2014 Reds

So long, Shin-Soo Choo

Shin-Soo Choo has reportedly signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers*:

Free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has reached agreement on a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers, two baseball sources confirmed to ESPN.com.

Choo was the premier offensive player left on the market after Robinson Cano signed with Seattle and Jacoby Ellsbury went to the New York Yankees.

Choo was one of the top leadoff hitters in the majors for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 with a .423 on-base percentage, a .285 batting average, 21 homers, 54 RBIs, 20 steals and 107 runs scored.

I know we all expected this day to come, but it’s sad nonetheless. Choo had a great season in a Cincinnati uniform; he was probably the best Reds leadoff hitter since Willy Taveras Barry Larkin. I continued to hold out hope that the Reds would re-sign Choo (and put him in left field) as the pieces of the free agency puzzle started to fall into place (and Choo’s options became more limited).

In the end, however, I can’t fault Walt Jocketty and the Reds. Seven years is probably way too many. I’m a fully-paid member of the Shin-Soo Choo Fan Club, but he’s not likely to be a very good value on the back end of that deal. For the present, however, he makes that Rangers lineup look awfully good.

For the Reds, the question is: what now? One presumes that Billy Hamilton is in line to be the Opening Day center fielder and leadoff hitter, and while I like Hamilton, I’m not optimistic that he will help the Reds much on the offensive side of the ledger. If you exclude Joey Votto, the Reds do not have a single starter who posted an OBP above .330 in the major leagues last year. Excluding Votto and Jay Bruce, no other starter had an OBP above .315.

At this point, the Reds’ offense appears to be significantly worse than it was in 2013. The pitching should be good again next year, but Walt Jocketty has a lot of work to do if he wants to improve the hitting. Fortunately, there is plenty of time for Walt to work some magic. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

*One silver lining is that Scott Boras probably cost Choo $10 million. Reports last week had the Yankees offering Choo 7 years/$140 million, whereupon Boras evidently rejected the offer. Boras countered with 7/$143mm, because he wanted Choo’s contract to be a little higher than Carl Crawford’s deal. The Yankees told him to take a hike. If any of the reports about this episode were true, Boras owes Choo $10 million.

112 thoughts on “So long, Shin-Soo Choo

  1. So sad to see Shin-Soo Choo go. I wonder if this puts the Reds in the running for Nelson Cruz?? Slide Bruce over to play center field possibly? This is all based on the assumption that Billy Hamilton isn’t ready to be a productive major leaguer yet.

  2. As for the contract, a piece I read said that the Texas income tax law difference would accommodate that $10 million.

    Oh, to have such a problem.

  3. There is a blog piece from Fay in which he strongly strongly infers the deal killer for the Reds was most likely the 7 year term. As an aside Fay seems to say that he had known for some time the Reds would not go 7 years at any price. Not reporting this sooner highlights one of the big differences between “then” and now in beat reporting. Back in the day, McCoy (and others) would have run with this unless it came off the record from so far up the food chain that there was no way to use it without exposing the source.

    • @OhioJim: Yeah, sure would be nice if there were some people who’s job was to like… find out things about a team and report them early so their fan base has the knowledge they do on subject matters rather than wait for forever thinking they’re possibly still in contention for things that they clearly aren’t.

  4. One aside from Choo signing with Texas is that Cruz may now be the 1st FA to actually sit without a contract until June when he can sign with someone without the compensation pick attached. Of course someone with a protected pick or someone who has already given up their 1st round pick might take a flier on him.

        • @jonrox: No I just meant in general it made sense that teams with protected choices or who had already forfeited choices might get involved in sign and trade situations, not necessarily of their own previous FA’s. But i did not check; so, this too could be outlawed.

  5. I love Choo and what he brought to the Reds, but I am really glad the Reds took a pass here. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.

    Also, the lack of a state income tax in Texas and the huge state income tax in NY creates a situation where Choo will actually take home more from a $130 million contract in Texas than he would have from a $140 contract in NY.

  6. I’m glad I got to see him play for a year. He is one of those players that you sometimes don’t appreciate until you see them play everyday. Play hard every at bat, every catch every throw, and every time on the base paths.

    Was asked to play a different position his free agent year and didn’t whine, was hit by pitches relentless and never cried about it.

  7. It was nice to have Choo for as long as we did. But, oh well.

    And, I can understand how difficult it must be for Walt. Because of the current demands on the current roster and payroll, he had little room to work any kind of high priced FA or any player for a trade. I guess we can start looking at trying to lock down Latos and/or Bailey, unless they are seeing the these free agents are being paid and decide to chance it come that time, also.

  8. I don’t have a problem with the Reds sticking to their original scheme that Choo was a 1 year bridge player who would ultimately net them a compensation choice with the plan made all the sweeter by the fact the Indians kicked in a significant portion of Choo’s salary for that year.

