Organizational Rankings: #20 – Cincinnati

The Reds are one of the teams that was really hard to slot on this list. On one hand, I like a lot of the young players in the Reds system. There’s a solid core of home grown players to build around, including a couple of All-Stars in Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. The outfield is as deep as it is talented, and the infield is home to the team’s best current players. There are a lot of things going right in Cincinnati.

However, there are timing issues involved that offer some challenges. The young talent may not quite be ready to overtake the Cardinals in 2010, and by the time they develop, it’s a question about whether some of the veterans will still be effective. Scott Rolen turns 35 in a couple of weeks, and his back is about twice that age. Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo both have pricey team options for 2011 that will likely be declined, and Brandon Phillips becomes expensive after the 2010 season.

Will those four still be on the team when Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Aroldis Chapman, and company start to fulfill their potential? Maybe, maybe not. As much as I like the Reds core, I don’t think they’re quite ready to overtake St. Louis for the NL Central yet. They could pull off an upset, but they’re certainly not favorites to end up in the playoffs in 2010.

So, their best days probably lay ahead of them. But Walt Jocketty will have to make some good moves to replace the current crop of veterans with a group of role players that is at least as effective, if not more so. And he’ll have to do it with limited payroll flexibility, as a good chunk of the money they’ll save by ditching Harang and Arroyo will have to be reallocated towards buying out the arb years of Bruce and Votto.

If the Reds can balance their chances of winning in 2010 with the dual goal of finding new pieces to put around their core for 2011 and beyond, they’ll be in great position going forward. But that is easier said than done, and with the Reds fan base itching for a winner, the team will likely have to make some tough decisions this summer. How well Jocketty handles the transition will determine whether this Reds team will win with this core or if they’ll have to wait for a few more pieces to put them over the top.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Reuben
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6 years 3 months ago

step 1: fire dusty baker
step 2: ???
step 3: profit!

Ivdown
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Ivdown
6 years 3 months ago

Love the underpants gnome South Park reference.

Reuben
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6 years 3 months ago

in this scenario it probably still works even if we remove step 2.

RonDom
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RonDom
6 years 3 months ago

That is made of wins!

Omar
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Omar
6 years 3 months ago

Quite a few high velocity injury prone pitchers with control issues, yet plenty of upside. I like Votto (even though the .372 BABIP last year) and I think Bruce will be a beast. Stubbs is a pretty nice piece too. They’ve got the makings of a wild card contender going on there. They just need some pitching…but I also like Mike Leake quite a bit too. I dunno, I’m not sold on why they’re better than the Tigers, though.

Gary
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Gary
6 years 3 months ago

When Edison Volquez went down 2010 went down the drain too.

DrBGiantsfan
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6 years 3 months ago

IMO, it’s a travesty to put Cincy ahead of San Francisco. The Giants have better current talent and a stronger farm system. As for leadership, how is Dusty Baker any better at developing talent than Sabean and Bochy?

Aside from that, I love Cincy’s young fireballing pitchers, Volquez, Cueto and Chapman, but shouldn’t the Reds be concentrating on developing extreme GB pitchers with the park they play in?

joser
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joser
6 years 3 months ago

A “travesty”? It might be ill-considered, maybe even wrong, but “a travesty”?

There’s plenty of things about the Giants that might rise to that label, but getting ranked behind the Reds wouldn’t seem to be one of them.

slamcactus
Member
slamcactus
6 years 3 months ago

1) the Giants don’t necessarily have better current talent than the Reds. A better starting rotation, sure, but the Reds have upside that could easily close the gap on that front. On lineup it isn’t even close, unless you really think Jay Bruce is going to repeat his .221 BABIP next year. They have two young stars to the Giants’ one and their complementary offensive pieces are far, far better.

2) The Giants’ advantage in farm system is pretty minimal, especially with Bumgarner’s velocity decline looking like it’s here to stay. If I were a betting man I’m not sure there’s a limit to how much I’d put on the Giants ranking considerably lower in BA’s organizational rankings if they re-drew them today. Also, Aroldis Chapman A) wasn’t considered in BA’s rankings at the time the book went to press and B) is looking far better than anyone expected. Most importantly, though, the Reds are a good bet to graduate two guys who can help them right now (Chapman and Heisey), while the Giants are preparing to block Buster Posey from a full-time job for at least one more year.

3) and most important, divisional context is taken into account in these rankings, and on that the Reds are in a far, far better position than the Giants. Two NL Central teams rank behind both teams on this list to one NL West team, but I’ll be willing to bet the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks rate out significantly better as a group than the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers. SF and Cincy are comparable teams, but San Fran has a higher hill to climb.

