Can a small market team compete? The answer, unequivocally, is “YES”. Let’s get that out of the way first.

Hal McCoy had a piece in the DDN, in which he states that we need a salary cap. He’s wrong about that, but he does stumble onto something that fellow RN Editor Bill Lack says often: what money buys you is the chance to recover from a mistake. Small-market clubs can’t make mistakes like handing out big contracts to players that don’t earn them (I’m looking at you, Bronson Arroyo). Large payroll teams can just paper over those mistakes with more cash.

I’m probably going to get this wrong, but something like six of the eight highest payrolls in baseball did not make the post-season. It’s about good management, folks. If I had to choose between sound management and a lot of money…well, first I’d ask if I could have them both. But without sound management, having a ton of money is worth little to nothing. Just ask the Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs.

We know the Reds don’t have a ton of money to play around with. Therefore, it is imperative that they have smart people running the show, making good decisions. I’m pretty sure the people running the franchise are smarter (about baseball operations) than me. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about whether they’ve made good decisions, or whether they can be reasonably expected to make sound decisions going forward.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 43 Comments

  1. I’m strongly in favor of a salary cap and floor for baseball salaries. I’d probably set the cap somewhere between $100 and $120 million.

    Would that solve inequalities? Of course not. The well managed teams would still have a great advantage, as they should. Even though the NFL has a salary cap, the best managed and best coached teams still win more often.

    Does a high payroll guarantee you’ll make the playoffs? No. Does a low payroll mean you have no chance? No.

    But those statements, made as extremes,are both strawmen.

    Does spending more money improve your chances? Yes. Does spending $100 million more, help your chances? Of course.

    Every year or two, a low payroll team makes it to the playoffs, although they seldom win the World Series.

    For example, the ability to spend more than $120 million/year is the reason that Halladay and Lee play for the Phillies. Without those two pitchers, the Phillies would have been nowhere near the same team this year. That was straight cash, homey.

  2. I like how Mr. McCoy pointed out teams like Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Seattle and Baltimore about wanting a salary cap, and even seemed to name them as arguements in favor of adding one. Didn’t both Seattle and Baltimore have pretty high payrolls not long ago, with only Seattle having just a little success? And why not name teams like Tampa Bay, obviously, and even San Diego who was so close last season and Florida who have been very competitive on smaller payrolls?

    As Chad and Steve have said, it all boils down to the ability to “buy back” your mistakes. Small market teams have to have success identifying talent– in the front office, as well as on the field. An organizational plan and direction being executed top to bottom has to be in place. And none of us are sure what the plan for the Reds is right now, or if everyone is on board for executing that plan. Many other struggling organizations have the same problem, and that is why they are not competitive. A salary floor would do more for improving baseball than a cap.

  3. @Steve Mancuso: Agree with everything you said. You can even look at the examples:

    Mets: The worst of the 3 teams mentioned. Seriously hurt financially by Madoff. A non-contender for 3 years. Missed the playoffs because of epic collapses 4 and 5 years ago; one of the best teams in baseball and one game from the WS 6 years ago.

    Dodgers: Non-contenders for 2 years; seriously hurt financially because of their owner’s divorce (plus poorly run). One of the best teams in baseball 3 years ago; made the NLCS in 08 and 09.

    Cubs: Possibly the poster child for a poorly run franchise. Yet, were one of the best teams in baseball 4 years ago. Division titles in 07 and 08, swept out of the playoffs both years.

    Even the poorly managed rich teams don’t stay bad for long. Compare that with being a Reds, Pirates, or Royals fan. Hell, compare that with being a Brewers fan. This year is their shot; they could have one playoff run left but its likely that they go back to being a middle of the road team in the very near future. Meanwhile, the Cubs will spend a bunch of money and will be right back in this. I’d ask for both money and smart management as well, but I think money is the trump card.

  4. I’m sure that many owners would love to have a real cap, but it will never happen anymore than all of TV revenue gets into one pot and split equally.

    NFL is a totally different beast in that all of the TV money, except pre-season games is one big contract and then split between the clubs. The TV revenue the Yanks, Red Sox, Rangers, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and etc others make is huge – there is no way that gets split out.

    Its kind of baseball heresy, as it would mean the end of the NL and AL as known, but I think if you just aligned the clubs into new divisions by geography, putting the big dollar east coast teams into the same division, some of this would iron itself out a bit. It would also give the Eastern Seaboard Programming Network and Fox what they really want – more Sox and Yanks and Phillies and Mets (along with Dodgers/Angels etc.)

