Organizational Rankings: #24

Today, we move out of the bottom five, and start looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres

#24: Cincinnati Reds

Ownership:: B-

The Reds have transferred hands more often than most baseball franchises, but under Bob Castellini, they finally have some stability. They’ve increased their payroll since moving into the new park and have a budget that would support a contending team. They’ve attempted to re-establish a connection with the fanbase, going so far as having Castellini publish an open letter to the fan base apologizing for last year’s team and promising better results in the future. That said, there been some snags along the way. Castellini mishandled the GM situation by hiring own friend Walt Jocketty to serve as an adviser while keeping former GM Wayne Krivsky theoretically in charge. It became pretty obvious, however, that his days were numbered, and he was fired a few weeks into the ’08 season. Not really the best way of handling that transition.

Front Office: C

This is going to seem like a harsh grade for someone with as good of a reputation as Jocketty, but while he’s certainly got some strengths as a talent evaluator, he brings a bit of baggage as well. When the Cardinals attempted to join the 21st century of analytics, he wasn’t very receptive to the ideas of Jeff Luhnow and helped create a divide in the St. Louis front office that eventually led to him leaving. He’s fairly set in his ways, and while the Reds could use some advancement in their analytical techniques, they aren’t likely to come while Jocketty is in charge. He’ll do a pretty good job of putting together a roster, but he’s not going to create sustainable long term advantages that can make up for their mid-market payroll size.

Major League Roster: B-

The core of a really good team is in place. Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto – that’s a very good group of players to build around for the future. And there’s some ancillary talents that could still make an impact as well – guys like Homer Bailey, Edwin Encarnacion (if they’d just move him to LF already), and Jeff Keppinger could make positive contributions above what their track record shows. The question, though, is what direction do they want to go in? On their face, this team isn’t good enough to contend in 2009, but they’ve got significant assets tied to Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, and Francisco Cordero, who are just better fits for a contender than a rebuilder. But if they trade those guys, then there isn’t enough good talent around the young core to avoid a lot of losses. It’s something of a dilemma that Jocketty and company will have to figure out.

Minor League Talent: C

Yonder Alonso is a terrific young player, but he also presents a problem for an organization that already has Joey Votto and lacks the option of a DH. You’d like your best prospect to not be blocked by one of your best young players, ideally. Beyond him, Todd Frazier can hit but no one is sure where he should play (I vote for third base, personally), and while Drew Stubbs has done a great job of making better contact, there are still questions about just how much he’s going to hit in the majors. There’s virtually no upper level pitching in the system, either, which makes it tough to replace Harang and Arroyo if they do decide that dealing them is the way to go.

Overall: C+

There’s actually a pretty big gap here between the Reds and Padres, so don’t look at their placements next to each other on the list and think that I’m saying that they’re in comparable shape. Trying to sort out the next ten franchises was tough, and the Reds are closer to being in the top 15 than they are to being 30th, even though they land at #24. With a good ownership group, a good young core of talent, a new ballpark, and a GM who is fairly adept at building a major league roster, there are things going right in Cincinnati. Can they consistently contend in the NL Central going forward without upgrading their analytical departments and having a mid-level payroll? I’m not sure, and that’s why the end up here.



Print This Post



Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Gina
Guest
Gina
7 years 5 months ago

I would think any Reds fan who heard Bakers comments about being excited about having young guys he could teach to play baseball the right way, would be scared out of their mind about the future.

JLP
Guest
JLP
7 years 5 months ago

Semantics, but you already moved out of the bottom five with San Diego. And I think the future looks pretty good. Cincy has some solid young talent on the major league squad. Votto’s a beast, and Bruce is no pushover.

ThundaPC
Guest
ThundaPC
7 years 5 months ago

The #24 Organization gets a C+. Competition is looking pretty stiff.

I’m curious about the proportion of old-school GMs vs. new-wave GMs. Actually, since some GMs probably have a mixture of both in them it’s probably a question of how many strictly old-school GMs are left.

