The Reds traded reliever Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers for two players to be named later. The Brewers claimed Broxton off waivers and the two teams were able to reach a deal in the 48-hour allowed window. Update: C. Trent Rosecrans has filed a full-length article on the trade here.

General manager Walt Jocketty says this deal does not involve cash (CTR) so this gets the Reds out from underneath Broxton’s $9 million contract for 2015 and $1 million buyout for 2016. Even if the Reds would have had to pay half of Broxton’s salary in 2015, it would still probably have been a good move.

The two PTBNL won’t amount to much but that’s OK. Jocketty says one of the players has already been agreed to and the other will be decided later by the Reds off an agreed-to list. I was worried one of these players might be a bad-contract return (like Rickie Weeks) but it doesn’t appear the Brewers have any of those to dump.

It’s hard to know how the timing — coming right at the deadline for when players have to be on a roster to be eligible for the post-season — affected the Reds leverage. On the one hand, Broxton has struggled lately, which might have hurt his value. A trade at the July deadline (which I advocated) might have returned more because Broxton was pitching better then and the receiving team would have gotten two months of the regular season. There have been rumors that Reds CEO Bob Castellini wouldn’t approve any trades that would be perceived as sales. Perhaps the Reds recent skid has changed the perspective on that.

On the other hand, Milwaukee is desperately looking for post-season bullpen help, so maybe Broxton’s value was inflated if the Brewers have been unable to find any other trade partners.

For those worried about trading within the division, Broxton has pitched well from the standpoint of runs allowed, but there’s little reason to expect him to be an above-average reliever for Milwaukee. His ERA-estimators (xFIP 4.26, SIERA 3.79) show him to be due for serious regression. His BABIP, LOB% and HR/FB are all below league and Broxton’s own career averages.

If you believe this sends up the white flag on the Reds season, you obviously haven’t been playing close attention to the Reds lately.

Broxton’s contract was terrible, there’s no getting around that. As Chris Garber said today: This is Walt Jocketty cleaning up his own mess. All the money tied up in Broxton helped produce the Reds bench you see this year.

But thankfully, the Reds were able to escape the worst year of it. It’s a good step forward for 2015.

153 Responses

  1. doublenohitter

    Excellent move by Jocketty. It doesn’t even matter who they get. The shedding of the salary will help the Reds toward signing Cueto or a competent left fielder for 2015.

    • Kevin J. Brown

      You think making the team worse will make it more likely the Reds can entice potential free agents to stay or sign?

      • Steve Mancuso

        I think having that $10 million will help more than the loss of a set-up reliever. I doubt an obvious salary dump of a terrible contract will negatively influence a free agent at all. You got any proof of your claim that it would?

      • Kevin J. Brown

        How many free agents flock to sign to teams that finish below .500 and dumping salary?

        The Broxton contract was signed premised on the belief that Chapman was going to be converted to a starter, a fact you ignore. On that basis, it was hardly “terrible”. If Broxton was traded for value, I don’t have a problem with that; if he was traded to merely as a salary dump, I think it is a poor move for 2015 and beyond.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Again, do you have any back-up for the claim that free agents don’t sign with teams below .500 (especially one that was clearly caused by injuries) or that free agents avoid teams that dump salary? Players generally go where the money is the best. I repeat (and you continue to ignore) that the $10 million freed up from the Broxton contract will help with free agents. That’s obvious. Show me the money.

        The Broxton contract made more sense only in terms of convincing Dusty Baker that he had another established closer so he would relent on the Chapman question. However (A) Dusty Baker is gone, (B) Broxton isn’t the closer, (C) paying Broxton AAV of $7 million is crazy considering the numbers. Reds are paying Jumbo Diaz league minimum and he’s a better pitcher.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        Since we’re insisting on “proof” of our statements what “proof” do you have that the PTBNL “won’t amount to much”?

      • Steve Mancuso

        None. Just speculation. I’d be shocked (and happy) if they prove to be valuable pieces. I’m not holding my breath, though.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        If player only went where the money is best, they’d all go to the Yankees or the Dodgers or the Red Sox. They don’t. But many do go from losing teams to contenders.

      • Robby20

        Free agents tend to go where they get the most money. Robinson Cano is proof of that. Winning is secondary to money to most guys. The Broxton move is a plus but I have no confidence in the GM’s ability to get a solid left fielder. It’s been a need for more than a couple years.

      • Kurt Frost

        You’re carrying on about a relief pitcher who has already been replaced by Jumbo Diaz.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        Ondrusek, Hoover and/or LeCure will be taking Jumbo’s spot; how do you feel about that?

      • tct

        Interesting you bringing up Ondrusek. Consider this: Two right handed relief pitchers:
        Player A: 3.23 ERA 4.43 FIP 6.0 k/9 4.1 bb/9 4.49 xFIP
        Player B: 1.86 ERA 3.52 FIP 6.9k/9 3.2 bb/9 4.26 xFIP

        Ok, so player B is better. But both pitchers have strikeout rates below league average and walk rates above league average. Both have ERA much lower than expected looking at peripheral stats. A is Ondrusek in 2011. B is Broxton this year.
        The reds seemed to be fooled by Ondrusek’s decent ERA in 2011 and 2012 and didnt pay attention to the fact that he probably was in for a bit of regression. Maybe they learned their lesson. The point is that Broxton’s ERA this year doesn’t really matter anymore. It’s what he should be expected to do going forward. When you look at his underlying stats and the fact that his velocity continues to decrease, he’s just not a good bet to keep preventing runs like he has done this year.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        FIP and xFIP have no bearing on how a pitcher on the Reds are going to perform in the future; the Reds are an outstanding defensive team, not a league average one. And xFIP sets 10.5% HR/FB as a standard part of its formula but Broxton has never approached that number in any year where he pitched more than 30.2 innings. Both are therefore being improperly used to predict a “regression” by Broxton.

        I don’t care about strikeout rates or walk rates if the pitcher is preventing runs.

      • Steve Mancuso

        So you think it’s *more* reliable to extrapolate Broxton’s ERA? He’s never come close to that before. It’s based on unsustainable luck on batting average on balls in play (22%). You seem to find an estimate of 10.5% (the league average) wildly crazy for Broxton, when his own average LAST YEAR FOR THE REDS was 11.8%. You discredit that because it was “only 30” innings? Well, he’s only pitched 48 this year. You think the sample size being 48 is meaningfully different than 32?

        Kevin, are you arguing for the sake of arguing, or do you really believe the Reds should have kept Broxton and his $11 million salary obligation to set-up in the bullpen?

      • Steve Mancuso

        The Reds are a good defensive team, but that doesn’t effect xFIP or FIP that much. Certainly not the difference between 4.00 and 1.90. And you don’t care about strikeout or walk rates, even though those have been shown to be the best predictors of *future* runs surrendered?

        That’s the fundamental problem with your argument (aside from the $11 million part of it). The stats you point to for Broxton only describe what he’s done this year with runs. But you’ve offered zero basis for how that credibly projects for next year. His ERA last year was 4.11, should we forget that? His ERA in August was 5.23, is that a reliable indicator for September or 2015?

        I think we all agree that Broxton pitched well for the Reds from the standpoint of how many runs he allowed. But that’s not important for judging the trade. How he’ll pitch next year (oh, and the $11 million) is all that matters. And there’s simply no reason to believe he’ll come close to duplicating his ERA.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Broxton is pitching differently than he did last year. He’s ditched the cutter and is throwing more fastballs and sliders. There’s no reason to believe that he’ll all of a sudden be as ineffective as he was last year. ZIPS and Steamer’s updated projection have his ERA ending up at 2.07 and 2.21 so they apparently don’t see the steep regression that you are so confident of.

