2012 Reds / Reds - General

Baker, Jocketty and Marshall

The three-year extension the Reds negotiated with Sean Marshall made brilliant business sense. The organization had lived through its four-year, $48 million contract with CoCo Cordero and rightly arrived at the conclusion that a team with an $80 million payroll can’t afford to pay $12 million to a closer.

Their crafty solution was to evaluate the league’s elite set-up relievers, identify one with an excellent chance at becoming an effective closer, then sign that pitcher to a long-term contract before he actually took on the role full-time. The salary could be in-between that of a proven, top-shelf closer and a set-up man.

The trade and extension of Marshall perfectly executed that forward-looking strategy. It locked a dominant pitcher up for four years at under $5 million/year — less than half the going rate for established closers.

Jocketty’s version of the ‘Marshall Plan’ was just as clever as George C. Marshall’s idea to rebuild Europe after World War II.

Ryan Madson falling into Jocketty’s lap would have postponed the Marshall Plan for a year, with Marshall assuming ninth-inning duties in 2013. When Madson was diagnosed with a season-ending injury last Saturday, the distress was partly tempered by the recognition of most observers that the Reds were relatively well situated to cope.

But not so obvious to Dusty Baker.

Yesterday, John Fay reported an exchange with Baker about the team’s closer role. The manager’s response — and explanation — was startling:

“Your closer ideally can go three or four days in a row. That’s how closing goes. Then he might not get work for a week. There are very few guys out there that have gone three, four, five days in a row. I was told that with (Sean) Marshall, you’ve got to try to stay away from him going three days in a row. So it might have to be that famous by committee, which I hate. Hopefully, someone will emerge.”

Hopefully someone will emerge?  How about the reliever the GM just extended for $16.5 million?

Is it really possible that Jocketty negotiated the trade and extension for Marshall without knowing the lefty can’t pitch three games in a row? Or is this yet another troubling case of Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty being on different wavelengths?

(It’s eerily reminiscent of Jocketty saying before spring training last year that Edgar Renteria was signed to play all around the infield, including third and first base, only to have Baker say in Goodyear that Renteria wasn’t suited to play third.)

Plainly, Baker’s statement to Fay is impossible to reconcile with Jocketty’s present-day Marshall Plan.

Part of the confusing context is the manager’s uncommon view of how to use a closer. Baker’s pattern for the ninth inning is among the most extreme in the history of major league baseball when it comes to using only one pitcher to earn saves. Chris Jaffe’s fantastic book Evaluating Baseball’s Managers 1876-2008 documents Baker’s severe tendency in this regard:

Only five teams in baseball history with more than 15 saves had one reliever record all of them; Dusty Baker managed three: Rod Beck with the 1996 Giants, Robb Nen with the 2002 Giants, and Francisco Cordero with the 2008 Reds.

If Sean Marshall truly can’t be used on a third consecutive day, designating either Nick Masset or Jose Arredondo to step in on those rare occasions is not the dreaded “committee.” It’s basically standard operating procedure for almost every major league manager.

Let’s hope this is simply a case where Baker wants to control information for a while or seem like he’s at the center of a decision.

Because if Sean Marshall really won’t ever be used as the Reds closer, then the savvy Marshall Plan becomes a costly luxury for the organization, much like Cordero’s contract.

44 thoughts on “Baker, Jocketty and Marshall

  1. Why didn’t Fay call Dusty out and have him explain why he thought Marshall couldn’t go the extended number of days?

    • Why didn’t Fay call Dusty out and have him explain why he thought Marshall couldn’t go the extended number of days?

      Why start now?

  2. During the radio broadcast of last night’s game against the Rangers, Chris Welsh mentioned that the Reds brought in Mike Gonzalez for a workout. Gonzalez is a lefty who has been around the block a few times and was invited to spring training camp by, um, nobody. Coming off a knee injury? Or just not that highly thought of anymore?

    At any rate, if the Reds are indeed looking for bullpen help outside the organization, I’m surprised there hasn’t been mention of a trade to get CoCo back from Toronto. He’s “only” making about $4 million, and obviously, if he had taken that amount, he’d still be the Reds closer…..Don’t get me wrong, I think CoCo’s time has come and gone and was jubilant at the thought of him NOT closing for the Reds, but since Dusty’s idea of a closer is somebody who can pitch 4 days in a row (anybody remember that wonderful series in Milwaukee just before the All-Star break?), I’m just surprised it hasn’t been speculated on before. I can’t imagine Toronto would ask for much in return for an aging set-up man. …

    • During the radio broadcast of last night’s game against the Rangers, Chris Welsh mentioned that the Reds brought in Mike Gonzalez for a workout. Gonzalez is a lefty who has been around the block a few times and was invited to spring training camp by, um, nobody. Coming off a knee injury? Or just not that highly thought of anymore?

