Over at FanGraphs, Craig Edwards looked at the 2016 relationship between team payroll and wins, and it's a pretty fascinating study. It's one he's looked at in the past, too, and he also does good work by using an estimate for financial clout beyond just seasonal payroll - franchise value - to look at how money muscles play a part in teams being better than the penny poor. I do wonder, however, how much the relative preponderance of teams overtly "tanking" in this particular season skewed the overall results, since it certainly seems that was much more pronounced in 2016 than in years before.
It's interesting to see that study dovetail with comments made by Bryan Price on MLB Network earlier in the week, which Today's Knuckleball noticed. Price intimated that he felt the team had a good foundation but needed "some help" to get back over the hump and into contention, and while it's hard to pinpoint on a single position where he's correct, on the whole it's impossible to argue with him. Initial payroll projections suggest the Cincinnati Reds will be on the hook for roughly $92 million in payroll for the 2017 season (before any trades and assuming they tender all arb-eligible players), and that sits a far cry from the team record payrolls from 2014 and 2015 that sat somewhere in the $115 million range.
Should the Reds choose to move that presumed financial clout into the fold for 2017, pitching would seem to be the route in which they'd spend it, especially if Price's mention of free agents instead of the trade market is to be believe word for word. There's ample amount of improvement to be had in the team's bullpen, where they entered the 2016 season with J.J. Hoover the only reliever making more than $800,000 for the season, and the projected relief market is one of the deeper ones in recent memory. They could also presumably add a back of the rotation arm, I suppose, since that would buy them time to be patient at the start of the year with each of Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, and Amir Garrett for service time purposes, if not for patience with their development. The position player situation seems more crowded, however, especially with the on-the-verge status of Jesse Winker in the OF and both Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera in the middle infield.
Thinking of adding veteran money to this current squad may seem premature, but it fits the mold of the 2009 acquisition of Scott Rolen by the Reds. In a way, it's what the Chicago Cubs did in signing Jon Lester before all their other young pieces fully peaked, since his long-term deal still matched the overall timeline for the rest of the youth movement. Whether it's incremental and relatively mundance - like, say, signing Mark Melancon to be the closer for a few years - or blockbustery - like, say, trading for Evan Longoria, or something similarly completely off the rails - it's at least exciting to look forward to the next major move this team makes, since it'll finally be one to push them forward as what they are instead of to tear down what they once were.
In other news, the four least valuable hitters in all of Major League Baseball since the August 1st trade deadline feature the three most prominent corner OF bats traded and another corner OF whose name was absolutely on the trading block. And yes, one of those is Jay Bruce, the poor guy.
Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra blew up the "things that have happened since the Cubs last won a World Series" game on Twitter today, something we've delved into a time or three here at Red Reporter over the many, many, so many, many years. I got in on the action, and so should you on this loathsome off-day. Remember, if you will, that the Star Spangled Banner didn't become the US national anthem for some 23 years after the Cubs' last World Series title.
It appears the Reds were approached by the Toronto Blue Jays just over a year ago to see if Joey Votto would be available for a triumphant Canadian return, but things failed to materialize once the Reds were asked to eat money on their superstar's contract. The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan has details, but the moral of the story is this: no, Joey Votto may only be worth some $130 of the $179 million left on his contract going forward, but that still means the Reds have a guy worth $130 million over the next seven years. Freeing up payroll is all well and good if you actually have something else out there to spend it on, and right now I can't see anything worth throwing money at more than the guy who's perpetually on-base over 42% of the time.
Speaking of Votto, FanGraphs' August Fagerstrom looked at a recent outing that may well have been the most Votto performance of all time.
Finally, Redleg Nation's Chad Dotson posted an update regarding next weekend's RN/RR meetup at GABP for the Reds/Cardinals series, and it sounds like we're set for quite the afternoon. I know I'm looking forward to meeting some of you fine folks (and high-fiving the many of you I've managed to meet along the way), and even if you're opting to head to the game on your own, make a point of finding us in the sun deck to say hello, too.