What To Do With Jeremy Reed

Dave · December 13, 2005 at 5:43 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Boston Globe reports this morning that the Red Sox are interested in dealing Matt Clement to the Mariners in a deal that would net them Jeremy Reed.

We’re pretty big Matt Clement fans. We lobbied for the team to sign him last year, and a year later, despite a disappointing performance, he’s still a more intriguing option for the rotation than anyone on the free agent market. However, since the Red Sox backloaded his contract, he is owed $19 million over the next two years.

We’ve discussed Reed to death around here. Yes, he had a poor rookie season with the bat, though his glove appeared to be better than most expected. However, he’s shown promise as a hitter, and there’s no reason to write off his offensive abilities after just 500 at-bats. All along, we’ve projected Reed as a .290/.370/.450 guy in his prime, and while he probably won’t hit that well in 2006, he’s a pretty good bet to improve, and he has a chance to imporve significantly. He also will make the league minimum next year.

Clement struggled with his command at times, and missed some time after getting hit in the head with a line drive, but overall, was an effective starter. He’s a groundballer who also can miss bats but you have to live with occassional bouts of wildness. Even in a mediocre-for-him season, he posted a Fielding Independant ERA of 4.08, which would have easily been the best of the non-Felix Mariners last year. So, there’s little doubt that Clement would be a big upgrade for the M’s rotation.

The question, as it was in the Betancourt-Tejada thread, is fairly simple; is the performance upgrade worth the cost in salary?

Lets look at Clement first. We’ll assume he throws 200 innings next year to make the math easy. If you think he’ll pitch significantly better in Safeco than he did in Fenway, we’ll assume he’d allow 80 runs. If you think he’ll pitch about as well as he did last year, that puts him on track for about 100 runs allowed. If he struggles, we’re looking at about 120 runs. So, depending on your level of optimism, you can peg Clement for something like 80-120 runs allowed.

A replacement level pitcher, in 200 innings, would allow 130 or so runs. For instance, Gil Meche would have given up 128 runs if he had pitched 200 innings last year. So, Clement will likely be worth something like 10 to 50 runs over a replacement level starting pitcher. I’d probably peg him for about 35 runs over replacement myself.

Now, for Reed. Last year, he was worth about 5 runs over a replacement level CF with his bat, and, depending on how you evaluate his defense, his glove was worth somewhere in the 10-15 run range, again, compared to a replacement level defender (some metrics have him way better than that, but the more I study Safeco, the more I think a lot of that was the park). So, Reed, even if he doesn’t improve, is something like 20 runs over replacement. I think most of us expect some improvement. If he hits even .270/.350/.400, he’d be something like 40 runs over a replacement level center fielder when you include his defense.

Based on their 2005 seasons, Clement was worth about about 2 wins more than Jeremy Reed. That’s not worth $9 million per season. Considering that, with even marginal improvement, Reed’s a good bet to be just as valuable as Clement will be, there’s no way I can justify swapping the two straight up.

I like Matt Clement, and I’m glad the M’s are looking into acquiring him. But not at the cost of Jeremy Reed.


114 Responses to “What To Do With Jeremy Reed”

  1. Gomez on December 13th, 2005 2:11 pm

    97. Easy, fella. The Texas League ain’t exactly the AL West 😛

  2. djw on December 13th, 2005 2:12 pm

    Nate, I still don’t get it. You seem to be trying to say Millwood is predictably unpredictable, whereas Reed is just plain unpredictable. I’m not sure what this means, why you think it, or what we’re supposed to do with it.

  3. rcc on December 13th, 2005 2:57 pm

    Love this discussion. No one has mentioned Bohn for centerfield. If they trade Reed, and I am also against it, would Bohn be an adequate or replacement level centerfielder? Does anyone think Billy Beane would trade Reed…..heck no. My infatuation with Billy Beane is that he is GM that you can put your trust in, but with our man Bill you have to shudder, and hope that he will not pull the trigger on a Reed/Clement swap, and that Everett remains a city north of Seattle, and not on the Mariner 2006 roster.

