1. Arroyo pitches well – gets his ERA in the low 4’s. The team does well also and Arroyo is a key part to their success.
2. Arroyo pitches well – gets his ERA in the low 4’s. The team does not do well. Arroyo is flipped to a contender for some quality prospects. The Reds are on the hook for $6-7m but gain his 120 innings + any prospects in return.
3. Arroyo doesn’t pitch well. The team can try to off-load him while eating much of his contract or just ride the season out receiving minimal benefit.
The first two options are the most likely and both are a win for the Reds. The last option would suck but that risk is inherent with virtually any player.
If you are looking at this from a marginal cost/value point of view (how much of an upgrade he is over someone else), then you can’t say the cost is 11million as the variable cost is 9mil (factoring in the 2mil option would have to be paid no matter what). It’s still a lot if you believe he is only worth 1/2 win extra.
But factoring in some of the young guys might be on innings limits, the inevitable pitching injuries, spending 9mil on a pitcher who will probably be between 1.5-2.5 WAR doesn’t seem unreasonable (definitely not a bargain, but not terrible)
The danger in letting Bronson walk is this: It leaves the innings workload on Cueto, Volquez’s surgically repaired arm, Bailey who came up lame mid season, Wood (rookie), Leake (rookie) who came up lame midseason & Chapman (rookie). IMO the $9M is well spent if it means the team doesn’t abuse the young arms the Reds have.
Comment by Brett Moore — October 21, 2010 @ 9:15 pm
9mil on a one-year for 1.5 win pitcher isn’t terrible. Especially for a team that expects to contend, like the Reds; they’ll benefit from the extra rotation depth. And if he does acceptably but is pushed out of the rotation by the youngsters, he’s flippable at the deadline for something, since the one-year deal makes him quite tradeable.
$2M is gone no matter what, so the amount of money to decide whether the Reds are making the right move or not is $9M, not $11M.
Some level of stability is important. Also, you would like to have a vet starter be around to: 1) take some heat off the younger pitchers; 2) be the “ace” of the staff, allowing the younger pitchers to pitch against lesser competition; and 3) people talk about projections like it is going to happen 100% of the time, and they don’t.
Each of the younger pitchers have big question marks about whether they will be able to perform to MLB levels in 2011, so it would behoove them to minimize the risk that some fail. WIth Arroyo, they have 8 pitchers battling for 4 positions, meaning 4 could fail and that would be OK. Without Arroyo, they have 8 pitchers battling for 5 positions, meaning 3 could fail and that would be OK.
Cueto looks fine, but Leake couldn’t last a full season. Wood had a nice season, but can he last a full season. Meanwhile, Homer Bailey failed – again – to fulfill his immense potential that they have been waiting on for years now. Volquez came off TJS, so there are questions on health and whether he can go a full season, LeCure has not gone a full season yet. Chapman is still a question mark, much like Bailey was, full of great potential, but can he fulfill it at the major league level?
And Maloney? Really, to hope that he can be a starter seems incredulous, he has been in AAA for many years now, when they have been desperate for starters (see Homer), has not really done much to impress in the majors so far either.
At this point, they are hoping that they can find 4 guys to fill out the rotation, let alone 5 guys, there are big question marks on all the candidates listed, plus, it would behoove them to keep a vet around to show them the ropes and be a leader. Between Arroyo and Harang, Arroyo appears to have the better numbers this season, and more importantly, was healthy enough to last the whole season, unlike Harang who missed almost 2 months of starts. And $9M is not that much for an average starter in the majors. Plus, they might take a flier or two on vets for $1-3M, see if they can win a spot.
No, the innings workload doesn’t fall on the other starters, it falls on the bullpen. Generally speaking, whether Arroyo goes 3 innings or 7 doesn’t impact whether (say) Bailey goes 5 or 7. The quality of Bailey’s start is the key determinant there.
(Although there is some ancillary effect of trying to “stretch out” the other starters to rest a gassed bullpen, if they have to work 4 innings every night. But again, I would think that’s a secondary factor; the primary determinant of the length of Bailey’s starts, or Cueto’s starts, is how well Bailey or Cueto is pitching.)
Jack Moore, I hope you take notice of the above comments. Missing the 11 to 9 million option is significant. Good luck on your future writing.
Comment by brentinKorea — October 22, 2010 @ 12:44 am
I don’t think FIP alone is a good measure of WAR, the other WAR has him at 2.3 BTW. Cut the difference between the 2 and that’s 2.0 WAR.
Arroyo has always had a relatively high FIP. Despite this, over the last 4 years, he is 8th in IP, 3rd in GS and has a 104 ERA+.
9 million does not seem like a bad deal for the Reds given the uncertainty of projections and the poor FA market
Sometimes you have to consider how consistent a player is in preventing runs and his durability which enables him to eat up innings. The Red Sox did not like his FIP in 2005, and traded him for Willy Mo Pena at the start of the 2006 season. The 2006 season was a lost season in part because the Red Sox ran out out SP’ers. This taught Theo a good lesson, you can never have too much starting pitching. Most teams need 7-8 to get through a season.
Since then, depending on your preference for WAR, despite a 4.51 FIP he has produced 12.6-15.4 WAR with an 111 ERA+, making the most starts and 4th most IP in MLB, and costing only 31 million (2-2.5 million per WAR).
Another strong consideration here is if the 9 million in savings could realistically be used in other areas.
The Reds two big weaknesses are at SS and in LF. Certainly none of the top corner OF free agents can be had for that little. A trade for a guy like Matt Kemp would be a possibility, but Walt Jocketty’s hands are tied because he can’t afford to trade away any young pitching if Arroyo is gone.
