Marlon Byrd was a cheap acquisition. With the Phillies kicking in $4 million for 2015, Byrd’s cost to the Reds is just a cool $4 million. Heck, the team is spending more than that to pay a 36-year-old outfielder not to play for them. Byrd’s vesting option for 2016 is unlikely to be triggered. If the Reds fall out of contention or if Byrd doesn’t produce at hoped-for levels, it will be easy for Byran Price to sit Byrd enough to keep his plate appearances under 550. Byrd’s age also makes trips to the DL probable.

The Reds dodged important potholes. They avoided signing a long-term free-agent contract. They didn’t commit to another empty-OBP slap hitter at the top of the lineup. They didn’t trade away any more of their starting players or top ten prospects.

Ben Lively was dealt from organizational depth. Various services ranked him #11-12 in the Reds system. The club has several right-handed pitchers ahead of Lively. Could he have become a serviceable bottom-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Reds? Sure. But Lively’s chance was remote, as it is for any non-top-100 prospect.

If you’re a card-carrying member of the “Reds should punt 2015” pessimist society, the Byrd acquisition was the best you could hope for, given that actual punting was never going to happen with Bob Castellini as owner. Trading for a low-cost, one-year player is the least the Reds could realistically do.

However, if you’re in the “Reds should compete in 2015” camp (as I am) the new left fielder is far from the impact offensive player for which you had hoped.

The main problem with Marlon Byrd is the grinding, irresistible gravitational force of Father Time. Like gravity, aging curves are laws of nature, not to be wished away.

Byrd will turn 38 in August. Here’s the list of major league players in 2014 who made at least 400 plate appearances at age 37 or older: Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Torii Hunter and Carlos Beltran. That’s the list. Each suffered severe decline in offense, defense or both from the previous year or two. Unlike in 2006, the last time a Walt Jocketty built team won the World Series, the odds are substantially against 37-year-old players contributing today, in the post-steroid, post-amphetamine era.

This is no knock on Marlon Byrd. But for the Reds to expect him to put up the numbers he did in 2014 is nuts. Yesterday, Walt Jocketty referred to the 2013 Byrd to justify signing up for the outfielder’s 2015 season. Jocketty’s reference was deeply disingenuous. Decide for yourself if he was being intentionally misleading or severely out of touch with reality. Neither of those interpretations is flattering for the Reds general manager. And it’s not like Byrd’s 2014 was all that. His OPS was .757. Joey Votto’s OPS last year – last year – was .799.

To judge this trade, simply look at what the Reds said they wanted to do this offseason. Jocketty had explained in recent months that the club was looking to do something differently offensively. He pointed out that runners on base were down quite a bit and that the club has a lot of strikeout guys right now. Jocketty said they wanted a hitter who could get on base and who strikes out less.

In Marlon Byrd, they signed a hitter who had the seventh highest strikeout rate in the major leagues. He struck out more than Jay Bruce. Byrd had the third-lowest BB/K rate. He hardly ever walks, so if his batting average declines, as one would expect due to aging, his on-base percentage will quickly fall below .300. One system (Steamer) that has published projections for Byrd estimates his average will fall from .264 to .245 and his OBP decline from .312 to .294.

Targeting Marlon Byrd runs directly counter to the Reds stated goals for the offseason. They got boxed in by their failure to make earlier trades or a free agent signing. It’s hard to imagine if Byrd really was the Reds guy all along that they would have been preaching those platitudes about OBP and strikeouts.

Walt Jocketty also described Marlon Byrd as a big bat. Byrd is not. Devin Mesoraco (.893) is a big bat. Byrd’s bat in 2013 was big (.847), but that’s not the Marlon Byrd who will play everyday for the Reds in 2015. Byrd’s 2014 OPS ranked just behind the big bats of Brian Dozier and Adam Eaton.

Byrd is, however, at an age where severe decline looms and sudden collapse a real possibility. The bright flashing red light ahead is his rising strikeout rate: 16% (2011), 20% (2012), 25% (2013), 29% (2014). A big bust is more likely than a big bat.

Then there is the issue of his defense. Marlon Byrd has played *two* games in LF since 2009. He’s started in LF a total of 121 games over his 13-year career. When asked about this yesterday, Byrd said “I play center field, right field, I came up playing left field. I hope it’s like riding a bike.” (Rosecrans) For the record, Byrd has played CF two times in the past two seasons.

Defensive metrics on Byrd are split over his 2014 performance. They range from mildly positive to mildly negative. It’s hard to imagine a 37-year-old player moving to a new position will put up a plus defensive performance. Playing left field in the major leagues is more difficult than riding a bike.

In defending the trade, both Jocketty and Price trotted out the hoary notion of the “intangibles” that Marlon Byrd offers the Reds clubhouse. Bracket off the debate about whether intangibles matter in professional sports. Bracket whether the Reds, who are now a veteran team, would benefit from a new player’s intangibles. Ignore the question of whether PED use is an intangible or not. Suppress the memory of Skip Schumaker being sold similarly as a gritty role-model. Consider this: Marlon Byrd has played in 13 major league seasons and yet with all those intangibles, his teams have reached the postseason only once, the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates, a clubhouse he joined for 30 games.

The Reds needed a hitter with a good on-base percentage who practices plate discipline, not one with a talking point of squishy veterany goodness. Walt Jocketty has given plenty players their last-gasp contract. It’s his well-worn move. Ask former Cardinal Jim Edmonds. Or former Cardinal Miguel Cairo. Or former Cardinal Edgar Renteria. Although, this time instead of using his habitual move for a bench player, Jocketty is risking it with the Reds starting left-fielder and middle-of-the-order bat.

The Reds’ offseason moves in total have been correct in a general sense. They traded pitching (Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon, Lively) for hitting (Byrd, Eugenio Suarez). They are operating under a rising payroll, but still faced real budget constraints. And yes, the left fielder acquisition could have been worse. Marlon Byrd was cheap. But you don’t get what you don’t pay for.

Are the Reds better today than they were before the Byrd trade? You bet.

However, “better than Skip Schumaker” is a low, low bar.

119 Responses

  1. Jbrat

    If you take a step back, the move looks a lot like a depth signing…a veteran OFer with pop to a 1-yr contract at $4 mil. I want to believe they’re still going after someone like Aoki, and Byrd is just a 4th OF option.

    Does anyone know exactly where the Reds’ payroll stands (with arbitration estimates included)? They still need to solidify the bullpen, so maybe $5-6 mil more to spend there? I want to believe they have $6 mil left for another OFer…

    • eric nyc

      I don’t know why they’d sign Byrd and Aoki. They still have Schumaker under contract. I don’t think “improving our 4th OF” was a big priority and if it was we should have just kept Heisey. No, Byrd is your Opening Day starter and LF and Walt’s prize catch of the 2015 offseason. Quite an era to be a Reds fan.

      • Drew

        Really? The Reds offer Votto/Frazier/Mes/Bruce/Hamilton/Cueto/Leake/Bailey/Chapman…

        In this “era” we have I believe maybe a few more division championships and playoff appearances since oh I don’t know…the early 90’s. Some here act like this is a bottom feeding team with no chance at the playoffs in 15 and a doomed future…Come on..

      • eric nyc

        We have 3 division championships in the last 25 years (and zero playoff series wins). For comparison’s sake, the Houston Astros have won a NL pennant in that timeframe.

        Let’s go down your list. Bruce has turned out to be a good player but not The Natural he was billed as. His greatest value now is his team friendly contract. Frazier is just fine but let’s not kid ourselves that he’s an all time great. Mes still has a lot to prove. Hamilton is a side show to me until he shows he can actually be a league average hitter (73 wRC+ ain’t gonna cut it). You can throw Chapman into that category too since we have completely misused him and has provided little actual value to the team besides free pizza. Leake? Mike Leake? You’re going to tell your grandkids about how you watched Mike Leake pitch in a Reds uniform? Bailey is Bailey. Those no hitters were fun to watch but just like Bruce he never turned into the guy we were promised.