      If Jocketty brings in Gonzalez, which I also think is a good idea, that would be loud and clear message to Dusty: It is time for Chapman to start!

  3. I’d like to see Bill Bray as the closer. My reasons:

    1. Keep Marshall in a flexible role to pitch in the highest leverage situations (very often these are NOT save situations).
    2. There’s no reason to think, barring injury, that Bray can’t do the job.
    3. It keeps Chapman in the rotation.
    4. He’s better than Masset.

    I’m also not sure if this would be a benefit or disadvantage, but the Reds, by giving him 25-30 saves, could create an artificial market for Bray. So, if the Reds are not in contention at the deadline, but Bray does well as a closer, they can move him for better value than they could otherwise. If the Reds are doing well, they keep him, but may have to pay more in arbitration in the off season, should they both agree to that.

    Either way, I’d like to see Bray close primarily because I’d like to see Marshall kept for high leverage situations, regardless of where they fall in the final three innings.

  4. Well I guess we will see “whom” is running the Reds..is it Walt or is it Dusty?

  5. And everybody knew that running CoCo out there for his fourth day was always a crap shoot at best, and a meltdown in the making at the worst.

    Once again, a case of managing by position rather than managing by personnel. If your people dictate three-on one-off, then that’s how you flow. We have a deep bullpen with ample arms to pick up the occasional save. Heck, with comments like that it’s no wonder Dusty has the rep for blowing out arms, whether it’s justified or not. I understand there are situations you can’t account for, but one thing you know that is pretty well set in stone (with the occasional rain out aside)is your schedule. You know when you will have day games following night games, double headers, off-days and the like. Just freakin’ plan accordingly and let Arrondondo, Masset, Bray or whatever flavor of the day who’s throwing well at the moment pick up a save or two.

    Or, we could just be leading every game by 7 runs going into the ninth and render the discussion rather moot.

    • Dusty would lead the 76 Reds to a 90 win season.

      Yeah, and I suspect Dusty would have platooned Jim Rice and Fred Lynn in 1975 for the Red Sox. Can’t trust those darned rookies!!!!!!!

  6. @vegastypo: Interesting! I wonder if there’s anything to that. I had thought of Mike Gonzalez too. Wonder how much (how little?) it would take to get him?

    I like Gonzalez – he’d be another low-hit, low-HR, high-strikeout guy to add to the mix.

    And interestingly, I looked up Gonzalez’s splits (I was wondering if he’s really just a LOOGY), he has LESS platoon difference than either Marshall or Bray does! (They’re all great vs. lefties, but Gonzalez is easily the best vs. righties, based on career numbers.)

    MARSHALL (career)
    vs. RHB – .263/.330/.423
    vs. LHB – .227/.300/.363

    BRAY (career)
    vs. RHB – .264/.328/.432
    vs. LHB – .225/.305/.343

    MIKE GONZALEZ (career)
    vs. RHB – .217/.320/.339
    vs. LHB – .213/.281/.335

    Wow, looking at those numbers makes me really like the idea of Gonzalez, especially if he could come cheap-ish. The guy is good. (When healthy – I guess that’s the catch w/ him.)

  7. @vegastypo: Why wouldn’t Toronto ask alot in return? They signed him for a reason. They’re not going to do a “do-over” just b/c we need him now. There’s no way Coco would be worth what it would take to get him back.

  8. Dusty’s words are definitely most perplexing.

    The best in house options for Left Hand Relief is Horst (did well with small sample size), Francis (not a reliever), Zavada (scary), Mahay (more scary), and Tanner (not ready). I am not comforted.

  9. @TC: We have Bray and Marshall! What’s the problem?

    By the way, Horst is a Phillie. He was traded for Wilson Valdez.

    Anyway, *IF* we need another lefty, I’m on board for signing Mike Gonzalez. See his splits above.

  10. If the topic ever would actually come up, I hope the Jays want A TON in return so it never happens. But I was figuring the Jays got CoCo as a backup closer and current set-up man, yes, but maybe as a chip to trade to a contender that suddenly needs a closer near the deadline, assuming the Jays haven’t found a way to vault into wild-card competition.

