2011 Reds

Brandon Phillips Is Still the Second Baseman of the Future

First, I would like to say greetings to everyone here at Redleg Nation. Second, I would like to thank Chad for giving me the opportunity write a series of articles analyzing the future of various Reds players, the first of which you are about to read.

Brandon Phillips, you may have heard, plays 2nd for the Reds. He is also in a contract year. The Reds have a $12.5M option on him for next year, and there have been questions about whether they should pick up the option, extend him, or cut bait and go with a new kid from the minors. This is the question I’m here to answer.

First, let’s talk about what kind of player Phillips is right now. Since coming to the Reds (I think it’s best to discount his stats with the Indians for a number of reasons), Phillips has been remarkably consistent offensively as he hovers right around league average.  How he has gotten to league average has changed, however.

Phillips once hit 30 homeruns, but we shouldn’t expect that again. His power has been trending down since 2007 when his ISO peaked at .197 (it sits at .115 currently). Fortunately, his walk and strikeout rates have improved just enough to keep him at league average. It also helps that offense has been declining league-wide for several years. If you are a league average hitter at 2nd, you’re already ahead of the curve. So far so good.

In the field, well, we all know the deal, don’t we? What adjectives can we summon? Fantastic, breathtaking, resplendent. Use whichever one you want, Phillips is fun to watch at 2B, and the numbers agree. His UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is consistently good-to-great.

Fielding and hitting added together make Phillips all-star caliber. In a good year, he’s among the best at his position and in a bad year, he’s still nicely above average.

But who is he going to be? This is what we all want to know. We want to look in the crystal ball and see how long he’ll keep this up.

Phillips is currently in the midst of his age 30 season (though, if he’d been born three days later, we’d all be calling this his age 29 season, but I digress). Trying to figure out how he’s going to age, we find some good signs and some bad.

We can, I think, safely call Phillips a fast player and fast players do tend to age better than other players. They stay more or less at peak performance until 31 and tail off reasonably slowly for the next few years. 2nd basemen, however, tend to age like you think they do (not well).

So what’s a GM to do? When will age catch Brandon Phillips?

I am going to use Fangraphs’ WAR numbers for Phillips because BR thinks he is a below average fielder, and I think that is, quite frankly, ridiculous. From 2007-2010, Phillips’ WAR totals were, 5.1, 3.3, 3.2, and 4.3 respectively. At the moment, he’s on pace for 6 WAR in 2011, and that would be a career high, though I don’t think it’s terribly likely. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him touch 5 WAR again, but let’s put him down for 4.5 which, given last year, looks like a decent enough estimate of his true talent since he is more or less at his peak right now.

4.5 WAR is nothing to sneeze at. An average player (as in, someone who may well start for a lot of ML teams) is going to put up 2.0 WAR. Phillips is very good. Some of us overrate him, and some of us underrate him, but he is a very, very good Major League player. Aging him, given his skillset, is something of a crapshoot, though, and I find that I can’t come up with a better tactic than the standard deduction of half-a-win per season that is used by pretty much everybody. That gives us this:

Year WAR
2011 4.5
2012 4.0
2013 3.5
2014 3.0
2015 2.5

Given this, picking up the option doesn’t look like a bad idea. It’s easy to get underwhelmed by Phillips offensive numbers, but given his position, they aren’t bad at all and he can certainly pick it at 2nd. The cost of a win on the open market right now is about $4.5M, which means Phillips would have to fall under 3 WAR (which he hasn’t done since his first year as a Red) to not be worth the $12.5M the Reds would owe him.

An extension also doesn’t look like a terrible idea, either. Especially if he’ll sign for less per year than the option. He figures to be worth better than $12M a year for at least the next three years, and I doubt the Reds would try to extend him for longer than that.

