September 26, 2011; Flushing, NY, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey (34) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Would Having Roy Oswalt Be That Bad?


We all know the latest buzz surrounding the Reds involves free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. The Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Boston Red Sox have also been linked to the righty. Last we heard, Oswalt prefers the Cards and the Rangers and not so much the Red Sox and Reds. Might take a little more dough to land him.

Also, rumor has it that in order for the Reds to snare Oswalt, the Reds will have to deal someone in order to make such a move. The name commonly thrown about is that of Homer Bailey. John Fay suggests that Nick Masset could also be an arm to be moved. Both Bailey and Masset will make roughly the same amount ($2.4 million) for 2012. Within the same post, Fay also states the Reds are close to payroll budget. Simply adding Oswalt would then put them over.

The deal Oswalt seeks is reportedly a one year, $10 million. Well, it was. It might be lower now since it appears the Cards and Rangers are out of the running. I suspect that could be the case.

But something else Fay wrote rings loudly in my head…

It would be risky to give up on Bailey for one year of Oswalt. But there are couple of things to consider: Bailey is going to get big raises the next two years through arbitration, and Aroldis Chapman is almost certainly going to take a spot in rotation at some point.

This has merit. This makes sense. The only potential drawback is the inevitable series of “what if” questions. We’ve already seen or heard many this winter.
“What if Edinson Volquez pitches well for the Padres?”
“What if Yonder Alonso becomes and All-Star?”
“What if Travis Wood regains his 2010 form?”
And the next instinctive “what if”…
“What if Homer Bailey would have his breakout season for another team?”

Every now and then, small market teams have to roll the dice. And that’s just to have a shot at being a winner. Prior to last season, We saw similar deals made by the Milwaukee Brewers. Yes, deals similar to the ones Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has made.

For those that lament a possible signing of Oswalt, I hear you. Actually, I hear your reasons.

First, there’s the whole age thing. Oswalt is 34 and will turn 35 drring the 2012 season. Bailey will turn 26 in early May. Advantage: Bailey, right?

Second, Oswalt missed a portion of 2011 due to back issues. He wasn’t the same. There are health concerns. Another advantage to Homer.

Finally, Oswalt showed in 2011 that he’s not durable. He’s run down. He’s not effective.

Well, there you have it.

Um, no, you don’t. I can take each of those and show where Oswalt is above that of Bailey. And I’m not getting into career numbers either.

The age cannot be disputed (unless something funky along the lines of the Fausto Carmona or Leo Nunez adventures are happening), but with that age comes experience. Isn’t having a more extensive playoff experience a plus? Isn’t veteran leadership a plus? Look at the possible 25-man roster. Three Reds pitchers have World Series experience: Oswalt, Ryan Madson and Bronson Arroyo. No, the WS experience of Oswalt isn’t big, but he’s taken part in a total of eight postseason series.

While the issue of Oswalt’s back is a viable concern, Bailey has not exactly been a model of health himself. Look at 2011 alone. Bailey spent more time on the disabled list than did Oswalt. Bailey began the 2011 season on the DL and missed the entire month of April. He also missed another full month from the end of May until the end of June.

The health issue seems like a push to me as Oswalt had two stints on the DL last year, too. They just weren’t as long as Bailey’s.

There’s no question that Oswalt’s numbers from 2011 aren’t that good if you’re comparing them to the numbers from his past seasons. But how do they stack up against Bailey’s…

Oswalt

Season K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
2001 9.15 1.52 0.83 .231 1.06 .291 78.4 % 22.5 % 47.1 % 30.4 % 8.5 %
2002 8.03 2.39 0.66 .242 1.19 .298 75.9 % 21.6 % 46.3 % 32.1 % 12.9 %
2003 7.63 2.05 1.06 .242 1.14 .283 79.1 % 22.5 % 42.5 % 35.0 % 7.1 %
2004 7.82 2.35 0.65 .256 1.24 .314 73.0 % 21.8 % 49.1 % 29.2 % 8.3 %
2005 6.85 1.79 0.67 .257 1.20 .302 78.2 % 19.9 % 48.8 % 31.3 % 8.7 %
2006 6.77 1.55 0.73 .258 1.17 .302 78.7 % 16.0 % 53.0 % 31.0 % 6.7 %
2007 6.54 2.55 0.59 .262 1.33 .307 77.5 % 20.5 % 50.3 % 29.2 % 12.7 %
2008 7.12 2.03 0.99 .247 1.18 .285 74.6 % 21.1 % 43.3 % 35.6 % 9.7 %
2009 6.85 2.08 0.94 .259 1.24 .298 72.7 % 17.6 % 45.7 % 36.7 % 9.1 %
2010 8.21 2.34 0.81 .208 1.03 .253 77.8 % 19.3 % 45.1 % 35.6 % 6.3 %
2011 6.02 2.14 0.65 .275 1.34 .316 74.0 % 20.3 % 47.3 % 32.4 % 8.8 %