    Just don’t think they’d get much for him right now, so I feared a lower asking price. …

  11. Here’s what Baker said when Chapman said he prefered to be a starter:

    “Everyone was a starter at one time. Half of that [clubhouse] were shortstops, too,” Baker said. “Everybody has a preference, but I’m sure [Chapman] would rather be in the big leagues. That’s his preference.”

    Baker just won’t let go of wanting to move Chapman back to the pen.

  12. Well I’m pretty much done with Dusty Baker. I just can’t think of what he’s actually brought to this organization since he’s been here. One winning season and it sure seems like that was all on the shoulders of Votto and Rolen. It certainly was not because of any brilliant managing. I think he easily cost us at least 4 or 5 games last season, and that’s just from my own anecdotal memory.

  13. @eric nyc: I’ve been done with Dusty for years. I wish they would just can him now and get someone willing to even consider new ideas.

    Wait, did I say new ideas? I meant ideas that were new in the late ’60s.

  14. According to gameday, Latos came out of the game in the 5th due to a leg injury. Ive been waiting to read something about it but havent heard anything yet. I don’t have the broadcast on … anyone know anything?

    • According to gameday, Latos came out of the game in the 5th due to a leg injury.Ive been waiting to read something about it but havent heard anything yet.I don’t have the broadcast on … anyone know anything?

      He rolled his ankle. He wanted to stay in the game, but they said no. He walked off the field without a limp. Should be good to go.

  15. Not an ankle issue, but calf, which means muscle issues which means rest and no more pitching which means DL….

  16. @Dan: Gonzalez has not pitched well since 2009. In Since then Marshall has pitched much better than Gonzalez.

    Also Marshall’s stats include his seasons as a starter.

  17. Marshall himself has said that 3 days in a row is not a problem for him, but it does depend on circumstances like how many times has he gotten up during those 3 days to warm up, etc.

    It’s not always such a good idea to use any pitcher 3 days in a row. Chapman has had issues with pitching two days in a row, something that Dusty doesn’t mention.

  18. Latos strained his calf when he slipped in dirt pushing off the rubber. He says it’s nothing, but that of course is what they always say (including Madson).

  19. Has a team ever fired their manager in mid-season and gone on to win the World Series?
    I really am not going to miss Mr Toothpick Face

    • Has a team ever fired their manager in mid-season and gone on to win the World Series?
      I really am not going to miss Mr Toothpick Face

      Wasn’t that exactly the situation when Trader Jack McKeon took over the Marlins several years back?

  20. With all of the conflicting reports on player use (Lewis, Renteria, Chapman, Marshall, etc), I think it is safe at this point to assume that one of these statements is true:

    A) Jocketty has no idea how to assemble a baseball team. Or
    B) Baker has no idea how to manage a baseball team.

    Wonder if Chad would put up a new poll to see what the Nation thinks is more likely?

    • With all of the conflicting reports on player use (Lewis, Renteria, Chapman, Marshall, etc), I think it is safe at this point to assume that one of these statements is true:

      A) Jocketty has no idea how to assemble a baseball team. Or
      B) Baker has no idea how to manage a baseball team.

      Wonder if Chad would put up a new poll to see what the Nation thinks is more likely?

      They both have had a fair share of success at what they do respectively.

      I think it is less an either/ or situation and more a situation of them having philosophical differences which make it difficult to for them to stay on the same page…

  21. Here’s an idea: Trade Juan Francisco to Boston for Mark Melancorn straight up.

    Melancorn closed for the Astros last year, and he did a pretty good job at it (decent WHIP, low ERA, although he did have a 25% rate of blown saves…Although that might have had more to do with the horrible Astros team he played for.)

    This way we don’t lose Francisco for nothing. We could even throw in a low-level pitching prospect to sweeten the deal a little. Melancorn is young, 26 years old, and at worst he could be a stop-gap solution for this year and at best he could become a stalwart of our bullpen for years to come.

    I mean, we’re going to lose Francisco anyway, right? Might as well roll the dice and try to do something productive instead of just giving him away. And like someone else says, this will give Dusty a full bullpen again and send a clear message that Chapman is NOT a reliever.

    Seriously, Chapman has had a good spring as a starter. I wonder what Dusty will say to try to justify not letting him start? “You can’t trust spring stats, you go by what they did in the past.” “Chapman throws too hard to be a starter, I don’t want him wearing out by midseason.” “Well, you just gotta like having a lefty in the bullpen who comes in throwing smoke late in the game.” If Dusty had been managing the Mariners in the 90’s, none of us would know Randy Johnson as any more than a weird looking reliever who could throw hard.