Fresh Hops
Guest
Fresh Hops
7 years 5 months ago

While I think that Baker probably gets too much crap as a manager, I feel like he is a bit of a problem for the organization. In particular, he doesn’t understand the limitations of young pitchers and Cueto is a Verducci kid in the making right now. That’s the biggest worry about Baker. The second issue, which is smaller but totally infuriating, is his insistence on guys like Willy Taveras and Corey Patterson at the top of the order; that and Jocketty’s willingness to hire such guys.

(I think the truth is that Dusty is a lot more like other managers than he’s usually said to be. He’s played in some tough media environments where managers are given far too much credit for team failures, and being out spoken doesn’t help diffuse criticism. I’m absolutely not saying that he’s good; I’m saying he’s a lot more like other managers than people think.)

alskor
Guest
alskor
7 years 5 months ago

You just admitted he’s bad at arguably the two most important things a manager can do – setting a lineup and managing a pitching staff.

He’s a good clubhouse guy but a terrible manager.

Fresh Hops
Guest
Fresh Hops
7 years 5 months ago

Pretty much every manager in baseball is bad at setting a line up. The ones who are “good” mostly just happen to have a speedy good hitter as opposed to a speedy bad hitter.

The pitching staff issue is really just about youngsters and, frankly, most of the managers aren’t very careful with young arms. Many managers get a reputation for being careful because they have a bullpen they trust, not because they’re aware of the health concerns. He’s just not that different in this respect.

alskor
Guest
alskor
7 years 5 months ago

and yet Dusty is worse than most at these things…

JLP
Guest
JLP
7 years 5 months ago

“and yet Dusty is worse than most at these things…”

I refer you to one Lou Piniella. Worst manager of young arms ever.

Jacob Jackson
Guest
Jacob Jackson
7 years 5 months ago

Six of the seven worst franchises are NL teams. No argument there.

But do those six teams all have worse shots of contending for a World Series title than the worst AL franchises do?

I’m interested to see how these rankings will reflect the AL/NL disparity…as well as the challenge that all AL teams face in competing for a World Series berth annually against baseball’s two financial powerhouses – Yanks and Red Sox.

The Blue Jays are a better team than most of the NL. But they might have a lower chance of making it to the World Series in the next 10 years than almost all of them.

alskor
Guest
alskor
7 years 5 months ago

1) “as well as the challenge that all AL teams face in competing for a World Series berth annually against baseball’s two financial powerhouses – Yanks and Red Sox.”

The Red Sox had the fourth highest opening day payroll in the AL last season. Further, the relative difference between the Yankee payroll and the Sox payroll – the percentage difference – exceeds that of the difference between the #1 and #2 payroll in any other division by a healthy margin.

2) I dont believe Dave ever defined these rankings as some sort of measure of their chances of winning the world series. Its amazing to me how many complaints ive seen in these threads… and most of them result in a misconception about what these rankings mean. Everyone seems to have their own strongly held opinions on the methodology by which franchises should be ranked…

NickP
Guest
NickP
7 years 5 months ago

1. This is not a review of how teams have performed in the past. This is a forward looking exercise. You can disagree with the ratings all you want, but you should understand that we’re not retroactively grading how teams have done prior to 2009 – we’re talking about how well they are equipped to contend for a World Series title going forward.

alskor
Guest
alskor
7 years 5 months ago

That still leaves a ton of broad interpretations that people are seemingly reading things into…

What would dictate a higher ranking, for instance: high chance of winning 1 world series or setting up your organization for a decent chance at winning a few?

Im not saying its one or the other and I dont believe it has been qualified exactly what the subjective criteria are here. My point is that people keep reading one interpretation or another into it and then criticizing based on their own vision of things…

Jacob Jackson
Guest
Jacob Jackson
7 years 5 months ago

The Red Sox paid a ton of money for Dice-K two seasons ago, which isn’t included in an opening-day payroll figure.

They are clearly in an echelon above 28 other teams in baseball in terms of spending power. The Yankees are in an echelon above them.

The point was, you’d rather not have the Yanks/Red Sox in your league when you’re trying to compete for the right to go to the World Series. And if you look closely, I am using the criteria Dave has put forth. I also am not critiquing his work – I am an extremely enthusiastic supporter of what he does and I’m always grateful.