An aside before I close out: I know some of you are going to start howling about the Reds’ prospects. They certainly do have a lot of good middle-infielders down there. That said, the only one who I think really figures to be better than average, which is what you need if you’re going to replace Phillips, is Billy Hamilton, and he isn’t likely to be ready until the end of next year at the very earliest. When he is, there’s a nice spot to Brandon’s right where the Reds have been looking for the right man since a future Hall-of-Famer vacated the position some years ago.

Well, you can color me surprised. When I started researching this, I didn’t expect to come down in favor of anything beyond maybe picking up the option, but if the Reds can extend Phillips for something like 3 yrs/$30M, I think they should do it. If they can get him for less than that, they should definitely do it. Certainly, he could fall off a cliff — it happens, but risk is part of baseball — and Phillips looks like a decent bet.

56 thoughts on “Brandon Phillips Is Still the Second Baseman of the Future

  1. Small market teams do not win by giving 30+ year old players $10M/year. I say best case scenario they are still just treading water at the trade deadline and they package Phillips and prospects for a legit pitcher. Who that is I have no idea. But until the ballpark fills up on a consistent basis there isn’t any way to build this team outside of developing your own or trading your good players that are in contract years away for other teams prospects – ask the Tampa Bay Rays how things are going. We can’t pay Votto, Bruce, Stubbs, Phillips, Cueto, Bailey, etc unless again people start filling up the ballpark and that doesn’t happen very often. Trade him and get something legit or some very close prospects and just go out and win. They obviously haven’t been tearing it up with him in there.

  2. Nice analysis. I completely agree. The performance one can expect from BP over the next several years is higher than they can expect from any of the prospects. If the team wants to maintain their current production at 2B their only choice is to sign him.

  3. I would probably have written something very similar if I were to analyze the BP situation. However, I’m still going to bring up a couple things…

    1. The first poster kind of touched on the fact that just because Phillips is worth $12M, it doesn’t mean the Reds should pay him $12M. There are only so many guys a smaller market team can pay market value for. At some point you need to let the veterans go and stick with guys who are under market value.

    2. While 4.5 WAR for this year seems conservative given his performance so far, I think it sets a pretty high benchmark for the next several years. Phillips has eclipsed 3.5 WAR twice in his career, at ages 26 and 29, and yet this trend expects him to do it the next two years at ages 31 and 32. Seems a bit optimistic.

    3. How often does an all-star caliber player become a free agent at age 30 and actually take less money per year than he was just making? It seems logical to us because we know a player starts to decline at this age. However, this doesn’t seem to be how the baseball open market works. Maybe BP gives the Reds a hometown discount, but I would expect him to command something like 4yrs/$60M.

    That said, I think it is a little surprising when you dig into the numbers and realize $12M for BP isn’t so bad. But again, there’s so many things to consider, I wouldn’t want to be in Jocketty’s shoes for this one.

  4. I also agree that BP will outperform any of the prospects in the Reds system. However, as a small market team, on a bang-for-your-buck basis, those prospects may be a better option. Someone like Valaika (avg. defender, decent pop) is not a huge dropoff from Phillips at a position like second base, especially when you consider he’d save you $12mn. The Reds have enough bats to generate offense elsewhere, and the money saved from Phillips could go a long way in re-signing Votto in 2013.

    Paying Phillips $10-12mn a year would’ve been a lot more viable had they not extended Bronson, but now I don’t see a scenario where the Reds can justify paying that much.

    That said, I’m a big BP fan and hope they can extend him at below market prices

  5. First off, I love BP. Great ball player. I think he is the second baseman of right now and maybe the next 4 years. However I think Henry Rodriguez could be the second baseman of the future. Through 58 games this year for the Blaze he is hitting .340/.378/.513/.891 with 8 HR’s and 44 RBI’s. Last year he hit .305/.333/.463/.796 14HRs and 82 RBIs. He still needs time to develop as a fielder. He is only 21 years old.

  6. If we do fall out of it by July, but I doubt that, he’d make a great trade chip.
    If we remain a contender, pick up his option for next year and try to extend him for a home team discount. He’s so happy here, he might do that.

