Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said this about the Reds’ acquisition of Marlon Byrd: “We just felt he would be a great influence on our younger players, not that much different than Scott Rolen was when we brought him in — a true professional who plays the game the right way and leads by example.”

There are so many things wrong with that statement it’s hard to know where to start.

1. Marlon Byrd is no Scott Rolen.

Jocketty’s comparison makes me sick.

First, Scott Rolen was 34 when he came to the Reds, Marlon Byrd is 37. Scott Rolen had seven Gold Glove awards, Marlon Byrd none. Scott Rolen was a five-time All-Star, Marlon Byrd was chosen in 2010 because the rules said someone on the fifth-place Cubs had to be invited. Rolen led the Cardinals to three postseason appearances and had been in 32 postseason games. Byrd has suited up for Opening Days 13 times. He’s led that team to zero postseason appearances. Byrd did join the 2013 Pirates on August 28. The Pirates were in second place, one game out of first when Byrd arrived to Pittsburgh. At the end of the season, they were in second place, three games out of first. Byrd has six games of postseason experience.

Over 13 years, Marlon Byrd played for 8 different teams. Four times he was released or allowed to become a free agent. The Phillies had to pay to unload his contract. Once, Byrd was traded for Hunter Cervenka. If Marlon Byrd has ALL THE INTANGIBLES, why are teams so eager to let him walk out the door? Scott Rolen was never released or allowed to become a free agent until he retired.

Earlier this month, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg complained that the Phillies clubhouse with Byrd “lacked leadership as far as winning a baseball game everyday.”

2. Marlon Byrd is a questionable role model.

Yes, he plays hard. Marlon Byrd will run over the catcher, at least he did back when that was a legal play. But there’s more to being a “true professional” and positive role model than that. Marlon Byrd’s strikeout and walk rates indicate he’s abandoned patience at the plate and swings from his heels. He’s a lousy example when it comes to plate discipline.

In 2012, Byrd was busted for violating the league’s PED policy and suspended for 50 games. He tested positive for Tamoxifen, a drug that reduces (hides) the side effects of increased testosterone. Like just about every other player who has tested positive for PEDs, Byrd claimed the violation was accidental.

In 2013, Byrd hit more than 20 home runs for the first time in his career, at age 34.

I don’t care if Byrd used a banned substance to cover his use of other PEDs. Steroid use is a huge deal to some people and a non-issue to others. I’m on the latter end of that spectrum. But please don’t describe a PED user as a “true professional” who “plays the game the right way.” That’s some first class hooey right there. A colorful old friend of mine from Chillicothe, OH had a saying close to this: Don’t (spit) in my ear and tell me it’s raining.

3. The Reds are no longer a young, impressionable team.

When Scott Rolen came to the Reds in 2009, Joey Votto was 25. Drew Stubbs was 24, so was Chris Heisey. Jay Bruce was 22! Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart joined a couple years later, both at age 25. Those players soaked up Rolen’s veteran role model. Rolen was a World Series champion with Gold Glove habits and the young Reds players were inspired by his leadership. Even Brandon Phillips, who was 28, remarked about Rolen being a positive role model. I praised and defended Walt Jocketty for that trade.

Today, those players are five years older. And, they themselves are now major league veterans. It’s hard to imagine Byrd, as an outsider, coming into the Reds veteran-laden clubhouse and having much influence, even if that was desirable. The only Reds players who qualify as youthful are Billy Hamilton (24) and Devin Mesoraco (26) and neither of them lack the quality of playing hard. What exactly do the Reds want Billy Hamilton to learn from Marlon Byrd?

The aging curve drops sharply for 37-year-old major league players. I hope Marlon Byrd can beat the odds, avoid injuries and defy gravity for six more months. I hope Marlon Byrd validates Walt Jocketty’s faith that he will repeat his 2013 season (.291/.336/.511) not his dreadful second-half of 2014 (.265/.308/.391). I hope Marlon Byrd disproves the doubters and critics and proves me wrong. Loud wrong.

Who knows if Walt Jocketty believes all the foolishness he’s saying about his expectations for Marlon Byrd. For the Reds sake, I hope not. Maybe he’s simply doing his best to cover for another failed offseason for the Reds — an offseason where Jocketty said the team needed better OBP and fewer strikeouts. Yet Jocketty’s main acquisition moves the Reds farther and farther away from league average. He’s assembling what may be the worst hitting bench in memory. And I’m dreading the inevitable “overspend on the bullpen” move.

You may find this hard to believe, but I’m actually optimistic about the 2015 Reds. I expect to see the healthy return of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey and repeat performances from Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. All of that overcomes my discouragement over another disappointing offseason.

Maybe the organization’s concern is that if Jocketty spoke the truth, the Reds would have a difficult time generating excitement and ticket sales for the upcoming season.

I held my nose and renewed my season tickets. But that doesn’t mean Jocketty’s rationalizations pass the smell test. Byrd is obviously a low-cost, one-year placeholder for Jesse Winker. That’s OK. I wish Walt Jocketty would say that instead of trashing by comparison a great player like Scott Rolen.

111 Responses

  1. Jdub

    Great read, couldn’t agree more. Some interesting points about ticket sales… I wonder if there’s any truth to that. Here’s to optimism in 2015!

  2. Jake

    I too am strangely optimistic about next season. Is Byrd the key? Probably not, but with a healthy Votto and Bruce we might put up a fight, along with Frazier and Mesoraco.

    It does make you wonder though, if Byrd has this great leadership that Walt touts him to have, why has he been dropped and traded by so many teams?