        And then there’s Votto. Votto Votto Votto…I love Joey Votto. I literally jumped for joy the day we signed him to his mega contract. In 2012 he looked like he was coming into his own as one of the all time great hitters. But we all know what happened then and as much as I want to be optimistic, until I see him regain ANY kind of his old form on a consistent basis he will be a constant cause of stress for me. It is entirely possible that Votto brings down the Reds in this decade the way Griffey did in the 90’s/early 00’s. Just bad, dumb luck with injuries that curtailed an epic career.

      • Drew

        I gues it all comes down to expecations of how we view the game. You look at the game by the numbers, the only numbers I care about are W/L. No other numbers matter to me. Since taking over Walt has been able to put a team on the field that overall has produced more W’s the L’s for the most part and been a fun team to go see. I could care less what someone’s WAR is or such, those are fantasy numbers for stat folk to sit back and debate over. This is a game and the sole purpose is relaxation and enjoyment by the fans during the summer with the hope of a playoff run and maybe a WS. I really doubt the fans of KC cared much that there team numbers were not what make state fans giddy, but their unorthodox playing on the field sure made for a fun summer and post season.

      • Steve Mancuso

        If the only numbers you care about are wins and losses, then given his failure to reach the postseason, you must hate the Byrd trade. If you only look at wins and losses, on what do you base your claim that Byrd “fills a need” for the Reds?

      • eric nyc

        The only “number” I mentioned was Hamilton’s wRC+ and that was just to demonstrate that the guy isn’t a good major league player at this point. He just isn’t, and he isn’t contributing to W’s while hitting that poorly. Beyond that, my very first statement was the most important: 3 division championships in 25 years. And 1 WC appearance thrown in there. You can be as old school as it gets but that doesn’t seem like a good ratio of W’s and L’s to me. If you’re simply happy with being above .500 then good for you. Must be a pleasant way to go through life. Maybe my expectations ARE a bit higher. The thing about all these pesky advanced “fantasy” numbers like WAR is that they’re derived from actual people playing actual baseball games that end up in actual W’s and L’s. They’re not arbitrary. And they’re not necessarily predictive. If you have a team with a bunch of guys with high WAR, it means you won a lot of games. So if you just want to watch the W column that’s perfectly fine, but realize that the numbers some of the rest of us are paying attention to are what’s causing that number to go up…or not.

      • Drew

        Hamilton far exceeded anyone’s production last year. He finished I think second in the ROY voting and posted some fair numbers given this was his first season in the major leagues and relly only full second year at CF. His defense was incredible and while his hitting talied off in the second half a bit, to me to say his season was not good or below expectations tells me those who view it that way had their standards set way to high. Since I don’t follow those type of numbers I really don’t know, but from what I read and heard, I wonder…who had better “stat based numbers” like war nad such at seasons end…

        Angles
        Dodgers
        Cards
        Giants
        Royals

        I find it hard to believe that the Royals had better overall numbers then any of the other teams listed, yet there they were, in the WS.

      • Steve Mancuso

        If you only look at wins and losses, on what do you base your assertion that Hamilton met your standards? Didn’t the team lose more than they won?

      • tct

        Drew , there is a correlation between WAR and wins. Of those teams you listed, the Royals had more WAR than the Cards and the Giants, but less than the Dodgers and Angels. Which makes sense considering that those two teams won more games in the regular season than KC did.

        The Royals were fifth in pitching WAR in all of baseball and seventh in position player WAR. The advanced stats back up their success.

      • Boneill1621

        I’m only 24 so take this with a grain of salt but since my first game at Riverfront in 95 till, let’s say, 2009. The Reds played awful, awful baseball. They were a joke honestly.

        This team as of now is a worthy of fringe playoff consideration. We have great and likable players (Votto), great pitching (rotation), and arguably the most exciting player in baseball (Chapman or Hamilton on base). I know we all hoped a deal could be made for a more viable LF but it is not worth risking the stability of the franchise moving forward by trading away valuable pieces. I never want to have an era of Reds baseball again with a .400 or lower winning percentage.

      • yoitsscholzy

        This is pretty much my feeling exactly. I’m 29, so a bit older than you, and I remember (vaguely) some Reds success early in my life. Then… well… we all know how the 2000’s went.

        I’m not saying that I think Jocketty is the best GM in baseball, and I’m not suggesting that the Reds are the best organization, but it’s a far cry from what most of my life has been. I don’t love this trade, but I don’t hate it. Marlon Byrd is a downgrade from a lot of players that have been discussed as potential targets, but he’s an awfully big step up from Skip. Sending away Lively isn’t my favorite thing, but I like it a whole heck of a lot more than sending away Stephenson, Lorenzen, etc.

        Bottom line is that this team is a pretty good team. I’ve never seen a team with injuries like the Reds had last year. It was unreal. With even decent health we’ll have much better players on the field this year. I sure feel better about a lineup with Marlon Byrd than a lineup with Skip Schumacher. Maybe most importantly, I feel a lot better about a 1 year player clearing the way for Winker, and ensuring that, while this is certainly a move made in an attempt to make the Reds better this year, it’s even more certainly a move made to ensure that the Reds will be putting good teams on the field the next several years by only giving up 1 good prospect without blocking other major prospects along the way.

        I don’t want more years like the 2000’s. Trading the farm would have made sure of that. I’d rather know we’re going to be able to put competitive teams on the field for the next 6-8 years (which I believe with our minor league system as it is now) rather than pushing to win the World Series in 1 year and go through another 10 to rebuild.

      • Drew

        My basis is from what I watched. I do look at a few players numbers, but those are the one’s that from what I have come to see most “stat” folk poo poo. For Hamilton I looked at his BA and his SB and such. What I saw was a great defensive CF who used his speed and showed he can play on this level and should only get better. I really don’t care with his WAR was or other numbers….I can see by watching him play he has abilities and helped this team.

      • CP

        Drew,

        Unfortunately, Hamilton’s fWAR would actually bolster support of him. Outside of his stolen bases (which were actually disappointing for most people), Hamilton’s traditional baseball stats were quite low. I don’t see how anyone could consider OBP or SLG sabermetric stats. Even if went by traditional, old-school hitting slot analysis, Billy’s sole job as the leadoff hitter was to get on base and score runs. Billy didn’t do very well.

        Where he finished in a pathetic rookie class really doesn’t matter. There something like 4 NL rookie hitters who had 400 PAs, and 3 or 4 pitchers who made 20+ starts. The bar was extremely, extremely low.

      • proudpapa75

        yea, not sure why there is so much hate for the Bryd move. He is just a one year guy as they move Winker up. Everyone keeps saying he is a year away, but if he is tearing up the minors again I say bring him up and lets see what we got. Some people say you have to wait or you’ll ruin his confidence, but at some point you have to go with what he is doing and give him a chance. For the money, I’d say the Byrd trade was a good one. He will give the team time to decide when the “right” time to bring Winker up is.

      • Drew

        How do we know what their “budget” is? I know there is not one pro major league baseball team losing money, so the question isn’t are they over their budget, but how much profit does Bob want to make?

      • Sean Lahman (@seanlahman)

        We have a sense for what the budget is because Jocketty has talked about it, particularly after the Heisey/Latos/Simon trades. You could pretend that because the owner has deep pockets there is no budget, but in reality the payroll constraints have driven this entire offseason for the Reds.

      • Thegaffer

        Agree, this is the primary issue.

        To cut nearly 10 million from the payroll and get back a SS, LF, and fifth starter is not as awful as was made out. What else was available? Seriously, would love to hear something much better. Even the Yankees are cutting salary, so there were much less options than one might think. You need a partner to trade.

    • Steve Mancuso

      The first couple hours after the Byrd trade was announced, I was trying to talk myself into this scenario as well. Byrd came so cheap (in terms of payroll) maybe it was Jocketty’s way of super-powering the bench with a RH bat and the real LF move still awaited. No chance of that, really. Unless you consider a Jesse Winker promotion at mid-season to be that scenario.

