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Thread: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    I’ve read some interesting posts in the last nine hours reflecting on the Pena for Arroyo swap; some people in favor of the deal while others vehemently disagreeing with the deal. Some people envision Wily Mo Pena blossoming into a Hall of Fame caliber hitter, while others foresee a career of free-swinging and undisciplined ineptitude. Still, even more people are upset with the return of one Bronson Arroyo, whose success as a Red is met with a large question mark.

    Of course, it is my belief that none of the above would be happening had management properly handled a guy who was once, and still is by some, regarded as a highly touted prospect with enormous potential.

    Let’s take a step back to five years ago – almost to the day – when we acquired Pena for Drew Henson and Michael Coleman prior to the 2001 season. In retrospect, the deal was a massive win for the Reds as the large centerpiece going to the Yanks, Henson, is no longer in baseball. However, a series of horrible decisions regarding Pena still renders him a massive question mark five years later, and quite frankly, the Reds have nobody to blame but themselves.

    Jim Bowden acquired Pena knowing the contract situation Pena was involved in. Pena played the 2001 season in low A Dayton, and showing signs of having some good power, also showed signs that he was nowhere near Major League ready. In 2002, he spent the season in AA Chattanooga and again showed us that he really was not ready for the Major League level.

    At that point, why not just deal Pena away? Instead he sits on the bench in 2003 due to his contract.

    Pena got some MLB plate appearances in 2004 and showed that he could possibly perform at the big league level despite being seriously mishandled by two front office regimes. Luckily for the Reds, we have a first baseman in Sean Casey having his best season in 2004 since 1999, which creates a market for the Reds to solve the outfield situation by moving Casey after his outstanding 2004 season.

    It’s a win-win situation of selling high; we can move Casey after his monster 2004 for as much pitching as he will ever net us in a return, and we set 2005 up as a season to get Pena a full-time outfield job here. From there, we’ll have a better idea on the future performance of one highly touted Wily Mo Pena. At the very least, his trade value should be as high after 2005 as it’s been since we’ve had him.

    I’ve already posted that I’m essentially on the fence about this trade, and my opinion of the trade all comes down to the K ratio Bronson Arroyo gives us. If I can fault Wayne Krivsky for one thing, it is that I do think the timing would have been better to move Pena in July, 2006 or after the 2006 season. However, I really can’t fault Krivsky too much for the deal because the situation he was presented with was downright awful.

    More accurately the trade becomes a colossal failure for the Reds because of five years of front office mismanagement by two regimes in charge, not necessarily because of what Wayne Krivsky got us in return today. Bowden could have moved Pena after acquiring him, but he failed to do so. Dan O’Brien could have done the same thing, but he also failed to do so. More recently, Dan O’Brien could have dealt Sean Casey after 2004 to give Pena an chance to play every day in 2005, but he failed to do so.

    All of the above just results in the enigma we now know as Wily Mo Pena. Had Pena played every day since opening day in 2003, he'd be much less of a question mark. None of this happened, and it’s largely the fault of Jim Bowden and Dan O’Brien.

    Even today, the rodents known as Bowden and O’Brien are long gone, but the stench leftover still lingers throughout. Today's trade reeks of that stench, and I really do not think Wayne Krivsky had many better options than Bronson Arroyo.
    Last edited by Cyclone792; 03-20-2006 at 09:40 PM.
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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    I don't know whether you were serious or not, but it's always good to mention things like this for those who don't know anyway Re: Wily Mo's contract.

    From the old, old Reds Zone FAQ:

    Q: I think Wily Mo Pena should be in the minor leagues, but I understand his contract requres him to be in the majors. Why can't the Reds and Wily Mo restructure his contract so that he can go to the minors?

    A: When young Wily Mo Pena was signed by the Yankees, he was given a major league contract, rather than a minor league contract. All players who have major league contracts must be placed on their team's 40-man roster. All players who are on their team's 40-man roster but are not on their team's 25-man major league roster, are considered to be on "optional assignment." People who originally signed when they were younger than 19 (like WMP did) are allowed to be on "optional assignment" for a total of four years. Those four years have elapsed, so according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, Wily Mo Pena must appear on his team's 25-man roster, in addition to its 40-man roster.

    The only way to remedy this situation is to request "waivers" on WMP. If all 29 of the other teams allow WMP to pass through "waivers," then the Reds can send him down.
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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Thanks for the info, CE, and I was unaware of the specific rule.

    In that case, disregard the bulk of what I stated above in regards to renegotiation his deal. In fact, with that being the case, I'd have been all in favor of moving Pena as quickly as possible after acquiring him in 2001. Of course, Bowden failed to act and this is what we were stuck with. And when O'Brien failed to clear up a spot after 2004 by not acting on Casey, well ... we all know what we got out of that lack of a deal.
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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792
    ....Of course, Bowden failed to act...
    In what respect. I don't understand this comment in light of the rule that was involved.

    Rem

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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by remdog
    In what respect. I don't understand this comment in light of the rule that was involved.