    • shannon bubnick

      if this line up stays healthy the best in the national leauge and will lead in home runs this year

  3. Art Wayne Austin

    Marlon let the Phillies know he wanted to be traded to a contender, the Reds needed a left-fielder to be a contender. It’s true Marlon is a journeyman ballplayer but he sounds a lot better than Jonny Gomes a few years ago and we know how that worked out. Dusty
    wanted Byrd in ’13 but management thought we were OK with Ludwig who was coming off the disabled list. Jocketty was wrong as Byrd was the difference in the Pirates successful play in the play-offs. Not often you get a chance to correct a mistake but Walt has done it

    • Thegaffer

      Agree totally. First, I actually think the Byrd trade was the reds only real option this year. BUT, I think Walt has less credibility than Goodell these days. Clearly, not claiming Byrd in 2013 was a monumental mistake. Even if you just block the Rats! He never admitted that, shame on him. Then, instead of just saying “Byrd was the best player we could get for the money we had” he tries to claim there is some master plan based on phycology of baseball, BS!

  4. RedAlert

    Walt is simply full of crap – same gibberish over and over – be better off not commenting at all – just weak !

  5. George Mirones

    Steve writes;”Maybe the organization’s concern is that if Jocketty spoke the truth, the Reds would have a difficult time generating excitement and ticket sales for the upcoming season.”
    So you expect Walt to say; “Well folks Byrd wasn’t wanted by anybody else due to his poor leadership and obviously declining baseball skills but I couldn’t turn down the $4m. so while many of you may not buy season tickets, I can only advise you to just hold your nose, think of the good the All-Star game will do for the City and Big Bob’s legacy.”

    If any GM spoke the truth about the roster or upcoming season that would be a sports headline. Idealistic expectations are for the young. The statement I started this post with is reality.

  6. wannabeGM

    As a Cards fan, all I can say is good luck. Walt was always overrated, in my opinion. He made moves to keep his job, not build a long-term winning club.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Unfortunately, most of us see this same thing remaining true.

    • Doug Gray

      As a Cards fan how can you possibly say that? With Jocketty running your team the Cardinals won the division six of seven years from 2000-2006. Someone else didn’t build those teams. He did.

      You can say what you want about the Reds and other people building parts of the team, but not about the Cardinals.

      • wannabeGM

        I can say that because it was La Russa and Duncan that made those teams work. The core of those teams were obtained by happy accidents. Roland did not want to play in Philly. Pujols 6th round pick. Carpenter injured as a free agent. Edmonds because the Angels were desperate for a 2nd baseman. Wainwright because the the Braves wanted Drew. The Dewitts took away Walt’s control of the minors and brought in Luhnow 2 years before they let him walk. Walt never could draft and develop. He was constantly making bad picks and when he did happen to get talent, he would trade it away for a over priced veteran that was on the decline. Don’t forget the Dewitt’s let Walt walk and promoted Mozeliack in order to put in place a sustainable plan. That’s how I can say that.

      • Doug Gray

        You can say all of that, but you are very, very wrong about most of it.

        It’s Rolen, not Roland. Rolen didn’t choose St. Louis, Walt Jocketty chose him. There were plenty of teams that were interested, I’m sure. Jocketty made it happen. Pujols wasn’t a 6th rounder. Edmonds was acquired by Jocketty. Other teams surely wanted him, but Jocketty landed him.Wainwright was a great target. Think of all of the Braves pitching prospects and how many actually worked out. It’s basically Wainwright all on his own. And yet, Jocketty picked the one that worked out of 15 years of good Braves pitching prospects.

        Walt’s job never was to draft or develop. The GM does not handle the draft, that’s a huge, huge thing a lot of fans don’t grasp. GM’s hire scouting directors who run the draft. They have 20 guys working under them that scout talent in the US/Canada/Puerto Rico for the draft. Those guys are the reason the draft works or doesn’t, not because of the GM. Same for the development. There is a guy who runs the entire farm system with a team full of other guys that help out, along with the coaches and managers and rovers. It’s not the GM.

        And sure, they let Walt walk. After 13 years. He was let go after the 2007 season. He had won the NL Central in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

        Lots and lots of excuse making on not giving credit where it’s due.

        I’m not a big fan of the job Jocketty has done in Cincinnati. But when he was in St. Louis, dude got the job done with the best of them and to try and say it was luck and the work of others is insane.

      • ohiojimw

        Doug, I agree with you on your view of Jocketty in StL.
        According to Baseball Reference, Pujols was actually a 13th round pick (1999) out of a community college in Kansas City, Mo after being transplanted to the US and graduating from high school in Independence, Mo. Given that Pujols landed in Missouri from the Dominican Republic, have you ever heard any stories that the Cards may have had some inside knowledge of his ceiling all along; or was picking him up just a bolt from the blue like it would appear on paper?

      • Doug Gray

        OhioJimW,
        From all that I’ve read/heard, the Cardinals just got lucky on Pujols. He was a very good hitter in JUCO, but he was a soft bodied, non-athletic type. If the Cardinals were onto him being something special there’s no chance they let him get beyond even the third round, much less the first 12.

  7. redsfan06

    I am more in the camp of being hopeful than optimistic about 2015. Votto coming back gives the Reds the biggest offensive upgrade from one player of any team in the offseason. I’m concerned about Bruce and believe he will be better than last year but not sure by how much.

    Byrd’s 185/35 K/BB ratio in 2014 is troublesome. Yet his .757 OPS was head and shoulders above what the Reds got out of LF last year and would be acceptable from Bruce this year. Even his 2nd half .699 OPS is an improvement over last year’s mess in LF and above the NL average of .694. He definitely is not the OBP machine the Reds needed and Jocketty said he was going to get. The part about him providing leadership is just a bunch of babble from Walt.

  8. gusnwally

    Bottom line. If he hits 263 with 23 HR’s we will all be smiling. A real possibility in Great American.I would have rather had Ichiro getting on base at 2million per. But, let’s just see how it works out.