There aren’t any attractive FA shortstops, and not many teams are looking to trade one, so I’m not sure that the 9 million saved from declining Arroyo would really be effectively used anywhere else. And like people have said already, having all of that young, cheap starting surplus makes for some really attractive trade chips.
As we saw this year, their young arms are susceptible to wearing down, and in the playoffs, they need reliable starting pitching (and fewer defensive lapses). I don’t think that $9m on a 1 or 2 year deal can bring in a comparable starter that you’d want to give the ball to in the playoffs – with that ballpark, I think it’ll be hard to lure guys with short-term deals.
Wait… what? I think the Reds should pick up the option, for the record, but they easily have six starters who should be MLB ready in the spring. There is also Chapman who is still a bit of a wild card. It’s doubtful that everyone will be healthy all year, but saying the Reds are going to have trouble filling the rotation indicates you are not familiar with the team.
That said, I don’t know why Maloney and LeCure are mentioned in the article. They are only emergency-type starters.
According to what I’ve read from the beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, the option/buyout is differential is actually 11 million, not 9. This is because Arroyo hit escalators in his contract that pushed his option to 13 million (with the 2 million buyout remaining static, thus increasing the marginal gap from 9 million to 11).
Arroyo is well liked in the club house, dependable every 5 days, and has been a good mentor for players like Cueto and Leake. That savvy “veteran-ness” is overlooked in projections. Just thought it should be mentioned….
I’ve always felt that durable yet mediocre innings eaters get the shaft when it comes to WAR. Sure the value of their high usage is only ok but unlike a starting LF or 3B the guy the SP is replacing with his innings (a 6th starter or a mop up man) is more likely to actually be replacement than a back-up or utility position player.
WAR undervalues guys like Arroyo or Randy Wolf for this reason.
Comment by The Nicker — October 22, 2010 @ 1:08 pm
I wouldn’t say the Reds can expect “quality prospects” in return. Look at the Cubs/Dodgers trade involving Ted Lilly, who is a superior pitcher (I’d say Lilly is a 2 or 3 on most MLB rotations, Arroyo a 3-5) with a similar contract. Lilly and Ryan Theriot were traded for Blake DeWitt, Brett Wallach (who has some upside but isn’t a great prospect) and Kyle Smit (top end is as a set up guy in the majors, more likely a middle reliever).
I think that’s the top end of what the Reds could expect for Arroyo. Either way, though, the Central is likely a weak division that the Reds should win, IMO. The Cardinals are the only other contender, and they really can’t afford to add anybody of significance with Pujols, Holliday, Wainwright and Carp taking up so much of their budget and needing to save money for Pujols’ new extension.
Reds have quite a bit of potential and talent in their starters, but there is a lot of questions, which is why I think bringing back Arroyo for next year is an automatic. Arroyo is consistent, maybe not great, but he is there every fifth day. Often even when he has a bad start, he can push it out and stick to the 5th or 6th to save a bullpen. Cueto is the only starter to throw a full season last year and he is inconsistent. Volquez is coming off Tommy John surgery. Bailey and Leake both missed time with injuries and were hot and cold last year. Wood only has a 1/2 year in the big leagues. At this point, you can’t even really say that Chapman is ready or will be a starter in the mlb level. None of these guys have really shown the ability to get past 6 innings on any regular basis. Arroyo is glue to the staff, he’s going to hold it together in the middle. Even still, I don’t know that 200 innings at what he can do is that terrible for the 11 million he costs.
I think Chapman and maybe one of these guys ends up in the bullpen, which would boost up that part of the staff.
As for LF, I still wonder if the Reds might try to sign Votto up for long term deal working in with a shot at moving him to left with the possibility of using Yonder Alonso at 1st, who by all accounts doesn’t have the speed to play the outfield. Votto has the footspeed and did play left some in the minors and with the Reds when he first came up. If they think Alonso is a real deal at the plate, that is an option, if the deal for a corner outfielder for trade doesn’t happen.
I agree with everything you have said about arroyo being such an important aspect of the reds pitching staff. It seemed like he was always getting the win immediately after the reds had just lost a game. He was their stopper last year.
However, moving votto to the outfield would be a bad decision. He is becoming a gold glove caliber first basemen, which would definitely be a step in the wrong direction with alonso at first. Plus moving votto to the outfield could mess with his head and who wants your superstar in an uncomfortable position?
Ah, I see he said quality, then any. I agree, that there wouldn’t be any “quality” coming our way unless the other team was deranged, desperate, and/or not paying a penny of Arroyo’s remaining salary. It would also have to be a case of Arroyo pitching extremely well while the team fell out of contention. Not impossible, but a lot to expect from a regression candidate.
The Arroyo signing would appear to have a lot more to do with personality and makeup than anything else. He has a rep as a professional who’s well prepared for games and who doesn’t flap easily. I think Jack is right on the money in his analysis that picking up the option isn’t without risk, but it’s also not some crippling decision. There’s something to be said for continuity when your team is a young-ish one.
Agreed on Votto to LF. As tempting as it is for fans to contemplate, I don’t see him being moved, especially not to accommodate Alonso (who is perfectly fine, but not a guy you do that for). I actually read a note this weekend saying that Frazier was considered one of the best, if not the best, LF prospects in the system now. The same note said that some in the Reds org don’t like all the moving parts in his swing, so don’t expect miracles, but we have in-house options that should be tried first out of necessity. I’d much rather spend the first half giving time to Frazier and Heisey. If it doesn’t work out, explore your options later in the season.