    Rem
    Failing to move him after acquiring him in 2001? With the specific rule involved stating that he had to be on a big league roster in 2003, and renegotiating his contract not being an option, Bowden should have moved Pena at some point between 2001 and 2003. I'll never understand the decision to hold onto Pena after 2003 in a position where he largely sits on the bench.

    It makes it tough to develop hitters when they rarely see live pitching.
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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    you can blame the Reds for a lot of things, but not for obtaining and getting production out of WMP

    look somewhere else. Simply put, your attack is misguided.

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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    As you yourself stated, WMP was a steal for the Reds and they had nothing to lose by being patient.

    Did carrying him on the '03, '04 or '05 roster cost the Reds the pennant in any of those years? Obviously not. There are a lot of people in baseball that think highly of WMP's potential (including, apparently, Theo) so, from their POV, why not take a shot if it doesn't make a difference in your ability to win it all that year.

    Though I disagree with this particular trade, apparently Theo Epstein thinks WMP is valuable enough to give up an established starter for him. So, starting with '03 and giving Willy Mo a little more playing time each year has gradually built his value to Bronson Arroyo. (shrug) Personally, I would have been of the mind to continue to build his value (we basically got him for free)---and let him be the starter in LF this year. Once again, it would make no difference to where the Reds finish (especially if you are of the mind that 2nd is the equivilent of last).

    Sighting a rule that you yourself just became aware of less than an hour ago seems to be a bit of overkill in reguards to Bowden. Bowden knew what he was doing. Basically, he had a free play at the table and he bet big. Personally, I don't have a problem with that. (shrug) In this case, I see Krivsky betting small and that's his perogative. But I don't see it as a reason to criticize Bowden.

    Rem

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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by remdog
    As you yourself stated, WMP was a steal for the Reds and they had nothing to lose by being patient.

    Did carrying him on the '03, '04 or '05 roster cost the Reds the pennant in any of those years? Obviously not. There are a lot of people in baseball that think highly of WMP's potential (including, apparently, Theo) so, from their POV, why not take a shot if it doesn't make a difference in your ability to win it all that year.

    Though I disagree with this particular trade, apparently Theo Epstein thinks WMP is valuable enough to give up an established starter for him. So, starting with '03 and giving Willy Mo a little more playing time each year has gradually built his value to Bronson Arroyo. (shrug) Personally, I would have been of the mind to continue to build his value (we basically got him for free)---and let him be the starter in LF this year. Once again, it would make no difference to where the Reds finish (especially if you are of the mind that 2nd is the equivilent of last).

    Sighting a rule that you yourself just became aware of less than an hour ago seems to be a bit of overkill in reguards to Bowden. Bowden knew what he was doing. Basically, he had a free play at the table and he bet big. Personally, I don't have a problem with that. (shrug) In this case, I see Krivsky betting small and that's his perogative. But I don't see it as a reason to criticize Bowden.

    Rem
    Bowden did well in acquiring Pena, and I certainly have to give him credit for moving Henson to acquire a guy that gave us big league production. He bought Pena low, and we ultimately sold him higher than we bought him, which is obviously a good thing, but I still have to wonder if we could have gotten a better return or better production out of Pena with proper management by both Bowden and O'Brien. Being a part-time player for three seasons couldn't have done Pena any favors in his development. Maybe he'd be better than what we've currently seen, maybe he won't be. Only time will tell if Boston or someone else ever lets him play regularly. I still have doubts about his ability to recognize good pitches and get on base at an even mediocre clip.

    We could have dealt Pena prior to 2003, but who knows if what we would have gotten anything better than Bronson Arroyo for 2006 to presumably 2008.

    I do agree we should have held on to Pena and put him in the OF every day this season to attempt to build his value, but unfortunately it's a moot point now. I also think the situation would be significantly better had O'Brien dealt Casey after 2004 so Pena could play every day in 2005, but he didn't do it, we're stuck with Williams and unfortunately that's all a moot point now too.

    Who knows, maybe this is all built up frustration with the Reds' history of moving players at the inopportune time to move them.
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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton
    you can blame the Reds for a lot of things, but not for obtaining and getting production out of WMP

    look somewhere else. Simply put, your attack is misguided.
    I'm not blaming the Reds at all for obtaining him and getting the production out of him that we did. As I stated earlier, we got a steal for him in the Henson deal.

    I'm blaming the Reds for mishandling Pena while we had him. The Reds knew his contract situation so they should have created an environment where Pena could play every day as soon as his contract stipulated that he had to be on the big club so his value increases even more. We could have gotten more production and more trade value for him, But both Bowden and O'Brien failed to create that environment, Pena's value suffers and our return today for him is questioned by several people.
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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792
    I'm not blaming the Reds at all for obtaining him and getting the production out of him that we did. As I stated earlier, we got a steal for him in the Henson deal.

    I'm blaming the Reds for mishandling Pena while we had him. The Reds knew his contract situation so they should have created an environment where Pena could play every day as soon as his contract stipulated that he had to be on the big club so his value increases even more. We could have gotten more production and more trade value for him, But both Bowden and O'Brien failed to create that environment, Pena's value suffers and our return today for him is questioned by several people.
    it ought to be impossible to criticize a team for getting so much production out of a player who, in A ball, seemed destined to go through waivers numerous times through the first 7-8 years of his career.

    when you develop such a raw talent in such a short span of time, congratulations are in order, not criticism.

