O'Neill for Roberto Kelly listed above.

Kelly and Robert Etheridge to ATL for Deion Sanders (1994, -3 WS).

Deion Sanders, John Roper, Scott Service, Dave McCarty, and Ricky Pickett for Dave Burba, Mark Portugal, and Darren Lewis (1995, +27 WS)

Dave Burba for Sean Casey (+22 WS). A lot of people have been down on Casey lately, but if the Reds had gone with Konerko instead of Casey in 1999, the Reds simply wouldn't have made a run (Casey had 23 WS that year, Konerko had 14).

The Wells Trades (-15 WS)
David Wells to BAL for Curtis Goodwin and Trovin Valdez (1995, -9 WS). This is case of Bowden being Bowden and going after the guy with wheels who can't hit.

C.J. Nitkowski, Dave Tuttle, and Mark Lewis to the Tigers for David Wells (1995, -6 WS). This was a lot better than it appears, because Nitkowski served as an OK middle reliever, but you can get relievers pretty much anywhere. No real talent loss.

Relievers: Coming and Going (+31 WS)
Taubensee to CLE for Jim Brower and Robert Pugmire (2001, +7). Brower to MON for Bruce Chen (2002, too early to tell).

Larry Luebbers, Mike Anderson, and Darren Cox to the Cubs for Chuck McElroy (1994, +7). McElroy to ANA for Lee Smith (1996, -2).

Chris Hammond to FLA for Hector Carrasco (1993, -4). Carrasco to KC detailed above.

Lenny Harris to NYM for John Hudek (1998, +2). Hudek to Braves for Mark Wohlers (1999, +4). Wohlers to Yankees for Ricardo Aramboles (none, but the payoff could be big.)

Norm Charlton to SEA for Kevin Mitchell (1993, +6 WS). I added all of Charlton's years in SEA (1993-1996); if you exclude the final two years (did he re-sign with SEA as a free agent?), then this trade looks like one of JimBo's best (+26 WS).

B.J. Ryan and Jacobo Sequea for Juan Guzman (1999, -1). This one is much more one-sided than it appears; Ryan stinks as a middle reliever, and the Reds used the supplemental pick from the loss of Guzman in the draft to get Dustin Moseley, who is one of the club's top pitchers in the minors.

Tim Belcher to SEA for Roger Salkeld (1993, -5).

Andre King to NYM for Mike Remlinger and Luis Ordaz (1995, +14). Remlinger to ATL detailed above.

Johnny Carvajal to MTL for Gabe White (1997, +14). White to COL described above. White back to CIN in the Pokey Reese/Dennys Reyes to COL for Gabe White and Luke Hudson trade. This final trade looks better every day.

Willie Greene/Bichette Family of Trades (+4 WS)

Willie Greene for Jeffrey Hammonds (1998, +10). Jeffrey Hammonds and Stan Belinda for Dante Bichette (2000, -2 WS). Bichette for Chris Reitsma and John Curtice (2000,
-4). This final trade will start looking a lot better after 2002.

Other Assorted Trades (+27 WS)

Mark Sweeney to MIL for Alex Ochoa (2000, +16 WS). Ochoa to COL for Todd Walker and Jason Jennings (2001, +7 WS). That's a nice flip trade, turning a spare part into an everyday 2B.

Juan Castro for Kenny Lutz (2000, +4 WS).

Dmitri Young for Luis Pineda and Juan Encarnacion. Encarnacion has replaced Young's production at a much cheaper rate, and the Reds have added another power reliever for the bullpen in Pineda. I think the Reds have won this one hands down.

Hector Mercado for Reggie Taylor.
Chris Booker for Jose Silva.

<small>[ 07-10-2002, 05:57 PM: Message edited by: D-Man ]</small>