  2. Norwood Nate

    Thanks for this, I agree with just about all the points about Byrd, and is the main reason this trade does not sit well with me. I feel what the FO said and did are two different things and our rotation now has two big question marks, I’m not sure we have really addressed SS (sounds like Price still plans to run Cozart out there to start the year) and the bench and bullpen are still unsolved. It just feels like we have been deceived as fans, and any real systemic change in developing a roster has all been lip service.

    One minor more of contention, I think Lively was ranked higher than 11-12 in our system. I’ve seen everywhere from 7-11. In fact, personally, I would only feel good in having Stephenson, Winker, Lorenzen, Iglesias, Travieso, YRod, and maybe one or two Howard/Garrett.

    • eric nyc

      I think Suarez wins the SS job in spring training. He has the potential to be a difference maker. He still hasn’t proved it in the majors, but he consistently had a wRC+ of well over 120 coming up through the minors. If he can even reach something like 105-110 in the majors that is a MASSIVE offensive upgrade over Cozart (56 last year…Fifty-six) and he’s still rated as a plus defensive player, though just about anyone will be a downgrade from Cozart on defense. He’s an elite fielder.

      • Mike Smith

        Eric having him at a tad below league average would be a substantial improvement.

      • Norwood Nate

        I completely agree Suarez should be given the opportunity to win the job in spring training, but from what Price had said, I get the impression the job is Cozart’s to lose, and recent history indicates he’ll be given given an extended opportunity to ”get going”.

      • eric nyc

        Suarez has just over 300 PA’s above the AA level in his career. I would hope Price wasn’t throwing Cozart under the bus right away. But Suarez is straight up a better hitter than Cozart and that should be made pretty clear in the spring. As long as he shows he isn’t an actual defensive liability it will be really hard for Price not to start him come Opening Day. And Cozart will still get some playing time. He’d be an excellent late inning defensive substitution and on days that Votto is off Frazier can slide to 1B and Suarez can slide to 3B.

      • Norwood Nate

        I hope you’re right. FWIW I would try to move Cozart this winter to avoid any temptation to start him. There really isn’t a reason to carry a non-bat on the bench, which is what he’d be, especially when Negron would be a better PH option and plays a good enough SS to fill in on off days. In that case we could carry someone like Satin for the corners. To me, it seems carrying Cozart, Negron, and Schu on the bench leaves a lot to be desired from a PH standpoint. But hopefully Walt well actual follow through on assessing the bench before ST.

      • Joey

        Did you guys watch the Reds fest interview with Bruce, Votto, and Bailey? Asked,what position they would play other than their primary position and Votto answered shortstop. Then he made the remark about not having to hit playing at that position. My question is was that remark a jab at himself for being injured, a jab at Cozart, or something else?

  3. Jeff

    I met a girl who sang the blues
    And I asked her for some happy news
    But she just smiled and turned away

    Sure wish Walt could’ve found some magic. I guess our last best hope is that everyone comes back healthy and beats the age curve. Now that will be some real magic.

  4. jessecuster44

    Dislike Walt/Bob saying one thing, then doing another. For Walt to deal Latos and Simon, then talk about getting one kind of player for LF – then to get Byrd?

    ” Decide for yourself if he was being intentionally misleading or severely out of touch with reality”

    Unless Walt pulls a rabbit out of his hat re: one more offensive piece, I’d say the FO is both intentionally misleading and out of touch. Bad news. Very difficult to respect management such as this.

    • Drew

      Why does the FO have to be truthful to the press about what it is doing? Heck look at one of the top pro sports teams going…the NE Pats…they lie each week about how is healthy and who isn’t. The job of the FO is to do what they can financially to make the team the best it can be. With the Byrd trade they were able to address a need and stay within a budget they had set for it and not doom the frachise going forward.

      • jessecuster44

        The NE Patriots make deep playoff runs and win championships. Clearly management knows what they are doing in Foxboro.

        Walt/Bob aren’t near that level.

        Also, there’s a difference between an injury report and offseason moves. Walt saying he’s looking for a high OBP guy and then signing Byrd is a little different than Bill B playing LeGarrett Blount instead of Johnathan Byrd.

  5. yoitsscholzy

    I just don’t see this move the same way a lot of others do I guess. Byrd is “meh”. Skip is terrible. It IS an upgrade over what we have, and although Lively is a decent prospect, he’s not a world-stopper. This seems to me like a way to keep Skip from being the bridge to Winker. Of course Jocketty and Price are going to talk him up and make him sound better than he is. If he’s stinking it up halfway through the year and Winker is killing it at AAA, no problem. If he’s playing really well, keep Winker down and let him season a bit more.

    In reality, LF wasn’t what killed the Reds last year. A move needed to be made, but 2015 doesn’t hinge on LF. It hinges on Votto and Bruce. If you inject a healthy Votto and a healthy Bruce into the Reds lineup in 2014 it’s simply a different team. I think this was Jocketty’s way of bridging to Winker without mortgaging the farm for a 1-year rental, or paying 15 million for one who may or may not be that good. In that sense, I’m ok with the trade.

    • Thegaffer

      Agree 100 percent. I would love to hear who we should have gotten instead and what realistically we would have had to give up to get it. For example, Justin Upton (who was too much money anyway) would have taken Lorenzen and Travieso at a bare minimum. Will Meyers might have been Stephenson AND 2 other prospects. I personally would have done that, but what happens in 2017?

  6. tct

    Really good stuff, Steve. I think it is worth pointing out, though, that while Byrd’s k rate his increased dramatically over the past 2 years so has his power. From 2010-2012 Byrd never put up an ISO better than .136 and he had only had one season in his career where he hit more than 12 homers. But in 2013-2014 he had an ISO of .220 and .181 respectively. He hit 24 homers, a career high at the time, in 2013. Then he sets another career high by hitting 25 last year.

    I’m not trying to make the case that Byrd is a great acquisition. I’m just saying that the increasing k rate could be because he is selling out for power. He has been a different type of hitter over the last two years than he was earlier in his career. Also, there is a story about Byrd changing his swing and approach before the 2013 season. I’m on my phone and can’t get links to work so the article on Fangraphs called “the new Marlon Byrd is the real Marlon Byrd” by Jeff Sullivan details some of the changes.

  7. Redsman

    I too read that article about the new MB. If he hits another 25 HR with 85 RBI’s, well, I won’t care what the other numbers are. Those numbers are far better than we would expect from Skip, but what about Lutz or Winker? And what do we really need in LF? A power bat, or an OBP guy? This sort of indecisive, change on the fly philosophy from the FO is the sort of thing that frustrates the Nation. It’s one thing for ‘fans’ to debate the relative merits of Byrd versus ‘internal options’. It’s quite another for the FO/braintrust to seemingly be debating these things and changing their minds willy-nilly from day to day. And when Walt says our needs are more OBP, and then you go get Byrd, well it makes you crazy!

    It does NOT inspire confidence in the direction we are headed or the guys leading us there. This is why there is so much angst, ruffled feathers and barbs hurled at one another for their opinions. A very few of us seem to have unwavering faith in Walt, fewer still still cling to the notion we are headed to the playoffs in ’15. The odds of all the question marks from last year turning out positively for this season are astronomical. Is there anything else in store for us between now and Opening Day? Maybe, but given the three major moves made up to this point…most of us aren’t going to hold our breath.

    Maybe some of the seeming confusion is Walt disseminating, that wily old fox! I don’t really think that is the case. I think the Cards and Pirates are both better and the Cubs are coming FAST

  8. Redsman

    FAST….
    How was this possible? The difference between Theo and Walt is striking! Each can judge for themselves which is the better option or model. And I realize the Cubbies network probably generates a larger revenue and we are comparably a ‘small market’ team. That doesn’t make me any less impatient!

