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Thread: It's never going to be perfect

  1. #1
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    It's never going to be perfect

    Back in 1999 there was an argument that ran around prior to the season about whether the Reds should go for it or rebuild.

    Obviously they went for it and came painfully close to getting it. I maintain they'd have been a bear in a multi-game playoff, probably the toughest matchup for the Yankees of any of the NL contenders that season (though I don't think any team could have beaten the Yankees in 1999).

    Yet prior to the season and during the first month while the team came together, much of the discussion was about its flaws, not its strengths. It wasn't a perfect team, nor was it guaranteed to win. Yet it became clear the club had quality offense, defense, depth, speed and relief pitching. Once it pieced together enough starting pitching it started winning games in large numbers. Its strengths remained through 2000, but the starting pitching wasn't up to the job. Then it went from being a flawed team that worked to a more flawed team didn't. Subsequent reload/rebuild efforts haven't netted positive results.

    The mythology around the 99-00 is that it was a fluke and that the Reds should have gutted the club before it ever got constructed. Yet they were generally as good as the 05-06 Tigers and I don't see anyone damning that club. The Reds were good in 99-00, if not quite good enough. The lesson isn't that they were flawed, but that they managed their flaws fairly well.

    That's what good teams do.

    Look at the current world champions. The Phillies are a seriously flawed club. They've got holes in the lineup, holes in the rotation, depth issues and a bullpen with more than a few suspects. For instance, their top two power hitters, Howard and Burrell, are extremely streaky and their leadoff hitter has never posted a seasonal OB of better than .349.

    And you don't have to look to spot the flaws on the 2006 Cardinals, 2005 White Sox, 2003 Marlins and 2002 Angels.

    Likewise the 2008 Rays, 2007 Rockies, 2006 Tigers, 2005 Astros and 2002 Giants were deeply flawed clubs, but all made the final dance.

    You can be good and flawed. Very few teams rank at the top of the league across the board and have bulletproof 1-8 or 1-9 lineups.

    What the Reds are aiming for is a club that works around its flaws. Maybe your 2B isn't a great OB guy, but do his power, speed and glove make him a guy that could be an important piece of a winning club? You can trade vets for kids forever, but sooner or later you've got to settle on some players who may be imperfect, but are still important. I'm not saying Brandon Phillips must be kept, but the question should be asked whether he's potentially a meaningful piece of a quality ballclub.

    And "quality ballclub" is a key phrase. Traditionalists frequently make the mistake that chemistry and playing the game the right way are all that's necessary to get a quality ballclub. Statheads often forget that orthagonal and seemingly secondary moves are what transforms a club from a loser to a winner. Magic bullets don't exist in either realm.

    As the Reds try to stitch together a better team, the assessment that really counts is what does this add, how does it combine with what else the team has and what more does the team need to arrive at "quality ballclub" status.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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  3. #2
    BobC, get a legit F.O.! Mario-Rijo's Avatar
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    And "quality ballclub" is a key phrase. Traditionalists frequently make the mistake that chemistry and playing the game the right way are all that's necessary to get a quality ballclub. Statheads often forget that orthagonal and seemingly secondary moves are what transforms a club from a loser to a winner. Magic bullets don't exist in either realm.
    I don't wanna get off of your point here but I think that this should be addressed. I think it's a common misconception that "Traditionalists" believe that's all you need is chemistry and approach. I think it's often overstated by the aforementioned community (if you will) because it's believed to be nearly as critical to success as talent but gets thrown by the wayside as not neccessary, at least seemingly. Everyone knows you need talent but with a careful eye towards chemistry, approach and balance.
    "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    And "quality ballclub" is a key phrase. Traditionalists frequently make the mistake that chemistry and playing the game the right way are all that's necessary to get a quality ballclub. Statheads often forget that orthagonal and seemingly secondary moves are what transforms a club from a loser to a winner. Magic bullets don't exist in either realm.
    This has been the area of greatest transformation in my thinking over the last year or so.

    The concept that small improvements at the fringes of the roster can make big improvements was sort of a light-bulb moment. It's when I realized the number of at bats going to sub-repalcement level players that it became obvious that a savy GM could make a lot of less than sexy moves that would make a good team great. The classic example is replacing Corey Patterson sub-replacement level play with just a run nutral player to achieve a big improvement.