    If he wants more than 3 yrs/$30M, forget it.

  7. @mattgorrasi: @Aaron Lehr: @bho52:

    1. The point isn’t that Phillips is worth $12M. The point is that he’s been worth more than that every season with the Reds except his first. $12M figures to be a bit of a bargain for Phillips.

    2. You can certainly argue that my projection is a bit high, but I don’t think it is. Phillips is 29 right now, and at his peak, as I said. If you want to dock him half a win a year, that’s fine, but it doesn’t change my point overall. As mentioned in the article, Phillips really benefits from the offensive decline going on in MLB right. He doesn’t profile as a likely PED user, so it’s reasonable to expect less of a decline from him than the rest of the league (and that’s what we’ve seen), which effectively, makes him better compared to the average player.

    3. The problem with the prospect argument is that the Reds have other positions with a much higher need. I’ll explore some of these guys in later articles, but basically, the Reds need new players at short, third, catcher, and left. That’s already half of your starting lineup. Your not going to be a winning organization long term if you have to replace half your lineup that often. If you can’t even keep hold of good players you have, who might sign for a discount (there have been indications that Phillips would take a discount), well, you’re in pretty bad shape.

    • @mattgorrasi: @Aaron Lehr: @bho52: 1. The point isn’t that Phillips is worth $12M. The point is that he’s been worth more than that every season with the Reds except his first. $12M figures to be a bit of a bargain for Phillips..

      i think the problem with this analysis, and so many done at fangraphs and other sites, is how you value the player in terms of dollars.

      the method is basically to look at the average of what all teams pay for free agents per win, then treat that as gospel.

      the problems with this “value” should be obvious. first, not all teams have the same amount of money, so the marginal value of an additional dollar is different for different clubls. using an average of what all clubs pay includes all the huge spenders, which the reds are not.

      second, not all players are replaced by free agents, and this method only derives it’s values from free agent contracts not all contracts. if all contracts were considered, then the value of 1 WAR would be a lot less, because most guys in the league aren’t making free agent money.

      and the phillips example is a perfect one to see these problems. sure, can phillips get $12+ mil from SOMEONE as a free agent? sure. barry zito got $16+ mil for 7 years from the giants, doesn’t mean he was worth it.

      you have to consider both the payroll of the reds, and the quality of player that we have to replace him. say valaika or cozart can be a league average 2b next year, that’s 2 WAR. phillips is probably good for 3.5 – 4 WAR, but that means you’ve actually only gotten 1.5 – 2 WAR.

      one of the prospects will cost you $.5 mil, that means by picking up phillips option, you’re buying 1.5-2 WAR for $11.5 mil, which is no where close to worth it for a small market club.

      they need to spend their money in areas where the extra WAR that they’re getting is going to places where they don’t have adequate replacements, if the goal is to maximize total team WAR.

  8. It’s interesting: the post seems very well researched and reasoned (and obviously took a decent amount of time) until the last paragraph. You are dreaming if you think he’ll sign a 3 year/$30MM contract. After what Jayson Werth got last year, his agent would never land another client with that on his resume.

    This gets discussed every few weeks on this site, and I’m always amazed that people think he’s a) not going to be offered a huge contract elsewhere, or b) that he wouldn’t take it and stay in Cincinnati for significantly less. I would be shocked (SHOCKED I say!) if BP signed a contract for anywhere south of $15MM/year

  9. @The Singing Bush: I understand that point of view, but all indications are that Phillips loves being a Red. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Fay indicate his belief that Phillips would sign for less to stay in Cincy. I do agree that the Reds can’t do $15M/year for him. If he won’t sign at a discount, pick up the option and bid him farewell after 2012.

    • @The Singing Bush: If he won’t sign at a discount, pick up the option and bid him farewell after 2012.

      That’s what I’ve been saying all along. He can love being a Red as much as he wants, but if someone is going to offer him 50% more money, can you blame him if he leaves?