    • JoshG

      I would rather of had Aoki for the deal he ended up signing out west,
      that said I don’t mind the Byrd trade, and I think The Reds will be much better than most on here seem to think.
      IF Billy Hamilton can sustain his first half production from last year for the whole year this year, and then does anyone else have a 2-6 (Frazier, Votto, Mesoraco, Bruce, Byrd) that all could/should combine for 120+ HR’s? (we won’t mention the K’s)
      and I know Phillips was miscast as a middle of the order bat, but if he actually hits 7th, I’d take his numbers in a heart beat, and who knows maybe he will bounce back a little and give the reds a 6th player with 20 or more home runs.

      and Cosart is a top 5 defensive SS. And if Suarez takes the job, we could see above average numbers from 1-8.

      I actually think (if healthy) this is a top 10 offense, top 2 in the central (St. Louis #1)

      my concern is the pitching, but hey MLB.com just called them a top 10 rotation. And bullpens are always a wildcard , but having a top closer helps

      I’ve seen people say everyone else in the division has gotten better.. I don’t see that at all.

      The Cubs made the most improvements and are a lot better, but still not great, too young and free swinging

      How did the Brewers and Pirates get better?
      the Brewers at best stayed the same, I think they are worse, the pirates basically stayed the same.

      the Reds improved in LF, dipped in SP, but with reasonably good health will be considerably better.

      to me the biggest keys are Bailey, Cingrani, DeSclafani (or whoever take the 4th and 5th rotation spots)

      The Cardinals got a little better and are still the team to beat.

      • rodericksilva

        I love the enthusiasm.

        If we exclude the steroid era it’s always been about starting pitching. We have Cueto. That’s it.

        We’re going to need three (maybe four) other starters to all have their best season in their young careers. I’ll cheer them on. Maybe one will. With luck maybe two will.

        Washington is tops this year. We’re not even close. I say we trade Cueto for another top pitching prospect or two. Cueto’s value is high. This team is still a few years away.

        My thinking anyways. I’m sure many disagree.

    • Doug Gray

      If he hits .263 with 23 HR and his OBP is .295, I will not be smiling. And I can absolutely see that happening.

      • Henry Taylor

        I will, take 23 home runs no matter his OBP

      • Thegaffer

        Byrd hit .264 last year and his OBP was .312, which is a bit higher than .295. Carreer OBP is .333.

        WAR for 505 PA, .263, OBP .311, 23 HR would be 2.7 if avg. defense (likely). That is worth 13 million in value (for 4 million and a mid level prospect).

  9. redsfan06

    Part of the difficulty in judging a hitter’s capability based upon a drop in production in 2014 is the change in pitching dominance. From 2001-2009, average OPS in the major leagues was around .750 every year. Just going back to 2012, the average ML OPS was .724. It fell off the table in 2014 to an average of .700.

    When Byrd’s age is factored in, it is difficult to discern if he is beginning a steep end of career decline. His 2nd half OPS is about ML average. If pitching dominance continues to increase, who knows what will be a decent season of hitting in 2015.

    Like you said, hope is he has 6 more months of average to slightly above average hitting left in him.

  10. zaglamir

    Just couldn’t walk away from the season tickets, eh Steve? Stockholm much? I’m going through my own similar crisis. I’m getting ready to move out of the Reds blackout area. Debating on whether to keep or cancel MLB.tv now that I can actually watch the Reds… and I’m leaning towards keeping it and just being miserable if all goes to hell.

  11. gusnwally

    I was saddened to see that Rocky Bridges passed away this week. He was on the Reds team that was my first team that I loved. He was considered to be a real character and was loved all throughout baseball.

  12. Long Distant Reds Fan

    I agree that Byrd at 37 is an unlikely leader, and I also agree that guys that have won MVPs, Gold Gloves, been on numerous All-Star Teams, won divisions, etc. probably aren’t going to be open to a new guy coming in and asserting himself as a “leader.” Is there a chance, though, that Jocketty is using those words to send a message that the guys already in the clubhouse need to be better leaders? I tend to think that this team doesn’t have any every day players who are “the man” to lead.

    If the team were to vote on a Captain for this year, who would be elected? Who should be elected?

    • Steve Mancuso

      Good questions. Let’s stipulate the conventional wisdom that Votto and Bruce are nice guys, hard workers, but not vocal leaders and that the guys who have that fire are Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco. That makes for a complicated captain’s vote.

      Jocketty sends this message every year when he defends signings like Skip Schumaker, Orlando Cabrera etc. It’s stale. They made the right kind of move (and I said so) when they extended Devin Mesoraco. His kind of leadership is better because (a) it’s homegrown, (b) it’s from a player who produces. Bringing in washed-up veterans and expecting major league players to follow them is a stretch. Despite his injuries, Rolen still had some skills left (won another Gold Glove for the Reds). Marlon Byrd just isn’t a credible figure in that role. So it diminishes the message, like the boy who cried wolf.

      • redsfan06

        Jocketty must believe in this crap, though. Remember when he traded for an obviously washed up Jim Edmonds near the end of the 2010 season? All it brought was more veteran leadership, no real help to clinch a playoff spot.

      • ohiojimw

        Yes but I also remember comments from Stubbs (and Bruce) that Edmonds gave them useful insights about setting up defensively, reading and running routes to fly balls and the like. So it was a little bit of a two sided coin.

    • JoshG

      the captain should be Mesoraco, and if it was like hockey, Frazier would get an A on his Jersey

      • ohiojimw

        Agree very much on Meso. However, in public at least, I just don’t see any edginess in Frazier; plus, he needs to have his own house in order a little more in regard to plate discipline.