        His lifetime ERA is 3.05 even if that is what can be expected what relief pitcher that the Reds have besides Chapman can be reasonably expected to do as well as that? And that’s considerably below the “league average” that you keep insisting that Broxton is though you offer no evidence at all to support that claim.

      • Steve Mancuso

        You haven’t answered the question – Are you just arguing for the sake of arguing or do you really think the Reds should have kept Broxton?

        You know that when you cite those ZIPS and Steamer projections, that other people can look a them, too? You saw what their projections were for Broxton for the REST of this year, didn’t you? And you didn’t mention that. I’ll save folks the click: ZIPS – 3.51, Steamer – 3.84. So the sources you cite document exactly the regression you’re arguing against. (Of course they don’t affect the overall ERA much since we’re five months into the season.) NL average for reliever ERA is 3.49. So both projections have him above average.

        When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        In evaluating the trade, I regard as what the Reds got back as important even if you don’t (and you have already said you don’t). There is simply little evidence to support your claim that Broxton would be league average at best next year and our bullpen is already a problem that has now been made a bigger one. Broxton’s salary was excessive for his role but trading him to a division rival badly in need of relief pitching is a very questionable decision at the very least.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Broxton’s FIP, xFIP and SIERA, which are all above league average ERA, and all the research that shows they are better predictors of future ERA than current ERA, is the “no evidence at all.” Oh, and the ZIPS and Steamer “rest of season” forecasts you cite.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        You’re moving the goal posts; you are claiming Broxton will be “league average at best” for 2015. What evidence supports that claim? His lifetime ERA is well below that. And what relief pitcher the Reds have available are likely to be below that?

      • Steve Mancuso

        You can’t possibly believe that his career ERA bears much relationship to how he’ll pitch next year. His strikeout rate is substantially less than what it was in the early years of his career, when that low career ERA was solidified. You must have never seen Broxton pitch for the Dodgers when he closed for them if you think he’s the same pitcher that he is now.

        I know you’ve already taken the ridiculous position that strikeouts and walks don’t matter for a pitcher. (Really?) But how about fastball velocity? Broxton used to throw 97.5 and 96.7 and now he’s at 93.1. Are you going to say that doesn’t matter either? He’s just not the same pitcher as before his surgeries.

        Oh, wait, I know what you care about, you rocked the win-loss record and he was 4-2 this year. Never mind.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Gee those did a great job predicting his ERA in 2014 didn’t they?

        You are foolish to keep insisting that generalized stats are ALWAYS reliable in specific circumstances that do not resemble the average circumstance.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Broxton’s BABIP and LOB% are substantially below *his own* career numbers, which you seem so big on. His career BABIP is 30% but this year it’s been 22%. He’s been lucky. He isn’t better than every pitcher who has ever lived, is he? Mariano Rivera’s BABIP was 26%. Is Broxton 40% better than Rivera?

        The fact that the Reds have a good defense only explains so much deviation from league average. The Reds *team* BABIP is about 28%, which is about 1% below league average. That’s the premium of their defense. Not the 7% that you’re asserting explains Broxton.

        Everything – comparisons to his own career numbers, comparisons to league average, the projection systems you cited, the ERA estimators that research shows are more accurate – everything points to the fact that Broxton was LUCKY with respect to the runs he gave up this year. On the other side, you have the *runs he gave up this year* to prove how many runs he’ll give up next year.

      • Steve Mancuso

        His ERA- was 109 last year and 50 this year. ERA is all over the place, just like it has been for Broxton this year (5.23 in August). Man, no way I look at his lucky ERA number from this year and base my trade decision on that. Broxton now isn’t Broxton of his career – strikeouts, pitch velocity – already explained that.

      • tct

        I don’t understand why, Kevin, you always talk about how the reds as a team have had bad luck as far as one run games, but you will not accept the fact that certain players have been lucky in their performance. It’s weird that you clearly understand a lot of the new statistics, but then you just completely disregard the principles behind them when they don’t fit your narrative.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Broxton’s “luck” seems to be entirely based on his ability to not have hitters make good contact against him this year. Here’s the NL league average as far as type of hits:

        LD: 20.6%
        GB: 46.3%
        FB: 33.1%

        Here’s what batters hit against Broxton:

        LD: 9.2%
        GB: 45.0%
        FB: 45.8%

        If batters hit about .600 on line drives, then Broxton’s ability to turn LDs into FB pretty much fully accounts for the difference in BABIP between his number and league average.

        So tell me Steve and TCT: is the ability to make hitters hit Fly Balls (which have a very low BABIP) rather than Line Drives (which have a high BABIP) “luck”?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Kevin, you tell me. Do you think Jonathan Broxton is the best pitcher in the history of baseball? That’s what his .220 BABIP would imply if it was skill based. Has he been better than Aroldis Chapman, better than Mariano Rivera, better than he himself has ever been by a long shot?

        Have you discovered a secret about Broxton that ZERO other prediction sources (including two that you referenced when you thought their data supported your point when in fact they refuted your point) has discovered? Have you come up with a new theory about pitching that strikeouts and walks don’t matter, nor does fastball velocity?

        To answer your question, yes absolutely the mix of batted balls that a pitcher gives up is substantially out of his control, other than some influence on ground balls. That’s why there is hardly any difference between the BABIP for Hall of Fame pitchers (who might have a BABIP of 27%) and busts (who might be at 31%). Broxton is at 22%. Your question assumes that pitchers have the ability to dictate batted ball mixes, when they mostly don’t.

        Broxton himself has a career BABIP of 30%. Yet you think that this year, with a much lower fastball velocity and lower strikeout rate, that he’s somehow become the best pitcher of all time. If that’s true, why not more strikeouts? Why the ERA of 5.23 in August?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Pitchers have no ability to control line drives:

        Line drives are probably the most interesting type of batted ball stat to study, because on one hand, they have an astronomical run value, and on the other, skill in preventing line drives is very hard to detect. In fact, JC and I found no year-to-year correlation in terms of the percentage of batted balls that are line drives for pitchers, meaning that it’s almost impossible to predict how good or bad a pitcher will be at preventing line drives.

        Pitchers have a bit of influence over their GB% vs FB% but not over their line drives:

        Note: Line drive rates do not correlate well year-to-year, which suggests that the line drive rate is not a skill.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        I’m sorry but I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that how a pitcher pitches has absolutely no effect on how well a batter strikes a ball. That’s so counterintutive that it borders on absurd.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        This study concludes the same thing I do in contrast to what it describes as what “much of the sabermetric community” believes:

        However, by using detailed HITf/x data provided by Sportvision and MLBAM from the 2008 season, I found that a major-league pitcher does not only control whether he gets ground balls or fly balls; he also has a significant degree of control over how hard the ball is hit.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Here’s another interesting article which gives a formula to estimate BABIP based on the types of batted ball a hitter hits:

        The formula is:

        LD: .724
        GB: .237
        FB: .138

        Doing a little math and applying that to Broxton’s distribution of balls hit against him – 9.2% LD, 45.0% GB and 45.8% FB you get an expected BABIP of .236.

        As you already mentioned, the Reds’ pitchers BABIP is .278. This is .15 lower than the NL average. This seems like a reasonable estimate for the effect of the Reds’ excellent defense on BABIP.

