Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Are the Reds' Offseason Moves Enough?

Is the additon of Ryan Madson, among others,
enough to dub the Reds' division favorites?

Dan Syzmborski wrote a very intriguing column recently implying that the Reds still need to make another big offseason move to be considered the "true division favorites" (it's an ESPN Insider piece, so if you want to view it in its entirety you must subscribe). Nonetheless, Syzmborski got me wondering, DO the Reds REALLY need to add another weapon to their arsenal to claim the NL Central in 2012?

In the article Symborski talks about the disappointment of the 2011 campaign, the club's recent acquisitions, a ZiPS projection chart for notable players, and some possible names for the franchise to consider acquiring. However, these two paragraphs are the most telling of the article, in my opinion:

"The Reds' embrace of the short term, buoyed by the departures of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder from their likely rivals, was furthered by the signing of Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. ZiPS projects Madson at a 3.00 ERA in 60 innings for the Reds with 63 strikeouts. While some of my fellow number crunchers may feel that it's too much money to be paying a reliever, the fact it's a one-year deal and the Reds are pushing for a division makes it a very good idea.

Jocketty has been very
aggresive in his approach
to 2012
In the wake of the Madson signing, ZiPS now projects Cincinnati's mean win total for 2012 at 87, a hair above the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals at 86 wins. While this would make the Reds a very slight favorite in the division for now, given the team's focus on 2012 and the large margin for error when predicting the future, the team really shouldn't stop now. With the NL East looking very strong, second place in the NL Central is more likely to be a consolation prize this October rather than earn a wild card."

Basically, the writer is saying what GM Walt Jocketty and Cincinnati has done so far is great, but it's not good enough. Being that the club has already appeared to go "all-in" for next season, why not go a little further and shore up any doubt of their legitimacy as not only a playoff contender, but a World Series contender as well? One word: MONEY.

According to the handy payroll database from baseballreference.com the team already has $67.2MM committed to 11 players next season, although this doesn't include the deals agreed upon Tuesday with Homer Bailey, Bill Bray, or Paul Janish yet. However, that's still a huge chunk of payroll already on the books -- especially when you consider the club still hasn't come to terms with several players who factor to play crucial roles on the team in '12 (Chris Heisey, Mike Leake, Drew Stubbs). With the available payroll for next year shrinking fast and the organization's cupboard of top prospects being bare, the luxury of adding another impact player to the mix is simply not there.
Can Latos be the formidable ace the
club envisions him to be?

While I'd love to see the Redlegs make another huge splash this offseason, I don't think it's plausible financially, nor do I think it's necessary. The acquisitions of Mat Latos, Ryan Madson, Ryan Ludwick, and Sean Marshall, coupled with the core group of players the team already has, should be more than enough to win this season in a relatively weakened division. But should the squad need an extra boost in their drive to the postseason, there's always the trade deadline for that.

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