    However I do think it is fools’ gold to think they are going to put Hamilton straight into the lead off slot and live happily ever after. Hopefully some of WJ’s comments subsequent to the Choo announcement were posturing in regard to ongoing trade talks.

    • @TC: Perhaps Brandon Phillips will lead off and Hamilton will hit 8th. Perhaps our new hitting coach will allow Cozart to lead off.

      Thinking outside the Dusty box would be a good habit to start, gang.

        • @rhayex: Duh, he’s the CF… AND he used to be a SS. That’s a double whammy right there. To complete the trifecta, he’s fast. He’s a fast CF/SS. That might as well have been written in stone.

        • @ToddAlmighty: So if you think Price is another version of Dusty, why bother with this?

          Substitute No. 38 for No. 12 and keep doing the same things over and over again because it’s too difficult for us to believe that anything could change?

          Why did we replace the manager, just so we could do the same things the other guy did?

        • @Johnu1: No, I think that specific example was more of a Walt example than a Dusty one. Same reason Stubbs was kept around for so long and kept batting leadoff. Sure Dusty bat him there, but I think Walt always intended him to bat there.

        • @Johnu1: It certainly seems that some teams replace managers because it’s much easier than replacing a disappointing team. Isn’t it too early to despair about 2014? We don’t know what Price might do, we don’t know what WJ might yet do, and we don’t know what some of our players might do in a new season. Maybe Billy will polish his bunting (WJ said he’ll be working on it), and be on second base with astonishing frequency. If he’s playing center, the defense will be better. Every team has questions at this point.

        • @Johnu1: I’m not an idiot. I fully understand that he’s not the manager; however he IS the only person connected to the team who’s said anything about it, so I’m inclined to believe him until we see or hear something else. Now, if he trades for a high on-base second baseman or Price comes out and says, “y’know what? I think Joey would make a great leadoff hitter!”, then I’ll change my mind. Until then, though, we only have what people in the Reds organization have told us, just like every year before this.

        • @rhayex: Sorry for the snip, but what’s refreshing so far is that Price has NOT said anything. In the past, we’ve been Xerox’d into a lineup.

          I suspect what we have heard about Hamilton not being ready is closer to fact than where he will hit in the lineup. I think it’s clear he will play CF when he makes the show.

          But part of Price’s situation is that he can’t put together a roster OR a lineup until he’s given all the pieces. Till recently, everybody north of first base has been on the trading block — or was rumored to be.

      • @Johnu1: I really like the idea of Hamilton batting 8th or even 9th. Limit his AB’s but still give him the chance to get on base ahead of our more reliable hitters at the top of the order. It’s how Tony LaRussa would do it.

  9. The Reds made the right move in not signing Choo for 7 years. One year of Choo leading off and a compensation pick is a pretty good return on Stubbs.

    Now the offense is back to pre-Choo status with no viable lead-off hitter. As much as I would love to see him succeed, it does not appear BHam is ready to hit in the bigs yet.

  10. Ok stat nerds, here’s a question. Let’s say Hamilton is penciled in to start in CF opening day (just about a lock as of now). Last year, Choo had 712 PA’s, got on base at a .434 clip, and scored 107 runs. Let’s figure Hamilton sees a little more platooning with someone like Heisey and gets 600 PA’s. He’s obviously not coming close to Choo’s .434 OBP. He had a down year in Louisville in that category, but in AA he was very good at getting on base and in a very small sample size was excellent last fall with the Reds. Let’s be optimistic and say he gets on base at something like .330.

    2013 – Choo gets on base 309 times, scores in about 1/3 of those situations.
    2014 – Hamilton gets on base 198 times, would have to score in 1/2 of those situations to equal Choo’s run production.

    Does that sound like THAT much of a stretch? Hamilton’s in scoring position the moment he leaves the batter’s box. Once he’s on 1st base he’s basically on 2nd and from there just about anything scores him. A .500 success rate may be a BIT much to ask, but exactly how much? Choo added precisely nothing on the base paths. Once he got on base he was reliant on iffy 2-hole hitting and whether Joey decided to swing the bat or not to do any damage. Hamilton is the exact opposite of that. And if he can perfect his bunting from the right side of the plate, a .330 OBP might be a very conservative estimate.

    Ok so now tell me how I have this totally wrong because I feel like I have to have made a big mistake somewhere.

      • @MikeC: At .350 OBP batting ahead of Votto, Billy Hamilton would almost certainly lead the league in scoring. He’d probably challenge Ricky Henderson’s stolen base record and you’d likely see him in the MVP conversation.

        • @eric nyc: Anyone who leads off next year will be compared to the best leadoff hitter in baseball right now: Choo. It’s hardly fair to Hamilton, a rookie who’s only had a tall cup of coffee in AAA, to be put in that position.

          A good OBP for leadoff is .350. An average is somewhere around a .330, which is more than one should expect for Hamilton.

