If you are a subscriber to The Athletic then you need to head on over and read the article from C. Trent Rosecrans on his trip to the Dominican Republic to visit the Reds facility down there. It’s a long-form kind of article that’s going to require probably 15 minutes of your time. But it’s worth it. Even I learned a new thing or two while giving it a read.

Fixing baseballs prospect problem

Major League Baseball is facing a bit of a backlash right now, at least in the circles I’m in. It revolves around the manipulation of service time. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez are not being called up in September. The Twins are also not calling up Byron Buxton. Guerrero hit .384/.441/.633 this season between Double-A and Triple-A. When he reached Triple-A he had a .963 OPS with 50% more walks than strikeouts. Jimenez hit .340/.387/.583 this season between the same two stops, and he actually hit better in Triple-A with a .368/.409/.618 line.

There’s no argument that suggests either player can’t help their team right now. And there’s no real argument to suggest that they didn’t earn a call up, either. As JJ Cooper points out today, Jimenez is even on the 40-man roster, so the White Sox wouldn’t even need to make a roster move to call him up. We all understand WHY the teams do this. But that doesn’t make it right. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be upset that the fans are being robbed of seeing the best players play, or that the players themselves are having their future earnings taken away from them because of this. Cooper’s article that’s linked above he notes this:

Figuring out a better system will not be easy, but it’s time for baseball to realize that the current structure is bad enough to require a massive rework. Any new system will not be perfect, but the present system is so illogically imbalanced that almost anything else would make more sense.

He’s not wrong.

Being honest about Homer Bailey. Sort of

John Fay had some notes on Tyler Mahle and Homer Bailey yesterday for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Some of that came from the mouth of manager Jim Riggleman. And it feels like a little bit of honesty, and a little bit of “let’s make something up”. First, the honesty:

Reds Interim Manager Jim Riggleman knows that Bailey’s status is on the mind of a lot of people in Redsland. Riggleman referred to Bailey as a “lightning rod.”

“There’s no getting around the commitment we have to him,” Riggleman said. “There’s a financial commitment. That certainly has something to do with it.

The commitment we have to him. The financial commitment. That’s literally got everything to do with it. There was some honesty in that quote. Which was great to see, because you usually don’t see that.  But it was followed up by this:

“But it’s not like you have five other guys who are lighting it up. If we had five other starters who were head and shoulders outperforming Homer, it would be different.

“We don’t really feel like we’re putting Homer out there at the detriment of some of our younger starters.”

Say what now? The Reds have lost every single game but one that Homer Bailey has started this season. Tonight will be his 20th start. He’s got the worst ERA in baseball among qualified pitchers. By a wide margin. There’s no argument that he should still be starting.

Why does there need to be “five other starters who are head and shoulders outperforming Homer”? He’s one guy. He takes up one spot. There only needs to be ONE guy that is head and shoulders outperforming him. And there is. In fact, there’s more than one. Tyler Mahle’s ERA is more than a run lower in the Major Leagues this season. He’s even made more starts. Sal Romano’s ERA is 0.78 better than Homer Bailey’s this season. He too, has made more starts. Those guys are, as Riggleman says, head and shoulders outperforming him.

It’s time. It’s past time. I have nothing against Homer Bailey. At all. I’ll never begrudge him for the contract that no one forced him to sign. I’ll never complain about the money he made while he was injured or be mad that the Reds could have spent it on something else. But it’s time to move on from Homer Bailey starting for the Cincinnati Reds. It was worth giving it a shot as he came back this year. But it’s been a failure. In the last three seasons he’s started 43 games and thrown 215.1 innings. His ERA is 6.31 in that span. Whatever it is that you (Bob Castellini) imagine is coming, it’s not. Put someone else out there. The money is spent and it’s not coming back whether he pitches or not.

Joey For Prime Minister T-Shirt

44 Responses

  1. Shawn

    I agree 100% on Bailey. He was injured. If he hadn’t he may have lived up to his contract. No one forced the Reds to offer him the contract. No one, if in Baileys place, would give the money back. I don’t know why all the hate for Bailey.
    That said. The money has already been spent. Giving him starts don’t get the money back. It takes starts away starts from players who need the experience and may be able to help us next year. It’s time to cut him loose.

  2. PickleRiiiick

    I don’t subscribe to this but…the thought could be that HB can help next year. That his movement and command will return when he is one more year removed from the procedure. That this is an investment in a happy HB 2019.
    Again – not my theory, but a semi-reasonable person could defend this.