    • Jbrat

      I get your point, and it is pretty scary how good the Cubs could be in the next few years. The problem is that they have spent the better part of the last 6 years rebuilding, and it was pretty obvious the Cubs organization needed to clean house and acquire talent after 3 years in the cellar of the NL Central. I don’t know if thats necessarily a fast turnaround. Theo’s been there since 2011, and they only won 73 games last year. We talk about the Reds having a lot of “ifs,” but counting on the kids in the Cubs organization to take them to the playoffs this year or next hinges on a lot of ifs as well.

      I think Walt’s situation is much tougher in that he has to take a good franchise with payroll constraints to the next level. There are very few franchises in baseball that compete for the playoffs year in and year out and don’t spend a bunch of money

    • Mark Bradford

      Theo is a better GM than Walt. That is obvious but no was through would ever touch the reds job. Walt is the best GM reds can get. Look how bad the GMs before him were. Complain about Walt all you want but reds cannot do better.

    • Mark Bradford

      Theo is a better GM than Walt. That is obvious but no one as good as theo would ever touch the reds job. Walt is the best GM reds can get. Look how bad the GMs before him were. Complain about Walt all you want but reds cannot do better.

      • greenmtred

        Do you base this on the comparative records of the teams they’ve general-managed? The Cubs’ situation is different from the Reds’, and while it’s understandable that we’re frustrated (I am, too), we should ask ourselves who was available–trade or FA–and what the cost would have been. It’s easy enough to assemble a wish list, but harder to realize the list when doing so requires negotiating with other GM’s, all of whom are intent on getting the better of any deal.

  9. unc reds fan

    If Marlon Byrd is one of those intangibles guys why did we give Votto all that money? That’s one of the reasons the Votto contract never bugged me much because of what he brought to the team that cant be measured in numbers…So if Byrd is the answer we were wrong on Votto, if we were right about Votto we just wasted 4 million to fill a already filled role. Walt do us all a favor and retire now

    • Thegaffer

      Votto is not an intangibles guy, in fact he brings numbers and lots of them. Votto is actually not a leader, but other guys can take this on.

    • Jbrat

      There can be more than 1 guy on the team with intangibles. In fact, good teams have more than 1 guy with intangibles. I’m not necessarily saying that Byrd has them (or Votto has them, for that matter), but your argument that it has to be one or the other isn’t the case at all.

      • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

        I have really never understood the reasoning behind fans arguing whether a guy is a leader or has intangibles or not. These aren’t things things that we as fans can really see or not and are just told by a third party. I understand that some guys are great locker room guys and some aren’t but the fans don’t see it and different personalities of players are going to mesh differently with different guys and not others so it is very much an opinion based thing.

      • Mark Bradford

        These days votto isn’t a numbers or intangibles guy. He just is a hurt player who is slow with no power and no defense.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Votto will hit for more power than Byrd this year.

      • ohiojimw

        Votto will hit for more power than Byrd this year.
        ********************************************************************
        Yes, if he can stay on the field. Until he demonstrates he can stay on field, it is a legitimate and fair question to wonder about.

  10. Thegaffer

    Steve, great article. I love that this article was not overly colored by the frustration we all feel at having the reds not really being a clear playoff caliber team. As you say, what else was really going to happen? If fans are upset, they only have unrealistic expectations to blame.

    I still think the goal of the front office is to put a team in position to compete, which we are. We have a top 10 MLB hitter when healthy in Votto and a top 5 pitcher in Cueto. If these guys are solid stars next year, we have enough to win 92 games (especially if you make a deadline deal for what is missing in July).

    Moreover, why sell out the team now by trading Cueto when you can get the same value at the deadline! Lets all just see where it goes. If the reds are under .500 in May at least it wont be because Schumaker is the 2 hole hitter!

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      I disagree that you could get the same value for Cueto in the middle of the season than you could if he were traded before the season started. There’s always the possibility of him getting injured or not being as good as he was last year. I believe you’re going to get more in a trade for a full season of Cueto than you would in a trade for half a season of him. No team is going to give the Reds as much in season when they could just wait until after the season to sign him.

      • Thegaffer

        Recent article about this showed the opposite, you get more at the deadline. Now these are usually younger prospects , not major leaguers. One reason is that there is much less salary to take on. Another reason is teams get desperate. This time of year, teams trade contracts, not players.

      • lwblogger2

        The big risks are the injury factor that Ryan Lynkins mentions above, and the posibility of Cueto not performing as well for you as he did last season when you’re at the deadline in 2015. You have the potential for a better haul for Cueto if he isn’t injured and he’s performing like Cy Young Candidate Cueto at the deadline in 2015. Those are a couple significant risks with moving him later as opposed to now.

        I’m one who thinks that this team has an outside shot at a wildcard slot with Cueto pitching. Therefore, I wouldn’t move him until at least the deadline. There is no guarantee that he’ll be worth more than he is now however and if he’s injured next season, he’ll be worth much less.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Is it that we have “unrealistic expectations” to want a LF (or…a RF that we can stick in LF) that is a high OBP guy when the FO specifically stated that this is what we were to expect them to target? Who’s to blame when what Walt told the fans he was going to do, wasn’t what he did? Is that our unrealistic expectations?

  11. dradg

    I posted in the comments to another story both “meh” and that the emphasis on “intangibles” such as dugout leadership, “grit,” and “work ethic” by Walt and/or Bob makes me sick.

    Specifically, Byrd is said to have the intangible “great” work ethic. But a K/BB of 185/35 makes me question what exactly he’s working diligently on, because it’s sure not plate discipline and pitch recognition.

    I’m OK with the Byrd signing only if the Reds have cash earmarked either for extending Mesoraco or finding an everyday LF, and Byrd will be on the bench. If Byrd was signed to be a bench player, I would applaud the move (if Walt and Bob find an everyday solution for LF).

    Steve – I usually find one or two things in your articles that I disagree with. Not here. Nailed it as far as I’m concerned.

    • Carl Sayre

      There is no cash to extend Mesoraco according to WJ this was about what we have to work with 117million if arbitration goes according to projections. I have seen some comments on here about how some of you feel about this team and I ask myself why don’t we padlock GABP and send these guys to double A where we can be competitive. One of the comments was bad mouthing Votto because of injuries all teams have injuries and his BA and OBP is something pretty impressive if he is healthy. Then someone else was complaining about Hamiltons low OBP, he was a rookie playing CF and leading off IMO he should have been down in the order till he got some Major League experience. Both of these”fans” made valid points but if I was that pessimistic I wouldn’t watch the Reds.

    • Tom Reed

      Was the Simon trade “low bar”?

      • RedAlert

        Did I say that – I said I have come to expect low bar from him – and the majority of the time that’s what he delivers !!!

      • RedAlert

        Walt is lip service at its finest – it’s tiring – he’d be better off saying nothing at all

      • Robby20

        Way too early to say the Simon deal was a good deal. Looks good on paper. Time will tell.

  12. ManuelT

    Yes, I also agree with Steve’s assessment. If Byrd is our answer (in terms of upgrading LF) to the many moves made by our division rivals, it’s like confronting an AK-47 with a BB gun. Better to keep Lively and see what guy might fall into our lap this Summer. I have not read one positive comment made by any of the so-called experts. It’s been uniform that the Phillies are the team who did well here.

    • Thegaffer

      Would we all have been happier with Morse or Seth Smith, each for 2 years and 3 times the money?

      • Hotto4Votto

        Morse and no Lively given up? I guess it depends on if the option year vests, but it’s pretty close, and I’d probably lean toward Morse. And it’s not 3x the money, if the option vests, Morse is 16m/2yr and Byrd is 12/2yr. Yes I would have taken Seth Smith over Byrd everyday for a prospect the quality of the long reliever the M’s gave up to get him. Smith is owed 12.,50,000 with a 7m dollar team option with a 250k buyout. That’s a very reasonable deal. Also would have liked to have seen what it would have taken to get Fowler.

      • dradg

        Replying to your below comment re OPS+ here because I can’t reply below. I did notice OPS+, but I also noticed Alonso’s OPS+ has declined, and in the past two years he’s played 97 (OPS+ 106) and 84 (97 OPS+) games. 1.3 WAR each of the last two season, according to Baseball-Reference.