  10. Very solid article.

    I don’t think anyone can really foretell the economics of baseball in 2 years. The big market teams almost universally has 2nd Base locked up with other elite players. Werth’s contract is unique in that you had a owner looking to make a huge splash in a shallow free agent market, at a scarce position.

    BP’s contract extension is certainly looking like a bargain. Still, I agree with some posters that the Reds will have to look at the overall picture in 2 years to decide, is it worth adding + 2 or 3 wins at second base or play someone cheap (who hopefully gets WAR of 2) and attempt squeeze more wins out of the other positions with the money you save.

    • The big market teams almost universally has 2nd Base locked up with other elite players.Werth’s contract is unique in that you had a owner looking to make a huge splash in a shallow free agent market, at a scarce position.

      Now this is an interesting point of view. First, if the big market teams have 2nd base locked up with other elite players, BP must not be that great if he wouldn’t be an upgrade, right? A few commenters here argue that he is one of the top 5 (with one in particular arguing that he is the best) 2B in the league. But you’re saying a big market team wouldn’t trade or move their existing 2B to land one of the top 5? Is this correct?

      And second, are you saying with even a tiny degree of certainty that when BP is a free agent, there won’t be an owner looking to make a huge splash in a shallow free agent market?

  11. I think we also have to look at how BP is viewed by the fans. It should not matter, but in many way’s he is the face of this team and that will play into how the Reds handle his next contract. I don’t see them dealing him this year no matter how far out we might fall.

  12. 1. Run down the list of big market teams, and their second basemen. Does Boston get rid of Pedroia to grab an aging BP? Do the Yankees get rid of Cano in his prime? Keep going down the list. Even assuming BP is THE best…do you make a big move to get a marginal benefit? Maybe its possible.

    2. Don’t be ridiculous. I said we can’t predict the future economics.

  13. @CP: I’ll admit I don’t follow other teams, but who’s plays 2B for the Dodgers? They’re a big market, and in 2 years things may have settled down and they’ll have money to spend.

  14. That’s always a possibility, but my point was more that we have no idea what the market will be like in 2 years, and that using Werth as an example is faulty, because he’s the exception rather than the rule. $10 million/year is pretty close to what Uggla got based on WAR of +4. But Uggla has a completely different skill set. Point is thats hard to extrapolate what a 2nd baseman is going to get in 2 years.

  15. Boston: Pedroia
    Yankees: Cano
    Dodgers: borrowing to make payroll now
    Mets: same as Dodgers
    Cubs: Barney certainly looks legit
    Angels: Howie Kendrick is the perfect player for Soscia
    Phillies: Utley
    White Sox: anything is always possible
    Tigers: same as White Sox
    Cardinals: LOL

    So other than the White Sox and Tigers, plus any mid-market looking to make a splash, the potential destinations may indeed be few. But that doesnt change the fact that the Reds cant go more than 4/$50M (and probably shouldnt go that far or that high). So it depends on how much BP wants to stay here.

    • But that doesnt change the fact that the Reds cant go more than 4/$50M (and probably shouldnt go that far or that high). So it depends on how much BP wants to stay here.

      for the reds to spend that on phillips would be absolutely insane.

      over four years, if cozart becomes an average big leaguer, he gives you 8 WAR for no more than $3.5 mil. using the rosy outlook from above, phillips gives you 15.5 WAR. so the reds end up getting 7.5 additional wins over 4 years, for $46.5 mil.

      that’s the kind of contract that kills a small market team. the reds abosolutely need to get better bang for their buck than $6.2 mil/WAR.

      • for the reds to spend that on phillips would be absolutely insane.

        over four years, if cozart becomes an average big leaguer, he gives you 8 WAR for no more than $3.5 mil. using the rosy outlook from above, phillips gives you 15.5 WAR.so the reds end up getting 7.5 additional wins over 4 years, for $46.5 mil.

        that’s the kind of contract that kills a small market team.the reds abosolutely need to get better bang for their buck than $6.2 mil/WAR.