Omar
Member
Omar
6 years 3 months ago

Disagree..the Giants have one huge advantage, and it’s name is Tim Lincecum. He already has two Cy Young awards to his name and his walk rate declined and his K-rate withstood a drop in velocity. If he stays healthy he’s a Hall of Famer, and that alone can go a long ways for a team. I don’t feel as if the Reds can say that.

slamcactus
Member
slamcactus
6 years 3 months ago

Last point, do you really want to be one of those ankle-biters continually whining about a few spots in one man’s opinions about the overall health of different baseball teams? Don’t be that guy, DrB. You’re better than that.

Jeff Nye
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Jeff Nye
6 years 3 months ago

Have you read his other comments in this series so far?

He’s clearly not better than that.

Mat Gonzales
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Mat Gonzales
6 years 3 months ago

Yeah I don’t know Dr. B, seems like the Reds offense is in a far better position to produce than SF now and in the future. After Posey and Sandoval there isn’t a lot to like there. I don’t know why they are so intent on giving money to guys like Rowand and Huff. But I am sure the good Dr. and I can agree that Rowand is the grittiest, clutchiest player in the game. Let me explain something as well. It’s a travesty my gf is not cooking dinner tonight. It is not a travesty that you disagree with a spot or two in the organizational rankings series of articles.

DrBGiantsfan
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6 years 3 months ago

I’m not really arguing over 3 places in the rankings, since I think the Giants should be top half minimum, top third if you weigh future talent more heavily as I tend to, but we’ve had that debate.

I like the Reds young talent too, but I’d take Lincecum/Sandoval/Cain/PoseyWilson/Sanchez over the Reds collection of young talent, and I still like their farm system even with a diminished Bumgarner, which isn’t a given quite yet.

As for players being blocked, I believe Stubbs and Heisey play the same position as do Alonso and Votto.

Ivdown
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Ivdown
6 years 3 months ago

Problem is that’s all the Giants have. The well gets run dry after those guys plus Bumgarner, but we all know whats going on with him right now. I’ll take the Red’s future over that, especially when Lincecum starts making 15 million a year at the very least and starts taking up 1/8 of the total payroll. Then you look at see that Zito will be taking up just as much payroll space as Lincecum, though in all reality a few million less after a few more years. The Giants won’t have much room to be surrounding those guys you mentioned with much talent, and the Giants system isnt’ flourishing as much as people thought last year.

I’ll definitely take the Reds future over the Giants. As dumb as it sounds Lincecum might be turning into a financial burden in the next few seasons if he gets that gigantic contract he deserves.

DrBGiantsfan
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6 years 3 months ago

I’m not going to go over the details one more time here, but the Giants well does not run dry after Bumgarner by any stretch. I am as confident of that as I am of anything. You obviously have a different opinion. We’ll see how it all turns out in the future, but I am more bullish on the Giants future than at any time in my memory and I go all the way back to 1966!

JH
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JH
6 years 3 months ago

A #4 (at the most) farm system puts the Giants in the top third overall in your mind? Even teams that graduate a historic amount of talent have to fill roughly 2/3 of their roster with players not developed from within.

You’re overvaluing minor leaguers. A lot.

You’re also overvaluing the difference between the #4 overall system and the #15 system. A superior farm system rarely plays out in a huge advantage in wins above replacement in any given year unless you have multiple guys all knocking on the door to the majors at the same time. The Giants don’t.

You’re also ankle-biting. If you plan to argue the Giants over every system Dave lists until the top-10, you’re going to get very, very annoying.

DrBGiantsfan
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6 years 3 months ago

It’s more than the farm system. It’s also the core of young players already graduated, Lincecum, Sandoval, Cain, Wilson, Sanchez. Yeah, if it was either the present core or the farm system alone, You’d be right, but when you combine the two, the Giants are as well positioned for the future as any team in baseball.

If being bullish on the Giants is ankle biting, then yeah, I’m an ankle biter. Feel free to be annoyed!

JH
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JH
6 years 3 months ago

Apparently you’ve forgotten that club-controlled players get more expensive after 3 years and leave after 6.

Cain is gone after 2011. You have 2 more years of Cain as part of that core. Sanchez is gone after 2012. You have 3 more years of him. Also, did you miss the part where he’s never actually been a good major league pitcher? Or the part where he’s yet to throw 200 innings in a season? Counting on Sanchez as part of a young core with upside is like a Mariners fan yelling at an analyst for under-rating Ian Snell. Wilson just had his career year, and he was worth all of 2.4 WAR. He also costs $5 million, and will only get more expensive through arbitration. It’s a very short fall from where Wilson’s currently at to a point where he becomes a pretty big liability. Lincecum’s amazing, Sandoval’s great now but may age poorly, and Posey has tons of potential.

