Homer Bailey

What the Bailey extension means for the Reds

With or without the new contract that multiple sources are now reporting, Homer Bailey was likely to pitch in a Cincinnati uniform this year. So his five-year extension shouldn’t affect your expectations much for the Reds’ 2014 season. But Bailey’s deal should clearly make the Reds a stronger team beyond 2014, because as Jeff Brantley would say, Homer Bailey can pitch some.

David Dewitt Bailey, who turns 28 in May, is entering the prime years for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. That’s when all the wisdom born of the hard work, hard luck and harder knocks begins to pay off. Homer Bailey has become a savvy, experienced version of the long-haired phenom from La Grange high school chosen by the Reds with the seventh selection of the 2004 amateur draft.

The numbers show that after two solid seasons in 2011 and 2012, Homer Bailey took a Texas-sized step forward last year. To find an explanation you drill down to fundamentals. Start with Bailey’s fastball velocity, which increased nearly two mph in 2013. A significant jump like that generally makes everything a pitcher throws more effective. The statistic “swinging-strike percentage” (SwStr%) measures the percent of total pitches where the batter swings and misses. Homer Bailey had the eleventh best SwStr% out of all major league starters in 2013. He also had the sixteenth best first-pitch strike percentage.

These factors contributed to a meaningful surge in Bailey’s strikeout-rate (K/9) from 7.3 to 8.6. Good enough to be twenty-first best in the majors for starters. And the tall right-hander hasn’t sacrificed control on the altar of strikeouts. In 2013, he maintained the low walk-rate of 2.3 per nine innings.

Combine the higher velocity, whiffs and first-pitch strikes with Bailey’s command and you end up with an elite starter. He finished in the top 25 starters in the majors in FIP, xFIP and fWAR. After struggling through injuries early in his career, Bailey has proven his durability by throwing 417 innings the past two seasons. Bobblehead-worthy no-hitters and near-perfect NLDS games are bright red cherries on top.

Barring a serious setback, the Bailey extension gives the Reds a top-of-the-line starting pitcher for this year and five more. You can debate the term ace, but Homer Bailey has clearly emerged as one of the best 25 pitchers in baseball. He’s a cornerstone like any successful franchise needs.

Is Bailey worth $105 million? If you’re looking for a saber-minded assessment, try this. Assume that Bailey earns 4.0 WAR this season (3.7 fWAR last year) then he starts a normal decline of .5 WAR/year. Over the length of the new contract, he’d earn 16.5 WAR. To put a dollar value on that, assume one WAR is worth $6 million on the open market, plus factor in a modest rate of salary inflation. Under those rough assumptions, Bailey would earn in the ballpark (ha) of $108 million.

The Bailey extension agreement also seems right in comparison to other recent starter pitcher contracts. Bailey ($19 mil/5 years) falls between Zack Grienke ($26.5 mil/6 years) and Matt Garza ($12.5 mil/4 years) in terms of performance and compensation.

Can the club can reasonably afford this contract? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, definitely. As I’ve explained recently, the Reds can afford nice things like this extension. Given the rivers of revenue streaming into the accounts of MLB in general (national television contracts, digital platforms) and to the Cincinnati Reds in particular (new television contract, attendance, post-season appearances), the team should be able to afford player salaries over $160 million by 2017. That the organization raised payroll by more than $25 million in one year, to $107 million in 2013, is solid evidence of the club moving in that direction.

Did the Reds get a discount in this deal? Not in the sense that Bailey gave the Reds a hometown break per se. That’s mostly a function of the negotiations taking place just one year before Bailey would hit the free agent market. (Hint: Mat Latos) But, of course the Reds benefitted from being the sole team allowed to negotiate with Bailey. Only the Reds could offer him a guarantee of financial security for the rest of his life that didn’t depend on his health or performance in 2014. If Bailey hadn’t agreed to this deal and put together another outstanding season, he’d have inked an even more lucrative contract starting in 2015. So it’s a discount of sorts.

What implication does the Bailey deal have for future signings? While mega-payroll teams like the Dodgers can afford long-term contracts for three or more starting pitchers, the Reds will likely be limited to two. That means choosing between locking up Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto, both of whom are currently under team control through the 2015 season. Absent new extensions, Cueto will earn $10 million in 2014 and 2015. Latos has a $7.25 million contract for 2014 and his 2015 salary will be established through arbitration. Yes, the Reds can afford to sign another top-tier pitcher. In 2018, contracts for Joey Votto ($25 m), Jay Bruce ($21 m, est.), Mat Latos ($20 m, est.) and Homer Bailey ($20 m) would represent less than 50% of total team payroll. In 2017, you could be looking at a rotation of Latos, Bailey, Tony Cingrani, Robert Stephenson and one other starter.

Still disappointed in the front office? As I said at the start, this deal doesn’t fix any of the problems with the 2014 roster. The Reds are still relying on an unproven rookie to bat lead-off and Aroldis Chapman remains wasted the bullpen. But give the Reds’ front office due credit for paying market value for an important player. The Reds didn’t low-ball Homer Bailey. They appear to have evaluated his talent based on advanced numbers that isolate what the pitcher controls, not the win-loss record, and paid #34 what he’s worth. The signing, along with the Votto extension, indicates the club recognizes and is taking advantage of the anticipated growth in revenues.

Bottom line, the deal is a winner for the club, player and Reds fans.

140 thoughts on “What the Bailey extension means for the Reds

  1. I don’t particularly like it. The people that seem to actually like it are using the same weird rationale they used for the BP deal. The Reds need to learn to let players go…

    Yes, Homer is younger and the deal reflects the current market price for pitchers. But people that bought Enron in the summer of 2000 were also paying “market price”. Sometimes the market is screwed up and the best thing to do is avoid . The Reds are taking on a lot of risk for a relatively small group of players. Maybe the risk pays off, maybe it doesn’t.

    I’m not saying I hate the deal, on a continuum of Hate (1)…(5) Meh …(10) Love, I’d say I’m at a 3.5.

      • @Steve Mancuso: I respectfully disagree. :D

        If Homer is AAPL, he is a the 2010+ version. He is a known quantity with upside available. The question is, is Homer APPL circa 2012 or 2013?

    • @CP: Of course Homer’s contract is a risk. Any player’s contract is a risk. He might regress. He might have a career-ending injury. So might anybody, particularly including relatively untested minor league players. But one must field a team, mustn’t one? If your point is the length of the contract, I certainly get your point, but sticking to short-term contracts almost certainly reduces the number of players who will sign with you, and absolutely certainly causes enough turnover to be disruptive of team cohesion which, because it can’t be measured, is often disregarded. But it shouldn’t be.

  2. IF these are the basic numbers of the deal, I am puzzled. Emotionally, I want to say this is a great deal. However, I can’t bring myself to think that this will ultimately prove to be the case. First off, had the Reds agreed to Homer’s arbitration proposal (or lost the hearing), they would have owed him $11.6 for 2014. So, by subtracting that sum from the $105 million and adding another $5 million (for the seventh year buyout), the contract is worth $98.4 million over the last five years, at an astounding 19.68 AAV, which is about how much Felix Hernandez is making per year in his recent extension by the M’s.

    Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but this seems like an absolutely amazing level of risk to assume moving forward. I can think of about four or five things that could be done with this money to mitigate risk. Here are some of the questions I have at this point (provided these numbers are right).

    Could Bruce have been extended further out (knowing that position players are simply less prone to career ending injuries and the other maladies that oftentimes leave pitchers ineffective) with some of this money (and that the macro-level trend seems to be that hitting is harder to come by and pitching easier to come by)?
    Could Walt have locked up Tony C. with just a little bit (relatively speaking) of this money in a Matt Moore type deal?
    What about Cueto? There is nothing wrong with Cueto’s arm. Perhaps $30 million (or even less) would have bought another couple of years of Cueto.
    Is there still money for Latos?

    Maybe all of these things will be taken care of in addition to the Bailey extension. If so, then this new TV deal coming down the road must be very lucrative and more power to the Reds brass. In fact, if this is the case, count me among those approving of the deal.

    Finally, given the AAV of this deal and how it compares to similar pitchers (Steve has rightly convinced me that Bailey is not, in fact, on par as a player with Greinke-even though his AAV is now only $1.5 million less than Greike’s), why not let Bailey go to market with the other teams competing for his services on the hook for a pick if they signed him. The draft pick compensation would have been a bit of leverage that the Reds apparently didn’t have in these recent negotiations. Also, if Homer does get a better deal than what the Reds have agreed to, why not just take the pick and use the money for these other things.

