I am excited about this:
The Cincinnati Reds reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday night to trade first baseman Sean Casey to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-hander Dave Williams, a deal that addresses each team’s biggest need.
The deal is subject to players passing physicals, an official on a team involved in the trade said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the swap had not been finalized.
Casey, a three-time All-Star and career .305 hitter who is among the most popular players on the Reds, batted .312 last year with nine homers and 58 RBI. A year earlier, he matched his career high of 99 RBI and hit 24 homers, one shy of his best.
The 31-year-old Casey was acquired by Cincinnati from Cleveland in March 1998 and has spent his entire major-league career with the Reds except for six games with the Indians in 1997. He is owed $8.5 million next season and the Reds may pick up part of the contract, the official said.
Having grown up in suburban Pittsburgh, Casey hit the first home run at PNC Park, an 8-2 Cincinnati win in April 2001. He went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, two-run double and five RBI in that game. He has 10 homers and 52 RBI in 99 career games against Pittsburgh.
How much will this help the horrible Buccos? I don’t know, but I like a Pittsburgh guy coming home to play for his hometown team.
Two years ago, 24 homers
Last year, the year of steroid testing, he hits 9
I’m not suggesting anything, but when a guy takes a Kevin Millar like dive in the power like that, it makes you laugh
The biggest improvement made this offseason has got to be firing MacClendon and his staff. Especially the third base coach, who was horrible and would send Daryl Ward barreling home when the outfielder already had the ball. And how many times did Mac send up Tike Redmen to the plate? Ugh
new coaching staff = ten game improvement
AND he’s irish! we need a good mick nickname for casey as soon as possible, although being a baseball purist, “the mighty casey” just sorts sings, doesn’t it? as for the homeruns, he’s a lefty swinging at a short porch, and he’s a career .305 hitter, so i think they basically got a good hitter likely will add some power. i think the real effect of this deal is that they got someone to bat behind bay, so he’ll see some good pitches. i think casey might become the first pirate to fly one into the river….
J. Michael Neal
Forget the steroids. Casey hit 6 home runs in 2002. He’s always fluctuated, and 2004 mostly looks like one last hurrah for a players that was once good, but not great, and is in a fairly steep decline phase. He will add little or nothing to the Pirates next year. It isn’t a terrible deal, because the Pirates also gave up little or nothing to get him. It only becomes terrible if they resign him for a lot of money at the end of the season. Their best bet is to hope that he has a hot first half and they can flip him to a contender for some swag.
As bad as Lloyd McClendon was (and he was awful), changing the coaching staff isn’t going to make any ten game difference. Pittsburgh remains a team with two real hitters, Bay and Craig Wilson. They have some interesting young arms, but aside from Duke and Perez, no one that is likely to really light it up in 2006.
The team’s real problem is sitting in the owner’s box. All of the evidence says that as long as McClatchey is running the show, the Pirates won’t be getting any better.
The biggest change will be in the clubhouse. He didn’t get the nickname “The Mayor” because people don’t like him. He’ll be the leader of that club from the second he walks in.
I personally hate the trade, since it means The National League Champion Astros will have to face Williams more often — he shut the good guys down like punks a couple times last year (not such a tremendous feat, now that I recall how bad the offense was for stretches).
Whoops! Same division, so we won’t face Williams more often — no offense, but I guess I never look that far down in the standings. (/brainlock)
There’s a baseball team in Pittsburgh? I thought the Pirates changed their name and moved somewhere else when Stargell retired.
I love Casey. Hits for a high average every year, gold-glove caliber defense, even though he always gets screwed out of it, and a very very likeable guy. However, we need pitching, and Williams is a good young pitcher. It also helps our log jam in the outfield, since now we can move Dunn to first and then play Pena, Kearns and Griff in the OF. And saying that Casey may take steroids is maybe the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. He’s not muscle, haha. The Red’s tv announcers used to give him a pizza for every base he stole. Every time he stole a base, he would look at the nearest camera and rub his stomach. I’m gonna miss him, but I think it was a good deal, for both teams.
When you lose a lot of games by one run, during which somebody made an idiotic call on the basepath, or decided to sit bay, mackowiak, and ward all on hte same day in favor of tike redman, restovich, and ty wiggington, then yes, theres a real chance than a new coaching staff can cause a 10 game improvement
mac really was that bad
Career 113 OPS+ for a first baseman, and he’ll be 31. I wouldn’t get too excited if I were you. And his last couple of seasons have been in a big time hitters park, so don’t let the power numbers, such as they are, fool you.
