Friday, November 7, 2008

2008 in Hindsight: The Affeldt and Fogg Signings

Well, continuing our theme of looking back at the painful 2008 season, it's time to look at a couple of pitching acquisitions, one of which worked out great and another that didn't. So, starting with the former and moving to the latter.....

Jeremy Affeldt

Prior to the season, I thought the Affeldt signing was a good one for the Reds due to both on the field and off the field reasons. Affeldt actually came through in both departments, as his on field production was good enough to earn him a Type B free agent classification.

However, was his production so good as to entice the Reds to sign him again? Personally, I really hope not. In 2008, Affeldt posted a 3.33 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, a 9.2 K/9, and a 2.02 GB/FB ratio. His performance exceded all reasonable expectations, but now is the time to cut bait.

As good as Affeldt was in 2008, the volatility of both the relief pitcher position and Affeldt himself makes him a mediocre bet for long term success. In addition, by re-signing him, the Reds would fail to maximize the value of their assets.

As I mentioned in my post when the Reds signed Affeldt, they need to "churn" players. By re-signing both Affeldt and David Weathers, the Reds would be holding onto their assets for far too long. In fact, they would likely be holding on so long that they would be running the value of their assets into the ground.

If they let Affeldt and Weathers walk for the compensatory draft picks, then they can exchange the value of their aging assets for young prospects to plug in at the bottom of the organization. If they re-sign Affeldt and Weathers, then they are likely to lose the value of the assets when Affeldt and Weathers retire or disappear into obscurity in the future.

The true choice isn't between re-signing Affeldt and Weathers or letting them walk, but rather whether to exchange aging assets for younger ones or to ride the aging assets until their is no value left in the organization.

To me the choice is simple. For smaller market teams, players must be churned to keep the value of the assets in the organization.

Affeldt was a great signing because he could be signed for only one season and had hte potential to net a compensatory pick with a solid season. He had the solid season we needed, so now it's time to cash in on the gamble.

Josh Fogg

As for the Josh Fogg signing, I didn't think it made any sense and thought it could be detrimental to the young pitching prospects. At the time, I thought signing a veteran pitcher instead of going with the younger pitchers only made sense for three reasons, none of which were satisfied by the Josh Fogg signing.

1) The veteran lacks the upside of the prospect, but will provide better production in the short run.
2) The veteran will work more innings and deeper into games than the prospect.
3) The veteran serves as a stop gap to give the younger pitchers more time in the minors to develop.

Fogg failed #1 by posting a lackluster 7.58 ERA in 78.1 innings. He failed #2 by averaging less than 5 innings per start. And, he arguably failed #3 because someone like Matt Maloney was probably ready to step in. Perhaps a case could be made that Fogg filled a need, especially given the injury to Daryl Thompson and the ineffectiveness of Homer Bailey, but Fogg was largely an unmitigated disaster and sadly not exactly an unexpected one.

While the Reds may have been right in wanting additional depth as insurance for always volatile young pitching, they'll have to do better than Josh Fogg in the future.


  1. Affeldt signing for 2 yrs/$8 million with the Giants made clear why signing him wouldn't have been prudent. You get the sandwich pick and the $8 million that would have taken is free to use elsewhere. Worst case scenario is that the bullpen would crash and burn without him but that's unlikely. Good non-signing. I hope they replace him with young pitcher depth and not with a free agent. Same should go for Weathers.

  2. Hey Matt,

    I agree, though I do think the signing is a good one for the Giants, who get a lefty with a power arm who can throw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. That said, I just don't think there is anyway that Affeldt at $4M per season provides more value to the Reds organization than the draft pick.

    As for his replacement, I'd also like to see the Reds turn to an in-house option. Danny Herrera is a guy that I actually like quite a bit. He has succeeded in some tough pitching environments, especially at high altitude in college, due in large part to his heavy groundball tendencies. Personally, I'd have no problem with having him as the second lefty in the bullpen. If not, then maybe it's time to give Matt Maloney a look, though I'd still like to see what he could do as a starter.

    If the Reds choose to go the free agent route, then I'd like to see them bring in someone like Affeldt on a one year deal. Someone who, if he has a good season, could again net us compensatory picks next offseason.

    As much as I like Affeldt, I think letting him walk was a no-brainer.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!!