Most importantly, the Giants just don’t have much payroll flexibility. Their window to win with Lincecum is 2010-2013, when he becomes a free agent. Let’s assume we all agree they begin 2010 as a team with an outside shot to make the playoffs, but significantly behind the Dodgers and Rockies. Nobody really considers them a front-runner in 2010, but there’s an outside chance.

For 2011, assuming they keep everyone you just listed as part of the “young core,” arbitration raises mean that they already have about $75 million committed to current talent. At current payroll levels, that gives them about $7 million to play with to acquire outside talent. Do you really think they can compete with current talent plus $7 million to fill out the roster next year? Or even $15 million if they increase payroll to 2007 levels? That’s banking on a level of contribution from guys slated to begin this season in Double-A that not many analysts would tell you is anywhere near the realm of possibility.

If 2011 isn’t the year, for 2012 have to subtract Cain from your core and factor in that Rowand, Zito and Lincecum will combine to cost the team over $50 million by then. I’m conservatively projecting Lincecum for an $18 million arbitration figure, which is a pretty low raise from the $14 million he’ll get in 2011, so it could be even more. Sandoval will also start getting expensive (if he hits like I expect the next 2 years, he could easily earn $8-10 million in his first arbitration season). As for Sanchez, either he’s as good as you think, in which case he’ll also cost north of $10 million by 2012, or he isn’t, in which case he isn’t a good player. That’s 5 players who will cost the team ~$65-70 million. So, unless you really think the farm system will be ready to plug every single hole in the roster by 2012, once again you’re looking at a roster that Sabean will have to fill with 1-year quick fixes like Aubrey Huff.

2013 is the only year where they figure to have much flexibility, once Rowand comes off the books.

Overall, there’s some upside there, but it’s really not a good position for a team to be in. Sure, if every single prospect who will start the year in the high minors hits their upside in the next 3-4 years, the Giants will be a formidable team. The problem is threefold: A) you can say that for every team in baseball except the Astros. B) that never, ever, ever happens. At least 2-3 of the prospects you’re counting on to contribute will be afterthoughts at best by 2012, and that’s if the team gets a MUCH better than average hit-rate on their prospects. C) that’s really the Giants’ only path to contention, because their payroll is much more restricted than most teams.

You really need to stop and take a big whiff of reality. The Giants COULD contend, but there are a lot of teams in a much better position to do so. The Reds are one of them.

DrBGiantsfan
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6 years 3 months ago

Wow! That’s a whole lot of writing to take on somebody you find so clued out and so boring, don’t you think?

1. I don’t necessarily think that Cain is “gone” when you say he is, but if the Giants have to trade him, they should get a pretty nice return in younger, cheaper talent, don’t you think?

2. Last I checked Ian Snell was never a LHP with a mid 90’s fastball and a no-hitter to his credit. Sanchez showed what he is capable of in the second half of last season and appears to have even more upside. Will he ever reach his ceiling? I don’t know for sure, but I’d feel just as safe betting on him as I would Volquez, Cueto or Chapman.

3. As you said, Rowand’s contract is done in 2013 and Zito’s in 2014. Yes there is a 1-2 year window where all the contracts could add up to a whole lot, but the Giants have the financial resources to keep them all if they want to. Again, if they have to trade one of the younger pieces, it should get a nice return in younger cheaper talent.

4. Bumgarner is 20 yo. Still plenty of time to work out the mechanical issues, or undergo TJ surgery, whatever the case may be. The Giants don’t need him right now so they can afford not to rush him.

5. You continue to insist that the Giants talent well runs completely dry after Bumgarner and Posey. I’ll be happy to look back next offseason with you and observe that several of their other prospects have taken big steps up the ladder and they will still have a highly ranked farm system.

I’m very excited and confident in the Giants future which I believe is as bright as any team in baseball. If that annoys you, feel free to ignore my posts.

JH
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JH
6 years 3 months ago

Cain’s a free agent after 2011. If he stays with the Giants it will be at or near market value.

You’re free to be as optimistic as you want. You really seem to have lost track of the fact that A) it takes 25 men, not 7, to make a contenting baseball team, and B) prospects don’t pan out at anywhere near a 100% rate (or even a 50% rate when you get past the elite hitters like Posey). Just don’t demand that someone who’s trying to evaluate teams objectively see the world through the same rose-colored glasses you do.

Ivdown
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Ivdown
6 years 3 months ago

Bud Smith would like to say hi to Jonathan Sanchez.

DrBGiantsfan
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6 years 3 months ago

JH,

Nah, I haven’t lost track of anything.

No team has 25 stars on the team, except maybe the Yankees. What’s important is the core of players. The Giants current core happens to be concentrated in pitching, which I believe you and many others are undervaluing.

Of course I know that not all prospects pan out. What I am saying, and you obviously disagree with, is that the Giants have enough talent on the farm that they don’t need all of them to succeed to still have a healthy infusion of talent to the MLB club for years to come. They also have the promise of continued acquisition of young talent because of the demonstrated excellence of their scouting staff.