    Along the same lines, those secondary moves can make a winning team a loser too (or at least be a drag). Freel like contracts can be an anchor that effects the team in unrealized ways.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate

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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Excellent post M2. I still think to this day that the Reds would've won the NL pennant in 1999 if they had made the playoffs. That team was special. I constantly find myself thinking if only they hadn't blown that 6-0 lead against the Giants in the second game of the season, or if they had only held that 9-4 lead in the 7th inning in Cleveland, or if only Scott Williamson could have held that 3-1 lead in the 8th inning in Milwaukee. Just won more win and there wouldn't have been a one game playoff.

    I consider myself an optimist, but I truly believe the 2009 Reds can put together a good season with the right moves. Obviously plenty of things have to go right (like Dickerson developing into a solid CF option, Bruce and Cueto improving, the return of Harang) and Jocketty needs to add a few key players (Beltre at 3rd? EdE to LF? and find a shortstop and another catcher). I don't think anyone expected the 1999 Reds to win 96 games. I know a lot of people will disagree, but I think the 2009 Reds will be much improved as long as Jocketty improves the defense and adds another bat. They won't win 96 games but they should be better.
    Last edited by OnBaseMachine; 11-14-2008 at 04:10 PM.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    I consider myself an optimist

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    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by BRM View Post
    Except in game threads.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

  8. #7
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Good post, M2. There's a lot to be said for the value of simply not shooting yourself in the foot. Very few teams are truly "great". The differences between a 90 win playoff team and an 78 win also-ran can often be the sum of a number of small choices combined with a bit of luck.

    A few hundred less Corey Patterson PA, a few more Dunn batting 3rd and BP batting 6th, a bit of EE leaning to set his feet. Talent is certainly determinant #1, but good management on the fringes of the roster and in the dugout can add up quickly.

    - Don't waste PA on guys who provided sub-replacement production except late in the game when those players are being used as defensive replacements to protect a lead.
    - Don't give away outs to score a run in the first few innings of a game where you normally need to score 4 or more to win.
    - Don't push your starters to max effort every single time out
    - Pay attention to platoon splits
    - Maximize the PA of the guys who produce the most
    - Don't pay millions to replicate the production you're likely to get for "free" from a guy who just needs the opportunity
    - Realize that winning is not about "good pitching" or "good hitting" -- particularly not as represented by any statistic like ERA or AVG. It's about scoring more runs than you allow. That's some combination of offense, defense, and pitching. They all count and being very poor at any one of them is a virtual guarantee that you aren't playoff bound.

    This stuff isn't rocket science. But few teams this side of the Bronx have enough talent to overcome the accumulated impact of frequent minor mistakes.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 11-14-2008 at 04:24 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.

  9. #8
    Brett William Moore Will M's Avatar
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    What a small market team like the Reds should do:

    1. have a farm system that continually cranks out major league players. Not just stars but decent position players, role/bench players, BOR starters & middle relievers. young players don't cost a lot of money which is key.
    just look at guys who are expected to be role players in 2009 and ask what they would get if they were free agents (Hanigan, Dickerson, Masset,etc). a LOT more than $400-500K.

    2. get two TOR starters, two late inning relievers & three stud position players. then try to fill in the rest on the cheap. this is what the Cardinals did for years.

    3. build a quality defensive team, especially up the middle.
    .

  10. #9
    BobC, get a legit F.O.! Mario-Rijo's Avatar
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    All that above stated i'd say we have some quality offensive pieces and we have some quality arms, probably not enough of either but some. What we don't yet have and haven't for some time is enough good defense. I can live with a bad throw from EE once a week for the time being, I'd prefer not to but I can. I can live with waiting for Bruce to come around in RF and Votto to continue to refine his at 1st. I can even live with a nuetral defender in LF.

    What I can't live with is porous defense up the middle and whoever is acquired to start behind the plate must bring that to the table, of course Hanigan can at least do that ok so worst comes to worst we have someone capable and isn't awful offensively. Dickerson should be a solid option in CF so we should be ok there and of course BP is fine at 2B. The black hole on this team continues to be SS where we have no current options which register as fine.

