Paul Daugherty
Enquirer columnist files news and observations

Paul Daugherty
Paul Daugherty has been an Enquirer sports columnist since 1994 and has been chronicling Cincinnati sports since 1988. He has covered almost every major sporting event in America, as well as five Summer Olympics. Along the way, he has been named one of the country's top-5 sports columnists four times, and Ohio columnist of the year on seven different occasions. Last year, he was voted 2nd-best sports columnist in the country, by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Building for the future and other mistakes

Interesting how so many fans are so concerned about trading prospects for established talent. This time, it involves acquiring J. Blanton from Oakland for, apparently, Bailey/Cueto, Votto and a lesser prospect.

I do it in a second because (1) a reason you build your farm system is to have players to trade and (2) If you are a small-money club, you don't get chances to win every year. The Reds' equation this year is simple: Make Matt Belisle your #3 starter, finish 3rd or 4th, win about 80 games; trade for Blanton, win 85 or more, be in the mix all summer.

I look at prospect-hoarding like this: You save your whole life for retirement. You sacrifice when you're young, so you can take it easy when you're not. Then when you retire, you become sick or infirm and all that money you could have spent when you were young enough to enjoy it just sits there.

Blanton is a proven winner, a guy who threw 230 innings last year, gave up only 16 homers in the AL and walked only 40 hitters. Cueto is. . . is. . . we don't know. Same for Votto and Bailey.

Do you want to win after 8 years of losing? Or do you want to brag about the prospects? Spend your money now, while you can? Or hoard it, for an uncertain future that might never arrive?


at 9:31 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the general tenor, however...I hate the idea of giving up prospects for middling talent, and that's what Blanton is. If we're talking about Erik Bedard or Danny Haren or other top-flight pitching, then, yeah, fire away.

Blanton is a low strikeout fly ball pitcher with mediocre statistics while playing in a giant ballpark with an excellent defensive outfield. You put him in a bandbox with statues in left and right field and it's Eric Milton revisited.

This would be monumentally stupid at the price quoted.

at 9:50 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your basic point, Doc. It reminds me a bit of the mid-late 80's when Pete was managing & the Reds didn't want to trade the "crown jewels" (Kal Daniels, Tracy Jones, Pat Pacillo, etc.) to bolster the team for a stretch run. If you can win now, its almost negligent not to try.

That price might be a bit high for Blanton, but coming from the big boy league, I think he'd do just fine in the NL.

at 9:52 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason you build a farm system is so that they players can play for your team. if you think bailey/cueto will be as good as blanton in 2 or 3 years, why trade for blanton? Not only will bailey and cueto be cheaper, but you can keep them for longer before you have shell out big bucks to keep them.

at 9:52 AM Blogger Jeff Lehner said...

I've looked around a little this morning, a lot of Reds fans seem to be of the don't-trade-any-prospects-under-any-circumstances mindset. Bruce is definitely off the table after dealing Josh Hamilton to acquire Volquez. But why should Bailey, Cueto, Votto, Maloney et al be untouchable when the Reds have an opportunity to acquire a proven, reliable veteran starting pitcher on the right side of age 28? Yes, the Reds have collected an impressive group of young, talented players. But so what? Bailey could tear a rotator cuff in spring training. Cueto, who has never pitched in the major leagues, might not live up to expectations. Votto might be a 180 strikeout guy in a 162-game season (OK if he hits 40 bombs and drives in 100 runs every year like Adam Dunn, but the guy's had 84 big league ABs). Point is, do we really believe the Reds should pass on this kind of deal over potential?

There's an old saying - potential gets GMs fired. It's true. Bottom line is wins - the Reds had 72 of them last year. 80 the year before. 73 in '05. 76 in '04. Prospects aren't what wins ballgames, they're what keeps fans of irrelevant franchises interested. The Montreal Expos had the best prospects in baseball for about 15 years. How'd that work out?

at 10:11 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or all that money saved while in youth goes to Nursing Home or health exspenses. I say spend now. But the Reds have always been CHEAP!!! Trade Bailey and Belise. God save this team! I mean 7 straight losing seasons is enough. Before long we will be looked upon as the next Cubs. That is about as bad as can be being a Cub loser. Stay out of the Nursing Home, spend or trade anything to get Blanton

at 10:21 AM Blogger Brad said...

I say Volsquez, Votto, Stubbs could get it done.

at 12:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harang came from Oakland and he worked out all right.

Harang wasn't any kind of valued prospect at all when he was young. Look what happened.

It's such a crap shoot. I'd say go for it within reason.

I think Baily for Blanton is a fair trade straight up WITHOUT any other names thrown in...at least not any great names. I might throw a few AA names in to sweeten the deal.

Bailey's close to the top prospect in MLB.

It is not prospect-hoarding to want a FAIR trade. There's no virtue in OVER-PAYING just because you don't want to get accused of prospect-hoarding.

at 1:23 PM Blogger Craig said...