As for Matt Cain, yes, I know he is a FA after 2011. I believe that at some point the Giants will either sign him to a long term deal at near market prices or they will trade him. I believe that they are more likely to sign him long term than Tim Lincecum because I believe, based on many comments I’ve read, that the Giants think Cain is better equipped to have a long career. If they end up trading him, they should get a nice haul of younger, cheaper talent in return, so I’m not worried.

Maybe you aren’t the person who accused me of biting ankles, but you sure are biting mine now!

JH
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JH
6 years 3 months ago

A lot of Mets fans would take issue with the idea that a good core outweighs a front office that’s incapable of filling out the roster wisely. And even the rosiest projections don’t give the Giants anywhere near the quality of talent the Mets have had at the top the past 3-4 years. Nobody said anything about 25 stars, but good teams can ill afford more than 1-2 roster spots filled with dead weight. Sabean’s Giants teams have all carried considerably more than that on the roster.

You can be as optimistic as you like about your home team. Just don’t demand that a national analyst sees the world through the same rose-colored glasses you do.

Randy
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6 years 3 months ago

Does anyone else think it makes sense for the Cubs to call the Reds about Yonder Alonso after 2010? The performances of both he and Derrek Lee this season will dictate the practicality of such an proposal, but I think there’s some merit to this idea.

Derrek Lee is a good player, who may well be worth re-signing after this year, but there’s also a lot of merit in not wanting to sink years and dollars into a big, aging first baseman. You could argue that D-Lee is good enough of an athlete to perhaps stave off some of the effects of old age, but there are rumblings that new ownership wants to see some results out of the farm system, and there isn’t an obvious heir apparent to Lee, making the young, roadblocked Yonder Alonso a sensible alternative.

Cincinnati agreed to terms with Orlando Cabrera on a one year deal plus a mutual option this offseason, but there’s no guarantee that he’s the long-term answer at a position the Reds have been unable to stabilize since Barry Larkin retired. With Ryan Theriot progressively moving from extremely cost-effective asset to decent player being paid about market value, there’s a lot of reason to think the Reds would be willing to pay his increasing price tag for the sake of getting a slightly younger (albeit 30+ year old) shortstop who could still easily be a 2-2.5 win player in 2011 and 2012. The Cubs expect Starlin Castro to be ready next year, and they figure to have too many options at second base to pass up on the opportunity to cash in on a soon-to-decline veteran like Theriot.

Alonso was a first-round pick, and he would almost certainly cost more than just 2 years of Ryan Theriot, but the Cubs also have a veteran arm or two (Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzellany, maybe even Carlos Marmol) they could add to the mix, and I think there’s enough depth in their system to form a legitimate offer for the Reds. They’re a team on the cusp of contention, and adding a few solid veterans at reasonable cost would go a long way towards solidifying themselves as perennial playoff contenders. Meanwhile, the Cubs would add a young left-handed presence to an aging, predominantly right-handed roster.

There’s plenty of reason to doubt that an intradivison trade of this magnitude is all that feasible, but I think it a lot of ways it would be a mutually beneficial deal for the clubs involved.

Ryan Theriot, Carlos Marmol, D.J. LeMaheiu/Ryan Flaherty—> Yonder Alonso.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
6 years 3 months ago

I am going to make one last post in this thread.

I probably should not have used the word “travesty” in my original comment. I should have dispensed with the hyperbole and simply said I disagreed. I apologize for that.

I do strongly disagree with the ranking of the Giants at #23. More than that, I really felt the write ups on them were disappointingly superficial, dismissive and lacking in any real effort or insight. You can find internet articles that that Sabean is a chump, that the current team is Tim Lincecum and 24 stiffs, that last year’s 88 wins was a mirage, and that the farm system is barren after you get past Posey and Bumgarner any time of the day or night. In fact, you could pretty much lift that off the sfgiants.com message board on any given day. This is generally a site with great information. I have come to expect more.

The teams I would rank ahead of the Giants include the Yankees(although I abhor their methods), Red Sox, Rays, Cardinals and Rangers. I would rank them roughly in the same area as the Dodgers, Angels, Colorado and Twins. I will not post comments comparing any future organizations in this series with the Giants. I just wanted a chance to point out the Reds as just one example of a higher ranked team that has less current talent and less future talent than the Giants and I believe the same is true for several teams ranked higher than Cincy. I’m sorry if that struck some as “ankle biting.” It won’t happen again, I can assure you.

Go ahead and flame away. This is the my last post on the subject. No hard feelings from my end. I will continue to read this wonderful site and try to contribute to other discussions on other topics.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
6 years 3 months ago

Addendum: Add Phillies to list of teams with clearly better overall talent than the Giants.

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