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Thread: Next Moves?

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    Next Moves?

    I’ve long argued that the transition the Reds have been seeking to make—from a great offensive club to a pitching-and-defense team—is similar to the one the club made from 1987-1990.

    Well, no longer.

    There is very little offense left at this point, and what offense is left is young and emerging (i.e., unproven). That comp no longer applies. At this point, the team this one most reminds me of is the c. 1989-1990 Braves, with some interesting young offensive parts, lots of talented young pitching, and no defensive prowess to speak of. The Braves had 34 and 27 defensive win shares in 1989 and 1990, respectively, which is the hallmark of a bad defensive team.

    What happened to the Braves in 1991 is well-known at this point: they searched for defense, targeting Terry Pendleton at third, introducing Sid Bream at first, and inserting Mark Lemke at second on a part-time basis. The net effect was that the Braves sported the best defense in the NL (47.4 win shares) in 1991.

    What’s most interesting to me is the first of those three moves: Terry Pendleton. He was a GG-defender at third with a weak stick, coming off a mid-career lull. This is the exact type of move the Reds should be making in the offseason.

    Move 1: Move Encarnacion to LF, target a serious defensive upgrade at third
    Moving Votto to left is the wrong move. These moves toward the right of the defensive spectrum almost never work (remember the Kearns to 3B idea that lasted for, what, two days?).

    EdE already has the stick for LF (EdE OPS .808, ML LF average .795), and I believe he has the raw defensive skills to be an average defender, if not substantially better. My own assessment of his defense is that he has a strong arm, functional speed, and sufficient lateral quickness for third. But his footwork is not graceful, his arm slot is very inconsistent on throws, and he is more of a “thinker” than a “reactor” at third. Overall, a move to LF will mask his deficiencies and really highlight his strengths. He could really cover some decent ground out there and gun down a few runners. I think his offensive performance would likely improve, as well.

    So who to target as a replacement at third? My top three would be Adrian Beltre, Eric Chavez, and Joe Crede, in that order.

    Adrian Beltre’s offense has plateaued, yet his defense remains top notch. Seattle is in rebuilding mode, and 2009 will be Beltre’s last year of his contract at around $13M. With Dunn gone, the Reds will have the money. I think his offense would substantially improve with a move to GABP, and I don’t think the Reds will have to give up top-shelf talent to acquire him. He bats righthanded. He is the Terry Pendleton c. 1990, and the one that the Reds should target.

    Chavez is a bit dicier, given his shoulder surgery and likely 10/5 rights, but he has won six gold gloves. He represents an interesting target, with a distressed contract. It will be interesting to follow how his shoulder progresses and whether that requires a move off of third. If so, the A’s will be looking to dump him, as I don’t think the A’s are moving Daric Barton or Cust defensively if Eric Chavez is forced to move off of third. [Clearly, he isn’t really interesting to the Reds if he can’t play third.] He has two years left on his 6 yr/$66M contract, plus a $12.5M option.

    Joe Crede has put up some good defensive years, but his bat scares me, and he will be an expensive free agent. This free agent class looks ugly (http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2007/1...lb-free-a.html), and he would be my move of last resort at third.

    Hank Blalock has fallen off the map, but if his option isn’t exercised (doubtful), he could be another target.

    Move 2: Target defense, speed, and OBP in centerfield
    You’re probably thinking. . . Good luck in getting all three of those in one player without breaking the bank. And I agree. There is no hope on the free agent market, in case you are wondering.

    Will Coco Crisp still available? He brings defense and speed, although no consistent OBP.

    If Dusty insists on batting his CFer in the leadoff spot, the Reds need some OBP from that position. The Reds could move someone like Ray Durham from second to CF.

    Ultimately, the Reds must get creative with this position and will probably need to take some calculated risks.

    Any other suggestions for CF?

    Move 3: Move Homer Bailey to the bullpen
    The Reds need to follow the Bobby Jenks/Eric Gagne model with this guy, pronto. I don’t doubt that Bailey would be a lights out bullpen arm, health caveats aside. He doesn’t have the repertoire or the head to start right now, so the Reds need to maximize the benefits he can bring to the team.