  5. @Steve Mancuso: I agree that a cap without a floor only half addresses the issue.

    Aside from getting the players to buy into a cap/ floor system, the biggest issue I see is the owners themselves. Any cap system is going to have to involve a more significant sharing of wealth among the owners than what they currently have.

    How about this as a middle ground (and the figures are rhetorical, I haven’t done the math). Put in a system where teams and MLB central contribute up to x% of their total revenue into the salary pool with a hard cap on the top contribution level at a fixed $$$ amount and also have a hard minimum $$$ contribution. Divide that amount by 32 (one share for MLB ops) and distribute 1 share to each team. Cap total salaries for each team at the 1/32 share amount and also require no less than 90% of that share amount be spent on salaries every year.

    This way everybody has the same amount to spend on salaries, the big market teams can still pocket their excess profits and no individual player is specifically capped.

  6. @OhioJim: oops. Guess there are 32 teams so it would be 33 shares with one for MLB ops.

  7. Until 20 plus teams threaten to leave MLB and reform in a new league with the NFL revenue model nothing will ever change. The Yanks, Red Sox Phils, Cubs, Dodgers and maybe the Mets will be all that’s left and forced to play only each other over and over, to the boring end of time. Until then, nothing will change as these teams will protect their revenue resource advantage and on field product domination until something drastic makes them.

    So, in reality, nothing will really ever change and somebody in the Reds management needs to get a professional attitude and not be afraid to hurt some feelings and make the steel eye decisions of who stays and who needs to go. Don’t get personal about the players. Just because you like Ramon Hernandez or Drew Stubbs personally doesn’t mean you should keep them. It is the smart, professional management that will make the difference.

    Realize that this team cannot afford to spend with the teams that can and deal with it. This team will never win without better pitching period. Trade whomever somebody else wants for the pitching. Votto , Phillips, Bruce or any other non-pitchers of worth that you already possess. You’re not winning with the people you got now. Face it. Deal accordingly.

    Or organize a mutiny and drop out of the league with the other 20 teams like you.,

  8. I don’t buy the “money doesn’t matter” argument. It goes well beyond margin for error, it’s about needing to be nearly perfect in every player development decision. A team like the Reds not only has to develop it’s own elite players, it has to develop their replacements well in advance. That sort of paradigm informs the decision making at every level. Would the Reds even still have Yonder on the team it weren’t for the imminent loss of Votto? I doubt it. Would we still be holding onto a bunch of aging prospects or would we have already moved some for a needed piece?

    Lack of money is a serious handicap for every small team. Just because it is possible to succeed without a huge payroll, doesn’t mean baseball has anything
    Ike parity.

  9. Ahem: To show that money doesn’t matter you would have to show no correlation coefficient between wins and payroll.
    Not likely.

  10. A salary cap is not going to happen in baseball. This commissioner is not concerned with that because attendance figures are somewhat stable and they have a TV package that is good. If if you look back on the history of baseball, it has always been about the rich getting richer. The Yankees would trade some prospect for the bad teams’ best player and give them cash. Some times the cash strapped team would still have hotel bills remaining from the previous season so that cash infusion was important for them to stay afloat. The bad teams’ best player would sit on the Yankees’ bench but he was a member of one of the best teams in baseball. I know that Moneyball is a big time movie but everyone needs to look at how the Tampa Bay Rays do business. They are not a good team by accident. They draft great players and they have a marvelous farm system with great coaches. I have stated before that we have some of the worst coaches in minor league baseball. Yonder Alonso should have been evaluted early this season in left field and not waited until he got to the majors to say that he is not good enough. Also how did a speedster like Drew Stubbs make it all the way to the majors and not be able to lay down a bunt? That would never happen in Tampa Bay. I love the Reds but we need to start making smarter organizational decisions. Frankly with the possible exception of Tom Browning, I think that we need to clean out the farm system coaching staff. We need to find “teachers” to have these kids fundamentally sound when they make it to The Show.

  11. @Myles: I don’t think anybody disputes that… the question is if the correlation coefficient is something like .2 or .7. And unless you find away to assign a value for “good management” we’ll never know what slice of the correlation pie it would take up.