Great clubhouse guy. Average baseball player.
As a Tigers fan, I have a definite soft spot for the Pirates, as the two teams have followed remarkably similar paths over the last 30 years or so.
Gold Star for Robot Boy
Excited? Don’t be. Casey has a nice batting average, but that doesn’t make up for his below-average power (especially for a first baseman) and lack of walks. He’s a great clubhouse guy and you may get a good season or two out of him, but don’t even think of locking him up for the long haul. The D-Backs made that mistake with Tony Clark last season, and they’ll soon regret it.
Casey derives his value from getting on base. He does it fairly well and will improve the Pirates (as long as they let Craig Wilson play RF as well.) He’s not great, but then again, if he were great, you wouldn’t get him for Dave Williams.
Wow, it’s a regular Primer party over at Balloon-Juice. We’ve got Sam Hutcheson, JMN, Gold Star, me (Shredder). Now we just need Vlad!
What I wrote about this deal on bucsdugout.com:
The bucs are like a Bob Woodward novel: All the Pirates’ Men. Just follow the money (into McClatchey’s pockets).
J. Michael Neal
Yes, people like Sean Casey. By all reports, he’s a thoroughly likeable guy. Remind me again hoe likeable the A’s of the early ’70s or the Yankees of the late ’70s, or the Oakland A’s of the late ’80s, or several other examples were. I have yet to see any evidence that being a nice guy translates into wins. It translates into the clubhouse being a nice place to be, so people sing hosannahs over having a “clubhouse presence,” but I don’t see evidence for it.
Now, before the resident Angels’ fan gets on me, I do think that chemistry and clubhouse presence matters. However, it does so in extremely unpredicatable ways. I can make as good a case for Casey’s presence making people around him complacent as I can for it making them better.
Albert Pujols, Jeff Bagwell, J.T. Snow and Todd Helton are all better defensive first basemen than Casey, among those who have had qualifying seasons recently. Derek Lee is about as good. He hasn’t gotten screwed out of anything.
Sean Casey was perhaps the ninth or tenth best first baseman with a bat in the National League last year, and that’s tossing Tony Clark out of the mix as a complete fluke. Yes, he gets on base pretty well for players in general, but not really much better than average for a first baseman, and his slugging percentage is way below that of the average first baseman. Casey is a decidedly mediocre player that costs $8.5 million a year and is in his decline phase.
No, there isn’t. Ten wins is roughly equal to scoring (or preventing) about 120 additional runs over the course of a season. Jason Bay played in 162 games last year. By my count, that’s all of them, so he wasn’t sitting in favor of Redman very often. Did Redman play too often? Yes, he did, but that can not be laid primarily at McClendon’s door; the simple fact is that the Pirates didn’t really have a better center fielder on the roster. Maybe Chris Duffy, but he played way over his head last year. Ty Wigginton was a better hitter last year than Rob Maclowiak, which isn’t much of a surprise, because they are roughly equivalent as hitters, and Wigginton is the better fielder.
By my count, there were a total of 444 outfield assists in the NL last year. I think that we can safely say that the number of times that the slow Pirate runners were thrown out in situations where they would likely have scored is significantly less than 15.
I’m beating on this because it is a lot harder than people think to produce ten extra wins. The Pirates did do particularly poorly in one run games. It’s certainly possible that McClendon is partly responsible for that, but none of the reasons you have given would account for it. As Sam pointed out, the number one thing that would help the Pirates would be to get Craig Wilson more than 196 at bats.
It was a largely inconsequential deal for both teams. Dave Williams just isn’t very good. In Cinci’s stadium, he’s going to give Eric Milton a run for giving up the most dingers if they stick him in the rotation, and there are likely to be men on base when he serves ’em up. The largest benefit to the Reds is going to be that space is cleared for all of Dunn, Griffey, Kearns and Pena, assuming that they actually give Kearns a shot this year. Of course, they could have done that just by sitting Casey down, so it’s a salary dump. Nothing else.
He’ll help but he’s no Randall Simon!