    Offensively I believe that we need an added better solution at the top of the lineup. Whenever we get on base we tend to score runs so we need something close to a #1 or 2 hitter. Dickerson is fine but the only 2 options besides him that we have to bat up there is Hairston and Keppinger neither of which anyone wants playing everyday and neither of which is actually ideal OB types. They are passable up there but them coming off the bench for that would make it much more palatable.

    It's for those reasons plus his team circumstances that I have been of the mind to p/u Macier Izturis. I think he's the one guy who could be obtainable that could at least be passable offensively and defensively for what we need. And of course the price wouldn't be absorbitant.

    As far as pitching I think we are close but could really use someone who could get LHH's out late in games. And it would be nice to have at least one more dependable power arm in the mix. We also are a starter away obviously and preferably a LHP.

    So at minimum we need a good all around SS & C, a couple of BP arms, 1 more solid starter and more than anything else much, much better coaching/managing.
    "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

    --Woody Hayes

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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    And "quality ballclub" is a key phrase. Traditionalists frequently make the mistake that chemistry and playing the game the right way are all that's necessary to get a quality ballclub. Statheads often forget that orthagonal and seemingly secondary moves are what transforms a club from a loser to a winner. Magic bullets don't exist in either realm.
    Very nicely put.

    As the Reds try to stitch together a better team, the assessment that really counts is what does this add, how does it combine with what else the team has and what more does the team need to arrive at "quality ballclub" status.
    This is why the team needs to gather as much information as it can about the current trade market. What are all the names out there? If you aren't talking to many teams, aren't listening on a lot of players, you're curtailing your options and limiting ways to think creatively. (This is the context in which I like the additions to the FO of formerly high ranking guys -- they have information about other teams that Jocketty doesn't.)

    Maybe your 2B isn't a great OB guy, but do his power, speed and glove make him a guy that could be an important piece of a winning club? You can trade vets for kids forever, but sooner or later you've got to settle on some players who may be imperfect, but are still important. I'm not saying Brandon Phillips must be kept, but the question should be asked whether he's potentially a meaningful piece of a quality ballclub.
    In the end, it depends on what someone is willing to give up for him. I love BP, but 2nd basemen are a lot easier to find than quality arms, catchers or shortstops. Valaika is almost ready -- Jocketty has a well-established history of filling 2B with vets on 1-year deals or youngsters -- is BP on the ejector seat? Maybe as soon as now, the question of how BP "fits" into a winning ballclub will have more to do with his salary than his intriguing skillset.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

  12. #11
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Good post, M2. There's a lot to be said for the value of simply not shooting yourself in the foot. Very few teams are truly "great". The differences between a 90 win playoff team and an 78 win also-ran can often be the sum of a number of small choices combined with a bit of luck.

    A few hundred less Corey Patterson PA, a few more Dunn batting 3rd and BP batting 6th, a bit of EE leaning to set his feet. Talent is certainly determinant #1, but good management on the fringes of the roster and in the dugout can add up quickly.

    - Don't waste PA on guys who provided sub-replacement production except late in the game when those players are being used as defensive replacements to protect a lead.
    - Don't give away outs to score a run in the first few innings of a game where you normally need to score 4 or more to win.
    - Don't push your starters to max effort every single time out
    - Pay attention to platoon splits
    - Maximize the PA of the guys who produce the most
    - Don't pay millions to replicate the production you're likely to get for "free" from a guy who just needs the opportunity
    - Realize that winning is not about "good pitching" or "good hitting" -- particularly not as represented by any statistic like ERA or AVG. It's about scoring more runs than you allow. That's some combination of offense, defense, and pitching. They all count and being very poor at any one of them is a virtual guarantee that you aren't playoff bound.


    This stuff isn't rocket science. But few teams this side of the Bronx have enough talent to overcome the accumulated impact of frequent minor mistakes.

  13. #12
    I hate the Cubs LoganBuck's Avatar
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Good post, M2. There's a lot to be said for the value of simply not shooting yourself in the foot. Very few teams are truly "great". The differences between a 90 win playoff team and an 78 win also-ran can often be the sum of a number of small choices combined with a bit of luck.