  13. JB WV

    If Byrd’s .265 was “dreadful” the second half of ’04, that’s good news. Agree with your analysis of Walt’s political statement, though. I’m sure Byrd is a nice guy, but he’s not going to change the make-up of the clubhouse. I have mixed feelings about Walt. Disappointment this offseason when I thought he would make a bolder move to fix LF, but going out and getting Iglesias, then Suarez and a couple more arms for the two guys I felt he should have traded if any starters were to be traded…

  14. redmountain

    I see lot of doom and gloom so I will put on my Rosy Red hat and look at this in a positive way. So what if…Marlon Byrd is a 20 HR guy, Votto is a 400+ OPS/.320 hitter with about 25 HR, Mesoraco hits 30 bombs, Cozart hits 240 and has 15 HR, Bruce hits 270/35HR, Hamilton hits around 300/350OPS and steals 75, Frazier hits 25+ HR, Cueto gets the CY, Bailey wins 16, so does Leake, Cingrani pitches to at least 500, and the #5 wins 12, Marshall is effective, Chapman remains dominant, Iglesias and DeScalafini(sp?) prove valuable, Hoover rebounds, so does LeCure, and the bench contributes? Maybe it all works out and maybe it doesn’t but that is why they run this marathon. In about three weeks we will see what happens.
    As far as Byrd being a leader, I think that is just smoke, but it was the right move to shore up LF with the money available. I believe that Jocketty has done a good job of flying below the radar and making moves that have made the Reds better for the future. None of us knows what goes on in the front office and whether Jocketty has had a free hand in all the deals that were made in the past. The talking heads having been calling for the Reds to be mediocre for several years and that all the Reds prospects were in the lower minors. They have been wrong as much as they have been right and those prospects are now in AA and AAA with more in the lower minors. This is because of Jocketty.
    Byrd is a failure as a LF and only plays half a season, but Winker, Yorman, and others tear it up in the minors? Problem solved.

  15. sezwhom

    Walt’s lost touch. I’ll say it one last time: would love to see what Billy Beane could do as our GM. Agree or disagree with his moves, at least he does something.

    • earmbrister

      Yes, Billy Beane does something, unless you’re talking about winning in the postseason. In 17 years as the A’s GM:

      WS: His teams have never been to it, much less won it.
      ALCS: They’re 0-1
      ALDS: They’re 1-6
      ALWC: They’re 0-1

      Yes, they’ve won ONE division series in 17 years.

      Billy Beane makes plenty of moves, but the results for his team have been mixed. I’ll believe the Hollywood genius label when he actually wins something.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Indeed, this is a poignant fact. However, if Beane had a $125 million dollar payroll to work with………

      • lwblogger2

        Yeah, people seem to forget that the A’s and Rays work with such small budgets. It always comes down to “How many World Series wins!!??” and the bottom line is that these teams are usually competitive and sometimes make the playoffs with much less payroll. What those who say “How many World Series wins!!??” seem to forget is that Theo Epstein is in that same mold and when given some money to spend, the guy has won a couple championships. If you gave Beane another $50-million a year, I’m pretty sure he’d at least have an AL pennant under his belt by now.

      • earmbrister

        LW, I can appreciate that Beane might have a smaller budget that the teams that he has faced over the years. My contention wasn’t “How many World Series wins!!??” does Beane have. My point was clear:

        Beane’s team have won ONE division series in 17 years.

        In that time other small market teams have reached the WS (and thus have won at least two playoff series) including the Padres, the Diamondbacks, the Marlins, the White Sox, the Astros, the Tigers, the Rockies, the Rays, and most recently the Royals. These teams are not generally considered to be amongst MLB’s big spenders, but they made it past the opening round of the playoffs.

        Now I never said Beane was a bad GM, or even an average GM, I simply said that his team’s results have been mixed, and that I wasn’t ready to label him a genius. To his credit, his teams have been making the playoffs fairly regularly, so he has had some success. WJ’s teams make the playoffs fairly regularly as well (albeit with a larger budget), and yet many here have him pegged as one of the worst GM’s in MLB. My view is that Beane probably is not a genius, and Walt is probably not an idiot or senile, but that the truth lies somewhere in between.

      • lwblogger2

        @EARMBRISTER – Fair enough points for sure. I’m not a Jocketty-basher for the most part, nor do I think that Beane is the be all, end all, of GMs. That said, there are a lot of folks that use the argument that Beane hasn’t won it all and therefore he isn’t a very good GM, and that simply isn’t true. They also seem to fail to take into account payroll when making that argument. That’s more the point I was intending to make.

      • earmbrister

        LW — I consider you one of the more rationale, and knowledgeable, persons here, so I’m not at odds with you. I’m an NL fan first and foremost, so AL happenings and results are on the periphery. Particularly outside of the AL East where I reside. That said, I can be somewhat skeptical of the masses, or Hollywood, labeling someone a genius.

        So, while I was somewhat aware of the moderate success of the A’s, I was unaware
        that Beane has had his teams in the playoffs, on average, every other year. That’s why I tempered my comments to say he has had “mixed” results. Now Walt has his teams in the mix more often than not as well. So is Beane a genius, while Walt is an idiot? That is what is the most frustrating thing about MLB. There’s teams with $ 200 M payrolls, teams with $ 100 or $ 110 M payrolls (like the Reds just recently), and teams with $ 70 or $ 80 M payrolls. I will say that I’m suspect of the results that the Brian Cashmans (more so) and Theo Epsteins (less so) of the world have been able to post versus the non-spending competitors of theirs. MLB needs a salary cap in the worst way, in order to promote competitive balance.

