The Primates are falling all over themselves trying to outsnark each other to describe how much the Nats fleeced the Reds (here and here). In that second link, Tim Marchman, a writer for the NY Sun, tries to defend the Reds, something I tried to do, too. My comment:
There are two ways to look at it. One is defensible for the Reds, the other not.
In terms of talent in and talent out, the Reds got hosed. Kearns and Lopez for two relievers and Royce Clayton is a bad trade.
But when you look at the Red's roster, it's probably a better team now. They really needed the bullpen help, and Denofria is capable of stepping up and providing Kearns-like performance. Clayton's a downgrade on Lopez, but scoring runs hasn't really been the Reds' problem.
It's certainly possible that the 25-man they have today is better than what they had, even as they gave away more talent than they took in.
Blockquoting yourself is the height of arrogance, huh?
Last month, I wrote a review of the team's defense, using a sampling of various defensive stats. If you missed it, check it out, because I explain the stats I'm using in more depth than I'm going to here.
Range Factor: Clayton (11/15); Lopez (14/15)
Fielding %: Clayton, .970 (10/15); Lopez, .959 (13/15) That's only a difference of three errors though.
Zone Rating: Clayton (9/15); Lopez (15/15)
Rate 2: Clayton, 92; Lopez, 91
Fielding Win Shares: Clayton, 2 (13th); Lopez, 1.5 (16th).
No matter how you chalk it up, Lopez is a worse fielder than Clayton. Only Baseball Prospectus' Rate2 stats sees them as equal. Clayton might be a defensive upgrade for the Reds, but he's not going to be much of them.
Much of Lopez' problem is his error rate. Last year, he made about 17% more errors than a league average shortstop, a pace he's roughly on this year. I wonder how many of those are throwing errors (anyone know a good source?) Generally when error totals are that high, it's because of the throwing yips. Then I think to the infield defense they have, where the Reds had Adam Dunn playing first for a bit -- and surehanded isn't one of the words anyone would use to describe him. I wonder, and yep, this is looking for the silver lining, if it is throwing problems, whether Nick Johnson, who does seem to do a good job of digging out throws, will be able to help.
Despite his defense, he's a pretty good offensive player. His 2005 was a monster season. Park-inflated or not, .291 .352 .486 is a damn good line out of anyone, let alone someone who can pretend to wear a glove at shortstop. He's not hitting for the power or average he did last year, but his on-base percentage is still over .350, meaning he's an attractive option for the top of the order. He's been an excellent basestealer, going 23/29 so far this year.
Contrast that to Royce Clayton's less-than meager .269 .315 .348 line, and it's a HUGE offensive upgrade for the Nats. Even with the defensive downgrade (which probably isn't going to be that much), that's an improvement of a win or two over the second half of the season.
Sent to the minors at the beginning of the year so Frank could have his second lefty, Joe Horgan, Majewski quickly got the call and pitched his way into the lead setup role once Luis Ayala went out at the end of the year.
I'm trying to think of great Gary Majewski moments, and all I can think of is the three-run bomb he gave up to Wilson Betemit during the Sunday Night game earlier this year. It's sad that that's the chief thing I remember about him, but that's also sort of a testament to how effective he is. It's generally a good thing when you can't remember your middle relievers' performances. It means they're getting their job done without too many hassles. And, for the most part, that's Majewski to a tee.
It doesn't take much to shake down relievers if need be. The Nats have a wonderful opportunity to test out some of the New Orleans arms. Is Roy Corcoran capable of filling the role? If not, you've got Kyle Denney. Or Kevin Grybowski (even if he's not a youngin'!). The point is that there are options, and the Nats can take this lost half-season to sort through them. If one becomes the next Carrasco, great. You go to next season with a leg up.
If they all try and fail, then Bowden has another item to add to the grocery list in the offseason. But for now, let's root through the pantry and see if there's something yummy in there.
MLB Trade Rumors: "I tried to defend Wayne Krivsky a bit at first, but this trade just looks bad. The more I dig in, the less I like the players he acquired."
Baseball Musings: "If Cincinnati is really going to play Clayton at shortstop, it may negate any help they get in the pen. This is a nice deal for Washington."
Ken Rosenthal: "Upon learning of the deal, one rival general manager was dumbfounded...
The GM went on to explain, "Relief pitchers are risky. Their performance is risky. One year, they're great; the next year, they're mediocre. They're the hardest players to evaluate. Position players are the easiest. And the Nationals got two premium position players in their 20s."
Church of Baseball: "The deal was definitely good for the Nats, but I'm not sure that the Reds got enough for Kearns and Lopez. If the Reds make the playoffs this year, I won't second guess the trade, but if they don't, we all can wonder if we could have gotten more for these two."
NatsAtBat: "I really thought the plan going forward was to build up the farm system. Instead, we got 2 proven starters that are 26 years old–something that could help us soon instead of the later that the farm system approach would give us."
Nats320: "WHY DO WE HAVE TO GIVE UP BRAY!! I understand that you have to give up something to get something back, but Bray has CLOSER POTENTIAL and is just 23."
Rotoworld: " This looks like a complete and total steal for the Nationals. Lopez is a huge upgrade at shortstop over Royce Clayton"