    A few hundred less Corey Patterson PA, a few more Dunn batting 3rd and BP batting 6th, a bit of EE leaning to set his feet. Talent is certainly determinant #1, but good management on the fringes of the roster and in the dugout can add up quickly.

    - Don't waste PA on guys who provided sub-replacement production except late in the game when those players are being used as defensive replacements to protect a lead.
    - Don't give away outs to score a run in the first few innings of a game where you normally need to score 4 or more to win.
    - Don't push your starters to max effort every single time out
    - Pay attention to platoon splits
    - Maximize the PA of the guys who produce the most
    - Don't pay millions to replicate the production you're likely to get for "free" from a guy who just needs the opportunity
    - Realize that winning is not about "good pitching" or "good hitting" -- particularly not as represented by any statistic like ERA or AVG. It's about scoring more runs than you allow. That's some combination of offense, defense, and pitching. They all count and being very poor at any one of them is a virtual guarantee that you aren't playoff bound.

    This stuff isn't rocket science. But few teams this side of the Bronx have enough talent to overcome the accumulated impact of frequent minor mistakes.
    To add to the main points.

    Winning === Chemistry don't try to pay for it.

    I hate the terms "winner", "gamer", "gritty", and "plays the game the right way". Very few players step out of the batting box and run to third. Avoid boneheads, but don't over value the attribute.

    People hated Adam Dunn for his laid back image and attitude. On a winning team he would be praised as a level headed player who never gets too excited and keeps it real. On a poor team he was a slacker in the eyes of many.
    The Sox traded Bullfrog the only player they've got for Shottenhoffen. Four-eyes Shottenhoffen a utility infielder. They've got a whole team of utility infielders.

  14. #13
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    It may never be perfect but the Reds aren't really very close.

    The problem is not so much with the stars. I think there are potential stars on the team with Bruce and Votto. Cordero and Harang in a given year can pitch like star pitchers. Volquez is close. Alonso may be a star coming up. Phillips won the Gold Glove, he's a star defender and a borderline star for second base.

    The problem is more with the non-stars, the "infrastructure" guys. The third baseman has a .930 Fielding pct. The fifth starter's slot had a 7 plus ERA. The most important defensive position, shortstop, lacks defense. There is no solid experienced catcher. The stopgap centerfielder last year was OBP challenged.

    The only additional star this team needs is a righty bat who can put some fear in opposing pitchers. Other than that, it's simply a matter of getting solid players who field their positions and hit around .270, and a few depth pitchers who can keep their ERA in reasonable territory.
    Last edited by Kc61; 11-14-2008 at 06:13 PM.

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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Kc61 View Post
    It may never be perfect but the Reds aren't really very close.

    The problem is not so much with the stars. I think there are potential stars on the team with Bruce and Votto. Cordero and Harang in a given year can pitch like star pitchers. Alonso may be a star coming up. Phillips won the Gold Glove, he's a star defender and a borderline star for second base.

    The problem is more with the non-stars, the "infrastructure" guys. The third baseman has a .930 Fielding pct. The fifth starter's slot had a 7 plus ERA. The most important defensive position, shortstop, lacks defense. There is no solid experienced catcher. The stopgap centerfielder last year was OBP challenged.

    The only additional star this team needs is a righty bat who can put some fear in opposing pitchers. Other than that, it's simply a matter of getting solid players who field their positions and hit around .270, and a few depth pitchers who can keep their ERA in reasonable territory.
    Yeah, but those guys are easier to fix, even if you have to find 5 of them.
    When people say that I donít know what Iím talking about when it comes to sports or writing, I think: Man, you should see me in the rest of my life.
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    Re: It's never going to be perfect

    The 1999 Reds were seriously under rated IMO.

    Their "Team Defensive Efficiency" (BABIP Against) was a major's best .275. The second best team was a distant .293, a huge gap.

    Compare that with 2008, where it was second last at .327. That's a .052 difference, a huge gap.

    If you put our 2008 pitchers in front of our 1999 defense, our pitchers might be as good as anyone in the league.

    It expalins why guys like Paris, Villone even Neagle had good years. Their DIPS ERA were considerably higher due to very low BABIP's.


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