        The prevalent thought amongst the masses, no matter the team, seems to be that MY GM SUCKS, which I find rather lame. Unless you’re the GM of the NYY, the Bosox, the LAD, or the other big spenders; if you as a GM find a way to put your team into the playoffs about half the time, you are doing your job and doing it well. You get your team into the playoffs, and then to a certain extent, it’s a crapshoot. Count me as a Walt supporter, while by no means saying that he’s without error.

      • lwblogger2

        @EARMBRISTER – Yeah, pretty much every city’s fan-base think their GM stinks. Even Cashman has been getting a lot of grief from the Yankee faithful. They usually think the manager stinks too. They think a lot of the players stink. I agree that for the most part the playoffs are a crapshoot and if your a low or mid-market team and you’re in contention, getting to the playoffs fairly regularly, then I think you’re doing a decent job. I’ve not been real thrilled with WJ’s recent moves but overall feel he’s done a decent job with this team. What’s been coming out of his mouth, especially lately though is just…ew!! His recent moves, for the most part have not exactly been what I’d hoped either.

        On another note, thanks for the complement. I appreciate it. There are a ton of really good posters here and the debate is usually thought provoking and intelligent.

  16. Tom Reed

    I am glad that Byrd is a rental for left field and will not block Winker from taking over in 2016. The Reds have to shift gears toward youth or else they will join the Phillies as a veteran old team.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Amen, amen young Tom. Only downside is giving up Lively but I think Walt had to bring in “somebody” to save face. Your point hits the bulls-eye. Anyway, what do we expect Walt to say? “Byrd is going to be mediocre at best and he is a placeholder for Winker.” No one here should be so naive. Okay so Walt comes out and proclaims, “yea Marlon is a great father, friend and husband but is playing on borrowed time”? Please.

  17. Henry Taylor

    Billy Beane wouldn’t touch the Reds job

  18. Art Wayne Austin

    I’ll make one more argument in Marlon’s defense(I’ve really already mentioned it and will expand). Marlon thought he could be the difference in Philly when he signed a two year contract only to find out he was on a declining franchise, he felt betrayed(voiced it), management treated him as a trouble-maker and his numbers, especially strikeouts, suffered. I think he’ll be another Frank Robinson in the latter part of his career. Walt made a mistake with Ludwig but will make up for it with Byrd. Anyhow, Brandon might have another guy to buddy with except Frazier on the road. Let’s be positive, after all it’s not wait until next year it’s next year.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Strange treatment from a team and reaction for a player who is a “true professional” and “plays the right way.”

      So now Marlon Byrd is Frank Robinson? That’s breathtaking. For the record, before he was 37, Robinson had won two MVPs, hit for the triple crown, been to 11 All-Star games, won a Gold Glove, had a career K% within one point of his BB%. Even as good as Robinson was late in his career, he was still producing WAY below his peak years.

      And as far as I can tell, Frank Robinson was never suspended 50 games for cheating.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Love Frank Robinson. Do we know whether or not he ever took greenies?

  19. Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

    It’s one thing to acquire a guy like Byrd and think his numbers from last year are sustainable, as Jockey seems to think, but it is a whole different story to say he’s going to be a leader on this team. I can’t for the life of me understand the need to go out and get washed up veterans (Byrd is to be decided on this) for leadership roles for a team like the Reds. This team doesn’t need outside players that will hopefully just play one season to be leaders. They need the guys that will be there a while longer such as a Mesoraco or a Frazier to be the leaders which I do believe both are capable of doing. Are guys really going to respect someone that is only there for maybe a year and count them as a leader? Maybe I don’t understand how a clubhouse works but if I’m a young player on the Reds I’m looking at somebody that I think I can build a relationship with over a period of more than just one season as a leader. I don’t get it.

  20. Henry Taylor

    I am curious, name one person the reds could legitimately hire that would be an improvement over Walt. I argue no one better would take reds job. Just like when Dusty was fired. The best they could do is price who had a very bad first season.

    • Kyle Farmer

      I would argue that Casey Stengel, Sparky Anderson, Connie Mack, nor John McGraw could have done better with the MASH unit the was the Cincinnati Reds roster last year.

  21. earmbrister

    When WJ compares Byrd to Rolen, he’s talking about both of them being “gamers”. Byrd works hard and plays hard. I don’t believe he’s claiming that Byrd is anywhere near as good a player as Rolen was.

    I don’t understand all of the negativity when it comes to the Marlon Byrd acquisition. He’s here as a bridge to Jesse Winker. Byrd is a veteran who will not block Winker’s progress to MLB. He comes to the Reds at very little cost in the way of prospects and cash. Mid market teams need to be creative when filling out their rosters, and this move gives the Reds a potent bat in LF until Winker is ready.

    Byrd’s 2014 season was above average, and even his “dreadful second half” was simply league average.

    Byrd’s 2014: .264/.312/.445/.757

    NL League Avg: .249/.312/.383/.694

    His second half: .265/.308/.391/.699

    The Reds haven’t had a legit bat in LF since 2012. Byrd’s bat should play well in GABP and in the Red’s lineup. Winker’s bat should play even better when he takes over from Byrd.

    • RedAlert

      I don’t think it’s so much about that – it’s more about all the ” leadership for younger players ” mularkey that Walt continues to feed the fan base – it’s weak and overplayed – just stop !!!

      • RedAlert

        And when I say stop , I mean enough is enough Walt – just don’t say anything – cause you have worn this excuse out

      • earmbrister

        So, Walt Jocketty, the face of the franchise, should just plead the fifth during the countless interviews and public appearances that he is expected to make. Yeah, that makes sense.

        Baseball is full of it’s own jargon, much of it meaningless. In fact if you look up the word jargon you get the following definition from Wordsymth:

        technical or specialized words or language, as of a science or profession, sometimes considered to be unnecessary or confusing.
        To be a successful lawyer you have to know all the legal jargon.
        “A can of corn” is baseball jargon for a fly ball that is easy to catch.