    • Alex Reds

      Even if true or a reason, why not put him in the bullpen this year as he’s clearly not getting better, and you can only hope for a magic offseason. The Reds would only be 3 games under .500 instead of 21 games under .500 if Bailey was replaced with an average starter who goes .500 in their starts.

      • George

        We tried to put him in the bullpen and he said screw you. Then we said ok you have to go to Louisville until you get things right at which time we invented the mythical knee injury so he could save face and do some rehab starts. When those were used up we brought him back and inserted him right back into the starting lineup because our leadership is a bunch of chickens. and weak. Of course I have no proof of this but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck………….

        It’s really hard for me to believe that there is anyone in the front office walking around thinking they are doing a good job and justifying their position and salary. Yes we made a few great deals in the past but the majority of decisions being made make no sense at all, especially in the player development area and roster management. Maybe there is an off season plan but its hard to have faith in whatever it might be.

        Don’t avoid swear filters by leaving a letter out of a word. Just make your point with different words.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    I think the prospect problem could have a reasonable workaround. If you look at the number of years a team controls a player (minors and majors combined, what, 12 years potentially?), there could be a way to structure it so that if a player is called up earlier that the team would receive added years of major league control. Obviously this would require a reimagination of the arbitration process, but it is possible.

    A sliding scale, if you will.

    • Norwood Nate

      I agree. I think there are a lot of scenarios to explore. I wouldn’t mind seeing something like 2 years at rookie salary, 4 years of arbitration once a player has accumulated more than 2 seasons of time. The catch being that a certain percentage of service time needs to be active (no DL). This gets players into arbitration earlier but protects teams from losing controlled seasons to injury.

      Then some form of restricted FA after six years where the club has the option to match your offer or gets a some form of consolation. They could even make restricted FA a thing if you’ve been with your club for more than 4 seasons. This would let the free market set the price, but more teams could decide to keep their home grown stars.

      There are certainly ways to make it better for the players but also still give the team options to keep players.

  4. Kap

    Ownership will force Bailey, no matter what riggleman, Williams, krol, or the fans think. And it doesn’t matter how he does. Just the way it is

  5. wes

    Ownership sticking with Bailey has left a sour taste in my mouth. I won’t spend a cent on anything Reds related as long as he’s on the team bc there’s no way you can be taken serious as a franchise trying to compete when your opening day starter is the worst player in major league baseball!

    • wes

      Just keeping it real about the first half of this article-

      The players association is an absolute joke! You think Reds ownership is terrible? They look like the Yankees on steroids compared to players association.

      In fairness, the system the players agreed to once upon a time started them down this road, but to think you are going to get a fair shake by putting an active player up to negotiate with some of the richest people in the world is absolutely absurd!

      All the rules and unspoken guidelines keep getting the owners richer and richer while players, at this point in time in the game, are actually getting poorer! International players are capped severely from just a year ago being able to sign for an unlimited amount, young players are intentionally being kept down as mentioned above, and then there is the free agent market where once talented players made their way finally- now see their value drastically diminished bc they are tied to a draft pick. Think about that- wait til 28 to become a free agent, arrive and promised 10’s of millions, then your market shrinks bc a 1/2 a dozen teams or even 2 dozen teams refuse to give up their first pick. CLASSIC CORP AMERICA TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE WORK FORCE.

      As for a solution- there is none. Players can sit out two years and owners won’t give up all that control. Maybe hire a slew of the best 3 dozen lawyers in the US that’ll take on the owners, but outside of that- something very similar to this will stay in place and if rules change- the owners will surely benefit from it.

      • ohiojim

        And the players association has just hired a kick butt litigator to be in charge of negotiations.

        Check your seat belt and make sure your chin strap is pulled tight.

      • Tseramid

        Hang on a minute. Why would the player’s union take this particular fight on? The role of the union is to protect their union members. I don’t know when the players begin their membership of the union, but I would guess it would occur at about the time they become MLB players. Why would the Union go out on a limb to protect International Players or even Minor League players who are not part of their group? They have shown no interest in the past to protect Minor League players. In theory* the money that is not spent on International Players could/should be redirected towards tenured players.

        I completely agree that these shenanigans need to be stopped and the players deserve better than this treatment, but I do not believe that the Player’s Union is the one that will step in on this one. Perhaps they should — but I don’t think that they will.

        * – Theory yet to be proven correct, but you get my point.

      • Doug Gray

        When you join the 40-man roster you are a part of the union, even if you aren’t in the Majors yet.