        • @TC: If all we were accounting for was plate skill I’d agree with you, but Hamiltons speed changes the equation. Bunts for singles will be a regular occurrence for Hamilton. Ground balls that every other player would be out on will be bang bang singles. His speed really is a difference maker. As long as the hitting coaches get him in a place to make contact things could get interesting.

    • @eric nyc:

      I tend to agree with this line of thinking. I think people on here have been burned by having “fast” guys leadoff (Corey Patterson, Wily Taveras, Drew Stubbs et all) who couldn’t get on base often enough to use their speed.

      However, from what I’ve seen and heard, BH takes speed to another level. His speed has been described as “once in a generation”. He can beat out ground balls that those 3 guys mentioned previously would be out on. There are some on here who think speed isn’t a required trait to be a successful leadoff hitter, but the speed we are discussing here can in fact make a huge difference.

      And that’s a key right there. BH’s whole game is getting on base and using his speed. If he develops some extra base power, all the better, but as long as he is thinking “Get on base no matter what” every time up, he has the speed to make it happen. Choo and his walks were great, but once he got on base, he was average to slightly faster than average. As stated here, BH on base means he’s in scoring position on just about any hit outside of the infield. Plus, I don’t think Choo can get in opposing teams heads like BH can.

      Choo is a great player, don’t get me wrong. But BH is special. Sure, I’d like him to get more seasoning, but that speed alone means he can make an instant impact on the game.

    • @eric nyc: Without running the numbers, I’d say it is a massive stretch. But I also don’t think it’s necessary or fair to expect him to match Choo either.

      I really don’t expect the Reds to be starting BHam next season though…

      • @CP: Just for the hell of it I looked up some of Henderson’s numbers. I’m by no means saying Billy Hamilton is Ricky Henderson, but I think we an all agree he’s at least as fast as Henderson. Maybe faster. In 1982, when he set the SB record, he had 701 ABs and a .398 OBP. He scored 119 runs. That translates to a .455 success rate once on base. Again, not assuming Hamilton comes close to Henderson’s batting skills, that success rate once on base doesn’t seem unreasonable. That’s pretty close to .500, and you could argue Hamilton might even be a more dynic runner than Henderson. When you also take into account that Hamilton is likely to be a decent defensive improvement over Choo, their actual values might end up being a lot more similar than people think. And Hamilton costs a tiny fraction of Choos monster contract.

    • @eric nyc: I think expecting Hamilton to get on base 200 times next year is the part that I have the hardest time with. Oliver and Steamer project a .304/.305 OBP for him, and pretty high strikeout rates (18.8%/24.2%). He is a force when he gets on base, but I need to see evidence that he can do that reliably.

    • @eric nyc: His problem is that he strikes out just like Stubbs did. If he strikes out 100 times and does not walk a comparable amount of times, then he is not going to be on base that much. Hopefully, with ML umpires, pitches not in the strike zone will not be called strikes. That may help some, but he has to be able to consistently put the ball in play. There is no question he will be a major upgrade defensively. I am sure that many of us hope he can get on base at a 330-350 clip, but until they start to play the games, we will not know.

      • @redmountain: Well everything hinges on him putting up an OBP north of .300. If he strikes out at a Stubbsian rate (scientific term, look it up) then the whole equation falls apart. But I don’t know where people get that he strieks out too much. He played one season in AAA and did not have a great offensive line – but still put up an OBP of .309. In AA his OBP was over .400. And in his very limited time with the Reds in the fall he put up an OBP over .400. Not in my wildest dreams do I expect Billy Hamilton to have an OBP over .350 in his rookie season, but I don’t think it’s WILDLY optimistic to hope for .330. If it’s closer to .300 than .330 he’s still going to score a lot of runs.

  11. BP, when not trying to lead the league in RBI, can produce an OBP of .340. He won’t steal much but he can get doubles. If you bat Votto 2nd, there’s a chance for an early run.

    Key to that offense after that is Bruce, since Luddy and Meso are probably the 4-5 guys. Hamilton can learn to hit in the 8 spot, reducing the need to sac bunt.

    If Hamilton learns to hit, he can move into the leadoff role.

    See how easy that is?

    • @Johnu1: All of this.

      Plus hopefully an upgrade over Ludwick from a trade (bye, Chapman). Question, though…In your scenario who bats 3rd? Because I’ve kicked around the same idea. I really think Joey should be batting 2nd. Bruce doesn’t make contact enough to bat 3rd but is a prototypical cleanup hitter. Mes and Frazier look like 5 and 6 guys, whichever way you want to put them depending on who’s hot. Ludwick clearly isn’t batting 3rd. What I keep coming back to is just living with Hamilton at leadoff and letting him learn on the job and have BP bat 3rd. He’s been good there.

      • @eric nyc: I seriously move Bruce into the 3 hole. He strikes out a lot but I pin some of this to the projection that I saw him learning to go oppage more last year. His K totals fell back into line as the season progressed. I had Luddy at cleanup of 5th, with Mesoraco in the other spot.