Just attempting to promote discussion and get feedback.

Matt
Guest
Matt
7 years 5 months ago

The fundamental problem with trying to rank franchises based on their “overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future” is that the four factors being used here are not the complete story. The truth is that a team can have a solid FO, solid ownership, good major league talent, and minor league depth and still have less of a chance to contend for a World Series than a more poorly run team simply by virtue of what division they play in within baseball. Teams like the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays cannot simply strive to be decently run teams if they want to compete. They have to outplay the Yankees and the Red Sox, which means they must be that much better than other teams.

The problem is that a worse organization in the NL might have a better chance of getting to the World Series than a better organization in the AL. We cannot consider these teams in a vacuum, as if every team starts with the same chance of reaching the World Series. That simply isn’t true.

So, while some fans may take consolation in the fact that the Blue Jays or Orioles are “ranked” higher than the Rockies, Padres, or Reds if we’re really talking about their chances to win a WS, that ranking is only partly relevant.

ThundaPC
Guest
ThundaPC
7 years 5 months ago

I think it’s just coincidence that the worst organizations happen to be in the NL and, at the risk of jumping ahead prematurely, the best organizations happen to be in the AL (Boston and Cleveland are practically processing plants for new forward-thinking organizational talent).

That’s not to say the NL doesn’t have any good organizations. The Mariners front office, this off-season, have been completely reshaped by personnel that came from the Brewers organization. It’s pretty safe to say that the Brewers, for example, are in pretty good shape overall.

And ultimately, if we’re talking about the World Series, you’ll have to get by an AL team to do it. Chances are, you’ll have to get by the Red Sox (who have one of the best, if not THE best organizations in baseball) or a team good enough to beat the Red Sox (with possible exceptions).

Russell
Guest
Russell
7 years 5 months ago

I’d bet that the AL owns the next few slots, the O’s, M’s and White Sox are all about due.

Fresh Hops
Guest
Fresh Hops
7 years 5 months ago

Let’s face it: even if the Orioles had the 10th best team in baseball, they have to be better than the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Rays and whoever gets the wild card to have a shot at the WS. Their division is enough to destroy their playoff hopes, not to mention their lack of pitching and a meddlesome owner.

Teej
Guest
Teej
7 years 5 months ago

I’m not going to guess where Dave has them ranked, but the M’s have money and a new front office that, so far, looks to be very sharp. It will probably take a few years, but there’s nothing stopping the M’s from building a contender.

Sentinel
Guest
Sentinel
7 years 5 months ago

Teej,

Though Jack’s methods are yet unproven on the GM front, the only thing I see holding the M’s back is the ownership. While most claims of Howard and Chuck meddling are unsubstantiated fan griping, there is some evidence that they tend to try and influence the goings-on in respect to dealing with players and contracts *ahem*Jarrod and Kenji*ahem*.

Greg
Guest
Greg
7 years 5 months ago

Barring a decent starting rotation, solid positional depth in the minors, and of course being stuck in the AL East, the Orioles, I think, have become one of the better franchises in baseball. 2009 marks the third year in a row they’ve had the hardest schedule of any team in baseball, something I think considerably downplays the actual amount of talent on the roster.

Jim
Guest
Jim
7 years 5 months ago

Couldn’t Votto move to Left Field? I know nothing about his defensive ablilites, so I can’t say much about this, but he is Left Field eligible on Yahoo so I know he must have played some there at some point.

JasonL
Guest
JasonL
7 years 5 months ago

Most people do seem to think Votto could play left. The word “athletic” gets thrown around a lot when people talk about Joey Votto. Alonso can hit, but is apparently not “athletic”. So, to answer you question, yes, and he may be there next year. Expect him or Edwin to be the Reds’ LF of the future.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
7 years 5 months ago

Manager category: F

CF MUST HIT LEADOFF, SS MUST HIT 2ND

Cole Haaker
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

I’ve been in search of and seek for data regarding this for definitely a while now. Many many thanks for the useful insight.

wpDiscuz