        And if you subtract .15 from Broxton’s estimated BABIP based on the type of batted balls he has allowed you get, guess what? .221 which is EXACTLY what his actual BABIP is this year.

        So “luck”? Don’t think so.

      • tct

        Goodness, man, this is what I’m talking about. Upthread you were arguing that xFIP is not applicable to Broxton because he had only had a hr/fb rate over 10.5 a couple times in his career. But now, you want to turn around and claim that Broxton’s insanely low line drive rate of 9% is legit even though he has never been below 16% in his career and has a career rate in the 20’s. Do you see the problem here? You contradict yourself just to try make arguments. Are you practicing for some middle age debate team?

        Jonathan Broxton has not discovered the secret to keeping MLB hitters from hitting line drives

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        The problem is you guys want to ignore any and all data that contradicts your pre-set ideas that are based on generalized statistics that may or may not be applicable to specific circumstances. This is very bad reasoning.

        My criticism of xFIP is as a predictor are valid; it uses as a part of its formula a standard value that is clearly not applicable to all pitchers. I’m waiting for Steve, you or anybody else to make a defense of that practice. The chance that Jonathan Broxton is, all of a sudden, going to have his FB/HR rise to league average is small and to assume he will is statistically indefensible (probably why none of you are actually defending it).

        As to line drive rate, it seems unlikely that Broxton can continue to keep allowing them at such a low rate. It’s the lowest in the NL this year. But I think that the figure shows that Steve’s claim that Broxton has been merely lucky this year because his BABIP is low is simply wrong unless you believe (as he apparently does) that hitting line drives is a product of luck. That belief does not seem to be well-supported by the data in the articles I cited to. And once you take into account the type of batted balls against Broxton and the Reds’ defense, his low BABIP is entirely statistically explained. And I also think that it shows that Broxton has pitched very, very well this year something the predictors that he is relying on deny. Based on that, I think it’s reasonable to argue that he is and will continue to be quite a bit more than a “league average pitcher at best” and that really is the only thing I have claimed (contrary to Steve’s and I assume your opinion).

        So you tell me what your opinion is: is whether a batter hits a line drive or not luck?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Hitters have more control over their batted ball profile than pitchers do. That’s why there is a larger variation in stats like batting average and slugging between hitters (say Joey Votto vs. Jack Hannahan) than BABIP for pitchers. Pitchers face a normal distribution of hitters. So the question isn’t if it’s luck when a batter hits a line drive, the question is, if the pitcher gives up an inordinate number of LD (either way more or way less than the norm), is that pitcher unlucky? And the research shows it’s mostly luck, like it was with Broxton.

      • Joe Atkinson

        Ultimately, I look at it this way: Relief pitchers are notoriously unreliable year-to-year – I mean, the Reds had a terrific bullpen in 2013, featuring guys like Manny Parra, JJ Hoover, Jonathon Broxton, Sam LeCure, and Aroldis Chapman; the Reds had a terrible bullpen in 2014, featuring guys like Manny Parra, JJ Hoover, Jonathon Broxton, Sam LeCure, and Aroldis Chapman. Who’d have said before the season that one of the most reliable bullpen arms we’d have in 2014 would be a minor league journeyman who was making his big league debut at 30? I know it’s not the most scientific or quantifiable way of saying it, but … bullpens are weird.

        As such, the idea of a cash-strapped team sinking $9 million next year into a setup man is asinine. That money needs to go into left field, or into hanging onto someone in the starting rotation, or shoring up the bench. This team has too many needs to spend that kind of money on Broxton, so whether he’s in Milwaukee or anywhere else, I’m glad he won’t be here next year (and that’s nothing against Broxton – he’s been good for the Reds this year – that just business).

      • Chris Miller

        Kevin, how does this move make the team worse? Have you been watching Broxton lately? His last 7 appearances have been horrible. The innings have caught up to him this year. Broxton has seen his best days, as Steve points out in this article. We save a ton of money, which for the most part will literally pay for the 1st year of re-signing one of the starters, getting us to the new tv deal. This move of dumping Broxton was as good as the signing of Broxton was bad.

      • Chris Miller

        Hey Kevin, maybe you can let us all know where Robinson Cano signed last season. I’m guessing you know it was the Mariners a sub .500 team, who by the way, let their best hitter in 2013 walk. You also might want to reference Cordero, and the team he signed with a few years back. Yep, that indeed was a poor Reds team who had been cutting salary often.

      • docmike

        Kevin, I would venture to say that most, if not all, free agent s go where there is the most money. Playing for a contender is nice, but a few extra million is even better.

        And no, that doesn’t mean they would all end up with the Yankees or Dodgers. For one thing, those two teams only have 25 roster spots apeice. Second, other teams DO outbid the “big-money” teams quite frequently. It’s pretty simple, if team A values player X more than the Yankees, and they have the salary to burn, then they will outbid them. Happens all the time.

    • Ron Fulton

      This money will go arbitration players. Jocketty has over committed so much money this is a drop in the bucket. Jocketty just trying to cover up his stupid mistakes over the last 2 years.

  2. VaRedsFan

    Nice writeup and I agree with your assessment. While Broxton has been good for the majority of the season, I believe he has been a little lucky. I’m not a big believer in BABIP “luck”, but in Broxton’s case he always seemed to give up hard hit balls.

  3. George Mirones

    Steve wrote;”There have been rumors that Reds CEO Bob Castellini wouldn’t approve any trades that would be perceived as sales. Perhaps the Reds recent skid has changed the perspective on that.”
    I would also think that as long as He thought the Reds had good chance at the playoffs “no sales” and yes the teams most recent performance probably had a lot to do with it. I would believe that He finally relented to Walt

  4. Dale Pearl

    Finally signs of management starting the rebuild process. Auditions for the bullpen begin in a day. I think Jumbo Diaz will do well in the 8 and 9th inning. Maybe that is what the Reds are betting on. It is all a gamble but at least the Reds have more money to gamble with.

  5. Dale Pearl

    Does this mean that Conteras becomes a full time member of the Reds mediocre relief squad? I like Conteras but not sure if he is MLB ready based upon his performance so far this year.

    • Kevin J. Brown

      Oh it’s easy to build a competent bullpen with AAA guys. No problem at all.

      • pinson343

        I note the sarcasm and I’m with you there.

      • greenmtred

        I’m with you, too, though I don’t discount the arguments in favor of trading Broxton. I will note that his velocity for a good part of this year has not been regressing, but increasing, and (eyeball test) there are a lot of mlb hitters who can turn on even a good fastball, thus, perhaps, the hard-hit line drives. I think that Steve and Kevin both make excellent points and are probably in closer agreement that they or we might think.

      • drew

        What about Broxton and his huge contract impressed you?

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Only 12 NL relievers had a lower ERA and Aroldis Chapman wasn’t one of them. That’s pretty impressive.

        There’s also the problem of what you replace him with. There’s been screaming and complaining here about Hoover and Ondrusek, but they are certainly likely to see more innings now that Broxton is gone (presumably Jumbo moves into the 8th inning setup spot). The bullpen, a trouble spot, has now become even more of a weakness and there is no obvious competent replacement relievers in the system. The Reds seem to be banking on Hoover returning to form next year and perhaps Iglesias being ready for the bigs sometime in 2015. Those are far from certain scenarios.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The Reds might also be banking on picking up a league average reliever (what Broxton likely will be next year) for less than $11 million.