  12. I agree that we are not going to get a salary cap or anything that will create a semblance of money parity anytime soon. That doesn’t make the current system right. There are, of course, exceptions in both directions. Ain’t Tampa Bay Wonderful, Look how the Red Sox screwed up this year, etc. The truth is the Reds may have a small window to be pretty good. Then they will go back to being average or worse. You like Votto? Enjoy him while you can. He will be gone before you know it. And with him and a couple others goes any chance of winning. He will play for a big money team. I like the idea of a small team mutiny. It won’t happen unless small team fans rise up first. As long as small team fans make excuses, tolerate the present system, blame bad management, etc., team owners won’t have the need or the courage to mutiny. If you are arguing that “the money doesn’t matter” you are part of the problem. Sure any team can be better managed and the Reds are surely a case in point. On the other hand if the Reds had a couple of those Phillies pitchers mentioned above, I’ll bet they would still be playing. And why don’t we have pitchers like that. It isn’t because we are poorly managed. It is because of “MONEY” or the lack thereof.

  13. I’d be all for a reorganization of the leagues based on market size, revenue, whatever. It wouldn’t preclude teams from spending above their means for a couple years, but even that arrangement wouldn’t prevent the long droughts some teams experience because of poor management. Remember, Tampa is the exception not the rule here. 3 of their 4 starting pitchers in the playoffs are 4th, 8th, and 16th round picks. That’s some great scouting combined with a little bit of luck, and yet their stadium had thousands of empty seats last night! Just like Oakland 10 years ago, this run is finite because their market isn’t large enough to sustain it. Sorry, it all boils down to money.

  14. Ok, I’m steering away from the salary cap discussion and bringing it back to the Reds…

    Smart money management wins. Period. It’s been shown that a team of replacement players wins 48-49 games. Let’s say the Reds would like to win around 90, and they are willing to spend a little over $80M. I’ll go ahead and use round numbers and say, on average, the Reds need to pay $2M for each win above replacement (WAR) to meet their goal.

    Obviously this oversimplifies the situation, but it’s not hard to use this general rule to evaluate which players were “worth it”. Cordero and Arroyo were payed over $23.5M this year and produced 0.1 and 0.0 WAR respectively (based on fangraphs). This is just beyond absurd, and I love the guy, but a team that signs Arroyo to that contract just can’t possibly offer ANY hope.

    Phillips barely makes the cut, at $1.91M per WAR. Votto obviously is fine, but in 2013, when he’s getting paid $19M, it will be awfully hard to meet this criteria. I know that there’s a premium for a “superstar” because you’re getting a lot of WAR from a single position. Point is, paying market value or just under market value is not good enough for this team.

    Also of note: Rolen’s ratio was $6.28M per WAR, Chapman’s was $6.18, Bruce was $0.85, Renteria was $2.63, Gomes was $1.59, Masset was $2.88.

  15. I’m lost. The reds say they need more people to attend the games so they can increase payroll. If they drew 200,000 more people say at $30 average ticket price that would increase revenue by 6 million.That is peanuts in todays market. What about the revenue sharing ? No one from the reds talks about that? I say show the public your books. The owners have a right to make money from their investment. It is up to them to put the best product on the field when they are asking the public to pay for a good percentage of the bill.Times are tuff!! When u spend over $100 for 4 people how many times can u attend a game? Small market maybe, consertive town yes. Maybe it’s time to shake up the manager who can get the most out of his players Look at Rays players vs the Reds who show little or no emotion during games.

  16. Oh and perhaps my favorite: Cairo was $0.53M per WAR 😀

  17. Say you remove the two worse contracts the Reds have gonig into next season which are probably Bronson and rolen…take those two away and we still can’t afford Votto. Take away a 3rd? We still can’t. When your total payroll is around 80-90 million you can’t pay one guy 20-25 million per year which is what Votto is going to get in his next deal.

  18. @brm7675: I agree. And while it’s sad, I don’t see it as a big tragedy. It’s life as a “small market team”. The Rays weren’t afraid to cut ties when they knew they had to, and look where they are. It’s a matter of building the right way, from the ground up, so there’s always a youth movement there to take their place and continue improving.

    The Rays will try and trade James Shields this offseason. He has a $7M club option next year. He’s been worth that every year of his big league career, and typically he’s worth much more, but they know that he’s approaching open market levels, and even being below market value isn’t quite good enough sometimes. Plus they have so many guys ready to take his place, it doesn’t even matter.