    Overall
    I fully expect to see organic improvement from the likes of Bruce, Votto, and EdE in 2009, and perhaps bounce-back years from Gonzalez, Freel, and Keppinger. The pitching staff has young talent with Ks up the wazoo, and a newly improved defense will help them to mature and grow. Harang and Arroyo will likely return to form.

    Defensively, these moves leave the Reds average or better defensively at all positions, with the exception of catcher and perhaps SS. But a Beltre or healthy Chavez would cover for the shortcomings of the SS, like Pendleton did for Blauser in 1991.

    Overall, I think these moves will accelerate the improvement of the team. And it will enable the transition to a pitching-and-defense squad.
    Last edited by D-Man; 08-17-2008 at 03:50 PM.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Get two starters (cf. Cardinals). Talk about "pitch to contact." There's not a single strikeout pitcher among the Cardinals' starters. Not one. Nor is there a lefty.

    This is what DanO meant when he said "pitch to contact." Trouble is, he brought on pitchers who "pitched to HR."

    The Reds starters have struck out God, Oz, the Universe, and Timmy from Passions. But they suck.

    What gives?

    Are the current Cardinals exploiting the market for unsexy, strike-throwing, healthy starters?
    Last edited by Falls City Beer; 08-17-2008 at 03:56 PM.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    [QUOTE=D-Man;1724886]

    Move 1: Move Encarnacion to LF, target a serious defensive upgrade at third
    Moving Votto to left is the wrong move. These moves toward the right of the defensive spectrum almost never work (remember the Kearns to 3B idea that lasted for, what, two days?).

    EdE already has the stick for LF (EdE OPS .808, ML LF average .795), and I believe he has the raw defensive skills to be an average defender, if not substantially better. My own assessment of his defense is that he has a strong arm, functional speed, and sufficient lateral quickness for third. But his footwork is not graceful, his arm slot is very inconsistent on throws, and he is more of a “thinker” than a “reactor” at third. Overall, a move to LF will mask his deficiencies and really highlight his strengths.

    [QUOTE]

    Always good to read these thoughtful comments about how to improve the Reds. IMO, if EE can't play third base he should be traded and Votto is a better choice for left field.

    OPS is a good shortcut statistic, but it is imperfect. EE's .808 OPS doesn't really tell the full story. I think EE is far more valuable as an infielder.

    This year EE is a BB/HR guys with a sub-.250 BA. And 13 of his 22 homers are at GABP. Do the Reds want low BA hitters in the outfield? Again?

    I like Votto's consistency and would try him in left. As for EE, if the Reds aren't able to upgrade third base this off season, I'd keep him at third and give it one more shot.
    Last edited by Kc61; 08-17-2008 at 04:11 PM.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    Get two starters (cf. Cardinals). Talk about "pitch to contact." There's not a single strikeout pitcher among the Cardinals' starters. Not one. Nor is there a lefty.

    This is what DanO meant when he said "pitch to contact." Trouble is, he brought on pitchers who "pitched to HR."

    The Reds starters have struck out God, Oz, the Universe, and Timmy from Passions. But they suck.

    What gives?

    Are the current Cardinals exploiting the market for unsexy, strike-throwing, healthy starters?
    Pitch to contact is entirely predicated on the defense, not the pitchers themselves. In fact, it really confuses the issue. It's not about pitching to contact, it's about throwing strikes.

    The best pitchers in baseball, to a man, strike out a good number of hitters. They also don't walk many hitters. The pitchers with the lowest ERA also have a great defense behind them. But that's not something any pitcher can control.

    If you can't get guys out while throwing strikes, then you aren't going to be a good major league pitcher. Develop good stuff and throw it for strikes. If you do that, you're going to have some contact. But a ball in play is much better than ball 4.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Pitch to contact is entirely predicated on the defense, not the pitchers themselves. In fact, it really confuses the issue. It's not about pitching to contact, it's about throwing strikes.

    The best pitchers in baseball, to a man, strike out a good number of hitters. They also don't walk many hitters. The pitchers with the lowest ERA also have a great defense behind them. But that's not something any pitcher can control.