        The fact that Broxton has a lower ERA than Chapman is all one has to say to discredit ERA as a meaningful stat for relievers. Thanks.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        At times, a high ERA for a relief pitcher can be misleading because one bad outing can really jack up an ERA for them given the relatively small number of innings they pitch. But an ERA lower than all but 12 other relievers in the league cannot possibly be transformed into an “average pitcher at best” by any rational measure.

      • ncboiler

        There are plenty of rational measures that say he is an average or below average pitcher.

  6. ToddAlmighty

    Phew, so glad they were able to dump him. Next up is Ludwick. 1 PTBNL.. any takers?

    • Dale Pearl

      I wonder if Ludwick would perform better as a DH? Maybe that is what the Reds need to be advertising to American League teams.

  7. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Does it make us worse? For this season, obviously. However, I am confident this move wasn’t for this season but the off season.. We could possibly/probably expect 1-2 or more moves like this.

    As for signing FA, they are going to go wherever the money is. In letting Broxton go, if anything, that would tell FA’s that the Reds are clearing money to sign them, a plus. “Under 500” will have little to do with it. Just like the movie said, “Show me the money”.

    As I stated before, the Reds have a boat load of arbitration players as well as Cueto and Ludwick in the last years of a contract. They are going to need the money to sign players. This team could look somewhat different next season.

    The players to be named later for Broxton are suppose to be the players Reds will identify who can help them out , aka major league players or major-league ready AAA players, which we have few of. I like the move.

    • VaRedsFan

      ironic that he is filling in for Bruce today.

  8. pinson343

    Kevin J. Brown: “How many free agents flock to sign to teams that finish below .500 and dumping salary?” In the age of parity, there are teams that finish below .500 one season and contend (or win the World Series) the next. Look at the Red Sox. I don’t think the Reds will be viewed as a “losing team” or a “non-contender” in 2015 by free agents.

    You have joined me in being about being optimistic about the 2015 Reds, given that they’re healthy and pick up a LFer and a LHed reliever. The LHed reliever needs to e more than a LOOGY, Parra can do that. The LHed reliever needs to be a solid one who can share 8th inning duties with Jumbo, or take them over.

    Getting back to contention, the NL Central has some good teams but has turned out to be very winnable this year. Free agents are smart enough to look beyond the team’s won/loss record in the previous year when weighing whether they’re a contender.

    • Kevin J. Brown

      Is there any possibility that Sean Marshall will be healthy and effective again next year?

      • Dale Pearl

        Either Cingrani or Marshall or both. At least there are possibilities. Of course I would like to see Tony focus at AAA on developing a new pitch or two if he intends to be a starter. Then again if he is healthy he might make for a fantastic relief pitcher based upon his deception and only facing batters once through the lineup.

      • lwblogger2

        Unfortunately, as much as I love Sean Marshall, I think that it’s very unlikely that he will be healthy and effective next year.

    • manuel

      There are .500 teams and there are .500 teams. Any team with a rotation of Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Leake, Simon/Chapman/Cingrani is not your average team. We’re not that far from championship caliber and any player signed as a “missing piece” will know that-

    • Robby20

      Why do you have any confidence the Reds front office will pick up a left fielder with some pop or a solid left handed relief pitcher? They had the same needs going into 2014 and nothing was done.

      • Chris Miller

        Robby, you may not have agreed, nor I, but Walt clearly thought that Ludwick would bounce back. At the end of the day though, LF wasn’t the real problem. 1st base, 2nd base, RF, and to some degree, offense from SS were the real problems. None of those positions came close to producing as expected, due to various reasons.

      • lwblogger2

        I agree. It was sub-par years from my guy Jay Bruce, lack of offense from SS, a rookie leadoff hitter that is just learning how to hit and get on base in the Majors, Votto’s injury making 1B a sub-par offensive area, and lots of problems in the middle/long-relief that doomed this season.

  9. pinson343

    Has it been confirmed that the Brewers are picking up Broxton’s entire contract ?

  10. ohiojimw

    I think the Reds ended up holding all the leverage here. It was a waiver deal, meaning the Brewers claimed Brox on waivers not that he cleared and then the deal was done.

    So if all the Reds wanted to do was dump the salary, they just had to let the waiver process work. So, essentially they extorted the two players from the Brewers in return for not pulling Brox back.

    • ohiojimw

      Also given the reputed close relationship between Jocketty and Melvin, one can’t help but wonder if the deal was agreed before Brox was even placed on waivers and getting the players back was in part payment for agreeing to make Broxton available via waivers.

      During the Reds telecast Jim reported on a phone conversation he with WJ after the deal was announced. WJ supposedly said that one one the two players coming back (presumably the one already named) was a guy who figured to be in the mix for the Reds next season at the MLB level.

      If this statement was more than smoke, I’d guess quite possibly the guy is either on waivers or going to be waived by the Brewers. The Reds will claim him; and, if they have the winning claim he will be announced as part of the deal. If somebody else ahead of the Reds claims him, then the Brewers will pull him back and he will be announced after the season.

      • Redfactor

        Who was named? If it is major leaguer, it’s probably a player they need now. We would get him next year. We did this with Mark Lewis 20 years ago. Wow I feel old.

      • ohiojimw

        They did not name the person publicly. They just said one had been decided upon

  11. preacherj

    Hey, Brox gets to be in a pennant race, we get some money to make some sort of difference next year. Win/win in my estimation.

    I don’t trust Broxton health wise after this year anyway. I think this is best for all parties concerned. Oh, and as far as attracting free agents go: I imagine having cash in hand that can go in their pocket, or be used to re-sign one of our top flight starters, would be more impactful to them then a solid eighth inning set up guy.

      • Kurt Frost

        Most overrated position in all of sports. Even below a kicker.

      • Thegaffer

        MLB has everything to do with where you put your resources. If you have no payroll limits a 10 million set up man is great. Remember that is what we will pay Cueto next year, and probably Latos and Leake.

        Separately, anyone who has watched Broxton pitch and thinks he is a reliable closer now is not paying attention. He is basically Francisco Cordero circa 2009.

      • BigRedMike

        Robertson has killed the Yankees this year, need Rivera back

        Orioles have really struggled without Jim Johnson and had to settle with Britton

      • preacherj

        or to the World Champion Buffalo Bills….oh.

      • docmike

        If so, I predict several blown ninth-inning leads for the Brewers next year.

    • Matt WI

      Perfect read. $9 mil is the beginning of a nice offer for someone.

  12. redsfan06

    Here in Milwaukee, the Brewers fans are pretty happy with getting another bullpen arm. Although many have asked if he can also hit because the Crew has had trouble scoring runs lately. Part of the reason the Brewers didn’t mind picking up Broxton’s contract for next year is that their current closer, Francisco Rodriguez, is a free agent after this season. And his agent is Scott Boras.

  13. vegastypo

    Putting aside the question of Broxton’s value to the Reds, I’m fascinated by Walt’s statement that both of the guys the Reds expect to get — one is set, the other will come from a list of players that the Brewers have made available — could be major league contributors next year, not necessarily just “minor league depth.” …

    So unless either of these guys proves to be a front-line player, I wonder if Walt is planning notable changes for the bench. Schumaker is on a two-year deal, but would they cut him loose? Same question about Ludwick, who has the pricy option to cut him loose, and pricier to keep him. Schu, Heisey, maybe Negron stay? Hannahan goes? Where would Santiago fit in? Where would the Brewers’ arrivals fit in? Very curious.