        Grandal has played three big league seasons. His OPS+ 143 season was his first, and he played only 60 games. Since then, his OPS+ has been 102 (28 games) and 112 (128 games). 4.3 WAR in those three seasons (2.8, 0.4, 1.2).

        So I’d say they were slightly above average players, which is NOT what most people predict for Winker.

        And you don’t have to tell me about Petco… for 4 years I lived literally one block from Petco, and I was a Padres season ticket holder for three of those years! Great park that you should visit, if you haven’t already.

      • Hotto4Votto

        You have a fair point about the amount of games for Alonso. I haven’t checked to see if he were injured, or they just decided to platoon with him/bench him. But, I would contend that 288 PA’s is a good enough sample size that we should get an accurate idea of his offensive abilities. Certainly if he were injured we shouldn’t hold that against his offensive abilities. I would say with regular playing time, especially outside of Petco (as it probably effects his game more being more “power” driven), he’s proven to be an above average offensive player. Which in this day an age is worth quite a bit.

        Grandal on the other hand has more reasonable explanation. HIs first year (2012) he spent 58 games in the minors. He only had a total of 200 PA’s above AA when we traded him. So he came onto the scene and put up numbers right away, after tearing up the minors to a 323/432/502 slash line. The next year he sat 50 games for a suspension. So in his first full season, his OPS+ was 112. That’s good. Especially out of Petco, for a 26 year old.

        Overall, for two guys just now entering their primes, still being cost controlled (Alonso is 1st year arb. eligible, Grandal is still pre-arb) considering where they have played their home games, I’d say they have done well for themselves. If people expected more, it was likely due to the fact that baseball in general hadn’t shifted yet to being pitcher dominant when they were both prospects at Winker’s level. I do expect Winker to be better than both still. But I think he’s a better overall offensive player than both, although Grandal has the potential to put up some big numbers still.

        And I know about Petco as well, lived in SD for three years. Mainly in North Park, and I took advantage of seeing some good baseball in my time out there. It’s really a beautiful park, I especially like the OF grassy area beyond CF. Nice for laying down blanket with a lady friend and taking in a nice SD summer night. Anyway, here’s hoping Winker produces like we all hope/think.

      • dradg

        Last comments for me on Grandal and Alonso.

        IIRC OPS+ is park adjusted, so an OPS+ of 112 is the same whether in Petco or GASP. So the “good OPS+ especially for Petco” argument is a nonstarter for me. In any event, nobody is/was predicting that YG, YA, and JW will be just average or slightly above in the majors.

        Re SD: never lived in North Park. I lived on Island Ave in the low rise right behind the outfield park. Man I miss SD!

      • Hotto4Votto

        No, you’re right about OPS+ and it being park factored. A subjective opinion about that, I wonder how much Alonso has changed his hitting profile to account for the power outage that he may not have made otherwise. I do recall Ludwick specifically speaking about how playing in Petco messed with his swing. If you reference my post below re: Alonso and his slugging numbers, it is crazy to see the drop in slugging that occurred. He hasn’t slugged above .400 in SD while never going below .450 in the minors, and in a small sample size in Cincy slugged .545.

        Still, even so, we’re talking about a guy, in his lowest amount of PA’s and his lowest OPS+ season to date, putting up numbers that would have placed him 4th amongst the Reds hitters last year. He was 6% better than Phillips, 14% better than Hamilton, 13% better than Bruce last year. And he’s still in his prime, so there is some projection left.

        I guess at the end of the day, it’s how much you value these offensive numbers in regard to expectations. I just find it funny that we’ll (as a collective fan base) applaud Byrd as an offensive upgrade because of his 110 OPS+ at age 37 despite the projections for next year, while saying Grandal didn’t really meet expectations, although he put up a better season offensively (112 OPS+) in his first full season at age 26.

        With all things, it’s about perception and expectations. To me, both Grandal (and to a somewhat lesser extent) Alonso have met my expectations of being above average offensive players. Which the numbers support. Grandal still has quite a bit of room to grow even beyond that. My expectation is unwavering in that Winker will do the same, or more. Others may see what Alonso and Grandal have done as merely treading water. That’s their perception. It’s just funny that often times it’s those same people who are content with the production from Phillips, Hamilton, etc.

        And I certainly miss SD.

      • dradg

        Smith, I would have been. I would have preferred Rasmus on a one year deal over Byrd, frankly. Don’t get me started on how sick it makes me that Heyward was available and we couldn’t or wouldn’t get him.

        Note that I’m not yet on the Winker bandwagon (it appears that I am the only one on this board who isn’t). Wasn’t too long ago that Grandal and Alonso were major league ready, can’t miss AAA prospects. Despite playing in the ML for several years, neither has lived up to the praise many Cin fans heaped on them. No reason in my eyes to think Winker will immediately upgrade LF according to fans’ expectations.

      • lwblogger2

        Actually, Rasmus intrigued me. It comes down to what he ends up signing for. It seems clear that the Reds couldn’t take on much more salary. It’s the own fault but that doesn’t make it less real.

        I’m kind of with you on Winker. Although, I think he’s a better hitter than Alonso. We’ll see how he does in AA if he can stay healthy. No prospect is really a sure thing. I think Winker will make it in the bigs as a starter though, I really do.

        Alonso has done very little and after a great start offensively, Grandal got suspended and then injured and hasn’t been able to put it together. It seems the Reds traded the right catcher.

      • Hotto4Votto

        To be fair to Alonso and Grandal they’ve played the majority of their games in Petco. And it’s not the first time hitters have struggled to deal with that stadium. Alonso has put up an OPS+ of 110, 106, and 97 in the three years he’s been in SD respectively. It should also be noted that the 97 OPS+ came in only 87 games (the least amount he’d played in over those three years). Grandal put up OPS+ 143, 102, and 112 in his three years in SD. (That 112 OPS+ is better than the 110 Byrd put up last year, btw). So six years between the two and only on below average season offensively, and that was only 3% below average. Also, that 97 OPS+ would have placed him 4th last year on the Reds behind Mes, Votto, and Frazier.

        So, in retrospect, looks like they were pretty good offensive players.

      • ohiojimw

        From the half season or so Alonso played with the Reds, he looked like he had the potential to be a lite version of Votto. Good ABs and gap power. Maybe his problems have not been so much playing in Petco (and the the other Western Division parks) as his home park and division as not playing in GABP and NL Central parks as his home park and division. The world thinks the Padres blew it by moving Rizzo instead of Alonzo but we will never know if Rizzo getting out of Petco and the Western division parks and into the Friendly Confines and other hitters’ parks in the NL was significant in making him what he has turned out to be.

      • Hotto4Votto

        OhioJim, good points about park factors. Alonso slugged 545 in 98 PA’s in 2011 for Cincinnati. He hasn’t slugged over .397 since being in SD. It seems a big part of his game has really been effected by the Petco power outage. In the minors he put up 464, 458, 486 in his three years. I’m not suggesting he would have been a prolific home run hitter, but I would guess he has 20+HR power playing in the NLC as opposed to never hitting more than 9 in the NLW. His pre-SD numbers seem to support this.

      • davidmp2

        Did you know that Heyward’s wRC+ was 110 and Byrd’s was 109 or that Byrd’s wOBA was .330 to Heyward’s .329? Heyward’s value comes from his defense and stolen bases, not his bat, neither of which Byrd will be asked to do much of.

  13. JRS1972

    Meh, it is what it is. The hand-wringing is tiresome.

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      Yonder slugged about the same at Petco as on the road in 2012 and 2014 and 100 points higher there in 2013. In those years, he’s hit 12 HRs in 622 PAs on the road.

      I don’t see any evidence he would have been a 20+ HR hitter for the Reds.

  14. Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

    I really feel like the Reds need to bring in a cheap 4th or 5th starter just to ease the expectations a bit on the younger pitchers and in case they’re not ready or good enough at the beginning of the season. Aaron Harang or someone of the sort would be a smart addition in my eyes.