    Honestly, I am a bit befuddled at this point. However, if this is the market and the Reds can afford these kinds of things, then (again) more power to them and I am fully on board. I just don’t want the Reds to turn into an aging overpaid team a la the Phillies.

  3. Ohhh Steven

    I had hoped this contract was not going to come to fruition, and now that it has, am deeply saddened for the future of this ball-club. I don’t think you realize just what this means for the Reds, now and in the future.

    Whether you or any other Reds fan cares to admit, Homer Bailey is average. He has a .500 record, and ERA of over 4 and while he has made improvements in his game the last year or two, he still shows why he’s yet to be considered an above average pitcher by anyone that does not hail the Reds to be their team. One night, he’ll go out and throw you 8 excellent innings, the next, he’ll go out and have one of his patented “innings” where 4+ runs find their way across the plate.

    For me, quoting WAR is about the same as quoting tarot cards. It’s an opinionated stat designed to draw the conclusions you want to see. Every website that calculates WAR does so differently, thus why you see some players have 3.5 WAR on one site, only to have 1.7 WAR on another. It may be true that some GM’s can justify a contract because of what 1 WAR costs on the open market, but 17 million a season for Homer Bailey sets just about the worst precedent the Reds could imagine going forward.

    When it comes time to pay Cueto and Latos, and even worse when it comes time to pay Cingrani and Stephenson (who are much better than the aforementioned two), the Reds will have themselves to blame for the 21M+ years those pitchers will demand. You say the Payroll will approach 160M by 2017, and I say if that happens, the Reds pitching staff may be the worst in baseball, because it will only contain Homer Bailey and none of the other four players mentioned (as the Reds could not afford them). Arbitration for Cingrani in ’16 … dear God.

    Why it is touted time and time again that an average player will soon become exceptional simply because he is in the prime of his career is beyond me. The Reds likely paid $17M a season for a 12-10 record and 3.7 ERA next season. I’m sorry but I regard that deal a loser for all parties involved (especially considering when the comp was Masterson, and he was given 9.7M as a hold me over.)

      • @Steve Mancuso:

        How is it any different than using WAR … a made up metric that even you could not define? If Homer Bailey were to be traded, his replacement is Robert Stephenson, so is it fair to say Homer Bailey’s WAR is really 4.0, when the pitcher replacing hims is probably better?

        I’m sorry, the Reds front office was railroaded to make “something” happen this off-season, and overpaid greatly for average. Use any stat you want, Homer Bailey is making a stupid amount of money for being a middle of the rotation guy. Bully for the Reds if he turns into an ace everyone hopes he does, but if he doesn’t this contract is going to crush Cincinnati for years and years and years. (One is more likely than the other).

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: Is strikeouts a made-up metric? How about walks? How about swings and misses? By any of those measures, Bailey is a far better than average pitcher. I like Stephenson’s potential, but I think you’d have a difficult time convincing anyone he would be better than Homer Bailey in 2014. To state the (should be) obvious, WAR (especially the way FanGraphs calculates it) isolates the stuff that the player himself can control. Wins and losses is sort of the opposite of that.

          Holding Homer Bailey accountable for the offense is like saying Jay Bruce is a bad right fielder because Zack Cozart can’t get on base.

        • @Steve Mancuso:

          I’m not holding Homer Bailey accountable for anything other than pitching. He had the 40th best ERA in baseball last season among pitchers that qualified … and guys like Cingrani / Wacha and the like who threw over 100 innings aren’t included.

          This was the best season Homer has ever pitched mind you, not an average so for the Reds to have dished out $105M after the 40th best pitcher has finished his best season ever, I shudder to think what the other guys on this team will want.

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: I would say that after this contract,Bailey is highly unlikely to be considered a middle of the rotation type. At worst he is a 1A or 1B.
          More importantly, if this is a 19 million contract, five or six years from now, how will that stack up against guys like Kershaw? As far as this team becoming the Phillies, five years from now, who knows who will be on the team? Earvin, Winkler, Hamilton, will all be in their prime. Votto will be a bit older, but at a position where age does not matter as much. Mesoraco will be mid twenties-Phillips will be gone, who knows about Frazier and Cozart. Time will tell what happens. In the meantime, revenues are going up and players we do not know about yet are developing in the minors. Micro management can cause some real anxiety

      • @Steve Mancuso: Win-Loss doesn’t mean a ton.. but in fairness, in 8 of the 12 games he got the loss for he allowed 4 or more runs.

        So sure he didn’t get a ton of run support on his losses, but lets not pretend he shut them out and lost 1-0 a dozen times or something.

        • @ToddAlmighty: 48 runs is how many he gave up in his 12 losses. So sure the team only scored 14, but how much does it matter when they score 48 off him alone? That’s not even the other runs gave up by the bullpen.

        • @ToddAlmighty: If you assumed that Homer got a win in every game when he gave up 2 or fewer runs, lost every game where he gave up 5 or more runs and had a no decision in every game he gave up 3 or 4 runs, his win-loss record would have been 17-4 last year. The Reds scored 4.3 runs per game. If you give Homer wins in games he gave up 3 runs, his W-L record would have been 22-4.

          Wins and losses is a hopelessly irrelevant statistic for evaluating pitchers.

    • @FrustratedRedsFan:
      Dude, c’mon.

      Homer’s win-loss record as justification for your argument? Weak. He gives up the big inning? Weaker still.

      Love or hate the deal, you’re on the wrong site if you think those sorts of examples will win you any converts here.

    • @FrustratedRedsFan:

      You can’t seriously be bringing up Homer’s W-L record as an argument can you? My goodness. There could not be a more worthless stat in all of baseball right now.

      When a guy can throw 8 innings and get a “loss” in a 1-0 game, while another guy the same night gives up 5 in 6 and gets the “win”, that should tell you all you need to know about the usefulness of that stat. Thankfully the Cy Young voters did not hold Felix Hernandez’s W/L record against him a couple years ago.

      • @docmike:

        I also brought up ERA as well … you can choose to harp on just one of many many points in the argument, but citing WAR is just as ridiculous, and even more so considering not one person on this website can tell me how it is calculated.

        I’m a statistician for Gods sake and I couldn’t tell you how WAR is defined.

        • @FrustratedRedsFan:

          You also said he has an ERA over 4. I assume you are pointing to his career ERA, as he has not had an ERA over 4 since 2011. His last two years were 3.68 (2012) and 3.49 (2013). Which do you think is more relevant to predicting how he will do over the next few years, a career stat that includes some of his early seasons (when he was age 22-24 at the start of the seasons), or the most recent seasons of a guy who is entering his prime?

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: You’re a statistician and you can’t figure out WAR? That’s pretty surprising. It’s not that complicated. Here’s a primer: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-WAR?urn=mlb,211211

          Basically, it takes stats like wOBA and UZR to calculate a the number of runs a player produces and saves on defense. Then it calculates the average and figures out how much above or below average a player is. With me so far?

          A “replacement level” is defined as somewhere below average, and this is arbitrary, but important. Because WAR is fundamentally a counting stat, if you had a player like Devin Mesoraco, who was below average last year, he would have a lower value than someone like Hannahan if you used average as the mark, simply because Hannahan didn’t play much. Mesoraco would be like -5 runs below average, and Hannahan would be -1 run below average (for arguments sake) and that would be confusing.

          So defining an arbitrary replacement level that is somewhere below average, let’s you see that Mesoraco was actually contributing to the team more than Hannahan, even though he was below average last year, because he was playing more regularly.

          Then WAR makes adjustments for the position that you play, because different positions are more important and being able to play them is valuable in and of itself, your home park, and the overall league that you play in. This is all done so that players can be compared across positions, across teams, and across years.

          I don’t like to question anyone’s professionalism, but I find it hard to believe that a statistician would think that a well thought out and rigorous multi-variable statistic like WAR, and pitcher wins and losses are anything alike.

        • @al:

          You misunderstand. I certainly understand what WAR means, but it’s calculation is impossible. You do realize that every website that lists WAR, calculates it different yes? So while Bailey has a 3.7 WAR on one site, he also has a 3.2. 3.1, 2.9, 2.9 and 2.5 WAR on many other sites that also “calculate” WAR.

          It’s an opinion plain and simple. Depending on how you value wins and losses will change the way you view WAR, and thus, it is absolutely meaningless as a statistic, sabremetric, or anything else. It has no defined equation … hell I think this site should come up with it’s own; it would hold just as much weight as any other WAR calculation. >rlnWAR.