        So, talking about an older player’s veteran leadership would be par for the course.

        Maybe WJ should say this following some future acquistion:

        Yeah, our newest acquisition’s best years are well behind him, but he was all our budget could afford. All we can hope for is that he somehow limps through the season without dragging us down too much.

        As for wearing “this excuse out”, I’m not quite sure where you’re coming from. I personally don’t think WJ has anything to apologize for in bringing Byrd in as a bridge to Jesse Winker. He landed an above average hitter for a mid level prospect and has Philly paying half of his salary for 2015. Byrd’s a good fit for what the Reds need.

        LF has been a weakness for the Reds for two seasons. Byrd should solidify it until Winker takes over.

    • RedAlert

      The “leadership for younger players ” lame excuse is what Walt uses every time he makes an acquisition or trade of this sort for an aging veteran player – and yes , he has previously used this as a reason before – – I’m not saying that Byrd won’t help , but the leadership crap is overblown – it’s not like this team is full of rookies at this point – it’s just “Waltspeak” > doesn’t hold water in this instance

      • earmbrister

        You didn’t address either of my points:

        (1) What should Walt say in the countless statements he makes upon signing a veteran player, and

        (2) I don’t understand your insistence that his comments are somehow an “excuse”.

      • RedAlert

        1- Anything OTHER THAN “leadership for younger players” comment thst he uses in that circumstance (especially when it doesn’t really apply )

        2- excuse is another word for reasoning – how’s that for jargon

      • Henry Taylor

        Earn rustler, you are right. What else should Walt say? Reds made bargain basement trade and is trying to make it look as goid as possible. It’s like finding a pair of jeans girls $5 that are old and worn. You defend the purchase by saying at least they are blue.

      • redmountain

        It is called rhetoric and it is used by everyone who speaks in ;public

    • Tom Diesman

      You are correct that his 2014 second half was league average. But let’s remember that league average includes pitchers, PH, SS, and C who don’t hit well. Byrd on the other hand played RF last year, and is slated to play LF this season. These positions are typically the 2nd and 3rd best hitting positions on the field. Average for them last season was RF=.743 OPS and LF=.725 OPS. This is was prompts the “dreadful second half” comments. When you factor in his age, his .699 second half could very realistically be his new norm, as Steamer 2015 projects him at .694. This is what prompts the negativity. It could work out ok as a one year bridge if Byrd, who appears to stay very fit, can buck the odds and provide the Reds with a decent (.730 OPS maybe) one year bridge to Winker. It’s not a bet I would have placed however.

      • earmbrister

        TD — When I compared Byrd to the NL league averages, I did so knowing that it wasn’t position specific (so I expected someone to push back). It was done in the interest of time. So, let’s use your stats for LF, cause that’s where Byrd will be playing. Byrd had an OPS of .757 for 2014, with a second half of the season at .699. If LFrs averaged .725, what exactly prompts a “dreadful second half” comment? His second half was a fraction, a sliver, or to be exact 3.6% less than league average (or conversely 96.4% of league avg). In my book that’s pretty much league average.

        Now he suddenly could’ve turned old mid season, or he could have just had a better first half. Or his production could’ve been hurt by some minor injury. Or by playing for a lousy Philly team. Who knows?

        But hanging your hat on a half of a season (an average one at that) smacks of small sample size error.

        IMO the Byrd acquisition was a good move. Of course, I was one of the most adamant that “of course” the Reds were going to convert Chapman to a starter a few years ago (shouting down the few naysayers on this very site).

        Time will tell.

      • Tom Diesman

        Looks like his entire 2014 was merely average as well then since his .757 OPS was just a sliver (4.4%) above an average LF. 🙂 Yeah, time will tell. I’ve always liked Byrd, more so when he was a CF. I hope he’s able to produce another decent season, but I will not be shocked if he doesn’t.

  22. Aaron Bradley

    Like I said before Byrd is built like a Mack Truck. I think he can do some big time damage at GABP.

  23. Aaron Bradley

    AND Kudos for the Stockholm Syndrome reference. People think of Reds and think think of small town USA but truth is these are probably some of the most intelligent fans in all of baseball. Everyone here give yourself a big pat on the back, I nominate this as the most intelligent blog in all of baseball. Red Reporter (no offense to them) is filled with quick witted smart-ass types, but this blog is downright cerebral.

  24. Shchi Cossack

    As far as what WJ should or should not say, I would certainly prefer a modicum of respect for the intelligence of Reds’ fans. When WJ proclaimed, “We have a lot of strikeout guys right now. Ideally I’d like to find someone who strikes out less and gets on base more.” I found his insight and forthrightness refreshing and compelling. When he then tried to spin the aqusition of Byrd as filling a need for the Reds, I simply roled my eyes and heard Ronald Reagan’s quaint, grandfatherly drone, “There he goes again…”.

    • earmbrister

      I really don’t think that Walt’s job is to worry about insulting the intelligence of Red’s fans.

      Is that really what some of you are hung up on?

      All of us, yes including Walt, see the need for an increased OBP for future players and acquisitions. As an aside, I see the need for increased income for myself … Yeah, the OBP need for the Reds is quite the revelation. So, WJ acquires Byrd for the great Ben Lively (not to be confused with the great Zach Stewart or the great Dave Seppelt) and Reds fans revolt. An above average hitter, who we are only committed to for 1 or 2 seasons, to fill the LF void that an injured Ludwick couldn’t. Oh, and Byrd was NL league average for OBP for 2014.

      Yeah, there he goes again (improving the Reds) …

      Y’all be insulted while I’ll look forward to a promising 2015 season.