    Don’t pay the Bronson Arroyos, the Corderos, the Rolens, the Phillips, the Vottos. It just doesn’t make sense. The Reds can’t operate like the Phillies or even the Cards at this point, and they don’t seem to get that right now.

    • @brm7675:
      Don’t pay the Bronson Arroyos, the Corderos, the Rolens, the Phillips, the Vottos.It just doesn’t make sense.The Reds can’t operate like the Phillies or even the Cards at this point, and they don’t seem to get that right now.

      Wow! Don’t pay the Phillips and the Vottos? I suppose if you had owned the Big Red Machine, you would say don’t pay the Benchs or the Roses or the Morgans, etc. I guess you would have been fine missing those days. Me? I kind of enjoyed them. I miss that I will never see the like again.

  19. Solution: for each game, the home team splits gate receipts and TV revenue with visiting team. This would level the playing field to a meaningful degree without taking away from a team’s incentive to bring in as much revenue as possible. You also avoid the accounting games associated with a salary tax.

  20. The Rays look like they’re about to get eliminated. So they may end with one playoff win. And then deal away players. imagine how good a team they could have with Philly sized payroll.

  21. p.s. Even the Yanks would be hurt from Arroyo’s contract if they were dumd enough to let him pitch.

  22. I guess it comes down to what you consider competitive? Sure the Rays made the playoffs, but how many WS titles do they have? In the era of big money how many teams with $70 million or less payrolls have been in the WS and how many have won?

  23. In 02 the Angels won it with a $62M payroll
    In 03 the Marlins won it with a $45M payroll
    In 05 both the White Sox and Astros were around $76M
    In 07 the Rockies lost the WS with a $54M payroll
    In 08 the Rays lost the WS with a $44M payroll
    Last year the Rangers payroll was $65M

    Playoffs are somewhat of a crap shoot.

    Rays with Philly’s payroll = roughly the Red Sox. Clearly one of the top 2 teams of the last decade, if not the best. They employ “Moneyball” type strategies AND have money. Obviously the money sours the pure strategic nature of the whole and they end up making signings like Crawford and Gonzalez. I’ve thought about it a lot and I think saying things like “imagine the Rays with money” is just false logic. The two can’t co-exist.

  24. The Florida (soon to be Miami) Marlins have won two world series championships since they started playing 19 years ago with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Tampa Bay metro population is 2.6 million compared to Cincinnati metro of 2.2 million. Yes, money talks, as we know, but sharp management and a top farm system can also win, probably not consistently, without tons of money.

    • The Florida (soon to be Miami) Marlins have won two world series championships since they started playing 19 years ago with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Tampa Bay metro population is 2.6 million compared to Cincinnati metro of 2.2 million. Yes, money talks, as we know, but sharp management and a top farm system can also win, probably not consistently, without tons of money.

      What was their payrolls when they won and what happen to the key talent on those teams after they won?

  25. The best days of the BRM were prior to free agency. Free agency helped to dismantle it. Management back then had much more control over players than today. I say give Coco his walking papers and trade BP after exercising his option. Then, demote DB to a roving instructer of some kind. If he refuses, but still have to pay him consider it a blessing. I’d also let Hernandez and Renteria walk. That saves a total of nearly $30M so you can afford to eat DB’s contract. Then you trade some of the AAAA guys (25+ but still borderline MLB players) and some cash for some good young arms. I wouldn’t trade Votto. He’s a fan favorite and the only truly dependable, consistent hitter the REDS have. I would go after a LF or 3B guy who can give you some pop and RBIs.

  26. This topic has nothing to do with the BRM.

    After 2010 the Rays lost 11.8 WAR via Crawford, Pena, Garza, and Soriano, not to mention the rest of their bullpen. It’s a big hit, and they expected to take a step back, but they knew it would be temporary because they have gobs of young talent. And of course, they rebounded even faster than expected.

    There is no reason any bullpen signing should be for more than a year or two at $2-3M per.

    Phillips and Votto are tough cases. Emotionally, I would be sad if Phillips wasn’t manning second next year, but logically I wouldn’t argue against it. To me, Votto at $19M is awfully steep. But ultimately, they are not among the 3 worst contracts on the team, as someone said previously.

