Then there's the matter of "fixing" this team's infield defense, which Krivsky and company have been quick to play up as a major motivator in the deal. Whatever Felipe Lopez's virtues, reliable-enough fielding isn't considered to be one of them, and after a brief experience with Juan Castro as the slick-fielding alternative to Lopez, Krivsky had reached that inevitable truth, that he needs to find a better player than Juan Castro. But instead of settling for an offense-defense platoon of Castro and Lopez, he had to go out and get himself a bona fide major league shortstop. Unfortunately, he may feel 'bona fide' might have something to do with ossification, because to replace Lopez (and Castro), he's added an unrepentently bad old shortstop. There are a few nice things to say about Royce Clayton: he's always been considered a steady defender and a gamer. He's a fine bunter, and a solid baserunner. He's also somebody Krivsky should have remembered as part of the reason why the White Sox fell behind the Twins team he was working for in 2001-02, because he's a effectively a zero at the plate, especially nowadays:
Season AVG/ OBP/ SLG TrAVG/ OBP/ SLG EqA VORP
2003 .228/.301/.333 .226/.301/.333 .227 -4.1
2004 .279/.338/.337 .261/.320/.370 .245 10.1
2005 .270/.320/.351 .263/.315/.345 .238 6.7
2006 .269/.315/.348 .270/.319/.348 .240 3.0
TrAVG/OBP/SLG is translated averages for all time. For more on this, go here. So, what those numbers tell us is that despite playing in three of the games best places to hit in the previous three seasons--Milwaukee, Colorado, and Arizona--Clayton isn't a hitter who's doing to do much with his environment, however friendly. There isn't any reason to expect him to suddenly bust out as a result of his leaving the thick air of RFK for the toybox dimensions of the GA(B)P. Since Lopez had a Value Over Replacement of 16.7 this season, you're talking about the difference of maybe three wins lost in the standings to Clayton's bat over the course of a full season.
So whatever good he's supposed to do should all be on defense, and that's where Clayton shines, right? Except even there, there isn't much of a suggestion that Clayton's the defensive asset he once was. Looking at his Runs Above Average, and you've got a player who hasn't been helping much: -20 in three years spread across 352 "Adjusted Games", against Lopez's -25 spread across 260 similarly-adjusted games in the last three sesaons. Better, but still not good, and this year, it's down to Clayton's -7 runs in 81 Adjusted Games to Lopez's -8 in 82. Given that Lopez might be worth thirty runs or more at the plate, you've given up three wins in this portion of the deal. Also keep in mind that our metrics aren't the only ones that suggest that Clayton's not a defensive asset--Relative Range, Revised Zone Rating, Plus/Minus, Range Factor, they all suggest the same thing, which is that Clayton's not a valuable defender. Castro, though, probably is. Even while acknowledging that there is no perfect metric to evaluate defense, when they all suggest a guy's not very good, and even scouts will acknowledge the guy's lost a step, that's more than enough smoke to suggest that the house is on fire. So what's the point of acquiring an offensive zero who needs a defensive replacement, when you had an offensive asset who needed a defensive replacement? None of the Reds' starting pitchers is an extreme groundball pitcher, so they don't depend on a quality shortstop the way that groundball-reliant aces like Brandon Webb or Derek Lowe might.