Bailey

Season K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
2007 5.56 5.56 0.60 .247 1.57 .280 60.2 % 18.1 % 46.5 % 35.4 % 5.9 %
2008 4.46 4.21 1.98 .362 2.09 .372 61.7 % 25.4 % 43.5 % 31.2 % 18.6 %
2009 6.83 4.13 0.95 .261 1.47 .300 71.2 % 20.7 % 42.5 % 36.8 % 9.4 %
2010 8.26 3.30 0.91 .258 1.37 .315 71.0 % 21.1 % 41.6 % 37.2 % 9.3 %
2011 7.23 2.25 1.23 .260 1.28 .296 71.2 % 22.3 % 39.5 % 38.2 % 11.5 %

You could say that I picked and chose numbers where Oswalt was better…and to an extent you would be correct. Truth is, I could choose FIP, xFIP, tERA, SIERA, ERA as well, but Oswalt still displays better numbers.

Now, these tables you see, Oswalt did show regression in 2011, but his regression is still better than Bailey’s perceived progression especially when you look at LD%, GB% and FB%. Bailey has actually shown his own regression. Oswalt isn’t the groundball pitcher he once was, but he still forces opposing betters into their fair share of grounders…and it is still at a higher rate then Bailey.

I’ve read where people expect 2012 to be a “breakout” season for Bailey. While I won’t doubt that possibility, I also believe I’ve heard similar claims previous to the last two seasons. That leads me to a question. Why would we (or anyone for that matter) logically think 2012 will be that breakout season? Is it because Bailey is simply overdue?

If you think I’m heaping on Bailey, I cannot argue that point. I am, I’ll admit it. Maybe that’s because by now I thought we’d see a bit more from him. Flashes, yes. Consistency, no. Maybe I’m thinking this is simply a case of holding on to a first round pick and hope he pans out. And we do have that hope. Would that hope be as high if Oswalt were a Red?

Going back to Fay’s quote. If Walt can do a deal with Oswalt, it could buy a full season for Aroldis Chapman to develop as a starter. I know it could with Bailey as well, but the push in Chapman’s transition with Oswalt in the starting rotation may not be as great or seem as pressing.

I’m generally a patient person. If you’ve been a regular reader here on Blog Red Machine since I came aboard, I think I’ve displayed such. Look at how long I “stood by” Edinson Volquez and Francisco Cordero. Talk about developing patience…

It would be fair to ask if my patience is wearing thin where Bailey is concerned. First, I don’t make any decisions, as you all know (or should know). I have zero pull. Second, it is growing a little thin.

What I would prefer is the Reds to sign Oswalt and keep Bailey. I know Bailey would then be a member of the bullpen and that could cause other issues. That would be the best of both worlds.

Kicking the tires on Oswalt. It’s an older model, but it is still a little more durable and dependable than one in the garage. More mileage, true, but I know I’m more likely to reach my destination.

Through all this babbling, I completely forgot about Nick Masset.

Hmm…

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Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Reds Featured Homer Bailey MLB Popular Roy Oswalt

  • JohnHeitz

    Well Steve, I find I am at odds with you here. I just don’t see the upside to adding Oswalt at this point. We have one overpaid veteran (Arroyo) that we must stomach this year and pray he doesn’t hurt us too bad, a second is more than I could bear. He just doesn’t have the potential upside that Bailey “could” have.

    Ultimately it comes down to this for me, the only reason i would want Oswalt is so that St. Louis wouldn’t have him. That is the only compelling argument I can come up with. Since it appears St. Louis is bowing out of the chase, then so should we.

  • Steven Engbloom

    @JohnHeitz Only took, what, six months for us to disagree? That might be a record for me!

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  • beeker

    I initially snubbed my nose at the idea of signing Oswalt. And I will admit to reconsidering it only when I heard the STL was pursuing him. I’m still mulling the whole thing. Here are the questions I have (not that you can answer them all).

    - Is Oswalt 100% healthy? Or have the contract and the back both been reasons that other teams are passing on him?

    - How low will he go? We won’t know that for another week.

    - How much would signing him improve ticket sales? I think a lot of fans would buzz over another “all in” move. Signing Roy would have to result in something like an extra 150,000-200,000 tickets sold to pay off. (A mostly full GABP in Aug/Sept because they are in contention might net that.)

    - How much better than Bailey would he be? For the big paycheck, fans may not be satisfied with a wash. Faye points out that Roy had 3.20 ERA sans June, which is easier to watch than Bailey’s 4.47.

    If Oswalt is healthy, I lean slightly toward signing him, but not heavily. But bottom line I doubt they will be able to agree on a price anyway.

  • beeker

    I couldn’t help but chuckle at Faye’s quote of Jocketty yesterday: “I’m sick and tired of it.” Walt is the king of disinformation, so to see him annoyed that people continue to speculate about a deal strikes me as funny.