        I agree, but I dont think teams look at it in that way. They probably should, i’m just not sure many do. I was talking strictly in terms of total payroll, they might believe that they can afford going that high. But that means making it harder to extend the young pitchers, Stubbs, etc. And pretty much impossible to find upgrades on the free agent market for positions where you dont have ready prospects (or in the Reds case, simply dont want to give the prospects the chance to show you that they are at least as good as what we already have).

  16. @Jason Linden: I agree that BP loves being a Red, and the organization wants to keep him, at least as long as it can afford him. I believe he would take a current team discount.

    His community presence, such as showing up at the Little League game, is great PR for the team.

    And of course he’s also valuable on the field.

  17. The Mets have been interested in BP for years and their fans drool over getting him. But with their financial problems ….

  18. I just can’t see Phillips being worth that much, and I think he’s overpaid this season. Compare him to another slick fielding 2B who is just above league average with the bat who has been recently on the FA market, Orlando Hudson. If Hudson hasn’t been able to get more than $5M – $6M the last few years, why should the Reds dole out twice that for about the same product?

  19. @al: You make an interesting point about the value of marginal wins. There’s actually a pretty strong argument to be made that those extra wins are EXTREMELY valuable to the Reds. They are currently a borderline playoff team, which makes every extra win that much more valuable.

    I would also note that assuming either of the guys you mention will be average next year is a big assumption. We don’t know about minor leaguers until we actually see what they do in the majors and the first season is often rough as they adjust.

    Also, the Zito comparison is a poor one. Everyone knew that was a foolish the moment it happened. It would not be foolish for a team to pay $12M for Phillips.

    • @al: You make an interesting point about the value of marginal wins. There’s actually a pretty strong argument to be made that those extra wins are EXTREMELY valuable to the Reds. They are currently a borderline playoff team, which makes every extra win that much more valuable. I would also note that assuming either of the guys you mention will be average next year is a big assumption. We don’t know about minor leaguers until we actually see what they do in the majors and the first season is often rough as they adjust.

      i never said that marginal wins aren’t valuable, especially to a bubble team like the reds. my critique of your method is how you do the valuations in dollars, and that you don’t seem to account at all for what prospects the reds have to replace a free agent. you have to do all of these types of analyses while asking the question “compared to what?”

      for example, last year the reds 5th starter only posted 1 WAR. they could have signed someone like freddy garcia (on pace for a 3 WAR season) for $1.5 mil.

      that would have been about $1mil for 2 marginal WAR, compared to your proposed $12mil for 2 marginal WAR. the wins are still just as valuable, even if you don’t pay that much for them.

    • @al: I would also note that assuming either of the guys you mention will be average next year is a big assumption. We don’t know about minor leaguers until we actually see what they do in the majors and the first season is often rough as they adjust.

      true, there is variation, and some guys don’t make it. but there has actually been really extensive research by bill james and many others on Major League Equivalence (MLE) of minor league stats, and everyone I’ve read has found them to be a very reliable predictor with the propoer adjustments.

      Here’s a good tutorial on how to do MLEs: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/btf/scholars/czerny/articles/calculatingMLEs.htm

      to skip all the long math, i usually take 85% of someone’s minor league offensive numbers as a prediction of early major leagues (if you read that article, you’ll see why). that would give cozart something in the range of a .740 OPS projection right now.

      even if he put up substantially lower than that, he’s not likely to be a huge drop off from phillips career .746.

  20. @Tom Diesman: Hudson is an interesting comp. I would note that he has been injured a lot more than Phillips, doesn’t have the same track record, and is also 3 years older, so the expected return on investment is smaller than it would be with Phillips. That said, you might be onto something. There are always market inefficiencies, and it might be that there is one at second right now.