    • ncboiler

      I don’t see how they can keep Ludwick next year. Pay him the 4.5 million and spend the left over 5 million on someone that plays above replacement level. He isn’t worth $5 million per year.

  14. ncboiler

    This is a good trade for the Reds and there is no question about it. Dumping a 10 million dollar contract that is worth well less than that can’t be considered otherwise and does not constitute a ‘fire sale’. If the Reds got nothing back it is still +EV just for the money it frees up for next year. Broxton, for his career, is about a 1.0 fWAR/year pitcher that they are paying as if he is a 2.0 fWAR pitcher. His advanced stats indicate that he is getting better results that his skills would imply and being over 30 it’s not likely that he is going to be any better next year. Going forward he is probably less than a 1.0 fWAR/year pitcher.

    Now they have 9 million next year that they can put to better use plus two PTBNL that may have at least some value as well (that of course remains to be seen). I also think it’s laughable to think that free agents put a lot of value in transactions made by a team the previous year when deciding where to sign in the off season. This isn’t the NBA of max contracts where the in-place talent on a team may be part of the decision making process of a free agent. They are going to sign where they can get the most money or, on occasion, give a team a home town discount.

    • Thegaffer

      I know its unrealistic, but you just wish we could have had Ludwick play well (or really much at all) and convince someone to take any of his salary.

  15. Steve Mancuso

    I’ll be pleasantly surprised (maybe shocked) if either of the PTBNL are a top 100 or even top 200 prospect. The salary relief is enough.

    And even if a prospect is in the top ten of the Brewers system, keep in mind the Brewers farm system is rated as one of the worst (#29 by Baseball Prospectus –

    As Joe Posnanski says, every team has a top ten, no matter how good or bad they are.

    • Steve Mancuso

      For example, the Brewers #1 prospect is not listed in the Top 100 prospects in baseball. My guess is that Jocketty is embellishing the quality of the players we got back (standard operating procedure for all GMs) so that the trade doesn’t look like strictly a salary dump. Nothing wrong with a salary dump in this case. It’s a horrible contract in the third year. Like I said above, I wouldn’t hold my breath on the PTBNL making the Reds 25-man roster anytime soon. If I’m wrong about that, this trade, which was already great, got even better and kudos to WJ.

      • redmountainHick

        Just some thoughts on possible players that could help next year and if at least one could help on the ML level it is probably a pitcher like Goforth. He was a starter, but has been working as an end of the game reliever. It was at this stage that Jocketty got Hoover. I do not know if Hoover was considered a great prospect at the time the Reds got him. This year Hoover has not been great, but he has a pretty good record in the past. And no matter what you might think about Jocketty, he has been pretty good at finding diamonds in the rough. The rest of their top prospects are in low A or Rookie Ball.

      • Dale Pearl

        hopefully he was able to get fillers for the one or two of the positions that have been somewhat neglected in our minors even if they are bench riders the Reds farm system has a shortage of AA and AAA players that can play everyday at 1b and 2b. In fairness Soto wasn’t given a fair chance and Elmore was a late pickup.

  16. Thegaffer

    Since 2010, look how much the Reds have spent on “closers” that not only have not closed effectively but some barely played. Luckily we were able to dump a back loaded Broxton deal, which ended up being 2 years for 10 million basically. 8.5 mil for a closer who blew his arm out before the season and 20 million on another who threw a few ineffective innings the last 2 years and likely even less next year. When will the reds get how bullpens are a poor use of money. Heck a guy we had last year who signed for minimum salary was an All Star with the Brewers this year.

  17. RedsfanPa

    I’m just glad that contract is gone. Nice to see you cleaning up your own mess Walt. Since we’re probably stuck with you again, a few requests: Stop over paying for bullpen arms. And please, no more Cardinal castoffs or scrubs like Hannahan. Now let’s clean house (Hannahan, Shumaker, LeCure, Ondrusek, Ludwick). Negron is a gamer, hoping he is part of the bench for 2015. Hope the September callups get a good look with actual playing time, see what we got for next year.

  18. WVRedlegs

    Nice move. This is another step to re-building the bullpen for next year. It opens the door for the Reds to get free agent to be Casey Janssen (Tornto) to fill that role next year. Janssen could also be the substitute closer when Chapman can’t go more than 3 games in a row and a veteran presence to what will probably be a young bullpen with Diaz and the four other bullpen spots.

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      Janssen’s numbers this year are worse than Broxton’s in every category (he’s given up more than a hit an inning and 5 HRs in 39.2 IP) and he will turn 33 in September.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Yeah, another +30 guy that is going to cost some serious dollars. This would be a continuation of the same old: Broxton, Marshall, Madson. I think it would be okay to stop the insanity. The team needs to utilize their resources more wisely this go around.

      • WVRedlegs

        You don’t know Janssen very well then. Janssen has an injury early this year. He has had a few tough outings since the all star break. Toronto’s defense has let him down a couple of times. If an injury is leading to his second half difficulties then that would have to be considered. If they kick the tires, they’ll definitely have to look under the hood. Janssen makes $4M this year, so even if he made that with the Reds next year, it’d would be a 60% reduction from Broxton’s salary at equal or better production.

  19. Dale Pearl

    I am amazed that there are any negative comments about this deal at all. Goes to show that no matter what the owner and GM does that there will be haters.

  20. Adam

    Finally! There goes $10 million of that $50 million dollar BULLPEN ONLY payroll that has prevented the reds from signing free agent bats the last 2 years. Now we just need to trade Latos and Chapman and get some offense and young prospect pitching and we can begin the rebuild that should have started this offseason

  21. pinson343

    I said above that I like this trade/salary dump. I like Broxton too. He helped the Reds win the division late in the 2012 season, when he even closed for a while, and the first half of 2014, when he and Chapman were the only two strong relievers in the bullpen and closed out some 1 run leads over the final two innings.

  22. greenmtred

    On the subject of whether a pitcher has much or any influence on how balls are hit: I have always agreed that WHERE the ball is hit is largely a matter of chance (Mr. Maddox might reasonably disagree). But HOW? Would I give up more hard line drives than Johnny Cueto would?

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      If you did it would not be reflected in SIERA, FIPs and xFIPS; as they take zero account of line drive rate allowed by a pitcher. And these are the measures people like Steve use to evaluate how well a pitcher has pitched and to predict what their performance will be in the future.

      • Steve Mancuso

        SIERA does take GB% into account, because of research showing pitchers control that to some extent. Line drive rates are substantially out of control of pitchers, although some new data shows that the same pitchers who have strikeout-rate qualities (like high fastball velocity) also can shave a little bit off their hard-hit rate. But that’s just at the margins. Saying a pitcher has significant control over the number of LD he gives up is proven false by (a) the variation from year-to-year in the same pitcher in LD%, (b) the convergence of all pitchers around the same LD%, (c) and the extremely simple notion that if they could control it, why would they ever give one up?

        Measurements (like ERA) that do indirectly assign all the “credit” for LD% to pitchers have been proven — by countless studies — to be inaccurate estimators for runs/performance in the future.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Gee, if batters could “control it” wouldn’t they hit a line drive every time?