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: Isn’t saying “every website” overstating the case? To my knowledge, Baseball Reference and Fangraphs calculate WAR. That’s it. If WAR is being cited, there’s a 99% chance it was one of those.

        • @Matt WI:

          Not within the stats community … Ken Pomeroy (NCAA basketball guy) has begun his new baseball site and calculates WAR; Baseball Almanac also calculates WAR as well as a few others.

          But I would agree with you in that if you see it quoted somewhere, it likely came from one of those two websites; and you can bet the better WAR was used to suit the needs of the writer (thus the problem with it).

        • @FrustratedRedsFan:

          Thus, why you see Steve suggest that Homer Bailey had a 3.7 WAR last year, vs. the 3.2 WAR that Baseball Reference put up. The contract looks much better with 3.7 right?

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: A lot of folks, including most at this site, tend to average the BBR WAR and the FG WAR to come up with a number. It isn’t perfect but… I’m not completely sold on WAR either but looking at some of Bailey’s underlying stats, especially over the last 3 seasons, I don’t see how you can see an average MLB pitcher. His K/9, BB/9, OPS against, and WHIP are all well above average. His swing and miss percentage has improved each of the last three years and is above average. Last year he allowed fewer than 1 HR/9. He pitched a little better than his ERA suggested over his last 3 years. I would fully expect an ERA under 3.50 and probably in the 3.20-3.40 range. That’s an above-average MLB starter without looking at WAR at all. On can certainly argue that he isn’t an ace and have some merit but to say he’s average isn’t accurate either; at least over the last 3 seasons.

          As for how good or bad the deal ends up, we’ll have to wait and see. My initial reaction is that it’s a bit of an overpay but not by very much. I wish the deal was a year shorter but again, it’s not a given that it won’t be worth it.

          How can you say Stephenson will be better? We don’t know that. We have no idea. Maybe he will be, maybe not. How can you say Cingrani is better? His ERA was lower yes, but he also couldn’t take the ball every 5th day due to back problems. Innings pitched count. That’s what made Arroyo so valuable.

        • @LWBlogger:

          All excellent stats to cite, but at the end of the day, ERA defines a pitcher (for me anyway). The goal of this game is to score more runs than your opponent, thus the goal of any pitcher is to give up the fewest. Simply because Bailey can strike out more hitters than the average, walk fewer than the average and get batters to swing and miss means nothing; if he’s still giving up runs. I do not disagree that Homer Bailey can run through starts looking electric, but at the same time, he also has starts where he looks pedestrian.

          He wore down last year; his last three starts had two very alarming stats; 4 walks in each and only 3 K in each. In no other start all season did he have more than 4 walks and in only one other start all season did he have fewer than 3K. Aces do not run through a three week stretch with just 9K. (If you want to quote the K stat as important). He has earned run totals given up of 7, 7, 6, 5, 5, where as a guy like Cingrani, in his first year, never gave up more than 5 hits (MLB record). Four runs was the most Cingrani allowed, and he did it just one.

          And I don’t know that Stephenson will be better. I simply used him as evidence that the WAR stat is an opinion, seeing as Homer Bailey’s replacement is one of the best “replacements” a team could hope for. As for Cingrani; he threw many more innings than Bailey in his first two combined season with Cincy, threw them infinitely better, and to my knowledge, Bailey did not continuous have to ride the bus back to Louisville once a month.

          My problem is not w/ Cincinnati signing Bailey, or signing him long-term. My problem is that they grossly overpaid for a starter who so far, has NOT shown he deserves to be one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball. Taking gambles on players is fine when they’re cheap, but putting down $110M over six years should be reserved for the greats. I’m sorry, Homer Bailey is not a great and even though he’s now the 24th highest paid player in 2014, he’s no where near the 24th best (all positions, not just pitcher)

        • @LWBlogger:

          All excellent stats to cite, but at the end of the day, ERA defines a pitcher (for me anyway).The goal of this game is to score more runs than your opponent, thus the goal of any pitcher is to give up the fewest.Simply because Bailey can strike out more hitters than the average, walk fewer than the average and get batters to swing and miss means nothing; if he’s still giving up runs.I do not disagree that Homer Bailey can run through starts looking electric, but at the same time, he also has starts where he looks pedestrian.

          He wore down last year; his last three starts had two very alarming stats; 4 walks in each and only 3 K in each.In no other start all season did he have more than 4 walks and in only one other start all season did he have fewer than 3K.Aces do not run through a three week stretch with just 9K. (If you want to quote the K stat as important).He has earned run totals given up of 7, 7, 6, 5, 5, where as a guy like Cingrani, in his first year, never gave up more than 5 hits (MLB record).Four runs was the most Cingrani allowed, and he did it just one.

          And I don’t know that Stephenson will be better.I simply used him as evidence that the WAR stat is an opinion, seeing as Homer Bailey’s replacement is one of the best “replacements” a team could hope for.As for Cingrani; he threw many more innings than Bailey in his first two combined season with Cincy, threw them infinitely better, and to my knowledge, Bailey did not continuous have to ride the bus back to Louisville once a month.

          My problem is not w/ Cincinnati signing Bailey, or signing him long-term.My problem is that they grossly overpaid for a starter who so far, has NOT shown he deserves to be one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball.Taking gambles on players is fine when they’re cheap, but putting down $110M over six years should be reserved for the greats.I’m sorry, Homer Bailey is not a great and even though he’s now the 24th highest paid player in 2014, he’s no where near the 24th best (all positions, not just pitcher)

          I don’t think you understand what WAR really measures. Off the top of my head (aka, not the official meaning), it measures wins above the “average” replacement player– not Robert Stephenson. Someone ran the numbers on Stephenson a while ago and I think he came out somewhere around a 1-2 WAR player. So yeah, prospects are not what the stat means by “replacement”. That’s depth, not WAR.

        • @LWBlogger:

          All excellent stats to cite, but at the end of the day, ERA defines a pitcher (for me anyway).The goal of this game is to score more runs than your opponent, thus the goal of any pitcher is to give up the fewest.Simply because Bailey can strike out more hitters than the average, walk fewer than the average and get batters to swing and miss means nothing; if he’s still giving up runs.I do not disagree that Homer Bailey can run through starts looking electric, but at the same time, he also has starts where he looks pedestrian.

          He wore down last year; his last three starts had two very alarming stats; 4 walks in each and only 3 K in each.In no other start all season did he have more than 4 walks and in only one other start all season did he have fewer than 3K.Aces do not run through a three week stretch with just 9K. (If you want to quote the K stat as important).He has earned run totals given up of 7, 7, 6, 5, 5, where as a guy like Cingrani, in his first year, never gave up more than 5 hits (MLB record).Four runs was the most Cingrani allowed, and he did it just one.

          And I don’t know that Stephenson will be better.I simply used him as evidence that the WAR stat is an opinion, seeing as Homer Bailey’s replacement is one of the best “replacements” a team could hope for.As for Cingrani; he threw many more innings than Bailey in his first two combined season with Cincy, threw them infinitely better, and to my knowledge, Bailey did not continuous have to ride the bus back to Louisville once a month.

          My problem is not w/ Cincinnati signing Bailey, or signing him long-term.My problem is that they grossly overpaid for a starter who so far, has NOT shown he deserves to be one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball.Taking gambles on players is fine when they’re cheap, but putting down $110M over six years should be reserved for the greats.I’m sorry, Homer Bailey is not a great and even though he’s now the 24th highest paid player in 2014, he’s no where near the 24th best (all positions, not just pitcher)

          11 games with 4 or more runs allowed last season (next highest was Leake with 9, Latos and Arroyo with 8, and Cueto+Cingrani combined for 2). Out of 32 starts. That means over a third of the time Bailey gave up 4 or more runs. Not $19-20m/yr quality. In order to find the last 11 times Cueto gave up 4 or more runs in a game you have to go all the way back to Sept 2010, or 70 starts. For Latos it’s July 2012, or 47 starts.

          Bailey gives away too many games. Certainly way too much for $19-20m/yr. Those 11 times he allowed 4 or more runs account for 8 of his 12 losses last year. Don’t let “Oh, but he didn’t have any run support!” fool you. He gave up a lot of runs, that’s why he got losses.

        • Bailey gives away too many games. Certainly way too much for $19-20m/yr. Those 11 times he allowed 4 or more runs account for 8 of his 12 losses last year.