  21. Here is a age comparison of Hudson and Phillips OPS+. There’s just not any defensive metrics I trust to use, but both are thought of highly. This may shed some light on Phillips age regression and earning value for the 3 years going forward.

    Age H-OPS+ P-OPS+
    25 87 88
    26 98 105
    27 91 94
    28 102 103
    29 105 102
    30 107 105
    31 108
    32 93
    33 77

  22. Let me start by saying that I havent looked at any numbers, so this will be based on some assumptions that I have made, which may or may not be accurate. But taking a stat such as WAR, we could look at each teams production for each position from last year. Then we would see the most productive players versus the least productive.

    Again, this is an assumption, but I believe that there would be the least difference among the top teams 2B and the worst teams 2B than just about any other position. So going from, say a top 5 CF to a bottom 5 CF would show much more drop-off than 2B.

    Now I think we all agree that Phillips is a top 5 2B. If he settles for the average among the top 5 2B contracts, will that extra money be worth the smaller drop off I would expect from say a slightly below average 2B? It just seems like WAR among 2B is much cheaper than most positions, because the best arent that much better than the rest. Maybe I’m wrong. If I wasnt at work, I might actually find some numbers that would confirm/deny my belief.

  23. @jrob45601: You are wrong. I didn’t know, so I checked. WAR at 2nd last year ran from 6.6 to -0.3 which, with a few exceptions (Hamilton, Votto, and the like) is pretty standard for all positions.

    • @jrob45601: You are wrong. I didn’t know, so I checked. WAR at 2nd last year ran from 6.6 to -0.3 which, with a few exceptions (Hamilton, Votto, and the like) is pretty standard for all positions.

      Thank you for checking for me. I still wonder, though, if you searched player WAR, or team WAR for that position?

  24. Tom, you beat me to it. I too thought of O.hudson comparison. In his free agency year(2008,age 30 season), he came off his best year, ops+ 107, though in an injury season, 107 games. His 4 prior years, his ops+ was 100 with 3 GG. Yet, he had to sign for two one-year deals before the padres signed him to 2 years plus option year($4M, $5M, $8M option).
    However, he has only had 3 seasons of 3WAR or better with high of 3.7 in 2009/age 31 season.

    I think its a very good point to consider what the Reds might have to replace him(can they get a 3.0 WAR guy) and the difference in value as well as consider what they could do with the extra $ to help elsewhere. Though not sure if Reds upper mgmt think in those terms or if they can if owner wants to win, Walt and group may be thinking short term for their own job sakes.

    I think the Reds will pick up his option, and make him prove his value with another good season before committing more $ and years to BP. They may especially need to keep BP as echoed above and i have mentioned in a DOTF thread, they do have 4 new primary players at C, SS, 3B, LF.

    Go 2011 Reds!

  25. I wonder if this war thing you all seemm to think is important is something Gm’s use in contract negotiations.

    • I wonder if this war thing you all seemm to think is important is something Gm’s use in contract negotiations.

      I have no idea if GMs use it or not. Or what all they do use. But it is something that media and analysts have used for determining what a player is worth, based on contracts awarded the season before.

      • I have no idea if GMs use it or not. Or what all they do use. But it is something that media and analysts have used for determining what a player is worth, based on contracts awarded the season before.

        And I would almost bet that agents use it.

      • I have no idea if GMs use it or not. Or what all they do use. But it is something that media and analysts have used for determining what a player is worth, based on contracts awarded the season before.

        Wins Above Average (WAR) is just the total number of Runs Above Average (RAR) a player is on offense and defense, divided by 10 based on the formula that when a team scores ten more runs than they give up, that results in about an extra win in the long run.

    • I wonder if this war thing you all seemm to think is important is something Gm’s use in contract negotiations.

      GM’s don’t but the stats guys they pay do. Then the stats guy report back. They also don’t use WAR they use the components of WAR and combine it with scouting reports.

