Friday, November 21, 2008

Great News out of Reds-ville, Affeldt Signs with the Giants

In what looks like a clear win/win situation, the Giants signed Jeremy Affeldt to a two year deal worth $4M per season. The Giants get a very effective lefty who can handle a heavy workload (78.1 Innings in 2008) and the Reds get a compensatory draft pick and salary relief to sign a replacement.

If the compensatory pick wasn't available, then I would have been happy to have Affeldt back on the $8M deal the Giants cut. However, the Giants and Reds weren't in the same situation, as the draft pick tips the scales the Reds gambled on Affeldt last off-season on a one year contract and it paid off in a big way. It's impossible for an outsider to say that the Reds planned to sign Affeldt in hopes of landing a compensatory pick, but one can certainly hope. If that wasn't the plan, then hopefully they can now see the value in churning players. And, hopefully they can see it in a hurry, because they are waffling back and forth on David Weathers.

Before the free agency period began, Walt Jocketty stated that they had made an offer to Weathers and I was none-to-pleased. However, Weathers and his agent stated that no offer had been made. When free agency arrived, Weathers announced that he had "flipped the page" on the Reds and it looked like a second compensatory pick was forthcoming. However, it looks like the Reds are back in the mix, as negotiations are on-going.

One would have to hope that the Reds realize that the draft pick is going to yield more value to the organization than a 39 year old reliever, but the Reds may just choose to ride the value of Weathers right into the ground.

Turning back to Affeldt, his departure opens up a slot in the bullpen for a second southpaw. Personally, I'd be very interested in seeing what Danny Herrera could do as the second lefty out of the bullpen. Billy Bray should be just fine as the primary lefty, but the Reds seem heistant to rely on Herrera. They may well be right, as depth is an important attribute for an MLB team, but I think Herrera and Matt Maloney could both do a nice job out of the bullpen. I'd still like to see Maloney in the rotation, but if he falls short then he could be in the mix for the spot in the bullpen vacated by Jeremy Affeldt.

In 2008, Herrera struck out 9.82 batters per nine innings and posted a 3.50 GB/FB ratio. In 7.1 innings, Herrera racked up 8 strikeouts, 14 ground balls, 4 fly balls, and 4 line drives. Unfortunately, those stats come with a 7.36 ERA, but that is likely the result of his poor luck. He posted a very unlucky BABIP at .415 (should be ~ .300) and LOB% at 58.8% (should be around 70%), so he allowed more hits than was to be expected and stranded fewer runners than you would expect. Admittedly, it's difficult to draw any significant conclusions based on such a small sample size, but I do think there are some real positives there. Best of all, Herrera is a groundball machine, which helped him succeed at high altitude for the University of New Mexico. Of course, he doesn't fit the mold of a major league pitcher, topping out at 5'7" and 83.8 mph. Still, height and velocity aren't everything, so Herrera could be an intriguing fit in Great American Ballpark. But, will he get a chance?


  1. Not trying Herrera as a situational lefty would beg the question of why trade for such a guy. His .206 avg and 1.01 whip against lefties in the minors should give them some confidence. If they want more options, they should look to make a minor league trade from depth at the AA/AAA level.

    On a slightly related note, do you think Mike Lincoln has what it takes to make a big statistical leap this year? I figure he would need to have an ERA in the 3.30 or 3.40 area (when combined with the '08 numbers) to get TYPE B status. I guess a better question is who are the best candidates to earn that status that didn't earn it with their 06/07 numbers? Do you know of any websites that provide that anaylsis for available free agents? Thanks.

  2. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the Herrera comment. If they aren't willing to give him a shot, then why acquire him? Herrera has always brought thoughts of Carlos Guevara to my mind. Guevara was a screwball pitcher who always posted good numbers for the Reds, but never got a shot. The Reds left him unprotected and he was selected by the Padres in Rule V draft last season. Herrera is like Guevara in that he relies heavily on a change-up/screwball type pitch for his success. So, it begs the question, if Guevara wasn't viewed as part of the future because of his reliance on a "gimmick" pitch, then where does that leave Herrera? Is he in the future plans at all? I have my suspicions.

    As for your second point, you might be right. Lincoln could be our best bet for signing a player to a deal who could net us a draft pick after the season. I have been hard on Lincoln this year, but he actually did have a pretty solid season. And, he does do some things rather well. He chalks up a ton of groundballs and has a nice breaking ball. So, if he can take a step forward in 2009, he *COULD* be the guy to net us a draft pick.

    I don't know of any site that provides that type of analysis, especially since Elias doesn't release the formula, so it would have to be reverse engineered, but you are on the right track of what criteria the Reds should be considering. They need 1) a player who was injured or unimpressive in 2007, 2) solid/impressive in 2008, 3) willing to take a one year deal for 2009, and 4) attractive enough after 2009 to garner interest from other clubs.

    In addition to Mike Lincoln, a couple of other guys that look promising are Kyle Farnsworth, Eddie Guardado, and Keith Foulke.

    Farnsworth is FAR from my favorite player, but he was solid in 2008 (4.48 ERA, 9.1 K/9) and can still run it up there 95/96 mph. He has had two season with a sub 3.00 ERA and another season with a sub 4.00 ERA. So, he has the potential to post a season in 2009 that could net us a pick. In addition, he's young enough (33 next year) to be attractive after 2009 if he posts a nice season.

    Another guy that I like and frankly wish the Reds had kept is Eddie Guardado. He posted a 4.15 ERA in 2008 and is another year removed from his major arm surgery. His 2007 season with the Reds was 13.2 innings of 7.24 ERA, so when that drops out he could net a draft pick. Unlike Farnsworth, he's very likable and survives on guile rather than stuff. If he comes back to the non-DH league in 2009, then his numbers could get a bit of a bump. Frankly, I think Eddie could be a better bet to post a 2009 season that would get compensation, however he's likely to be less attractive due to his age (38 in 2009). However, given that he's lefthanded and would likely only get Type B status, any team who signed him after 2009 wouldn't have to give up any draft picks to sign him.

    The final guy on my radar is Keith Foulke. Foulke posted a solid 4.06 ERA in 2008, but suffered from some arm soreness as well and only worked in 31.0 innings. Still, if he posts a solid 55-60 innings of work in 2009, I'd think he'd be a nice bet for Type B compensation. He'll be 36 in 2009, so would still be of interest to other teams. The question on Foulke, of course, comes down to health. Still, he might be the most willing to sign a one year contract for 2009.

    Anyway, you raise a nice point on Lincoln, as he could be the best bet to net us a draft pick. If not him, then I'd consider Farnsworth, Eddie, and Foulke. I'll have to look into it a little deeper, but at the moment those seem like 4 possibilities.

    There are a couple of other guys I'd consider on a two year deal (Fernando Cabrera, etc) who could net us compensation after 2010, but I'd still like to get additional picks after this season.

    Anyway, thanks for the insightful comment.