        Essentially I am a believer in the big first inning, which I think Bruce could help achieve more often that we think.

        As Hamilton matures, the lineup can change and it would off and on with Mesoraco and Luddy being rested here and there.

        The key to all that is whether the new hitting philosophy is as I hope it will be. I never had any use for the Jacoby system and anything else would have to be better. I do realize there are trends among hitters that don’t change.

        Except maybe attitude.

  12. I am excited for the Billy Show. Everyone is saying he can’t do it.

    I say that he will be rookie of the year with 80+ stolen bases

    • @Johnu1: Except that Molina couldn’t get him. I don’t think there will be many pitchers that will be able to keep him close enough to get him.

      • @redmountain: Not only did Molina not get him, but he was quietly laughing and shaking his head. Billy won’t steal 100%, of course, but his speed does seem to be game-changing, and he certainly makes the game fun to watch.

  13. Chad, you would have to be high to think the Reds ever had a chance to resign Choo, what was it that made you think there was hope? Was it Walt saying time after time that we wouldn’t sign him? Was it the giant contract that Boras wanted and the Reds could NEVER afford? What exactly was it?

  14. That’s not really a silver lining. Texas has no income tax, and NY’s top income tax rate is 9% (plus another 3.6% for residents of NYC). That should be worth at least $10 million, and probably more like $12-14 million. Plus, the cost of living in Dallas-Fort Worth is significantly less than the cost of living in NYC.

    Taxes/cost of living probably wasn’t the main consideration in the contract decision, but I am sure Boras discussed this with Choo.

  15. “Boras discussed this with Choo.”

    Oh, after turning down the Yanks offer I’m sure he did. There could also be the simple answer here: Choo didn’t really want to play in NY. He’s spent most of his MLB career in Ohio.

    I already miss him. He was my man crush and I wish him well. I will have to make sure to catch a few more Ranger games this season. Sigh.
    ..

    • @preach:
      Yeah, after Boras overplayed his hand with the Yankees, he had to make it sound better to take less money from another team.

      Boras has been caught a couple of times now pushing for more and ending up with less for his player. Maybe his old MO of holding out for evermore and claiming there is always another team in the woods isn’t selling so well anymore.

      • @MikeC: Boras likely made Choo money, see the post by Yoobee 3 or 4 above you stating that there is no income tax in TX, and NYC taxes are brutal. Plus the Yanks payrool + farm system situation is a mess right now. TX is just more attractive short to medium term imo. I also wouldn’t blame Choo one bit for avoiding NY media.

      • @MikeC:

        Maybe his old MO of holding out for evermore and claiming there is always another team in the woods isn’t selling so well anymore.

        Not likely–how do you explain that Texas (and other teams signing free agents this season) just committed to a huge overpay for Choo? Another explanation is that maybe the agent doesn’t really have as much of an impact on negotiations as everyone thinks.

      • @MikeC: It’s difficult, for me, at any rate, to be concerned about the difference between $130 million and $140 million. Either way, barring massive foolishness, generations of Choos will not have to worry about food, housing or medical care.

  16. Texas is going back to scoring a whole lot of runs and being short on pitching. Their starting rotation is a bit thin.

    Colby Rasmus is probably out there, but I have to figure the price was too much for a rental.

  17. I’m looking forward to watching Billy Hamilton in center field and leading off. Just the spark the Reds need.

  18. The additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo have Texas positioned for a World Series run. More »

    Really?? I don’t think so. Maybe I am in the minority. Look at both teams position by position. Starter/starter.. Bullpens…Please??

    1b. Joey Votto or Prince Fielder ??—Reds win
    2b. Brandon OR Profar??—Reds win
    SS. Cozart or Andrus??—wash
    3b. Frazier or Beltre?? Beltre is very/very/very old…Still slight adv to Tex
    Catcher Mes.. or Soto?? again a wash

    lf. Choo vs ??? Ludwick??—Tex win
    SF. Hamilton or Martin—both very unknown—a BIG wash
    Rf. Bruce or Rios–Reds win

    You, me, my wife..we can all go thru both pitching staffs, and agree the Reds have by far the better rotation and bullpen.

    It all comes down to 4 players–Cozart/Frazier/Mesaroco and Hamilton. All still young/// If they produce and grow the Reds win big time.

      • @rhayex: Texas wants to make the playoffs for one thing. So they need to be better than the As and the Angels. I think at this point, such a comparison is a little out of kilter.

    • @seadog: Beltre is very old, but he’s also very good. To say Texas has only a slight advantage is either way overselling Frazier or way underselling Beltre.