    I like @hoosierdad’s plan except for one thing… I think they need to keep their “AAAA” guys. They are the youth that needs to step up. And you never know, one or two might turn into solid everyday guys. Guys like Matt Joyce, Sam Fuld, Kelly Shoppach, Sean Rodriguez… those are the cheap, fundamentally sound guys that carry the rest of the weight and sometimes blossom, while a couple stars (who were signed to long-term deals early – Longoria/Bruce, Price/Cueto, etc) and a couple reasonably priced but *effective* veterans push you over the hump.

  27. @hoosierdad: I could live with most everything you say. But it doesn’t speak to the issue. That is that the Reds can’t afford to keep players that they’d like to keep like Votto or any of the pitchers that emerge (like Cueto) for very long. Yes, the BRM was not affected by free agency until later. The reality is that free agency is here to stay. And it makes for a great situation for those that have a lot of money. Those who have money to burn can certainly waste that advantage. The teams that have the money at least have the opportunity to build and keep a BRM type dynasty. The teams that don’t have money to burn may have periodic success. But it will be short lived. They have very little chance to build a dynasty. In the NFL look at the Patriots. They are in it every year for years. They can do it by being smart AND because of the financial structure of the NFL. The Reds don’t have the luxury of wasting money or missing talent. They have to be 4 times as smart (that is the difference in budgets) as the Yankees or the Red Sox, etc. just to stay even. I agree that they haven’t been 4 times as smart. I just think its a little unfair for them to have to be. And I will repeat – Anyone who says “the money doesn’t matter” supports a crazy status quo. The Reds actually did an excellent job just to get to the playoffs last year. The Ray did an amazing job to get where they got to this year. With a great boost from the Red Sox. These are the exceptions. The Yankees and Red Sox will be in it next year. The Reds may be in it next year if they are really smart and lucky. The Yankees and Red Sox will be in it for years to come whether they are that smart or not. I wouldn’t bet on the Reds or Rays being in it for years to come.

  28. As a small market team the REDS have to do a great job of several things. Scouting must be a priority and the budget should show it. Marketing must also be a priority. The Indianapolis, Dayton, Columbus, Louisville, West Virgina, Lexington, etc. markets must be mined as if mining for gold.

    Basically, the REDS need to draft well and trade proven talent JUST before it gets very expensive for more young talent. Picture a store with canned goods. The REDS are the store and young talent is their canned goods. If they run out of canned goods the store has nothing to offer it’s customers and it closes. Kinda sad to reduce people to inventory but that’s how they have to look at the players these days. The REDS can and must afford to hold onto a reliable veteran or two to please the fans but the vast majority of the players must be young, good, and cheap or they just won’t be able to challenge for titles.

  29. @hoosierdad: Again, I generally agree with most of what you say except the last sentence. If the majority of Reds players are young, good and cheap they won’t be challenging for titles very often. They would have to be young, cheap and very good. Reds fans will have to go back to being used to very episodic title challenges with mostly years and years of being also rans. It is a mathematical equation with the Reds mostly on the minus side. Until there is an awakened and angry majority of small market fans that is just the sad reality. Rearranging the deck chair on the Titanic does not make it float.

  30. I don’t envy the Yankees or Phillies or other teams that can spend the big bucks. It is what it is. They are large market teams with expensive luxury boxes, lucrative TV revenue, and enough fans in a 20 mile radius to easily fill all their expensive seats. What would be better than to beat those teams with a bunch of young, hungry guys and half the total payroll?

    I don’t demand my team win the series every year or even a pennant. What I DO demand is that management work just hard as the players on the field to do their very best. At the end of the season, if management has put a product on the field that did their very best and never gave up, this fan will be pleased and proud to have attended their games.

  31. @hoosierdad:
    “At the end of the season, if management has put a product on the field that did their very best and never gave up, this fan will be pleased and proud to have attended their games.”

    Not me. I may enjoy attending some games, but I want another series title. Your description sounds like a recipe for mediocrity. There has been more than emough years of mediocre or worse performance by the Reds. The excitement is in competing for the playoffs and the reward is in winning them.

    It’s like Yoda said, “There is no try. There is only do or do not.”