      This at least from the 2 or 3 organization that I know do this. Boston, SD and AZ are 3 that I know of that do. But that said they have stats guys ALWAYS trying to create even better #s

      WAR is handy because it combines things like fielding and hitting and base running, etc but when you are trying to evaluate and project and combine it with video or scouting reports you need the numbers in their separate components not combined.

  26. @Tom Diesman: You’re playing fill in the blank. It’s a very interesting game. It’s interesting because no one ever believes things will go downhill even though they will, eventually.

    There’s also the fact that Hudson was never as spectacular as Phillips, and the spectacular is going to earn Phillips 2 million extra bucks per year IMO.

    The Reds are going to overpay Phillips, IMO. We’ll see. One thing’s for sure, he’ll never sign a 3yr/30M contract. Not in a million (or 30M) years.

  27. a couple of weeks ago I read an article about aging curves and in particular about different types of players.

    to give some incite into building a good aging curve for Phillips

    for example they looked at defensive WAR aging comparing the aging curves of good defenders vs bad defenders. Their aging curves were dramatically different.

    It’s hard to see from the graph but it appears that a good defender (Phillips!) 1 WAR defensively between 31 and 38.

    but most importantly I think you’re decline is too steep

    I’m staring at this WAR aging curve and it looks like (on average) it’s .25 WAR a year decline until age 35 when it increases to .5

    take a look at these aging curves
    http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2010/06/war_aging_curve.php

  28. How about someone tweets BP and asks him how much he’d want per year?😉 (I don’t tweet, so…) It’s worth a shot!

  29. The most interesting thing about this discussion is that wins have become the most important piece of the analysis. 5 years ago, the analysis would not have gotten past, 3 years, $XX million.

    Of course, the unquantifiable and unknown variable is Bob Castellini. In 2 years, its possible that Bob will reach the conclusion that the Reds have a window to win that lasts 2-5 years and expand the payroll. I’m pretty happy that BP has the relatively cheap option next year because I doubt Bob would move forward with payroll expansion based on this year’s performance. Hopefully, guys like Bailey, Volquez, and Wood really have a solid remainder of the season so we can get the momentum rolling.

  30. @mike: I think there is definitely a case for a shallower decline, but I think there’s also a case for a steeper decline because Phillips plays 2nd. I tried to split the difference and be as fair as possible. I will tell you I personally believe Phillips is likely to age faster than .25 WAR/year, but I’d love to be wrong.

  31. @Jason Linden: understood. As I was typing my comment I kept considering the fact that he was a 2B and I’ve never see age curves for different positions. I think you are right, that because he plays a more difficult position his value defensively could decline at a faster rate. Though I have no proof🙂

    excellent post by the way

    and it’s interesting to me that while very few SS have put up good seasons into their old (baseball) age there have been a good number of 2B who have.

    Morgan, Biggio, Kent, Alomar, Bret Boone, Sandberg, Whitaker and a few others had great seasons after 30. Whitaker, Kent, Morgan, and Velarde all had 4+ WAR season at ages 35 and older. Impressive.

  32. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…here is tonight’s lineup vs. the Giants….

    1. Drew Stubbs (R) CF
    2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
    3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
    4. Jay Bruce (L) RF
    5. Scott Rolen (R) 3B
    6. Jonny Gomes (R) LF
    7. Edgar Renteria (R) SS
    8. Ramon Hernandez (R) C
    9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

  33. Besides the 5th best hitter batting 8th, I don’t see what the problem is? Gomes’ one big positive feature is he mashes LHP.

    • Besides the 5th best hitter batting 8th, I don’t see what the problem is? Gomes’ one big positive feature is he mashes LHP.

      When? Last year? Gomes hasn’t mashed anything this year. Also you have 3 poor to non producing hitters hitting back to back to back. You have a player with a bad back playing the most demanding position in the game outside of catching. This lineup is a joke.