    • @<a hre@seadog: Saying Texas has a slight advantage at 3b is absurd. Beltre is 34 (not THAT old), but here are his fWAR stats for the past four seasons:

      2010: 6.6
      2011: 5.4
      2012: 6.3
      2013: 5.2

      Most of those are full seasons, although he missed about 30 games in 2011, so that might have been another 6 fWAR season. That is fantastic for a guy on the wrong side of the aging curve. He is also a plus defender. Beltre’s numbers are comparable to Votto’s, despite being four years older than Votto.

      I think 2b is a wash, since both players have a lot to prove in 2014. Profar is probably very close to Phillips in defensive ability, and he’s not a bad hitter either.

      Saying Cozart is equivalent to Andrus is quite an overestimate of Cozart’s offensive ability.

      Finally, I agree that the Reds have an edge in the rotation, but Texas has a lot of young talent that may be good. The Rangers have a solid bullpen, and I think the Reds advantage in that department is slight (if any).

    • @seadog: I think unless Adrian Beltre falls off a cliff, the guy probably will end up in the Hall of Fame. He’s had a good career, if often off the radar.

  19. Am I missing something here? I agree that Billy Hamilton is unlikely to get on base at anything close to the clip that the Reds enjoyed from Shin Soo Choo last year. But Choo is gone so outside of the discussion of “How much worse might the offense be in 2014″? there’s no point in comparing Hamilton and Choo when it comes to 2014 lineup construction.

    As Chad reminded us at the top, no one on the Reds had an OBP north of .315 last year, except Votto and Bruce, neither of whom will be hitting leadoff any time soon (nor should they). So I’ll make an assertion with a fair amount of conviction behind it. Convince me I’m wrong if I’m wrong: If Hamilton can reach base at even a .315 pace, he needs to lead off, not hit 8th (or any where near the bottom of the order). At an OBP of .315, he scores more runs than anyone else would. Even if Brandon Phillips had an OBP of .340 he wouldn’t score more runs than Hamilton, and even if it’s a wash Phillips has more pop in his OBP than Hamilton, so he’s more valuable hitting 6th (ish). Bottom line, unless Jocketty brings in some new bats Billy Hamilton will AND SHOULD lead off for the Reds next year.

    • @Chris DeBlois: And to head off one other point of contention, no, I don’t think we should be happy with Hamilton at .315 OBP. He should be targeting at least .330 and if he wants to be elite needs to get to .350 as he gains experience. But my assertion is relative to other options at leadoff, not to what we WISH Hamilton might do.

  20. As I see it, the problem is that the Reds probable line up as things stand now is that they have too many guys who should be batting 6th in the order or lower and no one except Votto who is currently top of the order material, although in a year or two Hamilton will (hopefully) be a legitimate top of the order guy.

    • @OhioJim: If the Reds are stuck with Ludwick for LF and Hamilton is thrown into the fire as CF (regardless of his order position), then they are going to have to bite the bullet and upgrade offensively at either 3B or SS.

      • @OhioJim: If Cozart plays like he did the last couple months of last season, then we have a HUGE upgrade already at SS. I think Frazier will shake out of his sophomore slump as well.

    • @OhioJim: I have to agree with Kyle on this one. Cozart was very good done the stretch, and that came from batting him where he needed to be batted. We know what we get with him, good defense, some pop (he’s good for around 10-15HRs, 70-80RBIs a year), and when he bats where he should (8th or so), he’s actually a good table setter for the top of the order.

      Frazier just needs to lay off the sliders in the dirt. We has a good glove and if he can get back to the form he was in during the 2012 season, that would be perfect.

      • @TraviXDM: To me saying if so and so can just do what he did for two months (Cozart) or if somebody else can just layoff sliders and do what he did in 2012 (Frazier) is a lot like saying if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

        Both these guys have protracted minor league records that would indicate that what Cozart was in 2102 and last year till August and what Frazier was in 2013 is a lot closer to what they are likely to be at the end of the day.

        And my other point from on up is that the Reds have too many guys that need to be batting down the order and not enough that can carry the top of the order.

        I’d take one mid career MLB guy who has career numbers which say he is Frazier in 2012 or Cozart in August or September of 2013 over either of the incumbents and never look back.

  21. I think many Reds fans, including myself, probably got too excited about last year’s club heading into the season. We assumed health, which we didn’t get, forgot the Astros moved to the AL, and never imagined how high the Dusty Tax would climb.

    I think I’m seeing the opposite this year, we are protecting ourselves by talking about how awful the club will be. This team is and will be a contender. We need things, like injuries, to go our way, but so does every team out there.

    We will be in the division race right down to the wire, and our pitching staff gives us a chance to make big noise in the playoffs.

    • @Kyle Farmer: We underperformed last year – plain and simple. Call it the Dusty Tax if you want, but even with the injuries you have to figure there were no less than half a dozen games throughout the year that THAT roster with THAT amount of talent should have won. That puts us damn near 100 wins and on top of the NLC. But the fact of the matter is, with Choo gone and no other offensive help on the horizon, you’re probably looking at a team that will have to over-perform to get back to the 90 win mark. That can always happen. It happened in 2012.