          Guess you missed my comment above. Giving up four runs isn’t giving the game away when your team averages 4.3 runs per game is it? And what of those four games when he didn’t give up four runs and still lost? Flip those and his all-important win loss percentage is 15-8.

          Further, if you assumed that Homer got a win in every game when he gave up 2 or fewer runs, lost every game where he gave up 5 or more runs and had a no decision in every game he gave up 3 or 4 runs, his win-loss record would have been 17-4 last year. The Reds scored 4.3 runs per game. If you give Homer wins in games he gave up 3 runs, his W-L record would have been 22-4.

          Wins and losses is a hopelessly irrelevant statistic for evaluating pitchers.

        • Guess you missed my comment above. Giving up four runs isn’t giving the game away when your team averages 4.3 runs per game is it? And what of those four games when he didn’t give up four runs and still lost? Flip those and his all-important win loss percentage is 15-8.

          Further, if you assumed that Homer got a win in every game when he gave up 2 or fewer runs, lost every game where he gave up 5 or more runs and had a no decision in every game he gave up 3 or 4 runs, his win-loss record would have been 17-4 last year. The Reds scored 4.3 runs per game. If you give Homer wins in games he gave up 3 runs, his W-L record would have been 22-4.

          Wins and losses is a hopelessly irrelevant statistic for evaluating pitchers.

          I posted this, or was in the process of typing it up/looking things up by the time you posted up ahead, I believe. The point is, he was the worst pitcher on the team as far as allowing 4 or more runs per game goes.

          3 runs or less in 6 innings is considered a “quality start”. So what would 4 runs be? Not quality. Over a third of his starts were automatically NOT quality. If Bailey is giving up 4 or more runs over 33% of the time, how can you try to justify him as a $20m/yr type pitcher? He was the WORST starting pitcher on the team when it came to quality starts.

          In 2010, a team that got a quality start won 66% of the time (would be a 107 win team). They’re pretty important. Yet Bailey was the worst on the team last year at giving up 4 runs or more in a start and only better than Mike Leake at getting quality starts. Sure he strikes out a bunch, makes people swing and miss a lot, and threw a no hitter… but baseball at it’s most basic is a game about scoring more runs than the other guys. Bailey simply too often lets the other guys score a lot.

        • All excellent stats to cite, but at the end of the day, ERA defines a pitcher (for me anyway).

          This is your problem. As a statistician, you should understand the importance of correlation. Studies have shown that past ERA is actually a pretty lousy predictor of future ERA. You see, runs allowed is a somewhat chunky number. It depends on defense and hit sequencing, as two examples. With two outs, Single-Single-Home Run-Ground Ball gives up three runs, where Home Run – Single – Single – Ground Ball gives up one run. That’s just one examples.

          Back to your field, statistics. The statistics FIP and xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching and the second one is a variation of the first that normalizes the percentage of home runs per fly ball) both correlate much more closely to future ERA than past ERA.

          That’s why I prefer and only cite FanGraphs WAR estimates for pitchers, because they rely on FIP instead of ERA or other runs scored measures. As the post points out, Homer was 21st in all of baseball in FIP last year.

          Even if you lower the threshold to 100 innings pitched (which increases the number of pitchers to 145) Homer is still 29th (which is even a lower percentile). Michael Wacha was lower but only threw 64 innings. As a statistician, you could probably give a great lecture on the perils of relying on small sample sizes. And Tony Cingrani’s FIP was well above Homer’s at 3.78. See, the run stuff kinda depends on luck. FIP lays that bare.

        • Steve, I have to point out that a starter giving up 4 runs is not at all the same as a team scoring 4.3 runs per game. It is very rare for a starter to pitch nine innings, so if you figure the bullpen is pitching (at least) three innings in games where the starters give up at least 4, you’re really looking at more like 5 runs (at least) surrendered per game by the pitchers, which is, most likely, putting your team out of the game.

        • Steve, I have to point out that a starter giving up 4 runs is not at all the same as a team scoring 4.3 runs per game. It is very rare for a starter to pitch nine innings, so if you figure the bullpen is pitching (at least) three innings in games where the starters give up at least 4, you’re really looking at more like 5 runs (at least) surrendered per game by the pitchers, which is, most likely, putting your team out of the game.

          Thanks Jason, I just logged in to say exactly that. Steve is calculating it like Homer gave up 4 runs over 9. I’m not going to look up the actual stats from the games, but I’m willing to bet, on average, he went less than 7 innings in all those blow up games.

          Steve also knows I’m not the biggest Homer fan around for exactly the reasons stated. Don’t get me wrong, when Homer is on, he’s very very good and will be tough to beat. However, as others have pointed out, Homer seems to have trouble consistently being “on”, moreso than even other pitchers on our team.

          This is why I still don’t view Homer as an “Ace” or even necessarily the best pitcher on our team. His total stats from the year look pretty nice, but it’s because he has extreme swings of being very good and being not so good. The “very good” are starting to outweigh the “not so good”, but Homer has to show some consistency before I (and many others) will regard him as the superstar Steve seems to think he is.

          For better or for worse, Homer is on our team for his prime years. Hopefully he finally puts it together and becomes a true elite pitcher, one who minimizes the damage and has more “very very good” days. I realize not even the best pitchers don’t blow up every now and then, but blowing up as often as Homer did is not acceptable if he wants to be considered elite.

    • @FrustratedRedsFan: I think that, with Bailey and many others, you need to actually watch him pitch; the quality of his stuff is way above average, and he is noticeably gaining in maturity and pitching sense. Steve pointed out his lack of run support, so I don’t need to. All players are overpaid, so if a team is going to be relevant, it must do so with a bunch of overpaid players.

  4. Excellent and thorough analysis as always Steve. I would just add that this deal will become only more palatable over time. The ratio $/WAR is only going to go up when inflation and new revenue streams are factored in. Locking up Bailey at 20/5 was the prudent move even if it might seem to be a lot of money now. Even assuming a slight drop in performance, the Reds will be getting their money;s worth over the course of this deal.

  5. Aroldis Chapman remains wasted the bullpen.

    The Reds had 3 seasons to move on this issue and did not. The Old Cossack screamed and cursed vulgarities never before heared echoing across the Steppes for the past 3 seasons, but I have resolved myself to the sailing of that ship. At this point, I’m hanging the Old Cossack’s cap on one, Bryan Price, to provide real value from Mr. 105 head-case. I believe Bryan understands the concept and value of high-leverage and I anticipate 80-90 true high-leverage innings from Mr. 105 in 2014. If this happens, the Old Cossack will be satisfied, if not entirely happy, about the situation, but if Bryan dumps Mr. 105 back into a one-inning, end-of-game with a 3-run-lead role, I may eat my horse-hair overcoat in unbridled anger.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Yup. This jumped out at me as well. Do you think there is something about Chapman that the Reds know/see that we simply do not? I can’t find any other explanation for his lack of important innings played.

        • @Shchi Cossack: But, once Dusty was fired, why not put Chapman on a program during the offseason to prepare him to start? Why continue this madness?

        • @tpteach: From my perspective (for whatever that’s worth), that was when the ship had sailed. The Reds really don’t have time (player control) to spend the 3 seasons it would take to even get him stretched out to be an effective and reliable starter at this point and reap any return for their efforts. They would simply be developing a starter for someone else now.

        • @preach: I’d stretch him out anyway and use him as a super reliever or whatever. Get him up to like 100 innings of relief work. So not quite a starter, but more than a relief pitcher. Maximize his usage in the bullpen, because that isn’t maximized as a closer. Even Kimbrel and his 1.01 and 1.21 ERA over the last two years has only averaged about 65 innings a year during that span.

        • @ToddAlmighty: I will restate my personal opinion that any relief pitcher in the big leagues should be able to get 3 outs in the 9th inning. That isn’t to say that certain matchups do apply.

          I just hope Price leverages his bullpen to win games, not fill in the blanks for roles.

          LeCure can close.
          So can Marshall or Parra or Broxton.

          Simon is a great closer.

        • @Johnu1: Parra was pretty awful versus righties last year but maybe. I don’t have any faith in Broxton at all. I would like to add Hoover to your list though. LeCure needs to stay as the 1000% pressure situation guy, he’s money at it.

        • @ToddAlmighty: Didn’t intend to leave Hoover off the list. Just didn’t get around to listing everyone. My comments tend to drone on a little.

      • @LWBlogger: Pulling the ‘Trigger’ on the choice of words was certainly not an accident, but after nearly prancing my way through the 2nd bottle of the Good vodka, it was certainly a happy choice.