  4. LB on December 13th, 2005 4:16 pm

    #64: If the BoSox will throw in Jacoby Ellsbury, I say go for it. I think he’s got more upside than Reed anyway.

    Jacoby Ellsbury is a nice little prospect who’s professional career consists of 35 games in A-ball. There’s no way he’s ready to face major league pitching in 2006. 2007 is at best a question mark.

    If Ellsbury were ready to play CF in the big leagues, the Red Sox would not be asking about Reed or talking to Boras about Damon.

    Who will play CF for the next two years if you trade Reed for Clement and Ellsbury?

  5. LB on December 13th, 2005 4:26 pm

    #91: According to reports, Milton Bradley can be had to play CF (or a corner) in exchange for a left handed reliever. Not that this is necessarily true, but its a great option to look into.

    Bradley’s now an Oakland A, says Fox Sports. http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5164460.

  6. msfaninboston on December 13th, 2005 6:26 pm

    Does anyone think that the red sox or anyone else with a decent starting pitcher would want ibanez? With the everett signing imminent I wouldn’t mind moving him along with a bullpen arm for a decent starter. Also what type of number do you think strong would put up in a full season as CF. I think he could possibly do something like 275 avg 360 obp 390 slg 45 steals. Now, those arent great numbers but would certainly be acceptable if we got a great offer for reed.

  7. Tim on December 13th, 2005 7:58 pm

    I think something is missed when you frequently use dollar per win type equations to value a move. Its obviously a consideration, but putting together a team that is the most efficient cost wise per win won’t get you to the WS. Seattle is not the Oakland A’s. The M’s have much more money to play with (more than they would ever admit) and they should use it. I’m not saying trade or not trade Reed, but sometimes you have to make moves that improve your team, even if it costs you some money.

  8. Dick Pole on December 13th, 2005 10:08 pm

    More than any stat, the fact that Reed is considered valuable to as many teams as has been suggested on this thread is testament to the fact that there is truly a shortage of quality CF’s available.

  9. Dan on December 14th, 2005 1:20 am

    Am I the only one that’s asked this question?

    We got Reed for Garcia, who we felt was not worth the $8 million per year he was surely going to command (and eventually got from the White Sox) if he became a free agent. So what sense does it make if we then trade Reed for Clement, who’s making MORE than Garcia. Does anyone here believe that Clement is a huge upgrade? Would anyone here trade Garcia at $8 mil/yr for Clement at $9 mil/yr straight up?

    Just another sign that the M’s only “plan” is to play the dutch boy, trying to plug 12 holes in the dike with only ten fingers. This makes no sense. Keep Reed, unless he gives you a YOUNG pitcher, a potential ace. If we were talking about Lester or Palpebon for Reed, then I might be interested. Trading talented, inexpensive youth, for older, more expensive, mediocre talent, only makes sense if you believe you’re only one or two players away from being a championship club.

  10. Bela Txadux on December 14th, 2005 2:08 am

    Jeremy Reed . . . I recall in your prior discussion on Tejada, Dave, that in passing you mentioned JR was next to last in the league (or was it both leagues?) in Runs Created in ’05, at the age of 25. I’ve gone over why I don’t think Reed will improve signifcantly with the bat, so I won’t recap here. Hm.

    It’s interesting to me, too, that you question whether Safeco in some respects _inflates_ Reed’s D metrics. I’d love to see more on that, in part because there’s been repeated discusson en blog regarding the defensive merits of various Ms outfielders of the last few years. The metrics tend to put them in the ionosphere, whereas the evidence of the eyes tends to put some of them more in the stratosphere a la your conjecture re: Reed. I think Jeremy is good in CF; I’m far from convinced that he’s _great_, so let’s say I share your ripple of perplexity there. Hmmm.

    Matt Clement. For those who’ve followed him over time, it’s clear that he has very up and down swings in performance, in no small part because the wildness to which you allude is an example of his inability to sustain his mechanics in an optimal groove. He doesn’t ‘lose it’ altogether, but has long, bad patches. Multiple teams have soured on him for that reason, no including the Bosox, and we won’t like looking at that aspect of him, either, should he come here. That said, when he’s good he’s a very solid asset to a rotation.

