From the Enquirer:
Fay makes a series of comments about the cause of the Reds roster problems being guaranteed contracts.
You’ve got to think that fixing the roster is going to cost the Reds, who are already paying Mike Stanton $3.5 million not to pitch.
Guaranteed contracts make baseball a tough business. Players and needs change. But once you sign them, you have to pay them.
Stanton and Rheal Cormier are Exhibits A and B in the Reds’ case.
A lot of players on the roster who seem expendable make good money. Ryan Freel has become the fifth outfielder, but the Reds are paying him $3 million this year and $4 million next.
His skill set is similar to Norris Hopper’s. Ideally, one of the two extra outfielders would be a home run threat.
Freel’s contract makes him hard to move, meaning the Reds probably would have to pay some of the contract to trade him.
The shortcomings of the roster were never more evident than Friday night. The Reds had the bases loaded, no outs, and left-hander Mitch Stetter was on the mound.
But manager Dusty Baker’s only right-handed bat on the bench was Juan Castro. He sent up left-handed hitters Paul Bako and Scott Hatteberg instead.
Both struck out.
Signing Corey Patterson was a no-risk move – until he made the team and got a big-league contract that pays him $3.5 million.
Now, the Reds are obligated to ride out the slump with Patterson or pay the money to move him.
The contract issue will come into play with the rotation as well. Matt Belisle is coming off the DL and moving into Josh Fogg’s spot in the rotation.
So what becomes of Fogg?
The Reds said Fogg is going to the bullpen, but his stuff isn’t well-suited for that role.
Fogg’s guaranteed only $400,000. But that’s still a pretty large check to write.
And if Fogg moves to the bullpen, someone else has to go. The pitcher who has struggled the most is Todd Coffey, and he has an option – but he makes $925,000. That’s a lot to pay a pitcher to pitch in Triple-A.
The problem is that almost without exception, it was apparent that these were bad decisions made by Wayne Krivsky and Fay never mentions this fact at all.
Let’s look at them…
Mike Stanton: A Krivsky decision to give him a multiyear deal at an advanced age (just like he did with Cormier).
Ryan Freel: Freel’s contract, which I believe was signed after the ’05 season, could have been justified for one year, possible two at a cheap price. But a three year deal for a player that didn’t spend significant time in the majors until age 28 and has never played more than 143 games is lunacy.
Juan Castro: One of ML baseball’s worst hitters ever and the Reds sign him to a multiyear deal. No one is that good defensively.
Corey Patterson: You have baseball’s #1 prospect who plays the same position and you send him to AAA. You have two players already on the roster (Freel and Hopper) who can put up at least the same numbers offensively and get on base at a more productive rate (though neither is as good defensively). Patterson didn’t come cheap and now you’re stuck with a defensive specialist in CF or a $3M bench player. Makes it seem like they were betting that Junior would be injured at some point, which would give them somewhere to play Jay Bruce.
Josh Fogg: Why? We’ve been asking that since ST. He probably wouldn’t have made the team except for the self destruction in ST of Homer Bailey and the ST injury to Matt Belisle, but either would have been a better choice and someone like Tom Shearn could have held the spot until one of the others was ready. Why go outside and spend the money?
Todd Coffey: I believe that his contract extension was signed after the ’06 season. It might be a big large, but I can understand why the Reds would have wanted to sew him up multiyear, he had a big year at age 25. He just hasn’t become the pitcher they envisioned. Bad decision in hindsight, but understandable at the time and justifiable.
I believe you can throw in the Alex Gonzalez signing in this pile of bad signings also.
Most of these decisions seem to be because the front office can’t decide whether they’re going to compete this year (i.e. the Guardado signing) or whether they’re going young (Volquez, Cueto). They don’t seem to have confidence in their young players (i.e. keeping Hatteburg and having him split time with Votto) being ready, thus feel the need to keep players around who have either low ceilings or their best days are behind them.
And for this reason, the Reds have wasted a fair amount of money on bad players who won’t contribute much this year, only taking playing time from young players, and won’t be here when this team is finally able to compete.