        I think TC observed on an earlier thread, the Nation is in a joyous mood today!

    • @Shchi Cossack: Great post from you, as usual. Levity is rarely amiss. I’m glad that you acknowledged the Missile’s status as a suspected head case, though: No matter how much we, WJ, Price, or anyone else wants him to start, if he doesn’t want to, it will be hard to force him to be a productive starter, IMO. I expect (but don’t know) that Price will be likely to use him in high-leverage situations, and will be interested to see how well that works. I, for one, am not convinced that he has the maturity, control or pitch variety to excel at anything but traditional closing.

  6. I think both the club and Homer assumed equal amounts of risk in this deal, so yeah, it’s not the hometown discount. But we won’t know if it’s an overpay until we see what Scherzer gets next offseason. By then, this deal might look pretty sweet. To that end, let’s not wait to lock up Latos. DO IT NOW.

    I’ll also ask you this, would you rather have Homer or Zack Grienke moving forward? I know who I’d want….

  7. Great analysis, Steve. You have talked me down from the ledge. This seems to be a fair deal for both sides. I hope you are right and it does not prove to limit future moves.

  8. I’m a lot happier about this deal than I was the Brandon Phillips deal.

    Honestly, deals like this don’t hurt the team going forward. Paying Ludwick $15 million over 2 years, Broxton $21 million over 3 years, those are the type of contracts that are painful. And they really add up.

  9. This deal pays out at $19mm annual. Assuming Bailey stays at current performance levels (and he’s actually improved markedly each of the last two years) this is actually just below fair market value for a starting pitcher.
    I understand why some on here are scared of this contract because the numbers seem high. What they have to realize is that this is actually the going rate for a SP with Bailey’s numbers.

  10. I can’t say I’m feeling one way or the other about this deal. Someone on another thread said that this is Joey Votto money. I think it just goes to show that the baseball climate is changing once again. In the 90s and early 2000s, baseball was all about power hitters, now there is a realization that pitching and defense are the two things that have the biggest impact on the game.

    • @DevAJS: One big difference between this contract and Votto money (aside from the extra $125 million!) is that Votto was signed through his age 39 season. Bailey’s contract runs through his age 33 season.

  11. I love this contract.

    The Reds would not have had Bailey at the end of 2014. Free agents do not come to cincy.

    I agree that Payroll is heading way up. There is a core of this team, 8 players who you have to pay and you supplement them with rookies, 2nd & 3rd year players, and then fringe free agent contracts,

    Those 8 are Votto, Bruce, Phillips, Bailey, Cueto, Chapman with Latos and Leake/Marshall today. that is the core of the team and why we win 90 games. take away from that core without adequate replacement and we will struggle to win 90 games.

    You choose which of these guys you want to lock up long term. Bailey is a no brainer. Phillips and Marshall will fall off this list when their contract expires. Chapman and Leake will probably be traded for younger components.

    I would lock the other 5 up long term. today.

  12. The next on the list to be locked-up long term are Latos, then Bruce. Cueto if he would take an incentive-laden deal

    • @docmdikeCueto is a good pitcher, but I would not extend him until I know what kind of pitcher he is going to be. The same could be said for Leake and Latos. We do not know how well Latos will do after his surgeries and it never hurts to have someone in the rotation who pitches at a different speed. I do not know that Cingrani will become pitch efficient, not to mention Stephenson who has not thrown a pitch in AAA, much less the majors.

  13. Steve Adams at mlbtradrumors has an excellent analysis of the deal, for those that are interested (and no mention of win-loss record is made, I promise!)

  14. The Old Cossack downed a LOT of bad Vodka when Choo signed with the Rangers for $130MM over 7 years, but that’s a contract the Reds simply couldn’t and shouldn’t swallow for an age 32 season outfielder, even Choo.

    The Old Cossack plans on downing a lot of GOOD vodka to celebrate the $105MM over 6 years for an age 28 season elite starting pitcher.

    While mega-payroll teams like the Dodgers can afford long-term contracts for three or more starting pitchers, the Reds will likely be limited to two. That means choosing between locking up Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto, both of whom are currently under team control through the 2015 season.

    Over the next 5-6 seasons, the Reds have Bailey & Cingrani under team control with Stephenson nearly major-league ready and by all accounts a premier starting pitcher in waiting. That leaves 2 starting rotation spots to fill. I agree that the Reds can not afford to extend both Latos and Cueto beyond 2015, but if the Reds move quickly, I believe they could afford to extend Leake at a lower cost along with Cueto or Latos and solidify their starting rotation until the next crop of starters is fully ready to step up from their minor league system. What the Reds simply CAN NOT afford to do is continue to overspend on relief pitching.

        • @LWBlogger: My ex is a Russian and I spent a couple of vacations over there, drinking crystal with the locals.

          Oh, yeah … crossed arms with an old Cossack uncle of hers down south who made his own refreshment. Uncle Vania was at the battle when the Soviets crossed the Rhine.

          His hooch burned blue, went down white, turned me red. Very patriotic stuff.

        • @Johnu1: LOL! Aweseome… My toast was Polish because I speak fluent Polish, but it is fairly close to Russian. It is for that reason that I understand about 1/3 to 1/2 of the Russian I hear. I can’t read Russian however. The Russians as you know use Cyrillic and the Poles use a slightly modified version of the Latin alphabet.

      • @Johnu1: @LWBlogger: Should we ever (and I certainly hope we do!) meet down on the Banks for a round or two or until we quit counting, the Old Cossack shall treat you to the best as his friends and we shall discuss and debate until the last best man is left standing the Reds lineup construction, efficacy of advanced metrics, strengths of Bryan Price and why Joey Votto is the BEST hitter to ever step foot in GABP.

  15. From the post above (not sure how to quote that: “Is Bailey worth $110 million? If you’re looking for a saber-minded assessment, try this. Assume that Bailey earns 4.0 WAR this season (3.7 fWAR last year) then he starts a normal decline of .5 WAR/year. Over the length of the new contract, he’d earn 16.5 WAR. To put a dollar value on that, assume one WAR is worth $6 million on the open market, plus factor in a modest rate of salary inflation. Under those rough assumptions, Bailey would earn in the ballpark (ha) of $108 million.”

    The difficulty I have with this contract is that it requires those assumptions just to get to fair market value as a free agent.

    Problem #1: Bailey is not a free agent this year, but he is being compensated as if he were.

    Problem #2: The assumption starts with Bailey having a 4 win season next year, which he has never done. So even to get to fair market value, we have to hope that Bailey has his best year ever next year.

    Problem #3: You’re already factoring in salary inflation, so this deal probably isn’t going to look much better by the end of it.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the deal, and I’m happy to have Bailey around for a long time, even if it’s because I like having players that you can get to know. I loved that Larkin only played for the Reds, for example.

    But if I’m being cold and calculating, paying Bailey $10mil for this year (which we’re already assuming is going to be his best ever) and then letting him walk, getting a high draft pick, and letting prospects fill his spot for league minimum, probably would have put the Reds in a better long-term position.

    • @al:

      Problem 1: Not really. he was going to make $10M this year, which makes it something like $90M /5 yrs. That’s about market rate.

      Problem 2: This is a fair point.

      Problem 3: Given the salary inflation that’s been going on with new TV money, it’s quite likely Steve is undervaluing the cost per win. There is good research out there already suggesting it’s more like $7M/win on the market.

        • @al: You may be right. I’m fairly lukewarm on the extension, myself. I just had quibbles with a couple of your points. I think it’s probably close to market rate overall, and research suggests that teams know what they are doing when they extend players. Players given extensions by their current teams tend to perform better against a typical aging curve than players allowed to enter free agency.

  16. P-Doc once again embarrassing himself by calling Homer a “slightly better-than-average pitcher”. I don’t read his articles because I don’t give him clicks, but I assume it’s more drivel.

  17. And because I don’t want to be a downer on the one day this offseason that the Reds actually did something, here’s my more positive spin on this deal:

    It is not very often that you get to sign a free agent only to years in his prime. For the most part, guys don’t end up hitting free agency until they are 29 or 30, and then they want a long-term deal and you end up paying them well into their mid- and late 30s when they are in rapid decline.

    That, or they are so good that to get their prime years, you end up paying for years deep into their decline, like the Reds did with Votto.

    So kudos to the Reds for locking up Bailey’s ages 28 through 33 seasons. That’s tough to do, and probably why they were willing to pay a little bit more than many of us expected.