  15. Jay King

    I feel like the post here is doom and gloom outlook. I don’t care what some company predicts for a player… Thats a guess just like any fan would do. Yes he is declining but with a small ballpark they could slightly increase or slightly decrease as well.

    I do worry about the strikeouts though that is an obvious negative trend. Just look at it this way none of us hold the pocket book and none of us are the GM.. Sure we can be disappointed or we can deal with it and hope for something better.

    A better bullpen which could happen still with the savings and low price of Byrd. Overall I am ok with the deal. If it means we sign Cueto for 4 years with even an option for a 5th ok.. Now Jocketty get it done

  16. ManuelT

    I’d rather have Suarez play 3B, shift Frazier to LF, and keep Lively. Then, if and when Winker comes on, put him in LF and Frazier back to 3B. OR by summertime, we should be ready to trade Cueto (not what I want) or Leake or prospects for a better LF than what has been recently available.

  17. ManuelT

    Correction, trade Cueto (if we are not contending) for a package of prospects, Leake (if we are not contending) for best offer, prospects (if we are contending) to fill our most pressing need(s).

  18. Redsman

    Hotto, you didn’t include Boxberger, who last time I checked, had a pretty solid 3rd season as a set up guy in Tampa Bay. He may eventually matriculate to the closer’s role. I have wondered if that trade might have slowed Walt’s roll as far as trading high ranking prospects?

    Whatever, he certainly seems to have been shying away from any further bold moves since then. Perhaps that is due to salary constraints. DRADG, your comparison between Alonso and the Wink is valid. Many of us recall how highly everyone thought of Alonso at the time, and he had significantly more experience including at the AAA level. triple Wink is barely a AA guy yet. So the jury is still out on him, even though he crushed the AFL.

    Bottom line, is it seems Walt fails to act proactively, that every thing he does is more of a knee jerk reaction in response to things that have already passed him by. Sorry if that seems unduly harsh. I like to aim high!

    • Hotto4Votto

      I didn’t include Boxberger because I was trying to stick to the offensive guys. Don’t know how a comparison of Boxberger and Winker would work out. Ha. But to your larger point, yes I do believe that the talent we gave up was significant. Heck, even Volquez has managed to stick around since then and make a decent career hanging onto the back end of the rotations.

      As I mentioned above, I believe some pessimism toward Alonso/Grandal that is being transferred to Winker is due to the way we thought about baseball players values back in 2010/2011. The narrative was still “stock pile pitching” and it was still the prized commodity. The narrative has shifted, and dramatically so in the past few years, and even league average hitting is a commodity.

      Both Alonso and Grandal have been above average hitters in their short careers, despite playing in a pitcher friendly park. Both are entering their primes and have some projection room left. I wouldn’t say either of them are busts as prospects at all. I think we should view Winker a similar, if not slightly better than either. I believe he’s our best hitting prospect since Votto, and will likely play with a little more power. Here’s hoping I’m right about that.

  19. jonrox

    So, at least the Reds are well positioned to be big time sellers at the trade deadline. Cueto and/or Leake, Chapman, Byrd (if he maintains form), Bruce, and Cozart all could fit prototypical trade deadline sells for a team not in contention. I fully expect this Reds team, as is, to be out of the race by the All-Star game given the competition in the NL Central and at the top of the NL in general, and so I don’t think there will be the 2014-esque conundrum again.

    I’m not sure if being well-positioned to be a big seller is necessarily a good thing though.

    As a fun (read: not fun) aside about Byrd, Fangraphs/Steamer projects his rate stats to essentially be 2013 Chris Heisey, without the defense or baserunning. Yay!

  20. Mark Bradford

    Byrd will be good for the reds. I don’t care if he doesn’t draw one walk. votto is there to walk. Byrd plays hard and a leader. Votto doesn’t play hard and is not a leader.

      • tct

        That’s all he ever does is troll about Votto. Or constantly tell everyone the Reds are broke. It’s tiresome. He needs to come up with something original. The Votto stuff is just so easy to prove wrong.

        Come on, Mark, give us something fresh. Say Todd Frazier is a clubhouse cancer. Or how Skip is actually a Cardinal spy sent to sabotage the Reds. Hey, I could probably buy that one.

      • Mark Bradford

        Sorry I am not a fan of Votto and believe he is a waste of money. And it’s obvious the reds have no money. So why get worked up on moves they reds cannot afford to make.

      • tct

        34 WAR in 7 years. Four straight years leading the league in OBP. A MVP as well as a couple other top ten finishes. A career line of .310/.417/.533. Four all star games and a gold glove for good measure. Yeah, total waste of money so far.

        Best reds player since Larkin and it’s not really even close. And according to you he doesn’t even try or play hard. Wow! He must be the most gifted player of all time if he can do that without trying.

        You don’t have to like him. If you are a Reds fan though, you should darn well respect him and his accomplishments.

  21. Mark Bradford

    Votto since he signed his contract has been a poor allocation of limited resources. The reds need to become more wise in their spending, which is why I really like what they have done this summer. Byrd is good for what they are paying him. Simon and Latos were going to have bad years. Heisey gone saves needed money too.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Votto signed his extension in the offseason before the 2012 season. Over the three seasons 2012-14, he earned 14.0 WAR. That’s an average of FanGraphs (13.8) and Baseball-Reference (14.2). $6 million is a conservative estimate of what major league teams are paying for each WAR on the free market. That means Votto earned $84 million in value the past three seasons. He was paid $38.5 million over that time. That seems like a pretty good allocation of resources to me.

      • Mark Bradford

        Steve, you and I just disagree. I don’t place the same value on WAR as you do. I don’t have to agree with you.

  22. redsfan06

    A low bar to surpass in improving the OF hitting is definitely the case. Here’s a link to a Nick Kirby article on RL Nation from September 13. The title is “The historically bad 2014 Cincinnati Reds outfield”.
    https://redlegnation.com/2014/09/13/the-historically-bad-2014-cincinnati-reds-outfield/

    One of the comments from George Mirones:
    Nick pretty strong indictment. I went and looked at pre and post all star game numbers and here are some quick numbers;

    Post All Star
    Hamilton: 200 AB.,1 HR., 8 RBI., .215 AVG., .528 OPS
    Heisey: 97 AB., 5 HR., 9 RBI., .216 BA., .668 OPS
    Ludwick: 107 AB., 3 HR., 17 RBI., .206 BA., .624 OPS
    Bruce: 175 AB., 6 HR., 19 RBI., .194 BA., .555 OPS
    Schumaker: 101 AB., 1 HR., 8 RBI., .228 BA., .585 OPS

    Pre All Star
    Hamilton: 333 AB., 6 HR., 38 RBI., .285 AVG., .743 OPS
    Heisey: 157 AB., 3 HR., 12 RBI., .236 BA., .668 OPS
    Ludwick: 226 AB., 6 HR., 26 RBI., .271 BA., .736 OPS
    Bruce: 279 AB., 10 HR., 41 RBI., .229 BA., .719 OPS
    Schumaker: 146 AB., 1 HR., 14 RBI., .240 BA., .602 OPS

    The Reds traded their best 2nd half hitter in the OF (Heisey) and declined the option of their 2nd best hitter (Ludwick). They were the only two OF with an OPS above .600 in the 2nd half.

    If the Steamer projections prove right and Byrd has a .694 OPS, he will indeed provide an improvement over 2014. It’s just not the kind of improvement everyone was hoping to see.

  23. GeorgeFoster

    Given the budget constraints presumably placed on Jocketty by the owner, it’s not clear to me that any possible deal would have pleased the RLN crowd. Byrd might actually be the best option available under the circumstances.

    “An ideal package of target numbers appears to be a .330 OBP or better, an 8 percent walk-rate and an ISO above .125. Obviously, you’d be willing to accept a lower ISO if the batter had an extra-high OBP and vice versa.” – Steve Mancuso, 10/8/14

    With those targets in mind, let’s re-examine Jocketty’s ostensibly terrible, horrible, no good, very bad trade for the aging Byrd:

    OBP – career .330; 2013 .336; 2014 .312; Steamer 2015 .294.

