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Thread: Reds Save Money on Bruce

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    No half measures, Walter RedEye's Avatar
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    Reds Save Money on Bruce

    According to this article, the Reds knew exactly what they were doing when they waited until May 27th to call up The Boss.

    Why wasn't Jay Bruce called up sooner?

    by Peter Bendix on May 27, 2008 8:00 AM EDT

    The Reds have announced that they are calling up Jay Bruce. Bruce is currently hitting .364/.393/.630 through 49 games in triple-A with ten homers, nine doubles, five triples, and eight steals. Sure, his K/BB ratio is a miserable 45/12 but even so: why hasn’t he been in the majors sooner?

    It certainly isn’t the fact that there is no room in the Reds’s outfield. Center fielder Corey Patterson is hitting a miserable .201/.242/.354, while right fielder Ken Griffey Jr is hitting .251/.338/.380. It certainly isn’t the fact that Bruce is too inexperienced: even though he’s only 21 years old, he dominated triple-A last season too, hitting 305/.358/.567 with 11 homers, 12 doubles, two triples and two steals in 50 games at triple-A (granted, with a 48/15 K/BB ratio).

    The reason Jay Bruce was not in the major leagues sooner boils down to one thing: money.

    Young players are important to teams because they are almost always underpaid. If a player has less than three years of service time, his salary is solely at the team’s discretion, so long as it is at least the league minimum. A player cannot become a free agent until he accumulates six years of service time. After three years, the player is eligible for arbitration. While arbitration usually means a raise for a player, players often do not receive as much money in arbitration as they would on the open market – and, furthermore, arbitration is only a one-year contract, thus lowering the risk for the team.

    Major league baseball players accumulate one year of service time by being on the 25-man roster for 172 days (not including the postseason). The major league season lasts between 178 and 183 days. Thus, by keeping a player in the minor leagues for one or two weeks in the beginning of the season, the team guarantees extending the player’s services for one whole year.

    Take, for example, Evan Longoria. By starting him in triple-A and calling him up April 12, the Rays guaranteed that Longoria would have approximately 0.9 years of service time at the end of this season. Thus, after the 2013 season, Longoria would only have 5.9 years of service time, and would still be under the Rays’s control for the 2014 season. If Longoria had started the season on the Rays’s roster, he would be a free agent after the 2013 season. (While this may seem moot because the Rays signed Longoria to a long-term deal, they still were able to save themselves money by keeping him in the minors for a week, thus increasing their leverage in long-term contract negotiations.)

    However, MLB has an interesting provision written into the collective bargaining agreement called “Super Two.” Most players have three seasons of pre-arbitration (where they can be paid whatever the team chooses to pay them, so long as it’s above league minimum), and three years of arbitration (and usually, players receive a raise from the previous year in the second and third year of arbitration). However, “Super Two” players become arbitration-eligible after two years of service, and thus have four years of arbitration, rather than three.

    According to MLB rules, Super Two players must meet two criteria: “(a) he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season; and (b) he ranks in the top seventeen percent (17&#37 (rounded to the nearest whole number) in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.”

    It is likely that major league teams keep track of service time for all players. Thus, they could make an estimated guess as to how to avoid having a player achieve super two status by keeping track of the service time of all other players. It is no coincidence, for example, that Jay Bruce is being called up on May 27; last season, Ryan Braun was not called up until May 25, although he too was mashing in triple-A.

    Is this worth it? Certainly, it’s worth it to keep a prospect in the minors for a week or two in April in order to extend his services one additional year (thus keeping him cost-controlled for nearly seven whole years). However, is it worth it to keep a prospect in the minors for two months in order to avoid his achieving super two status?

    This can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, but I argue in most cases – especially with top prospects – it is in the team’s best interest to avoid super two status. While arbitration still favors the team because it is only a one-year commitment and often pays the player less than he would receive on the open market, arbitration can still be very expensive for a team. For example, Ryan Howard – a super two player this year – will make a whopping $10 million in his first year of arbitration. Howard is likely to receive a raise in his subsequent three years of arbitration. Howard could realistically make at least $52 million in arbitration over four years – and perhaps even more.

    Thus, by waiting until now to call up Jay Bruce, the Reds likely ensure that Bruce will only be arbitration eligible for three years. Therefore, in 2011, Bruce will likely make the league minimum of approximately $450,000, rather than somewhere around $10 million. That’s a huge difference, and is well his spending two months in the minors in 2008. Additionally, the Reds are missing out on production of age-21 Jay Bruce for two months this season; in exchange, they are only going to paying age-24 Jay Bruce league minimum. As good as Bruce is likely to be this year, he’s going to be even better in three years.

    The Reds were right to keep Bruce in the minors until now. Their mistake was not finding a better stop-gap than Corey Patterson and his .295 career OBP.
    "Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

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  3. #2
    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    This is exactly what I kept reminding my fellow RedsZoners who naively found it incomprehensible that Bruce wasn't on the big club. We should put the phrase "it is in the team’s best interest to avoid super two status" in a FAQ somewhere.
    Last edited by Unassisted; 05-28-2008 at 07:59 PM.
    /r/reds

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    No half measures, Walter RedEye's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    The article spells out the reasons nicely. I think I finally understand something I only sort of understood yesterday.
    "Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

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    Member Highlifeman21's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Avoiding Super Two, and the fact that Bruce wasn't ready out of ST to make the big club are probably the 2 biggest reasons for yesterday being the date of his promotion.