Win now is a good idea in the right circumstances, but this is not it. Blanton seems to hover around a 4 era. You could speculate that will drop in the NL, but you could just as easily speculate that it will rise in Great American. The He Wins Games Despite ERA argument is a bad one. That was Dan O'Brien's argument for Milton. I won't be fooled by it again. Also, I can't agree that you get a good farm system to trade it. When you're the Reds, you get a good farm system to get good players cheap. Why trade cheap players with the potential to be better than Blanton. Sure Blanton has had some decent years in the major leagues, but there's no guarantee of his continued success either. Trading the future for someone who would make us instant contenders, like Bedard, is risky but might be smart. Trading the future to reach a slightly higher grade of mediocrity is not.

at 1:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain why the AL talent level far surpasses the NL? It can't be just because of the DH right? If so, I still don't understand.

at 2:00 PM Blogger SigntheDonkey said...

I'd already rather have Bailey than Blanton.....

at 2:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question for you, Mr Paul Daugherty WLW Sports Guru:

Since this post deals with Cincy's farm system -- What is the BEST TEAM you can put together of active major league players who were at one time on a Cincinnati farm team but are now playing on some major league team, Cincy or otherwise? (For pitchers give one starter and one reliever)

How good a team do you think they'd be?

at 2:56 PM Anonymous Justin said...

I am against throwing a lot of talent for Blanton. He gave up 16 home runs in a HUGE ballpark. He is dependent on the defense behind him. I am guessing last year was a career year for him. Would he boost the Red's this year? Perhaps. I am guessing he would put up Arroyo-like numbers 200 innings and an ERA around 4.50. Bailey might be able to do the same thing, in about 160 innings. Matt Belisle could take a step forward. You are awfully tough on Belise, last year was his first season as a full time big league starter. He had his ups and downs, there is a good chance he may gain some constancy. He had one of the best K/BB ratios in baseball. He just got a little flustered when men were on base. That is something that can improve with experience. My prediction for Belisle this season is about 200 innings, and an ERA around 4.10.

Ask the A's and Twins, they built their teams around prospects and one with their prospects.

at 5:57 PM Anonymous Ben said...

He seems to be a product of his home ballpark. Last year his ERA was 2.69 at home and 5.11 on the road. And who plays first base if you trade Votto? Hatteberg? He's much more of a platoon player. I guess this is how I view it. If you just want to make the postseason then trade for Blanton. If you want to actually contend for a world series in a few years then keep the young guys.

at 7:44 PM Blogger ewad said...


It may of been you or C.Trent before the Post shut down that said there is a fight going on inside the Reds organization.
The battle pitting the folks who really belive they can win this year and those who point to '09 as the target year.
Not going after Blanton aggressively enough shows which side of the argument won out.

at 10:40 PM Blogger Zach said...

Here's the obvious concern:
We could trade Bailey/Votto for Blanton and very easily still not be good enough for the playoffs. You've mortgaged your future for what?

Homer is 21 and still considered by most to be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. Who says the kid can't win 14 games himself? Votto gives me hope that we'll get more than .290, 60 RBI out of our first baseman this year. It's a power position. Enough with Casey Hatteberg.

I'm as frustrated with this team like most Reds fans, but I'm smart enough to see this year will be more transitional than an all out push for The Series. The Cordero signing didn't mean "this is our year." If our young pitchers are worth their weight in foodstamps we shouldn't have to worry about Belisle in the #3 slot all year. If Bailey and Cueto can log 100-200 innings this year we'll be reaping some major benefits for '09.

at 10:54 PM Blogger Scott Evans said...


Homer Bailey will be the #3 starter by June, if not #2, M. Belisle will improve, and with the young talent the Reds have, they will win not only in 2008 but also 2009 and beyond. I believe the best trade the Reds can make this year is the ones they don't make, Blanton included.

at 11:25 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a significant home/road differential. The foul territory and pitcher freindly conditions in Oakland are real. What that translates to in GABP I dont know....but a .500 record with an ERA >5.00 and an opponent batting avg>.300 away from Oakland should be a concern. What would Homer Bailey do if he pitched in Oakland. We saw Homer dominate out there in June- his best performacne by far as a pro.Conversely, look at Hattebergs offensive stats in Oakland vs GABP. .256 avg with 7 HR in 2005 vs a .310 avg and 10 HR in LESS at bats at GABP. Hatteberg was a .270 hitter in Oakland and a .300 hitter with more pop in Cincy. Thats ballpark.

at 1:49 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The future is now. Win now! seven years of losing is enough. Make the deal!!!

at 6:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets put the blame where it belongs....W.K.! He has been Cluless with no master plan...remember the Nats won more games than the Reds in 07 !! Bob C.,please put Walt J. in charge now!!!!WAKE UP CINCY FIRE KRIVSKY

at 11:07 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Line of reasoning flawed.

2004: "We're not really sure what this Carson Palmer can do. Let's trade him for Trent Green."

at 9:05 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul- I read this on Fox Sports.com. Its about the Reds possibly grabbing Kenny Lofton.... but the part that stands out to me is the comments about the Reds chasing hard after a starting pitcher.
It doesn't sound like a group standing pat.

Kenny Lofton played for Dusty Baker with the Giants in 2002 and the Cubs in '03, both times joining Baker's teams in July and then helping them advance deep into the postseason.

Another reunion could be in the works.

The Reds are considering Lofton, sources say, but the extent of their interest might hinge on which players — if any — they trade for a starting pitcher.

The team remains the most fervent suitor for A's right-hander Joe Blanton, and apparently is exploring other pitching options as well.

"Cincy is really trying to land a veteran starter," one rival general manager says.

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