    If you can't get guys out while throwing strikes, then you aren't going to be a good major league pitcher. Develop good stuff and throw it for strikes. If you do that, you're going to have some contact. But a ball in play is much better than ball 4.
    True. So we know why the Cards' starters are doing well: their defense and their ability to avoid damage via the walk.

    But K pitchers on this staff should be getting better results, right? Since they don't need their defense as much?

    Why have the Reds' starters sucked (aside from the poor defense)?

    The Reds are 2nd in MLB in strikeouts, but 26th in team ERA. How often does that happen? And why?
    Last edited by Falls City Beer; 08-17-2008 at 04:13 PM.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Trade some of those Ks for premier defense?

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    True. So we know why the Cards' starters are doing well: their defense and their ability to avoid damage via the walk.

    But K pitchers on this staff should be getting better results, right? Since they don't need their defense as much?

    Why have the Reds' starters sucked (aside from the poor defense)?
    Pretty straight forward. First some background performance:

    Code:
    	IP	K/9	BB/9	HR/9	H/9	LD%	BABIP	ERA	FIP	LOB%
    Volquez	144.7	9.1	4.1	0.6	 7.8	19.5	.305	2.90	3.53	76.5
    Cueto	145.0	8.4	3.3	1.6	 9.3	21.4	.311	4.90	4.81	71.6
    Arroyo	143.7	7.8	3.1	1.1	10.5	25.0	.340	5.51	4.67	67.8
    Harang	130.3	7.9	2.6	1.8	10.6	23.9	.336	5.59	4.77	69.4
    Volquez has pitched very well, built on the strength of a very high K/9 and very low HR/9. His low hit rate is largely the result of his low(er) LD%.

    Cueto has struggled due to high walk and HR rates.

    Arroyo has struggled due to a moderately high walk rate and a bad case of Belisleitis -- too many mediocre pitches over the heart of the plate. These are likely due to the same underlying cause -- a deficit of command.

    Harang has struggled due to a ridiculous HR rate and a moderate case of Belisleitis, in his case apparently due to a loss of velocity and some command (balls up in the zone), perhaps stemming from a fatigued/injured shoulder.

    As you can see, both Arroyo and Harang have ERAs significantly higher than their FIP. That problem is almost always paired with a low LOB% -- symptomatic of high hit and HR rates, one of which is clearly influenced by the defense. Cueto's high LOB% is a result of his high K rate, low HR rate, and the fact that a large number of his base runners are coming from walks, and thus likely to be further away from home.

    All else being equal, high K/9 pitchers will have much more success. But unfortunately, things haven't been equal for Harang, Arroyo and Cueto. They've struggled in other areas of the game, and particularly with Harang and Arroyo, their hit rates have killed them -- and that's no doubt been exacerbated by the inability of the Reds defense to help offset the amount of hard contact they've given up.

    It's interesting, as you look at the 3 factors of FIP, K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 -- the three things most under the pitcher's control. If you're above average at all 3, you're a Cy Young kind of guy. 2 of 3 and you're a solid to above average starter. 1 of 3 and you're a middle to back of the rotation type. 0 of 3 and you don't belong in the majors. Sure, it's a bit crude as the scale of how much above or below average matters too, but it's surprisingly accurate.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 08-17-2008 at 04:40 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Trade Harang for a bat and a big-time glove at a primarily defensive position?

    But that will require Aaron to show some improvement between now and the end of September.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Pretty straight forward. First some background performance:

    Code:
    	IP	K/9	BB/9	HR/9	H/9	LD%	BABIP	ERA	FIP	LOB%
    Volquez	144.7	9.1	4.1	0.6	 7.8	19.5	.305	2.90	3.53	76.5
    Cueto	145.0	8.4	3.3	1.6	 9.3	21.4	.311	4.90	4.81	71.6
    Arroyo	143.7	7.8	3.1	1.1	10.5	25.0	.340	5.51	4.67	67.8
    Harang	130.3	7.9	2.6	1.8	10.6	23.9	.336	5.59	4.77	69.4
    Volquez has pitched very well, built on the strength of a very high K/9 and very low HR/9. His low hit rate is largely the result of his low(er) LD%.

