This is the final installment of Getting the Offseason Right. With the World Series over, teams will start to make roster decisions and transactions in earnest now.
Before summarizing, a few last points:
Same advice since 2011, try Aroldis Chapman in the rotation. Yep, it’s the most obvious and pointless suggestion possible.
Chapman has the potential to be a dominating starting pitcher. Fifteen starters earned at least 5 WAR (using FanGraphs or Baseball-Reference) this season. Aroldis Chapman, who earned 2.4 WAR in a record-smashing season, could be like Clayton Kershaw or Madison Bumgarner. But the Reds will never know if they don’t give him a chance. In addition to laying several baseball records to waste, Chapman answered the never-really-a-question of his second and third pitches this season.
Moving Chapman to the rotation would free up the Reds to trade one of their other starting pitchers for a hitter that could help them in 1,400 innings, not 30.
Others have suggested the Reds trade Chapman. And if the club isn’t going to make him a starter, sure. But if the Reds didn’t have the nerve to try him as a starter last season, or the season before that, or the season before that, then they aren’t capable of trading Aroldis Chapman either.
Why not? It’s probably something as simple (and sad) as that the guy who signs all the checks loves watching Chapman run through that bullpen gate in the ninth inning.
Watching Madison Bumgarner dominate the World Series as a left-handed starter frustrates me to no end. Which player has been more important for the San Francisco Giants in the postseason, Bumgarner or their closer, Santiago Casilla? (Hint: Bumgarner pitched 52 innings in the postseason, Casilla 7. In the World Series, Bumgarner 21 innings, Casilla four pitches.)
The Reds have their heads stuck in the sand if they think Chapman in the closer’s role has anywhere near the value of a dominant, left-handed starter. Repeat, dominant left-handed starters are ÃƒÂ¼ber-valuable. Try it.
Stop the practice of signing journeymen players to two-year contracts.Ã‚Â Just look at the track record, for goodness sakes.
Too often, those players end up providing less-than-replacement level production in the first year, yet the club feels committed to the second year.
Players like Skip Schumaker, Jack Hannahan, Manny Parra and Logan Ondrusek are too easy to replace from the free agent pool. That’s what replacement player means. Their upside isn’t worth the roster inflexibility in the second year of their deal. Think about the steps the Reds didn’t take last year because they had Jack for that. How many outfielders with decent OBP and gloves will they pass on this offseason because Schumaker is on the roster?
In Walt Jocketty’s first offseason for the Reds, he signed Willy Taveras and Mike Lincoln to two-year deals. Lincoln pitched a total of 40 innings over two years, with negative WAR. Taveras was so awful in his first year, the Reds actually released him. Again, negative WAR.
Sure, a few work out. But for every Arthur Rhodes (09-10) there are Nick Masset (12-13) and Manny Parra (14-15).
The fact that the Reds are willing to sign two-year deals when other clubs aren’t is not an indication they’re more clever than everyone else.
Getting the Offseason Right: Summary
If you took the time to read most of the nearly 20,000 words in this series of posts, thanks.Ã‚Â If you didn’t have the patience, here’s the short version:
1. The Reds can afford their current roster, barely. They’ll have to move salary to take on a pricey new left fielder.
2. The 2013 team won 90 games without significant contributions from Johnny Cueto, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier. Adding the healthy parts of 2013 with 2014 is a sufficient starting point for the 2015 roster.
3. The Reds still need a LF and bullpen help, though. No one thinks the team “just needs to get healthy.”
4. Baseball has undergone a radical shift from pitching scarcity to hitting scarcity in the last five years. ClichÃƒÂ©s like you can’t have enough pitching were right in the early 2000s, but are backwards now.
5. The Reds should trade pitching for hitting and rely on their defense and replacements for pitchers. The Reds great defense is the invisible hand in gloves that produces much of what we perceive as excellent pitching.
6. The Reds desperately need to improve their on-base percentage with an eye to walk-rate and power. These are fundamental criteria for the new LF. Not RBIs.
8. The Reds need to be extremely open to trading Johnny Cueto. The near-term uncertainty surrounding the health of Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Tony Cingrani make trading any of them or Mike Leake problematic.
9. The Reds need a WAR-time front office, basing trades on talent and need, not on soft intangibles like grit or being homegrown.
10. The Reds must rebuild their bullpen through a deep pool of candidates from a wide variety of sources and look for big arms. They should not target expensive, “proven” set-up guys or former closers with multi-year deals. Don’t expect — and pay for — repeat successes from relievers.
And if you want to distill it all down to two words: Christian Yelich.