        No, a pitcher can’t make it so a batter never hits a line drive; however, by the way he pitches he can make the chance of a ball being hit hard less. That’s common sense which is backed by the studies I already cited.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Your sarcastic question reveals exactly the weakness of your argument. When anyone talks about “having control” over anything, like ground balls, line drives and home runs, we’re talking about at the margin. Small effects. After all, the difference between Votto and Hannahan is .310 vs. .230, not .680 and .120. Same thing with pitchers. To say that a pitcher “has control” over batted balls, is *at most* talking about a small effect. The difference between great BABIP to poor *assuming this is control at all and not just random distribution* is something like 27% to 31%.

        So when a pitcher like Broxton achieves an extreme outlier (his 2014 ERA) compared to the league average and his own personal career numbers (especially recent years), you look to see if there is anything to it, or if it’s mostly luck. As I’ve pointed out numerous times in this thread (to crickets), if you believe that Broxton’s current 22% BABIP is skill-based, you have to believe that he is the best pitcher of all time.

        Some pitchers do improve, but it shows up in other places, like their K%, BB%, SwStr% and FBv. Look at Cueto. He’s having an unusually great year when it comes to BABIP (24%). But at least in his case, you can look and see that he’s greatly increased his K%. So maybe there is something there, not just good luck.

        And of course in all of this, the fact that Broxton’s numbers are being based on fewer than 50 IP makes extrapolation from them unreasonable.

      • greenmtred

        Steve: I get what you’re saying, but am not sure that it proves that pitchers have no control over line drive rates. It may instead prove that pitching to mlb hitters is very difficult and that not all of the skills involved are constantly repeatable. In one game, for instance, a pitcher’s control may be very sharp and in the next game it may be less so. In the first game, the pitcher may in fact be able to consistently throw pitches that are hard to hit for liners, and in the second, he’s missing by enough to give a bunch of them up. That would make it a poor subject for measurement, but some things are.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Actually the claim I made is that Broxton pitched very, very well this year and it is reasonable to expect that he will be what he has been most of his career next year: an above average relief pitcher. It is your claim that he is “average at best” and the support you muster for that extravagant claim in the face of his actual statistics are based on measures that have failed to accurately predict his and many other pitchers performances in the future at least in part because of a systemic flaws in the formula.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The reason xFIP and SIERA normalize HR/FB (at 10.5% or whatever league average is) is because research has shown that the number of home runs a pitcher gives up is better predicted by looking at the number of fly balls he gives up than looking at the number of home runs he has given up. FIP doesn’t make that assumption. For relief pitchers especially, looking at the actual # of home runs they’ve given up is an unreliable predictor because of the tiny sample size. Notice how almost every pitcher, over the course of their careers, ends up around that number?

        Cueto (10.2%), Maddux (12.0), Bailey (11.0), Simon (12.3) etc.

        Again, there are small differences over careers and large differences over small sample sizes, but the stats that normalize HR/FB are another piece of data when you try to predict how a pitcher will perform in the future. You understand that when you look at them. Again, research has proven conclusively that those stats better predict the future than stats like ERA that take every lucky bounce, every home run, every line drive as though it was 100% due to the pitcher’s skill.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        They seem to have done a pretty bad job predicting how Broxton would pitch in 2014, didn’t they? Why would they do a better job in 2015?

        What you ignore is that Broxton changed his pitching style in 2014 going back to throwing virtually all fastballs and sliders and abandoning the cutter. Guess your generalized statistics can’t take that into account. And SIERA, FIP and xFIP make consistent errors in some cases; for years they incorrectly predicted much higher future ERA for Mariano Rivera for example.

        The fact that a pitcher over his entire career has kept his FB/HR under league average seems to strongly suggest that he is doing something to acheive that result rather than it being the result of him having a Lucky Rabbit Foot in his back pocket.

      • Steve Mancuso

        You know what else did a pretty bad job of predicting Broxton’s 2014 ERA, his 2013 ERA (4.10)?

        If Broxton has this new miraculous pitch combination, what happened to him in August? His luck on BABIP is what changed.

        The sample size on things like LD% over 48 IP is so small it’s meaningless.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Clayton Kershaw has a career 6.7% HR/FB rate; is that luck? That, of course, leads to his xFIP number being a consistently inaccurate predictor of his future performance; it was 2.88 in 2013 but his ERA (lucky as it may be) is 1.73. Nor is this a one year outlier, for his career his xFIP is 3.16 but his actual ERA is 2.50.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Broxton’s HR/FB for 2014 is 5.0% Is he a better pitcher than Kershaw, or just been luckier?

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        I suggest this article by Tony Blengino regarding pitchers contact management:

        In pertinent part and contrary to your old time sabermetric orthodoxy:

        In between those poles, however, were a significant number of solidly above average major leagues hurlers who relied primarily on contact management rather than on maximization of K’s and minimization of BB’s for their success.

      • Steve Mancuso

        You can’t treat Broxton’s 48 innings the same way as that guy (who won’t disclose his data source) does with starting pitchers over multiple years.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Now that you’ve found the limiting contact lit, have you changed your views (from last night) that you don’t care about strikeouts or walks? Because you can’t believe that quality of contact is something that can be substantially controlled by the pitcher and also believe that FBv and K% is irrelevant. Swings and misses are the best way to control the quality of contract, it’s a matter of degree. Broxton’s K% (19.6) is well below league average (22.6) for a reliever.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        You are making a Strawman argument; I did not claim that K rate was irrelevant. What I said was:

        I don’t care about strikeout rates or walk rates if the pitcher is preventing runs.

        That’s quite a different thing.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        If Broxton’s innings in 2014 are too small a sample size to extrapolate from, why are you doing so by using SIERA, FIP and xFIP? You’re doing exactly what you say cannot be done!

        I’ll limit my argument to; Broxton has been an above average reliever in his career and he has pitched very effectively in 2014. Therefore, it seems likely he’ll pitch as an above average reliever in 2015. Of course, there is variability in human performance in all areas including baseball so that is not a certain result but it seems the most likely one. You’ll have to show why you think he is an “average pitcher at best” when his lifetime and 2014 numbers are definitely above average; I personally don’t find “he’s lucky” to be a compelling claim based on the available data.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        The thing is, the number of HR’s a pitcher can give up can also be directly related to their home park.

        Listen, I’ve seen great players with some poor advanced metric numbers, and I’ve seen some poor players with some great advanced metric numbers. Just a small example, in theory, a pitcher could allow 3 players on base every inning, get the next 3 batters all out, do that every inning, and have an ERA of 0 with a WHIP of 3. The advanced metric shows a poor pitcher. The “regular” metric shows a great pitcher.

        Too much of an example? Maddux himself in one of the seasons he won 19 games, He had a WHIP of 1.345. All of our “regular” starting pitchers have a better WHIP than that (out is Cingrani). Does that mean those pitchers are better than Maddux? I don’t think all of them are going to win 19 games this season. I’d still take Maddux that season over all of ours except Cueto, though, even though our players have the better advanced metric.

        One more time, advanced metrics are definitely a source of information that teams should consider. However, that doesn’t mean it should be the only source . After all, does anyone really think Homer is going to be a $20+ million annual pitcher? That’s what he’s getting the last 5 years of his current contract. And, he signed that after a losing season! “But, his advanced metrics say that he will win more.” As far as I am concerned, I’m not concerned with “he will win more”. I’m concerned with “is he winning more”? Is the team winning games? Nothing against the pitcher at all. It could be something as simple as run production for that pitcher. It could be simple karma. But, bottom line, the name of the game is winning games, not WHIP, not FIP, not BABIP, not ABCXYZ. It’s winning games. And, the team’s record with Homer? Homer may have a 9-5 record. The team is 9-12 with Homer.