        And you’re right – they’ve never done a thing to protect the minor leaguers and they’ve actively worked against them to get more money for themselves (and other things). But maybe we’re finally reaching a point where they will because too many guys that are finally to the point where the MLBPA will actually listen to them have been screwed over by this service time manipulation and they’ll make a point of it.

    • Tony Cloninger

      I agree that ownership is giving 1 big middle finger to the fans who are sticking by all this.
      The obtuse arrogance reminds me of classic Mike Brown circa mid 90s and heck how about just 1992-2002 idiocy.

  6. AirborneJayJay

    In regards to Homer Bailey, you wonder if the Reds front office could find a team that needs an innings eater for next year while their team undergoes a rebuild. Something similar to the Dodgers and Braves last year or a couple of years ago when the Dodgers traded Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, and Brandon McCarthy to the Braves. Seems to have worked out for both teams with payroll and their rosters. It isn’t quite the same situation but similar.
    Can the Reds pay about $22M to a team to take Bailey on with his $23M owed for 2019 and a $5M buyout on a 2020 team option. I thought the Orioles might need a pitcher to take up innings next year, but they have to deal with Alex Cobb’s bad contract signed last winter (3 more years and $43M on it) and Chris Davis’s contract (4 years and $85M on it) to contend with. However, they did pare a lot of salary off of the books for 2019. If the Reds pay the Orioles about 80% of what Bailey is owed it might work. The O’s will need some pitchers. Castellini can save a few million $$$ this way instead of an outright release of Bailey.

    • ohiojim

      I’ve thought for some time that’s the Reds strategy might well be to pay enough move Bailey but hopefully get the team taking him to accept the $5M 2020 buyout. But the catch is that Bailey has to be pitching well enough to fill a backend rotation spot which is isn’t and at this point it is fools gold to presume he might.

    • AllTheHype

      There aren’t many teams, if any, that would commit a ML ROSTER SPOT to Bailey if the Reds traded him (which is what they’d have to do since he can’t be optioned), let alone pay more than $0 for such. Eating innings with a 6.3 ERA (below replacement level) has no value whatsoever.

  7. MK

    As it is about the money, and it is, the only way to show our displeasure is to not buy tickets and show up to games he is going to pitch.

    • B-town Fan

      I don’t know what website I saw it on, a couple weeks ago, it was on a forum. This person seemed to know some inside info, sounded like he knew what he was talking about but who knows for sure.

      This person said that there is no way the Reds where going to release Bailey and have him pitch for another team while they are paying his salary because that would invalidate the insurance policy they have on him. That’s the first I’d ever heard anyone mention insurance on Bailey. The insurance policy would pay out if Bailey got hurt sometime between now and I seemed to remember it said in June sometime. But basically saying that the Reds ideal scenario would be for him to get injured now or early in the season next year, a season ending injury, but that if that didn’t happen then they would cut him sometime after June.

      I didn’t take it too seriously at the time, but I did file it away, and it has made think more and more about what the Front Office is thinking about the situation, and what is really going on behind the scenes. There were also some odd things going on during his first 2 starts after coming back from the disabled list this last time. It seemed to me odd that Riggleman allowed Bailey to pitch deep into the game in fact over a 100 pitches, and in one game he went into the 8th and well over 100 in fact it was like 118 or so. I thought that was odd to do that with someone coming off the disabled list, and with Riggleman normally quick to the bullpen. I don’t know, but some things to think about.

    • AllTheHype

      If the Reds give Bailey ANY starts next year, then he’s costing the team MORE then just his sunk cost, and that would be gross mismanagement of the franchise.

  8. Colt Holt

    You lost me on the one vs five comments. He isn’t talking about five guys not in the rotation being better than him. He is implying nobody currently outside looking in has stood head and shoulders over him pushing for his spot. Regardless of the love for prospects and what they may be, the statement is true. Homer bailey has proven in the past to be a top of the rotation starter. There is nobody proving that they have any higher likelihood of reaching that ceiling next year.

    • Doug Gray

      Nolan Ryan has proven in the past to be a top of the rotation starter, too. Doesn’t mean he is now. Or that he’s going to be in the future. Homer Bailey was last a good pitcher in 2014. Since then he’s literally posted an ERA over 6.00. He’s not turning into who he used to be.

