I didn't like the trade when it was done. I didn't like it a month later and now after reading this I realize that I hate it. I can't imagine BoBC likes reading this kind of stuff.
There's no joy in Cincinnati
posted: Monday, September 18, 2006 | Print Entry
After dropping two of three to the NL's worst team this weekend, the Reds' shot at the playoffs has dwindled enough that we can call their season a wrap. And perhaps it's time to take a look back at the trade that, in its own way, sealed their back at the end of the All-Star break: the surrender of Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to Washington for two middle relievers.
The Reds were 45-44 at the time and considered playoff contenders in the wild-card and divisional races, even though they'd been outscored on the season by 15 runs at the time. But they'd had problems with run prevention, both in the rotation and bullpen (including more than a few late-game failures), so GM Wayne Krivsky -- already being hailed in some quarters for the trade of Wily Mo Peña for Bronson Arroyo and his pickup of Brandon Phillips -- decided to deal about forty percent of his offense for some bullpen help. The idea was that the Reds would take the extra playing time and give it to super-sub Ryan Freel and to minor leaguer Chris Denorfia, as well as to newly acquired Royce Clayton, who would ... I don't know, make a mean mojito for those post-victory parties in the clubhouse. Or something.
The move failed. At the time of the deal, the Reds had scored 448 runs in 89 games, a rate of 5.03 runs per game, good for fourth-best in the National League (unadjusted for ballpark). Since the deal, the Reds have scored 255 runs in 59 games, a rate of 4.32 runs per game, "good" for 14th-best (that is, third worst) in the National League. Only the Brewers and Pirates have been more inept offensively than the Reds since the Kearns-Lopez deal.
Meanwhile, Kearns and Lopez have both hit well for Washington since the trade, including a marked improvement in their OBPs. Kearns has hit .250/.374/.423 with the Nationals, while Lopez has hit .294/.378/.385. Among Reds hitters, only Rich Aurilia and Edwin Encarnacion have posted higher OBPs than Kearns and Lopez since the trade went down, and both Clayton and Phillips have posted OBPs below .300.
The Reds did get two pitchers back in the deal. Bill Bray has a great arm and has a good long-term outlook, but counting on a rookie reliever to contribute to a contending club over a three-month span is not sensible, and he's been so-so since the deal, albeit a major improvement over Chris Hammond and Brian Shackelford, whom the Reds had been using as their lefty relievers. He's been a lot better than the other reliever the Reds acquired -- Gary Majewski made a few horrible appearances and went on the DL with shoulder trouble, which the Reds are claiming they didn't know about. I guess they don't read the papers; here's a May 8 article from the Washington Post that says the Nats had diagnosed tendonitis in Majewski's right shoulder. No one can argue that the Nationals hid Majewski's injury, since it was in the papers. Caveat emptor, kids.
The Reds may still have missed the playoffs even if Krivsky had kept Kearns and Lopez, since they weren't a great team before the trade and had been horrible in 2005. But at this point, there can be no question that the trade hurt the Reds' chances to make the playoffs, and if they miss the wild card by one or two games, Reds fans will know why.