Rhodes a Red and Crowning Farnsworth

A few deals coming through as the winter meetings draw to a close.

Reds sign Arthur Rhodes, two years, 4 million

Rhodes went from out of baseball in 2007 to a desirable commodity in 2008. The Marlins dealt an arm for Rhodes at the trade deadline, but decided against offering Rhodes arbitration, costing them a compensation pick. Two years for a 39-year-old situational reliever seems a wee bit silly, especially one with some red flags like Rhodes.

Rhodes’ BABIP was .319 in 2008, despite allowing 27.9% line drives. When your pitches are being hit that hard consistently and most of them are still turning into outs, then there’s some level of luck involved. 45% of Rhodes’ batted balls were of the fly variety, and yet zero of those flyballs found their way into the bleachers. Rhodes has never allowed too many homeruns, but within the Great American Ballpark it’s likely that number is going to be a little less round.

The Reds are paying for less than 0.5 WAR annually, so the money itself is fine. Marcels says 43 innings and a 3.66 FIP for the ancient one, making him worth the money all ready. That’s without taking leverage into account, which might be around 1.5.

Good deal financially, but still a bit questionable to give a guaranteed second year.

Royals sign Kyle Farnsworth, two years, 9.25 million.

Let’s jump right to the Marcels projection: 61 innings 4.8 FIP. That’s below expectations for a replacement level reliever. One of the Dayton Moore’s alleged strengths is his ability to build cost-efficient relief corps. In fact, that was a large part of the reason Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez were traded. This however, is neither cheap or wise.

The odds of Farnsworth pitching like he did in 2006 are low. His fastball velocity has dipped, and so with it have his strikeouts and ability to keep pitches hit inside of the park. Farnsworth probably won’t allow more than two homeruns per nine like last season, but he’s a safe bet for one bomb. Farnsworth’s walks wouldn’t be an issue if not for the homeruns, but even a single walk can quickly result in a two run swing.

Kansas City might see the 4.48 ERA and 99 ERA+ and think Farnsworth is a pretty average pitcher, they would be wrong, and they won’t realize this until Farnsworth’s 84.7% strand rate regresses, if only to his 72.8% career mark. Kauffman Stadium is going to suppress some homeruns, and really that’s the only positive to get from this signing. Otherwise, the Royals could have saved cash and signed four or five minor league free agents (like Horacio Ramirez) and slotted a few into their bullpen with the same or better results than this signing is going to breed.

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Is it appropriate to accept the Marcels projection for Rhodes at face value given:

1)Marcels knows nothing about his environment and Rhodes went from two pretty good environments for pitchers to flyball-pitcher hell in Cincy,

2) the above write up seemed to make a compelling case that his numbers were skewed by some whacky luck last season and Marcels weighted his ’08 the heaviest when projecting Rhodes.