  23. Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

    To summarize my position:

    Broxton was making a lot of money to be a setup man.

    He was extraordinarily effective in that role this year despite a few recent blips.

    Our bullpen was a serious weakness this year and may well have cost the Reds a good chance of making the playoffs. Broxton, Chapman and Diaz (on a SSS) were the only pitchers in the pen who were consistently effective.

    I think it highly likely that Broxton would be more effective than anybody the Reds will replace him with though you never know in baseball.

    I was not opposed to trading Broxton IF value could be obtained. I did not favor a straight up salary dump as it is hard to see how it will improve the team next year.

    I am particularly surprised to see Broxton be dealt to a division rival which had a so-so bullpen. This strengthens them and weakens the Reds for 2015.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      While I can understand your position, the value Broxton had for us next year just wasn’t going to be there. If I recall correctly, $9 million, for a pitcher who may see 60 innings. We could possibly get a good LF replacement for that next season. But, also, we had a load of arbitrations, several players in the last season of their current contract, as well as need to figure out what to do with players like Cueto and Ludwick. Payroll dump may be a harsh term. But, better that and lose someone like Broxton than end up losing someone like Cueto because we could find the additional money to pay him.

      It just wasn’t the bullpen that hurt us this season. It was the offense. That’s more than obvious. We needed offense at the beginning of the year, even before we knew if our pen was going to be good or not.

  24. droomac

    Broxton and his salary had to go. I also think it’s safe to say that Chapman isn’t going anywhere now as a result of moving Broxton (though I would argue that it would still be a good idea to shop him in the offseason). However, I think that the bullpen could look very different in ’15.

    LeCure and Ondrusek may be out. Hoover, if he fixes whatever ails him, may be in or out. Cingrani could possibly be the wildcard here. If Walt moves either Latos or Cueto, it seems intuitive that a healthy Cingrani moves back to the rotation. However, I think it is more likely that they leave Simon where he is and Iglesias takes the spot vacated by Latos/Cueto. Axelrod could be retained for depth, or maybe he actually turns out to be the fifth starter and sends Iglesias or Simon to the pen.

    Regardless, I believe that the Reds will be a markedly better team without Broxton’s $9 million on the books.

    • droomac

      The sentence I left out: Cingrani ends up in the bullpen next year and this is a good thing for the team and for Cingrani.

      • droomac

        Me too. . . . I know he figures into next year’s plans. I would think that they would want him pitching somewhere very soon to see what they have.

  25. ohiojimw

    I think moving 100% the money owed Broxton was a real coup.

    Jumbo will do the job such as it is there to be done the rest of this year; and there is no reason to believe he won’t be up to it next year for well under 10% of what they would have been paying Broxton,

    These things said, in the how many angels fit on the head of a pin discussion that was going on, I actually tend to agree with Kevin (for a change). If a pitcher gets outs and doesn’t allow runs (charged either to himself or somebody else), I think it slips into minutia relatively quickly when one tries to define why this is the case.

    I understand that as an exec with a baseball org, I would want to try and be as precise and complete as possible in projecting if a certain opposing pitcher was likely to be able to repeat his performance with my team. However I think the number of variables involved along with currently unquantified and possibly even ultimately unquantifiable factors (which we call being lucky or unlucky) make the micro analysis to the nth degree highly suspect. It would be simpler and probably just as accurate to compare the home parks and the team defenses at a macro level and ordinally evaluate the pitcher’s contribution to outcomes which resulted when he was on the mound..

    • tct

      But see, your and Kevin’s approach that if a pitcher has a good ERA, even in a small sample size, that must mean that he is a good pitcher and will continue to be a good pitcher is the same belief that fooled the reds into thinking that Logan Ondrusek was an above average relief pitcher. He had a stretch in 2011 and the first half of 2012 where he prevented runs really well. And that stretch is probably why he continues to get chances today. But anybody looking at his underlying numbers could see that he was better than he should have been and should not have been expected to be that good going forward.

      Nobody is saying that Broxton hasn’t been good at preventing runs this year, and ultimately that is a pitchers job. But the question is what will he do going forward. Betting 10 mil on a relief pitcher with below average k rates, above average walk rates, and a fastball that has declined 5 mph in the last 4 years is a fools bet. That’s not to say that Broxton will be terrible next year. He could have another year with a low ERA. But if his k and bb numbers don’t improve significantly then it would be very unlikely. And that’s the whole point when it comes to roster building: projection. There is no reason at all to project that Broxton will be as good at run prevention going forward as he has been so far this year.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Another Strawman argument. No, that’s not my approach. As I’ve said numerous times in this thread, my point is that Broxton has been an above average relief pitcher for his career except for a few blips due usually to injuries. There’s little reason to believe, as Steve insists, that he will be “average at best”. Clearly he has pitched at a very high level this year; though it’s unlikely he would have a sub 2.00 ERA again, I consider it highly probable that he would be better than league average as a reliever based on his career and 2-14 performance. That the tools Steve and TCT rely on have consistently predicted wrong on Broxton and other pitchers and are based on faulty premises (like every pitcher will eventually cluster around 10.5% FB/HR when they clearly don’t) makes me doubt their value.

        As to whether trading Broxton was a good move, as I said that depends on what we got for him and what we have to replace him. I don’t agree that simply dumping salary is a good move for this team and I really don’t agree with improving a potential weak point on a division rival just to dump salary.

        Finally, as far as Broxton’s fastball he still got up to a velocity of 97.3 mph this year and his average is close to 93. That’s more than sufficient for MLB reliever.

      • Steve Mancuso

        For anyone interested in the 10.5% assumption behind xFIP (remember, it’s just one statistic to consider, being fully aware of what it assumes) here’s an article with some research on the (in)ability of pitchers to sustain a HR/FB much different from 10.5%.

        I guess if you want to believe that Jonathan Broxton has discovered something about pitching that no other pitcher ever has — based on his 5.0% HR/FB over 48 innings — you’re welcome to. (Oh, and whatever that was, he apparently forgot to do it in August.)

        Again, 48 innings is such a small number (it would only take three different hits to make Broxton league average) basing a prediction on next year on how many HR he’s given up this year is unreliable. Assuming he’ll be more average and therefore look at his xFIP is another way to go.

        I don’t think it’s obvious that Broxton has “pitched at a very high level this year” – that needs to be proven, not just assumed. One thing to look at is the runs he’s given up. But that’s just one and not something pitchers have a huge amount of control over. Out of 74 qualified relievers in the NL, Broxton has the 55th best K/BB. His GB/FB is tumbling. His contact-rate is climbing. That doesn’t sound like pitching at a very high level to me.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Broxton’s career HR/FB is 7.6%. That’s 529 IP. Assuming that he will pitch to a 10.5% FB/HR rating just because that is league average is just lazy and statistically indefensible.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Lazy? What’s so rigorous about looking at his ERA and saying “gosh, I bet he’ll keep doing that.” Looking at, oh, I don’t know, more than one statistic seems a little less lazy to me. Assuming he’ll find his way back to 10.5% HR/FB is precisely the meaning of statistically defensible. Assuming he’ll continue a 22% BABIP is statistically rigorous? Ha. For someone who is throwing around words like lazy, foolish and ridiculous (substituting for analysis) you sure are putting a lot of weight on three at bats.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        See when I watch a baseball game and the pitcher gets the other team out without a run being scored, I think “Good job”. Apparently Steve is more worried about what their K/BB ratio was then whether than gave up any runs. Perhaps they should do away with keeping score in the traditional way and just award the win to the team who’s pitchers had a higher K/BB ratio.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Yep, when a team doesn’t score a run in an inning, I don’t automatically think it was a good job by the pitcher. It could have been because of a great defensive play or because the pitcher was lucky. If the team hits a long fly ball that dies on the warning track, I don’t blindly think the pitcher did a great job. Likewise, if a pitcher gives up runs because of bad defense or bloop singles or a twelve-bounce ground ball hit, I don’t automatically think it was a bad job by the pitcher.