  34. Gome is .270/.341/.486 v. LHP this year. JFC, Reds fans are getting whiny AND lazy.

    I hate Renteria as much as the next fan but he’s going to play some. And I think from my post it was pretty much implied that Ramon should be batting 5th.

    • Gome is .270/.341/.486 v. LHP this year. JFC, Reds fans are getting whiny AND lazy. I hate Renteria as much as the next fan but he’s going to play some. And I think from my post it was pretty much implied that Ramon should be batting 5th.

      Why? What reason is there to play Edgar at all? Also if Gomes gets as much as 1 hit tonight I will be shocked.

      • Also if Gomes gets as much as 1 hit tonight I will be shocked.

        The odds are pretty good you’ll be shocked then, since this is the same Gomes who is hitting .364/.407 /.591/.998 over the last two weeks and .300/.405/.567/.972 against LHP this season.

    • JFC, Reds fans are getting whiny AND lazy.

      well said. you have to be searching pretty hard to find something to freak out about this lineup.

      renteria shouldn’t be on the team, but dusty’s got him, he’s going to play him some, and it’s not like he’s replacing ted williams in the lineup.

  35. Interesting discussion. My opinion seems to agree with the consensus here: defensive metrics aren’t reliable which is kinda frustrating(for BP: UZR,FP good, while DRS,RZR bad…wtf?) and BP isn’t worth an extension.

    Just a comment on the minor leaguers that have been discussed. I’m still only causiously optimistic on Rodriguez. I’m not too worried about his bat even though he is tearing it up in the offensively biased Cali league. His glove on the other hand has me wondering whether he’ll stay at 2nd. His FP in Dayton .975 and in Bakersfield .955. Like somebody said he’s only 21 so we’ll see. Billy Hamilton may be stealing everything in sight but offensively and defensively he’s struggling. So I think it’d take a mesoraco/sappelt type miracle season for there to be a chance to see him in September 2013 much less September 2012 and he’s going to get every opportunity and then some at SS before 2B is considered. So the heir apparent at 2B is still pretty much in the air.

    I was looking at the payroll numbers over at Baseball Ref and it doesn’t seem like even BP’s option for next year is a done deal. The way I see it if we take the 2012 option for BP then Masset is the default closer since Cordero’s option would then be out of the question. Masset’s constistency hasn’t exactly inspired confidence and given the players going to arbitration (Janish, Bray, Masset, Bailey, Volquez, Arredondo?, Burton?) I’m not seeing any money for Free Agency, assuming an $80M payroll. I calculate $19.6M available for those 7 players + Free Agents and by my estimates, arbitration money itself comes pretty close to the 19.6M. I’m thinking whether we pick up BP’s option might depend on how Masset, Bailey, and Volquez finish the season.

    • I’m still only causiously optimistic on Rodriguez. I’m not too worried about his bat even though he is tearing it up in the offensively biased Cali league. His glove on the other hand has me wondering whether he’ll stay at 2nd. His FP in Dayton .975 and in Bakersfield .955. Like somebody said he’s only 21 so we’ll see.

      Yeah Rodriguez is OPS .891 in a league where the league average is .799. Might have to give him a little bit of a pass on the fielding at Bakersfield. I read many an article before the season began that their field was absolutely atrocious, all but said it was not suitable to play on.

      Just want to toss out another name for the 2B discussion. Cody Puckett, who is hitting .803 OPS at AA Carolina where league average is .755. He’s been solid and steady all the way through the Reds minor league system.

      Valaika by the way is struggling at AAA, .632 OPS.

  36. @dn4192: If you think I’m going to argue why Renteria should be in the lineup, you’re crazy. I’m not going to bite on that strawman argument. Apparently that’s your only real issue with the lineup so whatever. In the world of Dusty Baker lineups, this lineup is probably above average.

  37. Why doesn’t someone just tweet BP and see if he’ll take his extension year and barring injury another 4 years at 30 mill or so? Maybe he’ll say yes. 🙂

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