    • Jason

      I think most of us would agree that Walt did not fulfill the need that he himself specified as necessary. I don’t know that that’s the argument people are giving in defense of Walt. The argument is that Walt is not going to stand up there and say something that would indicate they tried to go after someone else, but ended up with Byrd. He’s not going to say that because those are words that players, most of whom have big egos and a lot of pride, would take offense to. It’s no different than when a coach offers up the standard cliches when the team or a player is slumping. Leaders understand that they cannot throw their players under the bus, so they spin it.

      This is standard stuff from someone in a leadership position.

    • Kyle Farmer

      Right on the money. I am normally a Jocketty defender in these parts, but there was simply no defense possible for this.

  25. Henry Taylor

    So replace Walt. Who do you get? You have to hire someone if you fire Walt

    • jessecuster44

      Jason McLeod – Cubs. Dude has done a solid job improving talent. Rangers have a couple strong Asst GMs, I think.

      YOUNG FRESH HUNGRY BLOOD, instead of stuck-in-the-mud, doddering, Walt Jocketty.

      • Henry Taylor

        The asst GM with rangers is now with San Diego. No one with rangers would leave for reds.

      • jessecuster44

        Everyone has a price. You asked for who is out there, I gave you a name.

  26. Tom Gray

    FWIW Jocketty helped Cardinals win NL Central 7 times, NL Pennant twice, and one WS title. He helped Reds win NL Central twice.

    He’s surely not perfect but just as surely, his results have been pretty decent.

    • jessecuster44

      Only care about Walt’s job with the Reds. Zero playoff wins, zero in season trades that were difference makers. Maybe he’s done a “decent” job, but so has Marvin Lewis.

      • Tom Gray

        Both have helped their teams win more games than most (if not all) of us.

      • jessecuster44

        Don’t care. It’s about winning in the postseason. Walt/Bob haven’t done their jobs well enough.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Hard to blame Jocketty for Baker handing the DS to the Giants by refusing to play Frazier and keeping Rolen in to boot a ground ball that should have been an out in game 3.

      • lwblogger2

        I thought that Frazier should have been in over Rolen during the series, but that was due to his superior bat. In all fairness, Rolen’s glove-work was still pretty good, right up until the very end. He didn’t boot too many grounders. We don’t know if Frazier would have booted that same grounder or some other one that would have made a difference. I chalk that booted grounder up to the baseball gods honestly.

      • DaveR

        It isn’t that Rolen booted the ground ball. It’s that the ball was “grounded” by the number 8 hitter (with first base open) and the stud reliever on deck. That was the dumbest move made by Baker

    • Jeremy Forbes

      I do feel the need to point out something about Walt Jocketty and the two NL Central titles.

      Votto, Mesoraco, Phillips, Cozart, Frazier, Bruce, Heisey, Cueto, Bailey, Arroyo, LeCure, Hanigan, Stubbs, and Janish were all important players on the ’10 and ’12 teams that Walt had nothing to do with. He inherited all of them. The majority of the credit for those two NL Central titles needs to go to Dan O’Brien and Wayne Krivsky for assembling that list of talent.

      • Shchi Cossack

        And lest we forget the ownership challenges imposed on the Reds prior to BC taking the helm in 2006 with Marge Schott (1985-2004) and the disembowlement of the scouting organization and the minor league system for the Reds. With BC and WJ at the helm, the organization has stabalized at a competitive level. I just don’t believe that WJ is the GM needed going forward. WJ is not incompetent by any means, but I really believe the game has passed him by and he is no longer as effective as he has been in the past. Some of his ineffectivenes may very well be imposed on him by the owner and transparent to fans, but something in the Reds organizational management is just not effective compared to other organizations with similar budgets.

  27. Carl Sayre

    When looking at what WJ has done since he has been with the Reds the old saying “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear” comes to mind. He has done a lot more that was done the previous 25 years or so. The sows ear is the budget. Trying to remain competitive annually with the small market budget is making a leather purse. Trying to remain competitive over the long run and win a WS now is the silk purse.

    • jessecuster44

      WJ screwed up the budget tremendously with the multimillion contracts given to relief pitchers and aging OF/Bench players. Given the $120 MM budget, Walt has essentially made a sow’s ear out of a silk purse.

      • redmountain

        Good argument. You may be winning me over, though I wonder if many of the deals he has made for aging free agents were not Jocketty trying to shore up the club. If your club is not producing prospects you have to buy them and that is always more expensive. He has changed people on that side, as well as, brought in people who have the made them better in the minors. Still, you have given me reason to question some things.

  28. Shchi Cossack

    The one thing related to Byrd’s performance that bothers me most about the Byrd aquisition is the increase in his SO%.

    From 2003-2011 (age 25-33), Byrd maintained a consistent SO%, averaging 16.9% SO% over that period.
    2012 – 20.3% SO%
    2013 – 24.9% SO%
    2014 – 29.0% SO%

    That also coincided with both his aging and his apparent, non-PED aided performance, so an argument can be poised regarding the cause and effect regarding his dramatically increased SO%. Is his bat speed declining with age, resulting in more guessing at the plate to get his bat through the zone timely or is he swinging more aggressively to make up for his reduced, non-PED strength or a combination of both factors? Either way, that increase in SO% represents more than a slightly troubling trend.

    The one thing related to WJ’s performance that bothers me most about the Byrd aquisition is WJ’s decision to not claim Byrd off waivers in 2013 when the Reds desperately needed a bat in LF for the stretch run. If Byrd wasn’t good enough in 2013 to even make a waiver claim for <$200K, how in blue blazes is he good enough in 2015 for $4MM and even in miiddling prospect?