    Steve put the normal half win decline on his assumptions above, but because of years that the Reds are getting, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bailey did not decline that much over the course of this deal.

    Normal decline would be 4, 3.5, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5

    I could just as easily see: 3.5, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2. That would be a total of 21.5 wins, and that would end up making this deal look really good for the Reds.

  18. Question: If his improvement in his metrics is due to the increase in his velocity, where did it come from? Why now? What changed? Is it typical for a 27 year old to gain velocity? Is the increased velocity likely to be something the Reds can count on over the next several years?

    • @BRED: I believe his velocity increase is a consequence of going deeper into games. He seems to be the rare kind of pitcher who actually throws harder over the last half of a game. If I recall correctly, he was sitting at 96-98 during the last three innings of last year’s no-no.

    • @BRED: A program I watched not long ago discussed Sandy Koufax and his learning curve in the spring training. Koufax reportedly learned to throw harder after he learned to be more efficient with his delivery. the tools were there to throw 95, but they were not being used properly.

    • @BRED: My recollection is that, when the Reds drafted Homer, he was billed as throwing in the upper-90s. If so, the real question should be: what happened in between? Because in 2013 it seemed to me that he frequently threw brutal gas late in many of his starts. He worked out hard, gained weight and strength, and appears to be learning to pitch. Contracts are at least partially based on speculation, since not all that is past is prologue (apologies to the Bard).

    • @BRED: I think Homer’s velocity has moved around generally over the course of his career. His average fastball has been:

      2007: 91.7
      2008: 92.1
      2009: 94.1
      2010: 92.7
      2011: 92.2
      2012: 92.4
      2013: 94.1

      So I’m not sure we can say his improvement is mostly due to increased velocity. Last year he was throwing as hard as he ever has, but the same as when he put up a 4.52 ERA with 2 fewer k/9 in 2009.

      I think largely he’s just learned to pitch.

  19. The best part about this deal is that Bailey will only be 34 when it expires. Plenty of time for Walt to sign Bailey to another multi-year contract.

  20. I asked this on the previous thread but want to throw it out here because I’m interested in any responses. Do you think Homer will be able to put behind him whatever issue(s) he’s had with Mesoraco or should we expect to see Mes get the day off whenever Homer is on the mound?

    • @Kyle Farmer: If I’m Price, I have Mes catching him most the time in spring training. You want your number 1 throwing to your number 1. I don’t think Price is going to be big on the whole “personal catcher” thing. I think he’ll rotate catchers based on situations rather than who’s pitching (day game after night game, or following an extra-inning game, or following a game where it was very hot and humid, etc).

    • @Kyle Farmer: Mes needed the reps and it was tough with Hanigan being such a good defensive catcher for Mes to get in groove with Homer and others. Hopefully Mes learned a lot last year, and he will be the guy from day one to get on same page with all the starters. With this being his 3rd MLB season, I look for Mes to have a good year defensively and offensively.

  21. In my opinion when you become to “concerned” with the amount of monies teams spend on players, you lose the true enjoyment of the game. The amount of monies these teams are making is outlandish and so are the salaries of today’s players. There is not ONE team in MLB that can’t afford a 100+ million dollar roster and still make a boat load of money. I could care less what Homer Bailey signed for, I am just glad the issue is over and we can get on to actual games.

  22. Steve, great analysis. It looks like we both got some things right. I correctly predicted Bailey would get over $20m a year and at least $100m total, you correctly predicted the extension would remain under 6 years.

    I still think it is a bit pessimistic to assume that Bailey will start declining by .5 WAR a year after next season. Another consideration is whether $/WAR is going to go up over the life of his contract. By all indications it probably wil as teams are infused with more cash.

    • @CaptainTonyKW: I was being conservative on the rate of decline, in part because I assumed he’d improve in 2014 over 2013. I guess there are a few ways to look at the contract. If you think of it as a five year extension, then he didn’t get $100 million. If you think of it as a six year contract, then he didn’t get $20 million/year. Probably the best way to represent it is to bracket off $10 million for 2014 and say he got 5 years and $95 million. That’s what I figured on the years and a little more than I thought for the total.

  23. IMO, everything about this deal is good.

    The discussion about whether Homer is league average — I’d say he’s as good as the middle 40 percent of the qualified NL rotation guys.

    Is he worth $110M? If he were Kershaw, he’d get twice that much.

    Bailey is a durable guy, will sometimes throw a 2-hitter, will sometimes not last till the 4th. What pitchers fit that description?

    ALMOST ALL OF THEM.

    He adds stability in places where this team needs to be stable. It cements his relationship with the fans. If that doesn’t count, you maybe miss the point of baseball.

    Having a genuine MLB experienced pitcher in the mix for the next few years is, IMO, an amazing value.

    I don’t much care about his WAR, his WHIP or his choice of WINE.

  24. I agree with your assessment John.

    At risk of the wrath of the baseball Gods and all that is holy though, I am taking exception with the Old Cossack:

    “I believe they could afford to extend Leake at a lower cost along with Cueto or Latos and solidify their starting rotation until the next crop of starters is fully ready to step up from their minor league system”

    You do sign 2 of these 3 guys but Leake is the 3rd option. If you can sign both Cueto and Latos, you have the best team.

    It means that you need to trade Leake and Chapman for prospects, but you can trade both once Cueto and Latos are signed. In 2 years, neither of Leake or Chapman are cheap going forward anyway. And Stephenson has replaced one of them for lower cost

    • @reaganspad: I’m actually kind of pessimistic that they’ll re-sign Leake. Many teams would see Leake as a #2 or #3 kind of starter and pay him more than the Reds would. That assumes the Reds can’t or don’t sign Latos or Cueto, though, and I think they will sign one of those two. Leake’s extension is sort the of the same kind of mismatch that Arroyo was. He’s worth more to other teams than he is to the Reds.

    • @reaganspad:

      You do sign 2 of these 3 guys but Leake is the 3rd option. If you can sign both Cueto and Latos, you have the best team.

      Ah, but you didn’t disagree with me at all and on a day like today, no Reds fan could anger the Baseball Gods! If the Reds could extend Cueto and Latos, that would most certainly provide the best starting rotation for the Reds, but I don’t believe the Reds can sign both Latos and Cueto. I do believe Leake could be signed within the Reds budget along with either Latos or Cueto…if they sign him now and if the Reds deem that the best use of their available financial resources.

  25. 48 million dollars are deferred at various times (the November AFTER the year it was meant for).

    MLBTR says this:

    He will receive $9MM and $10MM over the next two years, then see a significant bump to $18MM in 2016, $19MM in 2017, $21MM in 2018, and $23MM in 2019.

    Notably, a significant portion of each year’s annual salary will be deferred until the month of November, after the end of each season covered. Kay says that Bailey’s in-season salaries will be $3MM (2014), $4MM (2015), $11MM (2016), $12MM (2017), $14MM (2018), and $15MM (2019), with the remainder deferred to the fall. Likewise, the $5MM buyout of the mutual option year is deferred until the following November, if it becomed payable.

    If Bailey is dealt, however, that aspect of the contract is swept away and he would receive all money during the appropriate season (or, in the case of the buyout, at the point that the option is declined). It is unclear whether the deal contains additional no-trade protection.

    • @rhayex: I don’t fully understand the November aspect of the contract, except that it will save the team money if they plan to trade him. I do, however, fully understand the lower salaries for the first two years. . . This is just waiting for the TV money, no? I would not be surprised, frankly, if he is traded sometime during/after seasons three or four of the deal, before his 10/5 rights kick in.

      • @Drew Mac: I get the feeling that it’s after the financial quarter for the season, aka the Reds know how much money they made or lost for the season. That helps with their plan for that following offseason.

  26. I’m not positive about the November aspect either. I seem to remember Joey Votto’s contract having a similar provision. Back then, someone here posted that it had something to do with the Reds fiscal year.

  27. There’s been a lot of talk about the Reds signing 2 of the big 3 (Bailey, Latos, and Cueto) to get the rotation on a solid footing for years to come.

    What if they aren’t able to get Latos OR Cueto to extend their contracts due to skyrocketing salaries or other factors outside their control. If they are able to resign Leake, presumably for less than they would need to pay Latos or Cueto, the 2016 rotation could look like:

    #1 Bailey

    #2 Stephenson (presumably in his second year, how does hit fit in 2015 without a trade?)