        I think you’ve put your finger exactly on our disagreement. Let’s just leave it at that.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        How can Broxton “find his way back” to a number he has never reached? Yes, it’s lazy to assume that all pitchers will simply reach an average number when his prior performance indicates he won’t. If that’s your idea of “statistically defensible” I suppose you’re assuming Mike Trout will bat .249 next year.

        The rest is just the usual Strawman arguments. I didn’t claim that Broxton could necessarily maintain his 2014 BABIP; it would be difficult for any pitcher to maintain the level of excellence a sub 2.00 ERA usually entails. But what is beyond question is that Broxton has done better than average in his career in doing what pitchers are supposed to do; prevent runs. And your claims to the contrary are without a reasoned basis.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Assuming any result that varies from the average is just “luck” in a endeavor that actual human beings are performing is is a bizarre notion. If Broxton was giving up a ton of line drives that were being caught or some such statistical anomaly maybe you’d have an argument. But he isn’t; his results are consistent with what is expected based on the type of balls hit and the Reds defense. Your last stand is now how hard balls get hit off a pitcher is just “luck” but that seems to fly in the face of more recent research as well as common sense.

      • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

        Ondrusek is a particularly poor example if you want to argue that K and BB ratios are always indicative of future pitching performance. In 2011 and 2012, Ondrusek’s K rate was well below average and his BB rate well above but his ERA was a respectable 3.23 and 3.46. Naturally he was assessed as “lucky” by the type of analysis Steve and TCT are using and his SIERA, FIP and xFIP rose to the 5 range and above.

        So what happened in 2013 and 2014? Ondrusek’s ERA rose sharply to 4.09 and 4.38. So the metrics were vindicated? Well, Ondrusek’s K rate shot up from the 15-16% range to 22% which is about league average for a reliever. And his walk rate which was 10-12% in 2011-12 drop to about 7.5%. And naturally his SIERA, FIP and xFIP all dropped sharply.

        The perverse result is that Logan Ondrusek is missing more bats and walking less players which is supposed to be the key to pitching according to orthodox sabermetrics. Yet, his results are considerably worse even though now he is predicted in the future to be a better pitcher by SIERA, FIP and xFIP! I guess he is now “unlucky” where when he was getting good results he was “lucky”.

        I find this type of analysis quite unconvincing.

      • Steve Mancuso

        If you use ERA to predict Ondrusek’s ERA over the past few year’s you’d might as well throw darts. His advanced metrics accurately forecast he wouldn’t sustain his low ERA.

      • BigRedMike

        Looking at Broxton and Ondrusek – big difference between BABIP and LOB is interesting. Broxton has been really good with his Fastball this year. The outlier is Broxton’s Linedrive %. If he can keep it that low, he should stay effective. The move from cutter to slider must be working, his slider has been effective.

        The question teams have to make, is the risk of regression worth the money.

        Teams make the wrong/right decision on every player when contracts are involved

  26. George Mirones

    If possible, let me throw in my 2 cents. The ongoing discussion about Broxton is a learning event. My question goes to “run prevention”. Is there a stat that includes the outstanding Reds defense as part of Broxton’s “run prevention”. As I seem to remember that many of the balls hit off Broxton were not all slow rollers to short. I think that the entire Reds pitching staff has benefitted from stellar defense and it should be included in any evaluation of a relief pitchers’ effectiveness. If that calculation is possible I would think that his future effectiveness could also evaluated by the new teams defensive effectiveness especially over the last 3 innings of a 9 inning ballgame.
    Overall I don’t care what you call what has just happened, anytime you can walk away from the table “up” almost 11Mil, more power to you.

  27. Steve Schoenbaechler

    As for Broxton, it was a salary dump, pure and simple. As I have said before, the Reds may make a move, but do they have a plan B? Here, they felt they did, Jumbo. So, Broxton is gone. And, we were going to need that money. I expect 1-2 if not more moves like this for the Reds. They have a boatload of arbitration cases coming up, as well as some key players going into the last year of their contracts. Not to mention, they have to decide what to do with Ludwick and Cueto. Having the cash on hand will give them some room to do all of that as well as potentially get some FA’s, cash they didn’t have before.

    • Kevin J. Brown (@ZebtheRed)

      Jumbo has thrown well this year in limited innings. He will also be 31 by Spring Training 2015 (he’s older than Broxton) and was a career minor leaguer until a few months ago. I certainly hope he can continue to be effective but he does not have the consistent record of above average performance that Broxton does. And, of course, now someone has to pick up Jumbo’s role and the rest of the bullpen was below par to say the least.

  28. Eric the Red

    I don’t think it’s correct to say the Reds have a terrible bench. Heisey, Peña, Negron, Santiago are good bench players. Schumaker should have been. Jack has been a lousy signing, and I hope would be replaced by Negron if Votto were off the DL (now that we know Peña can be a credible back up at 1B.)

    Who has a perfect bench, with power from both sides and average and speed and defense? Our problem this year is that our bench players have been forced to be starters.

  29. wvredlegs

    Broxton was starting to turn into an 8th inning version of CoCo Cordero. He was getting hit hard, even if some were right at the defense. It was time.

  30. docmike

    Kevin, you sound kind of like Thom Brennanman did the other day. Broxton came into a game the Reds were leading by 5 runs, gave up several hard-hit balls, and barely got out of the inning due to some stellar defense by his teammates. The other team put up 4 runs while he was in the game, but because the Reds still had the lead when he walked off the mound, Thom crowed “Brox got the job done.”

    Sounds ridiculous, right? No more ridiculous than you’re saying that if a pitcher pitches an inning and the other team doesn’t score, then it must mean he did a good job. Really? What if he gave up a single, a double, then a walk? And what if all 3 outs were screaming line drives that just happened to be hit right at fielders? Would you still say he did a good job?

    In that instance, I wouldn’t say he did his job at all. HE didn’t “get the batters out”. HE didn’t keep the other team from scoring. His fielders did, and the pitcher was just the lucky beneficiary.

    Let’s try this: Which pitcher pitched better?

    A) Faces 7 batters in the inning. Strikes out 3, but the other four batters all hit slow ground balls that found a hole between infielders. The other team scores twice.

    B) Faces 5 batters in the inning. All hit the ball hard, but only two drop in for a pair of singles. One lines out to the shortstop, the other line out to outfielders. No runs score.

    I realize this is an extreme example, but the point is the same. Maybe you say that Pitcher B did better because “he didn’t allow any runs and that’s what a pitcher’s job is, preventing runs.” Yes, a pitcher needs to do his best to prevent runs. My assertion would be that pitcher B had almost nothing to do with the fact the other team failed to score. Pitcher A, even though the other team scored 2 runs, gave his team a better chance to shut the opposition out that inning by getting strikeouts and inducing weak ground balls.