    • Michael E

      The good news is, if he stinks, he’ll likely start platooning and getting days off after two months, or by July at the latest. Then we won’t, hopefully, get to the 550 PA or whatever it takes to get his 1 year option to kick in…we can let him go and not have any money tied to him in 2016.

      If he is solid, say .750 OPS (possible if sandwiched between a healthy Votto and Bruce), with 90+ RBIs, then we’re doggone happy (compared to last years LF crap), and can live with the somewhat uneasy 2016 extension for $8 million I think.

      I think Byrd’s OBP might be so-so or even troublesome, but much like the Phillips 100 RBI blip (due to Choo and Votto on base all the time), Byrd can do the same thing or near it, even as a fading, but decent vet hitter. Phillips wasn’t even good that year, but many saw the 100 RBI and thought, wow, Phillips is a great hitter. NOT.

      • VaRedsFan

        Overall, Phillip’s numbers didn’t look great. But when it counted, he got the run in. He practically carried the team the 1st two months.

    • wvredlegs

      I see what you are saying. That K% goes counter to what Jocketty claimed he was searching for this winter. With that, Byrd’s average OBP, and Byrd’s age, the trade for Byrd made very little sense. Jocketty backed himself into a corner this winter, and the result is Byrd.
      My view on the 2013 passing on Byrd, is that it was too close to the suspension for the Reds to pull the trigger and make a waiver claim. Ownership, more than likely, nullified any Byrd talk back then. I think ownership shot that down from the get-go. Why did ownership relent in 2015, and now go with an older Byrd? The Reds options for LF were quickly dwindling down to nothing. They looked at Byrd’s 2013 and 2014 stats and they convinced themselves that they could squeeze one more year out of Byrd with close to those same stats at a bargain basement rate.
      What to expect from Byrd in 2015? Who knows? Byrd is what he is. He is now the LF for the Reds. We can’t do anything about that. But hope Byrd does have a decent season.
      The thing that bothers me most, is that after the 2010 season, the Reds had an awesome opportunity window from 2011-2014 that they just completely squandered. There is no other way to put it. And that falls directly into the laps of Jocketty and Ownership. The front office has become timid, when aggressiveness has been called for. The only significant moves the Reds made in all that time was getting Latos for 3 years and Choo on a 1 year rental. When just a little more was needed to get over the hump, the front office failed miserably to get the necessary help.

      • VaRedsFan

        Just because you put a claim in on Byrd didn’t mean they had to get him. If a trade can’t be ironed out, he goes back to where he came from. Most importantly, they would have kept the Pirates from getting him.

  29. Aaron Bradley

    What about Skip Schumaker and Jason Marquis? What could Walt possibly be thinking other than some sort of nostalgia for yesteryear. He really gives every indication of bordering on senility. Maybe he didn’t sign Byrd two years ago simply because he was asleep at the wheel because he is friggin old.

  30. Michael E

    I would have preferred Aoki IF he would have signed so cheaply with the Reds, but he only went to SF on the cheap because he wanted to be in that city and with that team. He would not have signed a good deal with the Reds. The rumor early was 2 yrs and $16 million. Hardly a bargain for a mediocre fielder and baserunner with no power, but solid OBP.

    Byrd is a low risk, moderate reward acquisition. While many are steamed about the leadership thing, who cares, we know its mostly fluff. Byrd has pop and unless he gets worse than 2014, his numbers will look good. He should score and drive in more runs simply by moving from the Phillies to the Reds…assuming some solid health that is. If Votto, Bruce, Frazier and Mesoraco have DL stints, Byrd may suffer and we’ll be down on him, but Aoki would suffer too if he had no power (doesn’t), walks or slaps a weak single and is stranded game after game.

  31. jessecuster44

    Maybe Paul Maholm can hit a little.

  32. User1022

    The simple question is this:

    Do you expect Byrd to produce more than 0.0 WAR?

    If so, he is a vast improvement over anything the Reds had in LF last year.

    All of Jocketty’s psychobabble aside, that’s all that matters.

  33. lwblogger2

    I’m not thrilled with the Byrd signing but that’s not the point of this article. The point was the reasons given by WJ for the signing. A lot of folks are saying “Well, what should he have said?” Well, how about this:

    “We feel that Byrd has provided a good bat and solid defense the last couple years. He’s a good fit for our ball-club, plays hard on the field and works hard off it. We gave up a prospect for him so I feel he’s got the skills to help this club in 2015.”

    The above statement contains none of the garbage that Steve M. is complaining about in the article and I believe it explains the signing in a positive light for the team.

  34. Drew

    Who cares what the GM or owner says, all that matters is what happens on the field, Actions…not words is what matters.

  35. pdmorgsPdmorgs

    I to was born in Cincinnati. I grew up in Los Angeles and as a 12 year old kid I became a Red fan and remain so today. Anyone who has known me through high school and through today will attest to that. I am now 69 and as such I subscribe to MLB extra innings so I can follow the Reds. I know a little bit about Cincinnati the city and the Reds.
    I think Jocketty is a good GM. There is not a lot of $s in Cincinnati and other small market centers. Therefore, small market teams can not afford to make many mistakes. The NY teams can and do make a lot of mistakes. LA and Anaheim, all the Chicago teams and others can and do make mistakes but after screwing up they still have a lot of $s left, and that makes all the difference in the world. I will always be a Red fan, win or loose. I appreciate the effort management is making and I appreciate Walt Jocketty whom I have never met.

    • lwblogger2

      Well, I appreciate you being a Reds’ fan and most of what you had to say was a good read.

    • Steve Mancuso

      [Comment edited to remove personal attacks. Please keep comments directed toward the Reds, not the fans or commenters/writers at this site. Might want to lock down the spelling and grammar before accusing others of being fools, too.]