    BB% – career 6.3%; 2013 5.4%; 2014 5.5%; Steamer 2015 5.5%.

    ISO – career .149; 2013 .220; 2014 .181; Steamer 2015 .155.

    Personally, I think Steamer is correct directionally but too harsh on OBP and ISO. In any case, we’re probably looking at the ‘vice versa’ of Mancuso’s targets, with Byrd falling short on OBP and BB% while exceeding in ISO.

    The obvious question is whether Byrd’s aging can defy gravity for another year. A few points provide some hope that this is possible. First, his personal history; when Byrd was a young man, doctors had to consider amputating his leg due to an infection. By all accounts, the physical training he undertook to battle back from that was remarkable. Combine this work ethic with an incentive of an additional $8 million for his retirement account, in all likelihood his final big paycheck, and I believe we’ll see Byrd’s maximum effort.

    Secondly, Byrd has hit well in GABP throughout his career (.861 OPS). Small sample size applies (136 PAs over several years), but it’s a potential positive.

    Finally, there is some evidence that changes to Byrd’s swing have led to the improved ISO and ballooning K%. See fangraphs and crashburnalley posts:
    http://crashburnalley.com/2013/11/19/and-you-may-ask-yourself-well-how-did-marlon-byrd-get-here/
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-new-marlon-byrd-is-the-real-marlon-byrd/
    If this explanation is correct, rather than the competing theory that Byrd is simply guessing more out of necessity, there’s a better chance he can sustain the improved power for another year.

    Byrd may hit the aging wall, but among players available for a $4 million net outlay for a one-year deal, this isn’t a bad gamble. As others have said, the fate of the 2015 Reds does not hinge on left field, but on Messrs. Votto, Bruce and Bailey.

    • Hotto4Votto

      This is a reasonable post. I hope you’re right. At some point I will have to get myself to the place of supporting Byrd because he’s now a Red and rooting for him to do well. I’m not quite there yet, still battling the disappointment of feeling the FO was not upfront to the fans about what they were looking for in LF.

      • Shchi Cossack

        The Old Cossack has had the same internal conflict after the Byrd aquisition. The $4MM kicked into the pot at least made the trade palatable, if not satisfying. After trying to view the trade from every possible positive angle, I think the best I can do is simply hope that WJ and Price can make the best of the Byrd aquisition and not seriously bungle whatever positive contributions Byrd might bring to the team and the offense.

        What this trade has completely resolved for the Old Cossack is WJ’s lack of capability as a GM. The game has simply passed him by and BC doesn’t have the wherewithall to make the organizational changes necessary to compete with the plethora of major organizational changes by other teams and owners to revamp their basebal and organizational philosophy. I simply hope the Reds don’t get left in the dust due to organizational ineptitude.

  24. Carl Sayre

    The Heisey trade didn’t make sense when they did it and makes a lot less sense now. He was not a starter but a real good PH and could play all 3 OF positions and his projected arbitration numbers were low. The money saved by releasing Ludwick to me was worth it but we should never had been in a four and a half million dollar buy out range with any player especially him.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Agreed. Without knowing who will fill his place, it is more confusing now. Unless they think Byrd can cover CF in spots, or they are counting on Negron being a super sub (my preference would be for him to back up SS/2B primarily). The player that would have made sense to trade was Cozart, as we’ve already acquired a much more productive alternative at SS and also have Negron as a better PH option to back up SS. Not to mention we have minor league depth with Falu and DeJesus.

      Right now, our 4th OF/back up CF is probably Bourgeois, which is uninspiring compared to what Heisey brought off the bench.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Actually, I’m convinced that WJ and Price envision Schumaker as the 4th OF AND primary backup OF option for every OF position, including CF. Grit will prevail.

        I think the utility IF positions are locked with Negron and Suarez. I only hope that the 5th OF position comes down to a choice between Bourgeois and Boesch since the 5th OF will almost certainly rot on the bench.

        Once again, I think WJ and Price will resort to Pena and Frazier as the backup options for 1B. What’s the wisdom about those who fail to heed the lessons of history being doomed to repeat the same mistakes?

      • Hotto4Votto

        I’m hoping Skip will be the 5th OF. That may not be a well-founded hope. He’s not particularly a good OF’er at any spot (and downright miserable in CF), and certainly not a 2B anymore. He’s almost a man w/o a position, and not much of a pinch hitter either, other than he’s a lefty. So he has that going for him.

        Honestly, I wonder how much he’ll be able to play next year with having shoulder surgery this past September. Remember Hannahan had the same surgery (torn labrum), only about a month or so later than Skip had his, and was not ever really the same last year. Hannahan only had 48 AB’s or so last year.

        Is it to the point that we hope our two-year bench players are too hurt to play so that we can replace them on the roster? Not that I want anyone to be hurt. But it would nice to not have him on the roster next year. There isn’t any way that Lutz, Boesch, or even Felix Perez wouldn’t provide just as much (if not more) value than Skip.

        Either way, a bench of Pena, Suarez, Negron, Skip, and Bourgeois is uninspiring. If it were my decision, with what we have now in the system, I would roll out Negron, Lutz, Boesch, Satin, and Pena (with Suarez starting at SS and Cozart traded). At least there is some offensive projection from that group.

      • Michael J Hampton

        I suspect you are right about WJ, Price, and Shumaker. I hope Lutz does not make the team as the 5th OF out of spring training. He needs some time in AAA, if he is the 5th OF Price will let him rot on the bench again in favor of Shumaker. Maybe after a couple of months of regular playing time at AAA, if he does well, then a callup. Winker may even be ready to bypass AAA by that time, who knows.

        Byrd may still have something left in the tank, but if Byrd struggles, I could see Price going with a LF rotation/platoon of Byrd/Shumaker with a little Bourgeois thrown in.

  25. sezwhom

    Unless Walt makes other moves (not holding my breath) I can’t get too excited about the upcoming season for the simple fact: we lost two quality starters plus everybody has to stay healthy. There are so many questions/concerns about Byrd, Bruce, Votto, BP, SS and our 4th and 5th starters. Not to mention the bullpen. Did I talk about the lack of a deep bench? Good luck to us.

  26. Carl Sayre

    I was not impressed with Pena’s play at 1st last year but I wasn’t ready to lay down in the middle of I-75 either. He is evidently Cueto’s personal catcher so there is 1 spot on the 25 man roster. I guess I could submit my resume’ to Mr. Castellini for when he decides, like me he is not overly impressed with WJ’s performance.

  27. Steve Schoenbaechler

    To also consider, Uncle Bob has always said he wanted a competitive team for long term, not necessarily a winning team for a one time shot at a WS ring then fire sale. Payroll flexibility was a key point with this year’s offseason work. I believe Byrd is very serviceable in this position, and it helps us get Winker up here “on time” allowing us to remain competitive “long term”.

    I still would have preferred Aoki. However, we also got to consider that Walt still has a boatload of arbitration to work out. As well as if we are going to extend Cueto or not.

  28. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    Reds LF in 2014: .233/.288/.339/.627

    NL Average LF in 2014: .257/.321/.405/.726

    Marlon Byrd 2014: .264/.312/.445/.757

    Byrd was an, at worst, a decent RF in 2014; unlike the author of the thread I find it pretty unlikely that playing LF in GAP (with Billy Hamilton in CF) will cause him to all of a sudden be a below average fielder.

    Of course, one can insist that he will collapse and be terrible after years of production (though it would take quite a Byrd collapse to be as bad as Red LF were in 2014) but I find that pretty unlikely. I think he’ll be at least league average in LF and for those who want the Reds to take a shot in 2015, he’s a great pick up at a reasonable price.

  29. Tom Reed

    Byrd is here to give the Reds an offensive spark in 2015 which they have sorely lacked the past few years. Let’s see what happens. Opening Day, three months away.