      • @eric nyc:

        You are right that the Reds underperformed. Their Pythagorean record was 95-67, so they underperformed by about 5 games.

        Now they have lost Choo, who, according to WAR, was worth about 4 wins.So assuming everyone else performs exactly the same, the Reds can be expected to win 91 games without Choo.

        But that also doesn’t take into account how many wins BHam might provide. I certainly don’t expect him to have a negative WAR.

        So in sum, this team, if everyone performs exactly the same as last year, is already a 90 win club without Choo. With BHam, they can probably be expected to reach the low 90’s. With more production from LF (I still say Ludwick will bring some value when healthy) and possible development from Mez, Frazier, and Cozart, this team could easily be expected to match or surpass last year’s win total.

        • @CI3J: How many teams match their Pythagorean projections? It is fashionable here to say that the Reds underachieved in 2013, but would somebody tell me why they believe that? The hitters largely performed as expected, and a number of them just aren’t above average. Injuries need to be assumed. The Reds were decent, not great. Just as they appeared to be pre-season.

        • @CI3J: How many teams match their Pythagorean projections?It is fashionable here to say that the Reds underachieved in 2013, but would somebody tell me why they believe that?

          Well, if you want to look at it this way, I will say that if a team comes within -+3 games of their Pythagorean record, they basically played up to expectations. (This can account for the random games where something crazy happens and teams steal a win or give one away).

          Using this criteria, we can see that 17 teams basically finished about where their Pythagorean record said they should.

          So that leaves us with 13 teams that either greatly over-performed or under-performed. Those teams are:

          OVERACHIEVERS:

          Philadelphia (+8)
          New York AL (+7)
          Pittsburgh (+5)
          San Diego (+5)
          Seattle (+5)
          Minnesota (+5)
          Tampa Bay (+4)

          UNDERACHIEVERS:

          Detroit (-7)
          St Louis (-6)
          Boston (-5)
          CINCINNATI (-5)
          Chicago NL (-4)
          Houston (-4)

          I find it interesting that most of the overachievers are middle of the pack clubs, while the underachievers were either very good clubs or horrible clubs. Also, it bears noting that Boston, Detroit, and St. Louis were all in line to win 100+ games, but none of them actually did.

          All I can say is, based on the stats they put up, the Reds did not have the record they should have had last year. They have lost a player who gave them 4 wins, but they also lost 5 wins last year anyway (The Dusty Tax?). As I said, if they get any kind of production from LF and if BHam doesn’t prove to be completely useless, there is no reason not to expect the Reds to match or surpass last year’s record.

        • @CI3J: Thanks for elucidating. Just as a point for discussion, however, it seems to me that stats–old, new or Pythagorean–are much better at explaining what happened than they are at predicting what will happen. The human factor, if you will, and the reason the actual games are relevant. I do also take issue with the oft-invoked 5 game Dusty tax. It’s not provable, for starters, and variations from expected performance can also be explained by such factors as injuries (Cueto, Ludwick, Broxton, Phillips and Votto)or the phases of the moon and stars.

      • @eric nyc: I agree that they underperformed last year. That team slept through the season and still won 90, so if they play to their abilities 90 wins is far from unrealistic. I do not think it will take them overachieving to win that many. Will it be enough? No one knows; check with me in about 10 months.

        • @redmountain: As well, a couple of other points. Some from Mack Jenkins in the radio interview, who used the ‘A’ word in two separate contexts. One was ‘adjustments.’ He and Price evidently are quite high on advanced metrics, which he said would prevent the team from making the same mistakes over and over. That, I thought, was refreshing.

          Additionally, are we talking about a team that can MAKE the post-season, or one that can WIN the post-season. The two may be the same, but sometimes, you wonder.

          I relate back to the 1990 Reds, who were a much better post-season team than a regular-season team. At that point, you need to identify leaders.

          Somebody has to step up in September as well as May.

        • @Johnu1: Good point about the post-season, though the ’90 Reds were not regular season slouches. Some analysts (conveniently forget who) have posited that they were very well constructed for post-season success: great defense and relief pitching being critical then and always. You can’t ignore the power of the hot streak, either, or the beneficial effect of being a good team that is an overwhelming underdog. I had a really enjoyable conversation with another parent (an Oakland fan)while waiting to pick kids up from music lessons; it was the eve of the first game, and she was beyond dismissive of the Reds’ chances to win even one game. Well. Haven’t spoken to her since.

  22. Free agency as a building method is in decline, it appears, with buyouts of arbitration years for younger players making more financial sense. That in mind, Jocketty’s strategy of locking up key players in their arb years is more sensible than making large commitments to aging ones. So passing on Choo was a wise move IMO.

    BH is a question mark, but I saw last year was a disruptive force with no apparent counter strategy other than keeping him off base. That is the key to next season. If not BH, they got no one for that role.