  32. @MikeC: You can never guarantee a championship. There are always injuries or unexplained poor performances or just plain bad luck. One year 90 wins might win the division and the next 90 might not get you a wild card berth. I’ve followed the REDS since the late 1960’s. I’ve seen players that couldn’t seem to care less whether the team won or lost as long as their stats looked good. Give me a team that plays smart and plays hard and I’ll take my chances with how they do. It’s like Peter Edward Rose used to say, “If you hit the ball hard and your opponent makes a great play to rob you of a hit, tip your hat to him and go get ’em next time.”

  33. @hoosierdad:

    I too have been a long time fan of the Reds, since 1963, and lived through a lot of ups and downs. Of course a championship cannot be guaranteed. But, if you are ever going to win one, it has to be the goal. Trying to stay “competitive”, which is what I am interpretting your earlier comment as saying, is a sure fire guarantee that you will not win.

  34. @MikeC:To be the best should always be a team goal. That means sometimes giving yourself up for the team’s good. Making sure you put the ball in play with less than 2 outs and a runner at third. You must play with all your heart, brains, and guts. I didn’t see that this year, not several years. This team can’t pay $12M for a closer. This team can’t tie up nearly $47M of it’s payroll in 5 players. It just won’t work. It gives NO leeway for a player getting hurt, having a bad year, or just plain getting old or wearing out. The 5 this year were BP, SR, BA, FC, and JV. I would say only 2 of the 5 were worth those dollars this season.

  35. I think hoosierdad’s words are being misconstrued as “trade away your best players because there’s no use in trying to keep them and hope for the best with young, unproven talent.”

    Of course the goal every year is to win. In an ideal world, each year you lose a few players who are getting too expensive, and even though they may have carried much of the load, the point is you have good young players to take their place, and that most of those young players are improving every year, so that their improvement makes up for the talent that was lost.

    This isn’t “giving up”. This is smart management. You don’t pay guys in their 30s for things they did in their 20s. You cut ties and turn to the guys you’ve stock piled by trading previous veterans several years ago (or taking the picks when they walk).

    This is what the Rays have realized and they are making it work. Since 2008 they have averaged 92 wins a year with an average payroll of $55M, and they have so many guys in the minors we can expect them to compete for several more years at least, and in the toughest division in baseball.

    All you have to do is make the postseason… the rest is the flip of a slightly weighted coin.

  36. @hoosierdad:
    Agreed with the spending on contracts. It hurts to hear the Reds are talking about bringing back Cordero. If it’s more than 1/3 what they paid him last year, it’s too much.

  37. @MikeC:I wouldn’t bring him back at all. His K/BB rate is terrible. Remember his last outing? 4 walks, a balk, and he STILL gets a save. Just crazy. He is about ready to implode and 2 year $12M+ contract wouldn’t surprise me. Also, JB, JV, and JC will get in total a little more than $8M in raises this next season.

  38. @Aaron Lehr: Thanks for saying better what I was trying to say. Just sick and tired of too many players seemingly not caring. Some just seem fat, sassy, and happy.

  39. @hoosierdad: Sure thing. I think any way you put it there’s room for misunderstanding. And of course it’s impossible to summarize all the pieces of an organizational strategy in a few sentences (even if we pretend I could do something of the sort).

    I agree, I didn’t watch many games in September but from what I read it wasn’t pretty much of the time. Sometimes I wonder what planet our front office is managing from.

  40. The 97 Marlins title was different, they had a bunch of vet guys brought in as short termers that were fairly expensive and then did a total fire sale after the win. All these guys were pretty established before they got there, except Edgar Renteria, Jeff Conine, Luis Castillio and Levan Hernandez who were at the beginning of their career (well Conine had been a Marlin since their first season).

    Kevin Brown
    Gary Sheffield
    Moises Alou
    Bobby Bonilla
    Devon White
    Al Leiter
    Rob Nen
    Alex Fernandez
    Darren Daulton

    The 04 Marlins club was a bit different, as you had a couple of high priced free agents (really mostly Pudge) and just a bunch of young talent on the verge of booking that got hot at the same time.

  41. In terms of money poorly spent by the Reds. I’m watching the “Catching Hell” 30/30 documentary (I know, it was already on, but I’m just getting to it). Eric Karos provides a talking point that illustrates the frustration of Dusty and veterans and spending money unwisely. Karos on joining the Cubs in ’03: “I was at the point I figured I had done what I wanted to do in baseball, but Dusty talked me into it. You know, I was past my prime, but…”

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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2011 Reds, 2012 Reds

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