Nice glove, good OBP, good avg. but no power mid-tier RBIs, may as well slot him 3rd in the order
You may be right about Helton, but not Pujols, Snow, and definitely not Bagwell. Bagwell has no arm. Period. His glove was still good, but he was a major liability, especially on bunts along the first base line. And the numbers just don’t lie with Casey. Check out his fielding percentage. The only first baseman I’d put ahead of him is maybe Lee. And possibly Helton. Casey’s very underrated defensively. You’re right about his power, but everybody knows he’s not a power hitter. He’s an average hitter who will get you a single or a double every three at bats. And those are valuable players, especially if you know where to place them in the order. The Pirates made a decent pick up, at least for a couple of seasons. And the Reds just picked up a young(ish) left hander. It’s worth a shot.
I am not excited that Casey is coming to the Bucs because he is great. I am excited because he is so much greater than what they had at 1B and so much better than anything they had in the line up last year. I would love to have more power out of 1B but if I can’t have that I will take a good OBP.
I do think that his presence will help Bay. I don’t think Bay’s BA, OBP, or Slg will go up (predicting that would be insane given his high level of past performance) but I do think (ok, maybe it is hope) that some of that production will translate into more runs and/or RBI.
J. Michael Neal
Having a good arm means almost nothing in terms of measuring a good first baseman. However, in digging a little deeper, I have to confess that Bagwell has declined more rapidly than I thought. He’s about as good as Sean Casey, but there’s a caveat that I’ll get to.
Last year was by far Casey’s best year. He made a total of two errors. The numbers for other first basemen:
Snow: 3 (which would be prorated to about five in full time)
And so on. Pretty much the greatest difference between Casey and any other full time first baseman was 12 plays for the entire season. Fielding percentage is a terrible measure for judging a defender, because the difference between the best and the worst just isn’t that great. Other things matter a lot more, particularly how many batted balls a player gets to.
In looking at range, Casey turns out to be terrible. Doing more digging caused me not to decide that Casey is underrated; it caused me to decide that he is vastly overrated. I can’t find Ultimate Zone Ratings for the last couple of years, but Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average shows him at -11, -13 and +9 for the last three season. That means that, taken as a whole, he’s a significantly worse fielder than the average first baseman.
At this point, I’d say that Lee, Pujols, Helton, Overbay, Nick Johnson, and Snow are all much better than Casey, and Hee Seop Choi would be if anyone would actually play him. Casey’s defense is more like that of the Carlos Delgados and Lance Berkmans of the world.
Average is vastly overrated. On-base percentage and slugging are much more important measures. Using those, Casey is a below average offensive first baseman as well as a below average defensive first baseman. He is not a valuable player. The fact that he’s better than everyone that Pittsburgh played there last year, other than the times that McClendon accidently wrote Craig Wilson’s name there, is setting an extremely low bar.
Well, you just named his only two virtues. In his major league career, he’s allowed about 1.5 home runs per nine innings, which is a very bad number, and that’s before moving to the Cincinnati band box. His K rates are nothing special, and he’s walked more than four hitters per nine innings. That 1.05 career GB/F ratio over his career screams trouble in his new park.
He’s young, left-handed and bad. Sure, he might have a bust out season, but I could say the same thing about a couple hundred other pitchers toiling at the back end of major league bullpens or in the minors. Just counting the guys that the Reds already have, I see no reason to prefer Dave Williams to Matt Bellisle, Jung Bong, Todd Coffey, Richie Gardner, Carlos Guevera, Josh Hall, Josh Hancock, Aaron Harang, Luke Hudson, Steve Kelly, Thomas Pauley, or Joe Valentine.
I’m not saying that this is a bad trade for either team. It’s mostly just a meaningless trade. It’s a below average first baseman for a Grade C pitching prospect. The main benefit for the Reds is clearing out some salary and moving someone that they would foolishly have given a lot of playing time. The main benefit for the Pirates is that it ties up a lot of money for a player with one year to go on his contract, thus preventing them from spending it on an equally cruddy player that they would sign for more years.
There’s really nothing to see here.
All I know is that I’ve seen most of the Reds games over the past three years, and most of the Cubs games that were on WGN. I’ve seen every first baseman in the NL Central more times than I could possibly have every wanted. Defensively, Lee and Casey were far and away the best. They made the most good plays and had the least screw ups on plays they are supposed to make. And while I’m definitely a numbers guy (OPS is the most important statistic in sports), you can’t take away Casey’s ability to consistently get hits, and that’s huge. Keeping innings alive is something he’s great at, and he’s clutch. You mentioned his gb/f ratio. He’s an oppo hitter. He takes the ball down the third base line consistently for hits. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, even in baseball. The Bucs made a good pick up, and Reds dumped salary and have a young pitcher who may pan out. I’m with you, though, that the best part of this is that it allows for Cincy to keep their four outfielders. I definitely don’t see them trading Kearns or Pena now.