  30. JoshG

    I actually think Satin has got a real good shot at making the team as stands
    Pena,Skip, Suarez, Negron and Satin
    negron is your back up CF

    • lwblogger2

      I hope so. I thought that was a real nice pickup.

  31. JoshG

    oh and bonifacio is still out there too

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      The White Sox paid him $3 million for 2015 with a $1 million buyout or $4 million if they keep him in 2016.

      Marlon Byrd for $4 million is a steal.

  32. Captain Hook

    Byrd was working on his stroke when he got the call about the trade. Based on his comments to the media, he seems to recognize the issues with his rising K and BB rate. Byrd actually seems to be petty savvy for a veteran player, considering most vets would focus on the AVG/HR/RBI totals.

  33. David Potteiger

    Steve, your work is usually better than “strikes out a lot” and “has a low OBP.” We can debate all day about strikeouts. The K rate is high and the fact that it is increasing yearly suggests decline, but Byrd’s K rate is right in line with Justin Upton (26.7%). Stanton (26.6%) and Trout (26.1%) are also in this range. So, does his K rate suggest a bad player? No. As for OBP, wOBA and wRC+ are far better metrics than OBP. Byrd rated higher than Cespedes, Markakis and Aoki. For that matter, he rated higher than Mauer, Ellsbury, Pedroia and Longoria.

    While Byrd will likely see a decline, he should be an above average offensive and defensive player in LF which is FAR better than what the Reds have had since …. who? Adam Dunn?

    • Steve Mancuso

      Usually when someone uses quotation marks, that means they are referring to a direct quote. Neither of those are quotes from my post. (Although it’s safe to say that the player with the seventh worst K% “strikes out a lot.”)

      You completely missed my points. On strikeouts there were two points – (1) the general manager said he wanted a LF who struck out less, but traded for the guy with the seventh worst K% in baseball, and (2) Byrd’s strikeout rate is rising rapidly, which I use as a marker for the aging curve, and possible collapse.

      I didn’t suggest Byrd is a “bad player.” There’s nothing intrinsic to a high strikeout rate that implies someone is a bad player. Please don’t ascribe claims to me that I didn’t make.

      Your comparisons of Byrd to other players – like Upton, Stanton, Trout – who offer so much more to their team, like defense, base running, on base percentage – that Byrd doesn’t offer, makes the comparison irrelevant. Besides, a 29% strikeout rate is not “right in line” with 26%.

      (See how my “…” refer to exact things you said?)

      • David Potteiger

        Sure, you can summarize your piece as a general grievance with the fact that Jocketty’s stated desire was to acquire a high OBP guy with a low K rate to man left, but then signed Byrd who is neither of those things. However, your subtext tells much more.

        “[I]f you’re in the ‘Reds should compete in 2015’ camp (as I am) the new left fielder is far from the impact offensive player for which you had hoped.” You clearly do not believe Byrd is an “impact offensive player.” You base your opinion primarily on two statistics. That is his K rate and OBP. I used quotations satirically to emphasize this point, and although you may not have characterized Byrd as a “bad player” there is no reading of your piece which would suggest that you believe Byrd is a good player or even a replacement level player.

        My point is that I disagree. Not only do I think Byrd is a good player, I think he is an “impact offensive player.” Based upon wRC+ and wOBA, far better measures of a player’s offensive impact than OBP, Byrd was a top 30 outfielder the past two seasons.

        I also believe K rate is extremely overrated. To illustrate this point I listed Upton, Stanton and Trout. While nobody would confuse Byrd with those guys, the point is clear. A player can be an “impact offensive player” AND have a high K rate (with respect to Trout’s speed advantage, I agree, but it isn’t like Upton is setting the world on fire with a 3.6 Spd score (Byrd’s was 3.0) or 8/4 SB/CS ratio (Byrd’s was 3/2).

        Also, as an aside – because I didn’t have time to get to it in my original post – I also disagree with your conclusion that Byrd isn’t a “big bat” because his OPS was .757. Perhaps we differ on the definition of “big bat,” but I read that to mean a legitimate power threat. OPS is a poor measure of that. Houston’s Jose Altuve was 12th in MLB in OPS, and I don’t think anyone would call him a “big bat.” ISO is a better measure, and Byrd (.181) had the 16th highest ISO among everyday outfielders last year. Even using OPS as a measure, Byrd was 30th among those same outfielders.

        There is absolutely a low bar set. That much I agree with. Even if Byrd regresses to league average wRC+, he is a 27 point upgrade over Reds LF’s last year. However, Byrd was a top 30 outfielder offensively last season. His age carries an associated risk. That is absolutely true. However, the Reds did very, very well with this deal.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Just saying stick to your own arguments and quit (mis)representing what I said. For you to have written as much as you have, apparently intending to address the arguments in my post, without mentioning the aging issue, means you’ve missed the entire point. If I believed that Marlon Byrd would hit like he did last year, I’d be satisfied with the signing. I don’t. And I don’t think there is much evidence to support the claim that 37/38 year old player sustain their performance from the year before. Maybe he’ll be the exception. Instead of searching for “subtext” that you think you can handle, try this *actual* text:

        “The main problem with Marlon Byrd is the grinding, irresistible gravitational force of Father Time. Like gravity, aging curves are laws of nature, not to be wished away.”

      • David Potteiger

        I did mention the aging issue. “Even if Byrd regresses to league average wRC+, he is a 27 point upgrade over Reds LF’s last year…. His age carries an associated risk. That is absolutely true. However, the Reds did very, very well with this deal.” However, the numbers I looked at showed a much better player than the portrait you painted.

        One of us will eat crow. We’ll see who.

  34. aceistheplace2

    I actually have a real problem with people saying that “he’s only played two games in LF” as a big concern. Both corner outfield spots are the same. Both corner outfield spots you see both left handed hitters and right handed hitters. Please do not BS me with the “well you see it come off of the bat different” argument. That is not a valid argument here, especially in the outfield. You don’t simply “forget” how to play outfield. Now if we signed him to play some random position in the infield, yes that would have been a concern. He is a major league athlete who played RF very well last year. Please stop bringing this up as a factor to dog him.

    • lwblogger2

      The corner OF spots really aren’t the same but it is often an easier transition than even CF to a corner spot. Your basic point about how the ball reacts off the bat is spot on. As an MLB corner OF, Byrd moving from RF to LF shouldn’t be a giant deal but it isn’t inconsequential either. The biggest change from playing one corner to the other is in learning the nuances of the various parks and how they play differently between RF versus LF. It’s in learning where the wall is, what the caroms are like, wall heights, how the wind generally impacts the flight of the ball to that field, how the sun comes into play in day games, and so on.

      Personally, I think Byrd will be fine and I think his arm and other skills will all contribute to make him at least an average defender in LF. The biggest thing for him to deal with in GABP’s LF will be the funny caroms that the ball takes off that scoreboard. The learning curve for other parks will be a little steeper but he’ll manage.

  35. George Mirones

    Steve write;”The Reds’ offseason moves in total have been correct in a general sense. They traded pitching (Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon, Lively) for hitting (Byrd, Eugenio Suarez). They are operating under a rising payroll, but still faced real budget constraints. And yes, the left fielder acquisition could have been worse. Marlon Byrd was cheap. But you don’t get what you don’t pay for.”

    That’s a quote that says it all. Look at it this way Byrd’s contract was for 8m, the Reds got 4M to get him which means that the first half of the season is free. Now if the Reds are stuck in 4th place by July they will trade him and the 4m left on his contract to a team that has had injury, wants to add to the roster for a late run. Then if the kids in the minors are showing well bring them up. Then you would have had the place holder for free (no budget impact). and the kids had 3-4 months to show what they have. If he is free then anything he does will be a plus and add to his value (return players) with another team. I really think that Walt went through this thinking before he made the deal. The plus is that after the first 3-4 months and Byrd is having a career year he will still be traded but get a higher return.
    Just another way of looking at the deal.