    Let’s suppose that in three years time Jeremy Reed is the equivalent of Mark Kotsay. At that point in time, Matt Clement will very likely be who he is right now, since he’s been much the same for several years and is in a known configuration of talent. I don’t see Kotsay as someone you _don’t_ trade, so I have no problem putting Reed in motion, even if that’s who he’ll become (not that I’m banking on it). I’ll add that in three years Adam Jones is in the Bigs, although I have no idea whether he’ll be a significant improvement on Reed; very likely so, I think, but nothing certain.

    My problems with the trade as proposed—Reed for Clement—is exactly that Clement is too expensive to make this a good (talent X $) outcome. So reconfigure the trade. Reed and Mateo for Clement and x, prefereably an ‘unfinished prospect with tools.’ Boston has traded most of their best guys, so someone else should propose a name, but I like that configuration rather better. The Bosox don’t like it? Well, they NEED a CFer; if they don’t want to do a deal where the Ms get something for that leverage, they’re welcome to look elsewhere. The Ms don’t _have_ to take the high-cost end of the deal, so they should make the Bostons to so. Just because the Red Sox FOers are making chumps of the league this offseason doesn’t mean the Ms have to play patsycake too.

  11. Dave on December 14th, 2005 6:55 am

    Jeremy Reed . . . I recall in your prior discussion on Tejada, Dave, that in passing you mentioned JR was next to last in the league (or was it both leagues?) in Runs Created in ‘05, at the age of 25. I’ve gone over why I don’t think Reed will improve signifcantly with the bat, so I won’t recap here. Hm.

    He turned 24 last June. He was 23 for half the season. Perhaps you overstating his age in your mind is part of your reason for your overly pessimistic view of his skills?

    It’s interesting to me, too, that you question whether Safeco in some respects _inflates_ Reed’s D metrics.

    I’m pretty sure this is the case. I’m working on some stuff regarding defense in Safeco, and hopefully, I’ll get it posted in the next month or two. Basic overview; Pitchers pitch differently in Safeco field, leading to an increase in flyballs, and Safeco allows for an above average amount of those flyballs to be caught. Thus, not only do the outfielders get more opportunities, but their opportunities are easier, as well.

    It’s not the easiest thing in the world to analyze, but basically, I don’t think any of the Mariner outfielders in Safeco Field have been quite as good as we’ve thought.

  12. David H on December 14th, 2005 7:08 am

    As for the question of who would play center if Reed is dealt, Finnigan now tells us Ichiro is the “tenuous fallback” play, and he is now willing to do it.


  13. Gomez on December 14th, 2005 9:46 am

    112. Ooh… who would play RF then? Would they ask Jurassic Carl to do it? If there’s a hole in RF rather than CF, the M’s have options not named WFB.

    Again, I expect a bit of a drop in offensive production from Ichiro, unless he hits 20 jacks, if this goes down and Ichiro moves to CF. He’ll still hit well, and defense in CF should be roughly equal.

  14. John Evans on December 14th, 2005 10:38 am

    I like Reed’s defense, and he appears to have the potential to be a fairly good major league hitter. On the other hand, if the team needs and wants power-hitting, I don’t think Reed will provide it.

    If they decide to try and trade Reed for a differnt OF who can hit for power, I don’t want to see the M’s trade him for someone who is older. If it’s as part of a deal for someone like Arizona’s Chad Tracy (LH power-hitting RF) who is about the same age as Reed, I’m fine with it. Packaging Reed in a trade for an older player might leave us with another outfield hole in the next few years as the older player declines.

    As for trading Reed for Clement, I would also have no problem with that as long as we have an adequate replacement for Reed. Right now we don’t seem to have much in the way of OF prospects, or OF other than what’s on the ML roster for that matter. So if we can acquire another outfielder with power who would thus make Reed more expendable, then why not use him in a trade? As far as Clement goes, he’s 31 and he’s slightly better than your average starting pitcher… which would place him near the top of our current rotation. Again, why not?