    Cueto has struggled due to high walk and HR rates.

    Arroyo has struggled due to a moderately high walk rate and a bad case of Belisleitis -- too many mediocre pitches over the heart of the plate. These are likely due to the same underlying cause -- a deficit of command.

    Harang has struggled due to a ridiculous HR rate and a moderate case of Belisleitis, in his case apparently due to a loss of velocity and some command (balls up in the zone), perhaps stemming from a fatigued/injured shoulder.

    As you can see, both Arroyo and Harang have ERAs significantly higher than their FIP. That problem is almost always paired with a low LOB% -- symptomatic of high hit and HR rates, one of which is clearly influenced by the defense. Cueto's high LOB% is a result of his high K rate, low HR rate, and the fact that a large number of his base runners are coming from walks, and thus likely to be further away from home.

    All else being equal, high K/9 pitchers will have much more success. But unfortunately, things haven't been equal for Harang, Arroyo and Cueto. They've struggled in other areas of the game, and particularly with Harang and Arroyo, their hit rates have killed them -- and that's no doubt been exacerbated by the inability of the Reds defense to help offset the amount of hard contact they've given up.

    It's interesting, as you look at the 3 factors of FIP, K/9, BB/9, and HR/9 -- the three things most under the pitcher's control. If you're above average at all 3, you're a Cy Young kind of guy. 2 of 3 and you're a solid to above average starter. 1 of 3 and you're a middle to back of the rotation type. 0 of 3 and you don't belong in the majors. Sure, it's a bit crude as the scale of how much above or below average matters too, but it's surprisingly accurate.
    That largely tells me *how* Harang, Arroyo, and Cueto have stunk this year. But what about the *why?*

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Cueto has from from stunk. Put a better defense behind him and his ERA would be much better IMO.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    That largely tells me *how* Harang, Arroyo, and Cueto have stunk this year. But what about the *why?*
    I think the why is OF defense creating too many runners and extra pitches and the resulting cumulative fatigue (and not just from 2008) leading to a general loss of effectiveness and bad habits for long stretches. I think the root cause has been largely fixed if the damage isn't permanent. Sadly, I don't see enough offense without Dunn. Letting Griffey go, moving Bruce to RF and getting a real flychaser in CF would have been enough to fix the OF defense IMO. Letting Dunn go should help more, but now the offense is too iffy IMO.
    "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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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    Cueto has from from stunk. Put a better defense behind him and his ERA would be much better IMO.
    Maybe. But he still gave up a bunch of dingers.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    That largely tells me *how* Harang, Arroyo, and Cueto have stunk this year. But what about the *why?*
    Heh, that's the million dollar question I suppose. Ask Dick Pole. It's got to be one (or more) of health, mechanics, or approach, right?

    Fixing the OF defense will help, but if Harang and Arroyo continue to allow a high LD%, and if Cueto and Harang continue to give up HR at their current pace, they're going to continue to struggle.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Next Moves?

    I'm saying the best bet is for Aaron to figure it out in the next 7-8 starts to end the season, then trade him. He's still young, and his contract is medium risk, high reward.

    I'm guessing a team like the Braves would love to acquire a guy like Harang. What kind of defenders/bats do they have?

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    Re: Next Moves?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Heh, that's the million dollar question I suppose. Ask Dick Pole. It's got to be one (or more) of health, mechanics, or approach, right?

    Fixing the OF defense will help, but if Harang and Arroyo continue to allow a high LD%, and if Cueto and Harang continue to give up HR at their current pace, they're going to continue to struggle.
    Don't you think fatigue from all those extra pitches and extended innings plays into that? Fatigued arms lose their slot, lose their release point, pitches aren't "finished" and a host of other things. The biggest risk of course is falling into poor mechanics and getting injured. I hope that hasn't happened with Harang.

    I've seen tons of routine fly balls fall in for base hits this year (especially in RF). I'd bet if those were converted the line drive rate would drop as well.
    "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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