      • Colt Holt

        Unfortunately for the reds, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan and others haven’t been much better over that period. Tyler Mahle has had his moments and could be a Mike Leake clone for a few years. Romano has been incrementally better than a 6 ERA, but is a 5 ERA on a guy with upside to be a number five something to get torn up over? The fact that Homer is still there, and evidenced by Rigglemans comment, is that someone in the organization believes the reds best chances of competing next year are with Homer Bailey re-emerging. If Sal Ramano pulls it together and puts in 160 innings of 4.50 era ball, the reds are still lacking the guy to anchor the top. That person that believes in Homer might be the owner, but there is no evidence this team is worse off in the long run because Homer Bailey is still starting. There is just no prospect proving he is ready to step in. All prospects in the conversation have gotten significant opportunity and haven’t run with it.

  9. Krozley

    In regards to service time, I would get rid of the partial season calculations. If you are on the active roster more than 45 or maybe 60 days, then you get credit for the full season. Then September call-ups wouldn’t waste any service time (if that is their first taste) and team’s don’t have to play the “wait three weeks” at the beginning of each season. I would also have players get four years of arbitration starting after season two instead of three so the better ones can earn more while in their prime, since teams seem to be learning it is unwise to give longer term contracts to most aging veterans. In other words, players get their money a little earlier when it is earned.

    As for Homer, I think he will have at least one more decent year in the bigs, but it won’t be as a Red. I could see a team like Oakland picking him up when he is a free agent and him delivering a 110 ERA+ or something while that team pushes towards the playoffs. Maybe he needs to be on a team not eliminated in April for him to regain some interest, sort of like what Cole Hamels is doing this year after moving to the Cubs.

  10. Simon Cowell

    I agree the serbice time issue is a mess but I think a bigger mess is guaranteed salaries. This is where the players union damages the product. Mlb should have a reverse arbitration hearing to lower salaries on underperforming athletes. It makes sense bit I know it would never happen. Just like guaranteeing service time manipulation will never exist. I guess the players cant have it both ways. It is difficult to fault ownership on maximizing the money and time with the youth when you see how players take full advantage of guranteed contracts

  11. The Duke

    Service time manipulation is a big deal to baseball writers, players, and to your hard core maybe top 5% of fans. The average fan doesn’t really give a crap in my experience.

    • Doug Gray

      They care when it’s keeping them from their guy. They don’t care when it’s keeping someone else from seeing their guy.

  12. Scott C

    Back in July of 2016, we had to put our dog down. It was a tough decision. It hurt, one of the few times I have cried over the years, but it had to be done. Bailey needs to be released, he has given the Reds lots of good memories but there comes a time in every baseball career that it comes to and end. Bailey is not going to be better than he is now. It is time to just do it.

  13. Bob Anderson

    The Reds are showcasing Bailey………..or trying too. Riggleman’s mumbling is irrelevant considering he will be axed in 3 weeks. They are hoping they can trade him even if they get a bit of salary relief. Once that fails, they will DFA this winter imo. The Reds rotation is in total anarchy. Everybody has warts. Disco has his permanently stretched elbow that will make him weak to future UCL sprains. Castillo has been wildly inconsistent. Romano and Mahle failed. Harvey is a 5th starter at best and a FA. Stephenson came up with strained shoulder, would still be a ??????? anyway. Guys like Reed and Sims look like bullpen guys who can turn it up a notch in the pen, but don’t have the fastball to start.

    There is a reason why BobCast overhauled the FO this year. It was abundently clear by April, the Jocketty/Williams/Price/Buckley led rebuild failed. Dark times for the Reds. Little hope for the future.

    • Doug Gray

      If anyone is showcasing Bailey and hoping for a trade then they are out of their minds and need to seek help.

  14. Michael B. Green

    I am proud of my patience with the Reds. I see them adding a competitive player or 2 this winter.

    The fact that Barry Larkin and Eric Davis are part of this organization tells me what I need to know. Something tells me that Larkin will have a key role in the resurgence.

    Senzel and Trammell are on their way. Trammell is in the playoffs again.

    We have young, affordable and controllable players.

    If we can land a SP this winter that wears the leader role and allows Disco and Castillo to sit 2 and 3, we’re ready to make a run at the Wild Card next year.

  15. Cguy

    One of the many reasons that there are not 5 guys head & shoulders above Homer Bailey is because hiring “has-beens” as SP is just bad baseball. Riggleman is right. Jason Marquis, Alfredo Simon, Bronson Arroyo, & yes Matt Harvey are not head & shoulders above Homer Bailey. But whose fault is that? Homer Bailey is in the rotation by default. The Reds FO have assembled the lowest form of SP competition in the ML- several years in a row. Had the Reds much quality starting pitching, Bailey wouldn’t be worthy to throw batting practice.