Oh shit, you were refering to the pitcher on the gb/f ratio. My bad, strike that from my previous comment.
J. Michael Neal
It beats trading two decent pitching prospects and a throw in for Juan Pierre, but that’s a pretty low bar.
For the vast majority of us, trying to evaluate how good a fielder is just by watching him is a hopeless case. The two most important things are how he positions himself and his very first move after contact. In both cases, most fans (myself included) are watching something other than the fielder when it happens, and they only catch the end of the play, when the important stuff has already happened. Trying to make judgements based upon how many spectacular plays someone makes is foolhardy, because the good fielders make a routine play on balls that a bad fielder makes look spectacular.
This is something that OBP is much better at measuring than average, because it is exactly the same thing as measuring the ability to not make an out when you step to the plate. Average is an inferior proxy for that skill.
It isn’t even the best measure for batting value. People can argue about what actually is the best measure, but OPS+ (OPS adjusted for things like park factors) or VORP or some others are all readily agreed as being better than OPS, though the arguments about which one to use can be quite heated. Vladi G, of course, is as wrong about this as he is about everything else, including being a Kings’ fan.
Hey, I didn’t say one was better than the other. But I think OPS+ is more readily available, as Forman’s site is easy to navigate, and I know it’s park adjusted. VORP is probably more valuable because it’s park adjusted and I believe it’s based on position. I’m just spitballing when I say a 113 OPS+ is bad for a first baseman.
Of course, I’m an Angels fan, so I’d kill for a 113 OPS+ at first base.
Again though, which provides a bigger boost to the team, a two out hit, or a two out walk? I’m not denying your statistics, I’m just saying that they don’t take into account the intangibles and many game situations. When you take these into account, Casey is an above average first baseman. If you ask most team if they’d take him, they would (Unless they got a guy like Lee, Delgado, or Pujols already). He’s not an MVP or anything. But he is a more than solid player who will be an addition to the team. To be honest, I’m kinda worried about how this may affect our (the Reds) lineup. Casey was the one guy on the team who you could count on to put the ball in play just about every time. Everybody else on the team strikes out every other at bat. It’s the little things.
J. Michael Neal
The former, and the extent to which it is better is pretty well captured by slugging percentage. Also, Casey grounded into 27 double plays last year, eight more than the next highest total for a first baseman. This is why the low strikeout totals aren’t nearly as valuable as a lot of people think. A glacially slow runner like Casey, which is an insult to most glaciers, who puts the ball in play and generally hits it on the ground is going to be a double play machine.
Of NL first basemen, I would much rather have Lee, Delgado, Pujols, Helton, Nick Johnson, Chad Tracy, and Ryan Howard. If you count Berkman as a first baseman, throw him in there. Going forward, I like Prince Fielder and Conor Jackson better. Overbay is marginally better once you take park effects into account, and I’d rate Choi about the same as Casey.
You are, by definition, wrong. How’s that power play?
Good enough to get one last night. Unfortunately, they’re just as bad on the PK as they’ve been on the PP lately. At least they beat the Leafs.
“Of NL first basemen, I would much rather have Lee, Delgado, Pujols, Helton, Nick Johnson, Chad Tracy, and Ryan Howard.”
Agreed (with the possible exception of Johnson & Tracy) but I could also list who I would rather have at every other position on the Pirates (with the exception of left field). Point being, he is not Babe Ruth, but he is a lot better than Ward and Eldred (at least as Eldred is now).
Wilson and he would make an interesting comparison insofar as Wilson has far better power but I am not sure where his OBP will land.
J. Michael Neal
If the Bucs are lucky, Wilson will be playing right field every day. If the plan is to have Casey for just one year, then move Eldred in, it’s not so bad. I still think that that makes the trade largely meaningless, but not bad. The instant Littlefield tries to sign Casey to an extension, and I have a sinking feeling he will, it goes from meaningless to bad.
Casey played at the University of Richmond, so I’ve had the pleasure of watching for a long time. He’s a quality ballplayer and a genuinely decent guy. Pittsburgh is lucky to have him.
J. Michael Neal
Hey, I watched Brent Gates play at the University of Minnesota. Same for Dan Wilson. Both were great college players and seemed to be all right guys. Any teams paying either of them $8.5 million (which the Mariners came pretty close to with Wilson) was dumb, not lucky.