  22. @CI3J:
    CI3J, I was thinking the same thing. Trade Francisco for a middle reliever. The move opens up a spot for Frazier and reinforces the bullpen so Chapman can remain a starter.

    Just don’t make the pitcher Cordero. Dusty would put him back in the closer’s role before he was finished packing his gear.

  23. Just read the article and Dusty’s comments. Why is this season already starting to feel like a train wreck before it’s even begun? Oh yeah, because Dusty is the engineer. The comments he made about Marshall and the bullpen by committee are troubling. And reading between the lines make it obvious he wants to keep Chapman in the bullpen.

    If they continue to jerk this kid (Chapman) around like this, saying you’re a starter, no you’re a reliever, no you’re in AAA to work on starting, no we want you as a set-up man, they are going to ruin this kid’s career before it gets going (see: Chamberlain, Joba). You got this kid to be a dominant starter, so put his butt in the rotation and go with it. His control has been great this spring, he’s finally learning to be a pitcher and not a thrower, so stop messing with his head.

    In regards to Marshall, either you go out and find a top-notch closer (little late in the game at this point, one week before Opening Day) or you make Marshall your closer and fill in the vacancy in short relief with someone from your organization if they are ready, or you go out and get someone reasonably priced. It isn’t rocket science by any stretch. Well, it shouldn’t be but I guess it is to some managers. Not that I had any love for the guy, but could you see this happening with La Russa as manager? In fact, didn’t something similar happen early last year where they couldn’t find a closer to save their lives? How did 2011 turn out for the Cardinals?

    A good manager would be a source of calm at this time, not Chicken Little saying the sky is falling because of the dreaded bullpen by committee. And certainly not contradicting his boss by intimating that well, shucks, I guess that means we have to put Chapman back in the bullpen.

    I don’t hate Dusty. He seems like a really good guy. The players like him because he’s a nice guy and “a player’s manager,” whatever that translates to. But as I say all the time, I’m a nice guy, too. I really am. Do you want me managing the Reds? Take some time to think about that, because there may be an opening soon and dammit, I’m applying.

  24. It’s not that shocking that WJ and DB may not agree on where Chapman should pitch. Their jobs/ motivations are different. WJ is here as the master builder with a longer time horizon. DB’s job, now that he has the horses, is to win now. Can’t say I disagree with DB that having Chapman in the bullpen THIS YEAR gives us a (slightly?)better chance of winning THIS YEAR. If I was a manager with a short leash (and most managers have one) I’d rather have Chapman in the pen than in Louisville.

    That said I PRAY that the Reds stick with the commitment to make Chapman a starter. We need Chapman pitching 140 – 170 innings/year for the next couple of years, not 60 – 70 innings in the bullpen.

    In the end, it won’t be DB’s decision, it will be “decision by committee” with WJ, DB, Price, and others weighing in. Ultimately it’s WJ’s decision.

  25. It’s not that shocking that WJ and DB may not agree on where Chapman should pitch. Their jobs/ motivations are different. WJ is here as the master builder with a longer time horizon. DB’s job, now that he has the horses, is to win now. Can’t say I disagree with DB that having Chapman in the bullpen THIS YEAR gives us a (slightly?) better chance of winning THIS YEAR. If I was a manager with a short leash (and most managers have one) I’d rather have Chapman in the pen than in Louisville.

    That said I PRAY that the Reds stick with the commitment to make Chapman a starter. We need Chapman pitching 140 – 170 innings/year for the next couple of years, not 60 – 70 innings in the bullpen.

    In the end, it won’t be DB’s decision, it will be “decision by committee” with WJ, DB, Price, and others weighing in. Ultimately it’s WJ’s decision.

  26. In the meantime, they do need to find a lefty reliever. I can’t imagine they feel comfortable relying on just Marshall and Bray, when Bray is just (finally) coming back from injury.

  27. The Marshall Plan didn’t work, in fact, it was a foolish waste of resources that ended up being a bailout for Western Europe instead of an effective anti-Soviet strategy. The US even teamed up with fascist Spain. All of this is going on during American deindustrialization. Spending money on countries that caused the bloodiest war in history and putting your own people out of work is damaging policy.