  23. I am in the minority here…I think Choo should go. That contract would hamstring the Reds. However, with four moves, I believe the Reds could be the division favorite. One, trade Bailey and Phillips for Kemp. Two, trade Ludwick, Chapman, Yorman Rodriguez, and Corcino for Stanton. Three, sign Arroyo for a one-year until Stephenson is ready. Four, extend Latos. The new lineup is Hamilton/Schmuacher 2b,Votto 1b, Kemp CF, Bruce RF, Stanton LF, Frazier 3b, Mesoraco C, Cozart SS. Hoover can close.

      • @greenmtred:Bruce, Kemp, and Stanton can’t be any worse than Beltran, Jay, and Holliday for the Cards last year and that seemed to work out okay for the Cards.

        • @ohnonotbob: Not enough for Stanton. Stanton’s a dream; there’s no way that the Reds can match what other teams will give up for him, nor should they.

        • @ohnonotbob: As for the Cards, yes and no. Overwhelming offense and luck can mask fundamental weaknesses, but neither is lasting and, offense at least, very very expensive. The Reds are, for the first time in my ancient memory, a team built on pitching. Pitching is really only as good as the defense behind it, unless your starters are Koufax, Ryan, Feller, the Big Train and Randy Johnson, and even those guys didn’t always(or often)strike out the side. A mid-market team has a much better chance of staying relevant within budget by building from within and featuring defense. Big boppers don’t stay around long, and unless the team has endless money, they are very hard to replace.

    • @ohnonotbob: I don’t get your logic on not wanting Choo contract as it being too much of handicap yet willing to take on injury issue in Kemp with just as big contract left (6yr/$128M), plus give up talent as well for Kemp.

      Regarding Cardinals OF defense, it was bad as all 3 main Cards OF rated very negatively but Cardinals pitching was dominant enough that it did not matter for the most part.

  24. ESPN quoted Boras’ people as saying Choo needed 148 from NYY to equal the Texas offer.

    I have no problem with the Reds letting Choo go. 7 years of BHam for the price of a year of Choo. And Choo will more than likely be Dunn-bad defensively by the end of that deal.

    My problem is that they have yet to take Choo’s money and do anything with it yet. Even just a Bailey/Latos extension would make me feel a lot better about this offseason.

    • @vanwilder8: I have always been of the mindset to let Choo walk. Even if through some miracle you could have gotten him with a contract below $100 million, his splits against LH pitching are just too big to ignore on a mid market ball club. The Texans (or the Yankees or the Angels or the Dodgers) can live with that because they have so many bats to mix and match, but Choo can be erased in any given game just by starting a LH pitcher. Just look at the wildcard game. If a team with the payroll the size of the Reds is going to spend $100+ million, it needs to be on a guy like Votto who hits everything or on an ace pitcher like Bailey who has no-hit stuff every time he comes out.

      So hopefully that’s where the money goes – extending Bailey and/or Latos. And hopefully Chapman is traded for a power bat to play LF. That should nullify the loss of Choo’s offensive production if you assume Hamilton will at least be a replacement level player – and hopefully it’s safe to think he’ll do better than that.

    • @vanwilder8: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but even without Choo and Arroyo, we have no money. We can thank arbitration for that.

      As it stands right now, 2014 payroll will be similar to, and possibly exceed, 2013 payroll. Here are our current obligations: https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tj1FG9GPVGFzrJykhM94ogw&output=html [Total- 83.5M] Here are projected arbitration salaries- minus Hanigan, Corky, and Paul: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/10/arbitration-eligibles-cincinnati-reds.html [~24.] 83.5 + 24 = 107.5M. Depending on how arb actually shakes out, we are either right under or right over last year’s payroll. Already.

  25. Walt is going to make a move I personally think it’s going to be for Colby Rasmuss and I think Phillips will be included in this trade that bridge is burnt and beyond capable of being fixed for some reason I think Billy Hamilton future with the Reds is as 2nd baseman I believe he can handle the position reports on him at ss in the minors never questioned his glove it was arm strength he will bring more value to the organization at 2nd a potential gold glover with an average to above average bat and game changing speed. This is just my opinion considering the strength of our minor league system is outfielders. Winker/Rodriguez/Ervin all have the potential to be ready for the majors by late 2014/2015. I just don’t see Billy future in the outfield. Don’t discount Yorman Rodriguez Doug Gray has had a man crush on him for years I think the light has clicked on for him this could be a huge boost the organization

    • @hits56: First, for that kind of money and years, not signing Choo is a no brainer. I’ve been praying for a Colby Rasmus trade. As a CFer, all things considered, I like Rasmus more than Choo. His progress was stalled by being in LaRussa’s doghouse and then an injury, but in 2013 he had a breakout season with a slugging pct. of .501. And he’s a legit CFer. He and Bruce would look awfully good playing next to each other.