    #3 Cingrani (flop #3 and #4 if you prefer)

    #4 Leake

    #5 TBD (two years in the interim to fill this spot)

    That’s a very good rotation at a more reasonable price tag, which would allow for more spending on offense. Considering the Dodgers, with much more in the way of financial resources, have a great top of the rotation followed by question marks, this could be a path forward. I LOVE the 2014 and 2015 rotation (if it isn’t changed by a trade or injury) and believe that the current rotation paired with an average offense can win (yes, it all) without sacrificing the future. However, come 2016 salaries will escalate: can a Leake signing alone keep the rotation in very good shape? Can a trade of someone like Chapman (or Latos or Cueto) net a fifth starter in the meantime?

    Meanwhile, I really like the Bailey signing. It considerably brightens the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

  28. Interesting discussion. I like Bailey but not the deal. Can’t believe it is the going price. Time will tell. Would the A’s or Tampa make this deal? Oh, that’s right, the Reds are loaded. Maybe it has been covered, but what is the opportunity cost of spending this money on Bailey? Does it prevent filling another big hole? The Reds thought through all of this no doubt.

  29. To everyone upset about the “bad contract” – what did you expect? The LA Dodgers spend indiscriminately, and have set the tone. Signing Bailey this early was wise, and a good risk. He was only going to get tougher to sign.

    I think time will say a lot about just how badly Dusty Baker damaged this team – keeping Chapman as closer for 2012 and 2013 effectively ended any chance of Chapman starting for the duration of his contract. Keeping Chapman in the pen also made the bad Broxton contract a terrible one.

    Aaaaand – we’re still waiting for a big bat to add to the lineup.

    • @jessecuster44:

      The Braves signed Julio Teheran to a 6 year extension earlier this month for $32M. He’s younger than Bailey, had a better ’13 than Bailey and is on the payroll for a fraction of the price.

      So to say that Bailey was a good sign and that the Reds got him “early” is a little off IMHO.

      • @FrustratedRedsFan: Never said it was a good sign. It was a good risk. All Bailey’s numbers point upwards, and the Yankees, Red Sox or Cubs would pounce on Bailey next year, making the Choo free agency pursuit look like a close miss for the Reds. What proven pitching talent can the Reds sign for 6/$32M ?

      • @FrustratedRedsFan: Apples and oranges. Teheran has one year of service time. The contract covers two years of league minimum, three years of arbitration and just one year of free agency. The Braves actually paid Teheran more in each of those years than Homer Bailey earned. For example, the Braves are paying Teheran $11 million in his Arb3 year and the Reds are paying Bailey just $9 million for Arb3. So in no sense is Teheran’s contract cheaper than Bailey’s unless you just completely ignore the service years.

        And how was Teheran’s 2013 better than Bailey’s? Wins and losses? ERA? Again, stats that don’t isolate the pitcher’s contribution. In stats that do, like FIP, xFIP, SIERA, Bailey had a better year. Bailey had more innings pitched, more strikeouts, more complete games, more no hitters (ha), fewer home runs, lower batting average against, more swinging strikes, higher WAR and more first pitch strikes.

        • @Steve Mancuso:

          All statistics that mean nothing Steve when determining how a pitcher has helped a team win or lose games over the course of the season. Why not just quote how many strikes Bailey threw at 7:54pm vs. Teheran, or how many swinging strikes on pitch 3 Bailey had in an AB; I’m sure those would likely favor Homer too.

          Who cares about HR’s, Complete Games, K’s, No hitters (funny), BAA against; it’s absolutely 100% meaningless. Homer Bailey gives up RUNS, and the one goal of any pitcher in this game is to not do that. Bailey could have the greatest K rate in history of baseball, and it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference. You routinely point out that Chapman is God when it comes to K’s, but is average when it comes to being a closer, which is HIS JOB. Now you are arguing the other side of the fence “Let’s not put so much stock into runs allowed … Bailey is awesome in these categories”.

          You know what all of those stats you rolled off tell me. When Homer Bailey allows runners on base; he doesn’t know how to keep them there. Even with excellent stats in those areas, those runners find a way to cross the plate frequently enough to raise his ERA to slightly above average levels for a SP. You look at Cingrani as a counter to that … Tony gave up 3 hits with RISP all season; so when runners get on base, they stay there. (Admittedly just one season under his belt)

          Again, you can suggest that this stat and that stat make Homer and excellent pitcher, but what I see on the mound, and what many other see on the mound is too many games where Homer “doesn’t have it”. Too many crooked number innings which will ruin a pitchers game, week, month. Yes, Homer Bailey puts up a lot of zeros … but where other, ace pitchers will give up a run here, or even two runs there; Homer is giving up 3’s and 4’s. Is there a chance Bailey becomes worth the money paid / absolutely. Is he worth the money now / absolutely not.

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: As I said, statistics like FIP, xFIP and SIERA are more strongly correlated to giving up runs in the future than is past ERA. As a statistician, you ought to have a pretty strong presumption against “what people see” anecdotally compared to collected statistics over the course of a year. I cited all those statistics where Homer was better than Teheran because they are more directly under the control of the pitcher, unlike runs scored which is influenced by defense, speed of the runners, hit sequencing, bullpen randomness etc.

          Homer gave up 4 runs in an inning three times last year, and not once in the final four months of the season.

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: First off, as “statistician” you should do a little research on strand rate. You seem to have no grasp of baseball statistics at all, specifically, which ones are largely out out of a player’s control (like strand rate).

          Second, Homer has had a solidly better than average ERA for the last two years, which is what the Reds signed him for, not his performance in 2009. You can say he doesn’t have a long enough track record if you want, but you can’t just say that his ERA is higher than league average, when the pitcher he clearly is now has an ERA below average.

      • @FrustratedRedsFan: Yeah, Teheran is “younger” than Bailey — he’s coming off his rookie season. Comparing the two contracts is meaningless. Most of Teheran’s contract is a buyout of controllable years.

        • @earmbrister:

          Comparing the contracts is very reasonable. You see what kind of extension can be done when you truly get to a pitcher “early” vs. waiting for a good year or two, and then locking him up for a 6 year extension. Had the Reds been more confident in what Bailey could deliver to them; I bet two years ago, they could have given him a similar 6 year contract for pennies on the dollar of what he received today.

          How smart would the Reds have looked after locking Bailey down for six years at $30M in 2011 … (so four more years of Homer on the dirt cheap). That’s the exact risk the Braves just took w/ Teheran. A nice, inexpensive risk.

          Yet in five professional baseball seasons, Homer Bailey has earned $9,034,500, and in the next six, will earn $110,000,000. Cincinnati wanted to ride the cheap train as long as they could; and it’s going to cost them dearly.

        • @FrustratedRedsFan: You don’t quite get the point. The Reds *did* get Homer Bailey cheaply early in his career. They paid him less than the Braves agreed to pay (and guarantee) to Teheran. To repeat the point that you missed, the Braves are paying Teheran in A3 and FA1 more than the Reds are paying Bailey in those years. Why would you pat the Braves on the back for signing Teheran to a more expensive contract than what the Reds paid Bailey? All pitchers cost more in their free agent years than they do in their team control years. And Teheran will, too.

    • @jessecuster44: Somebody hold the dead horse while I get my bat…We don’t know for certain why Chapman doesn’t start, but we do know that he doesn’t want to. As for Dusty: His tenure coincided with the Reds’ resurgence from moribund to respectable, and given our increasing candor about the quality of the players, the argument that they won 90+ in spite of Dusty needs to be rejected out of hand.

      • @greenmtred: That’s a valid discussion point. Dusty has been pilloried for a dozen reasons, and while I am happy to see the dugout staff change, it’s more to do with a fresh approach than anything.

        That doesn’t mean the old approach was a total failure. The total failure was in not being able to win a couple of games that would have been won had the Reds played better.

        Recasting the Dusty story into a new script won’t change much but I do agree that we need to be consistent with the debate. As it relates to Homer Bailey, I believe Chris Welsh’s comments about him in the podcast (see ———-> over there) … are enlightening.

  30. As an aside, I believe that every MLB player who signs a $100MM contract should have to pen a personal thank you note to the folks who invented TiVo/DVR. It is simply amazing to me that this seemingly innocuous technological advance is what has left MLB (especially, among the professional sports) awash in so much money that these salaries are even possible. Who would have thunk it?

    • @Drew Mac: I think the rise in revenue can be attributed to MLB’s very successful and profitable digital business (MLBAM), MLB Network, International growth, and expanding broadcast rights. Tivo/DVR has been one of the greatest television improvements for the consumer but I’m not sure it’s significantly generated income for MLB.