    When Dusty said that there was a possibility that Chapman could be in the bullpen in 2012, he was out of accord with the manager. When Madson went down, Jocketty said “maybe” Aroldis will pitch relief, but somehow that’s standing firm in his stance. He could have said, “we’re grooming Aroldis to start”, “we feel good about our alternatives”, or “we would like him to start”. Walt uttered neither or nothing of the like.

  28. @secondguessingfanbase: Or maybe unlike Dusty, Walt is tired of being quoted in direct opposition to his manager, expanding on the idea that they are off the same page. Who knows that they say behind closed doors. We do know that Dusty has not stopped banging the “Aroldis to bullpen” drum since he got to the team. But yeah, end of the day, Walt needs to stand firm on this or explain that the Madson injury dictated a new plan: Win now and maybe keep Joey later. I don’t approve, I just wish someone would say something. But shoot, the roster will be set in short order.

  29. Matt WI,

    I’m with you, it’s hard for me to speculate on personal convos between Baker and Jocketty. That being said, I don’t fully blame any manager for wanting the team to win now as opposed to later with another skipper. Regardless, Chapman’s talent should have dictated to Dusty a long time ago though. He’s lefty and he throws 105. Why it took the GM this long to come close to being committal about the young man is even more frustrating than Baker trying to save his job with a reliever. If anything, Dusty should have been making comment after comment to the media about the outfield and the top sluggers on the market this past offseason, but that’s just me.

  30. I’ve been thinking about the bullpen situation, and closers in general, and what keeps coming back to me are The Nasty Boys.

    In !990, Randy Myers got 31 saves, so he was certainly the “closer.” But the Reds got 50 saves that year, so he only got 60% of the teams saves. Dibble and several others got the other 19.

    But here’s the really interesting thing. Both Myers and Dibble had many more innings pitched than appearances (21 and 30 respectively).

    So the pattern of usage back then seems to have been: when you use one of your relief aces, use them for more than one inning if it makes sense, BUT, don’t worry about getting the “closer” in for every save situation if he’s worked too many days in a row.

    Now I’m no doctor, but that just intuitively makes much more sense to me. If a guy has already spent the time warming up and throwing hard, it seems like the difference between 15-20 pitches and 30-40 pitches probably isn’t that much. But asking a guy to get ready to pitch and throw hard 4 days in a row? That seems like it would really take it out of your arm.

    That’s the problem with the “closer” position as used by Dusty. It makes you use pitchers in a really bizarre seemingly dumb way.

    I would like the Reds to go with Marshall as the primary closer, but use him for more than one inning when it makes sense. Then give saves to Masset or Bray or whoever (Bailey anyone?) when Marshall is recovering or when the matchups make sense. And also use those guys for more than an inning some time.

    We’ve gone way too far to the one inning and one batter relievers. These guys were all starters at one point. Get a few innings out of them, and you won’t need to use 5 pitchers in a game.

  31. I think I’d want to rarely see any of the relievers throwing three days (full inning outings) in a row.

    I’m hoping if the Reds sign Gonzalez, it’s because his salary demands to this point have been too high. I’m a bit worried that so many teams have passed on him after a subpar year last year when he became a little bit prone to the long-ball. He walks a few too many batters for my taste, too, 4.0/9ip over the past three years.

  32. Dusty’s comments make it sound like he wants total control of this situation and doesn’t have it. Perhaps he is already hedging on the bullpen’s performance this year since fans are expecting so much? In any case, not too impressed with his concerns and inferred solutions.

    I like this Marshall Plan, wait and see . . .

  33. Can we please make this season a successful one? Here’s the new question to ask: Has anyone ever fired their manager in Spring Training? Baker’s exploits as the Reds’ skipper are legendary, we all agree he’s cost us as many wins as any player or set of players in history. He’s the classic over-under manager. He undermanages his veterans, to the point of trotting anything that has been in the league more than 10 minutes out for crucial playing time. He overmanagers his rookies, to the point of keeping most of them on the bench where they can’t upstage his beloved veterans. Only on the Reds would Scott Rolen be the no-questions-asked third baseman. I love Rolen, but his body has betrayed him way too much lately. We have Frazier, Francisco, and if that’s truly not good enough, then Jocketty should have brought in a solution. Ryan Ludwick is going to get big PT in left, despite Chris Heisey’s almost 20 bombs in limited playing time. I’m surprised Mesoraco is even with the team, let alone Cozart, because these are players that are just simply not proven when we have Miguel Cairo and had Ramon Hernandez (sarcasm). This team will never move forward with Old Man Baker at the helm.

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