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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    So, basically the Reds FO has decided the Reds really aren't competitive for the playoffs this season? After all, they could afford to keep Bruce in AAA even though they had a sucking black hole in CF/leading off.....
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    So, basically the Reds FO has decided the Reds really aren't competitive for the playoffs this season? .
    At least they got that right.

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    So, basically the Reds FO has decided the Reds really aren't competitive for the playoffs this season? After all, they could afford to keep Bruce in AAA even though they had a sucking black hole in CF/leading off.....

    Promoting Bruce now may be a way to keep the fans' minds off the poor record. It's like, "Well, we aren't going to win anything but come on out to the park and watch Jay Bruce."
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    Promoting Bruce now may be a way to keep the fans' minds off the poor record. It's like, "Well, we aren't going to win anything but come on out to the park and watch Jay Bruce."
    Oh ye of little faith... We are possibly one good Jocketty move from .500.

    Harang should be able to defeat Dumatrait tomorrow. (26-28)
    Volquez has a good chance of winning against anyone including Jurjens and the Braves on Friday. (27-28)
    The Braves will kill Belisle on Saturday, but if it's Maloney.... .500 is within reach. (28-28!)

    The key will be tomorrow's Louisville game in Columbus...if Maloney pitches the full game, we'll be stuck below .500 for a while longer. If he's pulled early or doesn't pitch at all, there is hope.

    "Okay you guys, pair up in threes!" --Yogi Berra

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    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    Promoting Bruce now may be a way to keep the fans' minds off the poor record. It's like, "Well, we aren't going to win anything but come on out to the park and watch Jay Bruce."
    Page out of the old Jim Bowden GM book there
    Go Gators!

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    post hype sleeper cincinnati chili's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Are the Reds sure they waited long enough to avoid super-two status?

    I'm not. Note that the Padres are still waiting to call up Chase Headley, in one of the most glaring examples of "service time games" in recent years. Headley was probably the team's best hitter coming out of spring training (a year after dominating double-a), and it was all but decided that he'd won a starting job with the club. The club then switched course the last couple days of spring training. I think it affected Headley's performance during April in the minor leagues to be jerked around like that.

    We won't know for sure until after the 2010 season. Nevertheless, when a player is dominating a level the way that Bruce was, I think it can be detrimental to play "service time games," and I think the Reds called him up at just the right time.
    ". . . acquiring J. Blanton from Oakland for, apparently, Bailey/Cueto, Votto and a lesser prospect. I do it in a second . . . The Reds' equation this year is simple: Make Matt Belisle your #3 starter . . . trade for Blanton, win 85 or more, be in the mix all summer." - Paul Daugherty, Feb. 8, 2008

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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    First of all, it's against the rules to wait to call up a player to prevent him from qualifying as a 'Super Two'. Second of all, there's still a decent chance he'll have enough service time to qualify as a 'Super Two'.

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    Captain Rounding Third's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    First of all, it's against the rules to wait to call up a player to prevent him from qualifying as a 'Super Two'. Second of all, there's still a decent chance he'll have enough service time to qualify as a 'Super Two'.
    The time of his callup was just a coincidence.

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    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    I'm aware of the whole contract rules thing and agree that it saves the Reds money on the payroll down the road. In this case though, I just don't see it is a justifiable savings. The savings is something like $6 Million in three years or so, discounted to current dollars, its less. That is money that will be frittered (I wanted to use another word here but frittered will do) away on scrubs of the Patterson, Castro, Fogg variety. Having the best team from the start of the season would easily make-up for that in attendance IMO. The Reds have had 2 black holes in the OF this year and an appearance by Bruce in late April may have helped stop the bleeding much sooner and might actually have had the team in the race and playing meaningful games in the summer. I wonder if the additional attendance this year (and the season ticket buzz contention creates for '09) would more than pay for that $6 Million.

    I'm all for saving money on the payroll when you can go cheaper to get the same results. That was most certainly not the case in the Reds OF. I concede that Bruce didn't knock the door down this spring, but by the end of April it was obvious that he was no worse than the second best OF on the 40 man roster (maybe the best with defense considered, but I have a hard time rating him ahead of Dunn at this point). I wonder what the standings would have looked like had he been called sooner and how much money was forfeited by the hole this team dug for itself without him.
    "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." --BABE RUTH

    Having better players makes "the right time" or "the big hit" happen a lot more often. PLUS PLUS

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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Also, in theory, a player with service time of 2.140 is due a much smaller paycheck than a player with 3.140 of service time. If he doesn't qualify as a super two, it just means he's likely to get a much bigger paycheck in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: Reds Save Money on Bruce

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    Also, in theory, a player with service time of 2.140 is due a much smaller paycheck than a player with 3.140 of service time. If he doesn't qualify as a super two, it just means he's likely to get a much bigger paycheck in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
    Right. Basically if that's the reason, it's nickel and diming in a climate where it's becoming more likely he'd get bought out and extended making the super 2 issue a moot one....
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner


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