    Find something that's actually wrong to grouse about. It isn't like it's so hard to find things that did go wrong.

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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    I agree (and said it at the time) that I would have liked to move Casey earlier. But,......

    Rem

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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton
    it ought to be impossible to criticize a team for getting so much production out of a player who, in A ball, seemed destined to go through waivers numerous times through the first 7-8 years of his career.

    when you develop such a raw talent in such a short span of time, congratulations are in order, not criticism.

    Find something that's actually wrong to grouse about. It isn't like it's so hard to find things that did go wrong.
    Pena hit 26 home runs in Dayton in 2001 and slugged .485 there as a 19-year-old. So far in his big league career, he's slugged .477. For that, congratulations are in order since he didn't wind up being a bust with zero big league production.

    But there's still plenty to grouse about that has a bearing on the entire Wily Mo Pena saga with the Reds, namely not trading Sean Casey after 2004 when Casey's stock was as high as it'll ever be other than 1999. I'm betting we get a better pitcher than Williams had that happened. I'm also betting we'd have a much firmer grasp on Wily Mo Pena had he played every day in 2005, including higher trade value on March 20th, 2006. Instead, Casey hangs around and is one more player in Pena's way for a regular job.

    One failed inaction of moving Casey after 2004 not only damaged Casey's value, but put a cap on Pena's value. We need to create a situation where when we trade players, we trade them at their peak value. We haven't been doing that, and today's trade is just another example.
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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    But there's still plenty to grouse about that has a bearing on the entire Wily Mo Pena saga with the Reds, namely not trading Sean Casey after 2004 when Casey's stock was as high as it'll ever be other than 1999. I'm betting we get a better pitcher than Williams had that happened. I'm also betting we'd have a much firmer grasp on Wily Mo Pena had he played every day in 2005, including higher trade value on March 20th, 2006. Instead, Casey hangs around and is one more player in Pena's way for a regular job.

    One failed inaction of moving Casey after 2004 not only damaged Casey's value, but put a cap on Pena's value. We need to create a situation where when we trade players, we trade them at their peak value. We haven't been doing that, and today's trade is just another example.
    This part is by far the best thing you've said in this thread. The recapping of the Pena saga was a good read, but I agree with Princeton otherwise.

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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792
    Pena hit 26 home runs in Dayton in 2001 and slugged .485 there as a 19-year-old. So far in his big league career, he's slugged .477. For that, congratulations are in order since he didn't wind up being a bust with zero big league production.
    exactly, and for all we know, had he gotten more exposure, he may have played even more confused than he actually did and actually had less value. I authored "challenge thy hitters" yet I have no problem with using an approach that obviously worked for WMP. It's not clear to me that someone who produced better in the majors than he did in the minors could have been handled any better.

    As for Casey, the problem was giving him a LTC, not failing to get more value for him. I never would have signed him. Once the LTC was signed, he had very little value.

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    Re: Reds front office mismanagement and the enigma of Wily Mo Pena

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton
    exactly, and for all we know, had he gotten more exposure, he may have played even more confused than he actually did and actually had less value. I authored "challenge thy hitters" yet I have no problem with using an approach that obviously worked for WMP. It's not clear to me that someone who produced better in the majors than he did in the minors could have been handled any better.

    As for Casey, the problem was giving him a LTC, not failing to get more value for him. I never would have signed him. Once the LTC was signed, he had very little value.
    I don't have many qualms with how the Reds handled Pena in 2003 and 2004, but last season was just a total fiasco. He slugged .527 in the majors in over 350 PA as a 22-year-old in 2004; the team's got to respond and create an environment for him to play regularly in 2005. Moving Casey last season would have created that environment, but the Reds didn't capitalize. Sure, there's always the chance of regression for Pena, but the breakout/improvement probability outweighed the regression. They've got to roll the dice, take the chance and play Pena regularly in 2005.

    All of this is an example of the short-sighted management we've seen with this club in recent seasons. The front office, at least previous regimes, believed we could compete every season, and it's just a domino effect of lousy decisions from there. I can't blame Krivsky at all for yesterday's deal; I think it's the best he could have gotten at this point for Pena. I just believe the Reds (mainly Dan O'Brien) shot themselves in the foot with Pena while we had him and capped the return Krivsky could get for him now.

    I definitely agree with the Casey LTC, and I wouldn't have signed him either. But the Reds were handed a mulligan after his 2004 season for that LTC mistake, and they blew the mulligan. It just parallels the same horrible decision-making that's also prevalent when we waste millions of dollars on useless players and draft high school pitchers in the first round of the draft.

    Bad teams are bad teams largely due to a conglomeration of bad decisions, and the Reds have been no different recently. Krivsky is trying to make positive deals, and I give a ton of credit to him for doing so, but the stench of O'Brien is going to linger and delay/hinder the positive contributions Krivsky does make.
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