      • @rickdelux: A lot of MLB’s financial success is also related to international marketing that the Internet has provided. When you consider that the all-star teams are being chosen by people in Tasmania, Indonesia and South Korea, it shows the stretch of commercial reach. Nikon and Toyota in some ways depend on the American consumer and they can reach them easily now.

  31. Wow, this proposed trade rumor is just absurd. http://www.dodgersbeat.com/the-dodgers-should-trade-andre-ethier-to-the-reds-in-march-but-probably-not-for-brandon-phillips/

    Basically, the guy says that he wouldn’t be willing to trade Andre Ethier without receiving at least one (he says two) top prospects. So he proposes Ethier for Ervin and Barnhart. His other proposal includes Phillips and Ervin and Barnhart. For both these prospects, you can get a guy who hit .272/.360/.423 last season at age 31 and is signed through 2017 (with a 2018 vesting option) for 96 million dollars. If you include Phillips, you get Beckett (who threw 43 innings of 5.19 ball), too! because that’s a fair trade.

  32. Two main components of a competitive team remain blurry — those being an unpredictable farm system and a muddled offense.

    I think that if the Reds F.O. can anchor down this pitching staff, finding a decent LF should be pretty easy to achieve. (I remain optimistic about Billy the Kid.)

    The parts of the farm system that are troublesome are also fairly easy to identify — namely, solid middle infielders and catching depth.

    It will be interesting to see if the immediate fixes to the offense (through coaching and rhetoric) are real or just a smoke screen.

  33. Could the Reds afford a contract like this? I believe yes. Could the Reds afford a contract for this pitcher? Like Steve said or at least implied, only if Homer can keep up these numbers. As long as he does, yes.

    But, I still can’t help thinking that, to bridge to Stephenson, I would have gone with Arroyo for the short contract he was looking for, and trade Homer for some prospects. Easy to say, though, because there needs to be a club out there willing to give up some prospects for Homer. As well as, like Steve said, that almost secures that Cueto or Latos is gone.

    I do believe it is good, still, that the Reds can decide with options. It wasn’t too long ago that the Reds were in position they had to sign Homer to remain a “good” club. Now, they have options. Like I said, they could have let Homer go and have kept Arroyo around for a bridge to Stephenson. An option, just like signing Homer was, only an option.

    • @Johnu1:

      I just read this as well. Pretty disappointed that the decision has already been made … I think if Hamilton is successful as a leadoff hitter for Cincinnati, Votto will approach Bonds for single season IBB records. How many times will Hamilton be on 2nd or 3rd with one out?

    • @Johnu1: What caught my eye on that page was this:

      “Phillips’ RBI tally masks eroding skill set”

      Seems a harsh statement for an official site. No wonder Brandon isn’t speaking with reporters now. I wouldn’t either.

      • @preach: That about Phillips puzzled me a little. I know he’s had hash-outs with Fay and, of course, the Rosecrans episode. I could see why he’d weary of those questions, in addition to his being trade bait.

        The Votto thing doesn’t bother me much since the team hasn’t even had a scrimmage game yet. Price isn’t going to tell us anything and he basically didn’t in those comments, other than he wasn’t going to force Votto to rethink his approach. I believe the general opinion on this board agrees with that.

        The question of placement in the order is really academic at the moment.

  34. I would add that, as part of the eyeball test on pitchers, a segment of Bailey’s success/failure — and it isn’t unique to him — is the lack of an efficient offense.

    How? A team that can put 3 runs on the board in the first inning can give a starter an extra 40 pitches.

    Most of the Cardinals’ pitching success related to them soring runs early and giving their starters an inning to get used to the game.

    This probably isn’t a “metric” to speak of, but it’s what I see. When the Reds hobbled off the field after 5 or 6 innings, with 2 hits, one of them by Votto with nobody on, it had an effect on how the dugout staff managed the game.

    Give Homer a run or two in the first inning. He’ll get those “wins.”

    As an aside, I looked up Felix Hernandez, and if you discount (yeah, OK, you can’t) the 2009 season, his W-L is very average. Nothing ELSE about him is average, but that part is. Could be, 2014 is the year that Homer Bailey goes 19-5.

    • @Johnu1:

      Is the rhetoric now “Bailey would be a better pitcher if the Reds scored Runs”? I understand that in the games the Reds lost while Bailey was on the mound; the runs scored number was bad but we’re talking about a team that was 3rd in the NL in runs. Are we saying if Homer Bailey was on the 10th best NL run scoring team, his record would be 8-15?

      Again, I reference Cingrani because as bad as the run support was for Homer, it was worse for Tony. Games he pitched, and the Reds lost, the following run totals were scored by Cincinnati: 2,3,3,0,0,0,0,1,2,1. Yes, four consecutive games he pitched, the Reds scored zero (that beauty in LA still hurts). In one of those games, Cingrani gave up zero earned runs, and still got the loss (Padres, Jack Hanrahhan triple error and double play nightmare).

      But that’s baseball. Sometimes, you go out there and your team doesn’t score squat, and you have to go out and give up squat just to keep them in it. Cingrani did that time and time and time again; so it’s unfair to suggest Homer would be a better pitcher with run support, when there was another pitcher on his own staff who got even less.

      • @FrustratedRedsFan: The issue is that you’re the only one that thinks Bailey having more wins would show that he’s a “better pitcher.” If the Reds had scored more runs for Bailey, he would probably have more wins. But he would be the same pitcher.

      • @FrustratedRedsFan: FWIW, I think even Pedro Villarreal would be a better pitcher if the team scored more runs. The point I have made, and continue to make, is that a rotation pitcher is generally as good as the team behind him. Not many guys are Steve Nebraska.

        Anybody in the Reds dugout now and in any year in the past will tell you: Get the pitcher a couple of runs and we can play ball the way we want.

        I can only think of one time in recent (reasonably) history where a great pitcher won despite a terrible team — Steve Carlton, when he won half of the Phils’ games in 1972.

        I think you’ve anchored yourself to the notion that this is a bad contract and that no matter what evidence dispute that, you aren’t going to be persuaded.

        Homer Bailey stabilizes the Reds’ rotation. Regardless of his role, he’s a summarily predictable person in Price’s pitching philosophy. (alliteration preferred.)

        I don’t follow advanced metrics either but I do watch Homer pitch on my MLB feed every 5th day.

        When the Reds score runs early for their starters, they vastly improve their chances of winning in so many ways.

        It’s how the Cardinals won 97 — jump on early and let the pitchers pitch their game.

      • @FrustratedRedsFan: It’s not unfair at all to suggest that. Not only does the game get managed differently when the team has a decent lead, but the pitcher can pitch more aggressively. Cingrani getting little run support indicates that he could have been a better pitcher. Just as Bailey could have. Perhaps Cingrani could have gone deeper in those games if he hadn’t been pitching cautiously to protect a small or non-existent lead.

  35. steveschoen: There is not a market for a one year rental. Tampa Bay is the King of trading pitchers before the free agent year and David Price is still a Devil Ray.

    Leake and Arroyo are the same pitcher. You sign Bronson and trade Leake who has 2 years of control or Chapman at this point.

    Homer is a building block for this team. As are Cueto and Latos. Sign those guys and if you need to trade one of them in 2-3 years when the next Stephenson is coming up through the ranks, you do that with a controlled player.

    Lots of ERA, Strikeouts ans WAR discussed. I did not read every word, but something I did not see any mention of (could have missed it):

    Homer pitches in GABP

    That accounts for a lot in my book.

    I do like that Leake’s baseball card shows him with a bat.

    • @reaganspad: His ERA last year was 0.26 lower at home than on the road. So his ERA not being elite, and his having 11 starts (team high) of 4 or more runs allowed last season aren’t connected to him pitching in GABP. He just loses it too often.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Todd, I agree that he has room to grow. You point out that his numbers are better at home, a tougher place to pitch. He will continue to get better and then we would not be able to afford him next year.

        I think he could be much better at controlling the running game, which causes him to “Lose it” too much

        That said, I still like this contract.

        I hope they ink Bruce and Cueto to extensions this year also

  36. After reading and reading and reading, about all of these metrics and measurements. I feel that there is one aspect that has not been mentioned. This is a team with a new manager, a team that been in question of having a strong leader in its ranks. I think one of the best long term benefits to this signing is that Homer has the attitude and temperament to be that. He has grown in presence each year, Price knows this most of all. I see this as a step in a new club house and on field attitude of the REDS.

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