  16. Frederick Jones

    You don’t give a 106 million dollar contract to a pitcher coming off of an injury. How Walt jocketty still has a job is amazing.

    Also with all of you who were peeing your pant about Brandon Phillips contract, what was the fuss about? It’s ok to pay a guy who’s been injured his whole career who was out pitched by mike leake 106 mil, but cry cause the best second baseman in baseball at that time was making what 14-17 mill?

    I guess there are two americas. Jesus. He’s making king Felix money. Top of the rotation money. Never been a top of the rotation guy. Wheres the outrage you all had for Brandon Phillips? At least he produced even to a lesser extent. The media treated him like hot garbage but homer gets a pass. Cincinnati sucks. All of it.

    • Doug Gray

      Who are you talking about? Walt Jocketty didn’t give anyone a $106M contract to a pitcher coming off of an injury. When Homer Bailey signed his contract he had just completed two seasons of 200+ innings in a row. Unless you meant some other contract to some other pitcher.

  17. Doc

    As a family physician who earned about $2.5MM in a 30 year career, you’ll have to pardon me if I have trouble shedding a tear for a baseball player who would make over $3MM in six years at major league minimum before hitting the big(ger) payday. And I didn’t get per diem or meal money, free tools of the trade every year, and the myriad of benefits these guys get.

    Any system that is arrived at by a governing committee will be a bad system, if not right away then just give it a few years. One side will get screwed, and the other will never want to make it equitable.

    I would like to see a requirement that any player acquired by trade during the non waiver and waiver periods must remain on the 25 man roster for a full service year subsequent to the trade, analogous to the Rule 5. I know, never get it through the union, but baseball as a rental activity just lowers it in my opinion, and my opinion of it hasn’t been very high since the first players strike. I follow the Reds, that comes from growing up in Cincinnati and attending games free as a result of playing knothole baseball. Otherwise, I could care less for major league baseball, advanced metrics, guaranteed contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars, and all the crap that goes on today. I’ll attend minor leagues where $6-12 buys me a good seat to watch good baseball ($11 bought me a doubleheader in Louisville) and 25c hot dog night makes it even better.

    $5/month for Doug’s site is the best bargain in baseball.

    • MK

      Doc if you were one of the best 750 doctors of your specialty in the world like major league baseball player are in their specialty then that $2.5 Million might be a little higher. If you are one of the top 750 you are underpaid.

  18. Redsvol

    Keep the faith people. It was overly optimistic to think we’d be competitive this year. The front office can’t force Stephenson to throw strikes, can’t hit the ball for Billy Hamilton and can’t force a team to give them good prospects for players no-one values very much. The offense is fine an may be even better next year. The bullpen has the makings of being very good if they can avoid getting burnt out by June due to inept starting pitching. The front office is going to make some moves for starting pitching. It will be costly, but its the best option now that several guys have proven to not have what it takes to carry the load of a 162 game season. A couple may still develop into a #5 starter but that won’t cut it.

  19. Hoyce

    Doug- do u keep track of the preseason predictions? And specifically the homer bailey preseason predictions?? That would be a real interesting read. Imo. Thanks!!

  20. Patrick

    It is all about the contract with Bailey still being with the Reds.
    Here is my comparison to illustrate the point (Latos vs Homer)
    The difference between Homer and Latos is the LTC. Both were injured at the same time(2014), both were really good pitchers(talent level) and about same age (Latos 1.5 years younger). Latos is out of baseball because he did not get Bailey’s contract (could have been him instead of Bailey) If he did he would still would be with the Reds. If Bailey did not have the LTC he would be where Latos is, on the outside looking in.

  21. Doc

    My pay for my specialty was above national average. What few statistics are kept had me ranked in the top 0.7% in my specialty in my area. But thanks for ‘asking’.

  22. Ron

    Ramblings of a guy who is not a Union lawyer….. I didn’t read all the comments, so maybe this is covered. I don’t blame the teams one bit for holding the players down in the minors and would hope the Reds don’t start the season with Nick Senzel on the MLB roster next year….bring him up when they gain the extra year of control. As a fan of a small market team, I would gladly give up a month in September or a few weeks in April to see him in a Reds uniform for an extra year. Players agreed to the system so they need to live with the consequences. Having said that, I would agree that the system should probably be changed to not allow the manipulation that is going on as long as the teams don’t lose the extra year of control. Maybe September call up shouldn’t count towards free agency service time. The few weeks of service time in April that gains teams an extra year of control is just stupid. Just give the teams the extra year to begin with. However, until the problem is solved via negotiation, players need to live with it and teams need to exploit it.