      I’m skeptical of Hamilton at 2nd base because he’s been a poor IFer, but that doesn’t matter wrt Rasmus. Let Hamilton play CF in AAA for much of 2014 and bring him up as a bench player at some point. So in 2014 it’s Ludwick in LF and Rasmus in CF. In 2015 it’s Hamilton in LF and Rasmus in CF (or the other way around if Hamilton develops into a fabulous CFer).

      Second base is a separate issue. Maybe the Reds don’t even need to trade BP for Rasmus. Leake plus one of the OF prospects you mention might work.

      If you’re right about the 3 OF prospects that you mention being that good, it does change the thinking for beyond 2014, I agree. But for 2014, without a pickup of Rasmus (or someone similar that I don’t even know is available), I’m not feeling too optimistic.

      • @pinson343: I shouldn’t have called 2013 a “breakout season” for Rasmus. It was more like a comeback season: he hit just as well (arguably a little better) in 2010. All the better.

  26. Choo, another LH hitter going to the AL West. This makes Aroldis Chapman a little more valuable to the Seattle Mariners. Either as closer or starter.

  27. Franklin/Ackley and or Zunina(I think that is how his name is spelled that would be where I would start the conversation

  28. Everyone on here seems to like Franklin better than Ackley I personally prefer Ackley due to his versatility

  29. I’m not sure if the hitting will be that much worse. I think switching hitting coaches will do a world of good, especially for the bottom of the lineup.

  30. @JeffPassan
    So far this offseason, teams have guaranteed approximately $1.543 billion to free agents. AL teams account for $1.13B. NL teams at $409.18M.

    Minus Jhonny Peralta, NL Central teams have spent $24.95M combined. That’s less than $1M above Robinson Cano’s annual salary for a decade.

    • @earl: Yeah, I was kind of looking at that number basically saying it’s not only the Reds taking a pass at these players available, Milwaukee, the Pirates and the Cubs (who had money to spend) did not either.

      The Cards got a bit bigger budget, but the reason they are setup so well is that they have drafted and been developing talent left and right. That’s where clubs can make moves anymore, except it is a couple years away to get the results.

  31. Having a low payroll doesn’t mean a team can’t win. It just means they didn’t spend a lot of money on players.

    • @Johnu1: The NL Central took both the WC spots and eventually represented the NL in in the World Series. Given this maybe there currently is less need for spending in the division.

  32. well at least for us Reds fans, we got final closure on Choo, ending what minimal chance there was of choo coming back.

    so likely Walt’s only moves will be to find platoon complements for BHam and Ludwick, while concentrating on getting one or two of Bailey, Latos or Leake signed to longer deals.

  33. My apologies to Clement Clarke Moore. A condensed and plagarized version.

    Twas the night before Christmas,
    And Walt’s searching for a hitter
    Not a creature is stirring,
    Not even BP on twitter.
    The Red Stockings were hung
    By the Chimney with vigor,
    In hopes that Uncle Walt
    Would soon pull the trigger.
    The fans were nestled,
    All snug in their beds.
    While visions of World Series wins,
    Danced in their heads.
    And mama in her kerchief,
    And Walt in his Reds cap,
    Had just settled his brains
    For a long winter’s nap.
    When out on the blogs,
    There arose such a clatter.
    Walt sprang from his bed,
    To see what was the matter.
    Away to the window
    He flew like a flash,
    Tore open the shutters
    And threw up the sash.
    When, what to my
    Wondering eyes should appear,
    A #4 clean up hitter
    To protect Joey’s rear,
    Came with the little old GM,
    With hair like salt.
    I knew in a minute,
    It must be Uncle Walt.
    More rapid than eagles
    His coursers they came,
    And he whistled and shouted,
    And called them by name.
    Now Votto, now Fraz, Now Mes, Cozy and Bruce.
    On Joey Bats, on BHam running on the loose.
    To the top of the standings,
    To the top of the wall.
    Now dash away. Dash away.
    Dash away all.
    As I drew my head
    And was turning around,
    Down the Chimney came
    Uncle Walt with a bound.
    A bundle of prospects
    Was flung on his back,
    And he looked like a peddler
    Just opening his pack.
    His eyes, how they twinkled
    When he made a big deal,
    His cheeks were like roses
    When he got a steal.
    He had a broad face
    and a little round belly,
    That shook when he laughed
    Like a bowl full of jelly.
    He was chubby and plump
    a right jolly old elf,
    He put BP on the block,
    In spite of himself.
    With a wink of his eye
    And a twist of his head,
    Soon gave me to know
    We have nothing to dread.
    He spoke not a word,
    But went straight to his work
    to fill up the Red Stockings
    And called Boras a jerk.
    He sprung to his limo,
    To his team he gave a whistle And away they all flew,
    Like the down of a thistle.
    But I heard him exclaim,
    Ere he drove out of sight,
    Merry Christmas to all,
    And to all a good night.

    Merry Christmas to the Nation.

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