Valdez-for-Horst Model For Re-tooling

Jeremy Horst has impressed in his first five appearances. Photo by: Howard Smith

Heading into the All-Star break, there is very little for Phillies fans to be excited about. Sixteen games behind the Nationals in the loss column, the Phillies lost their 50th game today, reaching a milestone they did not hit until the 144th game last year. Arguing whether it is the offense or the pitching’s fault is half a dozen of one versus six of the other; one scores one too little, the other gives up one too many. Yet, there are a few things to be excited about, and one of them is the development of Jeremy Horst and how they acquired him is a positive for the Phillies moving forward.

Horst, 26, was not and is not a particularly notable prospect. In fact, our Phillies Nation preseason assessment saw him project as little more than a September call-up. In 36 games for Triple-A Louisville in 2011, Horst posted a 2.81 ERA across 51 IP, earning a call-up to the Reds. Horst stranded 84.9% runners he inherited for the Reds, posting a 2.93 ERA in 15.1. Horst has struggled in both the Major and Minor league levels at walking batters at a 3.04 BB/9 IP clip in his Minor league appearances but has excelled at striking batters out as well, averaging nearly a K/IP (.93). Horst’s strong campaign in Lehigh Valley in 2012 (2.11 ERA in 38.1 IP) coupled with Joe Savery‘s meltdown (9 ER in his last 5.1 IP) led to his promotion on June 28.

What is notable about Horst isn’t his 0.00 ERA in 5 IP or that he’s only allowed one hit. No, it is the fact that he has provided the Phillies with between $3.0 and $3.1 million of surplus value in the trade. At the time of the trade, our own Pat Gallen pointed out that there were a number of replacement level infielder available as free agents who could do the same job as Wilson Valdez, the man traded for Horst, and he was right. The Phillies in-house options Pete Orr (salary: $600,000, 2012 FanGraphs value: -$300,000, cost to Phillies: $900,000) and Michael Martinez (salary: $480,000, 2012 FanGraphs value: -$2,500,000, cost to Phillies: $2,980,000) have been equally or less ineffective than Valdez (salary: $930,000, 2012 FanGraphs value: -$2.1 million, cost to Reds: $3.13 million), while the Phillies plucked Mike Fontenot off the scrap heap after the Giants released him after Spring Training and was added to the Phils on May 13 and he has provided great value (salary: ~$600,000, 2012 FanGraphs value: $1.3 million, cost to Phillies: worth $700,000 in surplus). With a bloated payroll, moves like signing Fontenot and, more importantly, trading for Horst are what will keep this team competitive through some of the larger contracts, like Ryan Howard‘s and, to an extent, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

Horst, according to FanGraphs, has been worth +$400,000 already in just 5 IP, easily matching and exceeding his prorated $480,000 salary and making the net-win of the trade between $3 and $3.1 million for the Phillies in money and production. While it is a small and volatile sample size, it does not change the fact that the Phillies were able to turn an overpaid common player into somewhat of an asset. Horst may never become Steve Bedrosian of 1987 or J.C. Romero of 2007, but by trading Valdez, they avoided overpaying for a declining player that could, and was, easily replaced. The Phillies were able to do the something similar with Jim Thome in exchange for a high-reward 19-year old lotto ticket named Gabriel Lino, who FanGraph’s Mike Newman listed as “one of the top-5 catching prospects I’ve scouted in person in terms of talent and ceiling”. With news that the Reds have been scouting Juan Pierre, another opportunity is presented to sell at a time when the price is right and re-stock like they did when they traded Valdez for Horst.

I anticipate Horst to continue to be successful with the Phils and become one of their primary left-handed options out of the ‘pen. Horst has leap-frogged Savery, Phillippe Aumont, David Purcey, and Raul Valdes to make the team and now only has Antonio Bastardo and Jake Diekman in front of him to catch. Horst relies mostly on a fastball slider combo to get the opposition out but also throws what appears to be a change-up. Should Horst develop the change-up further, he should add even more surplus value to the Phils

Click to comment


  1. George

    July 9, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Where in the world does FanGraphs get a figure of -$2,500,000? That’s ridiculous any way you look at it. The Phils pay him $480,000. I don’t recall any games Martinez actually lost singlehandedly, and he’s certainly not going to do any damage to the ML team at Lehigh Valley. Maybe he takes up a roster spot, but so do a lot of scrubs who won’t make it to the majors. As far as I’m concerned, he costs $480, and FanGraphs can eat dirt.

    That said, trading for Valdez was an obvious move to me. He was getting old, never could hit much, and wouldn’t have been worth what he’s being paid, although again I question the -$2.1 FanGraphs figure. A lot of fans thought it was a bad move, but you just don’t need an overpaid dime-a-dozen utility man, even if he can by some miracle get through an inning on the mound. A 49 year old Moyer has managed that, and his fastball is so slow his catcher doesn’t even really need a mitt.

    Whether this Valdez for Horst was a “model for re-tooling” is questionable. There’s not a team around that doesn’t trade fringe players for other fringe players. In the long run, I doubt if either player involved will have a huge impact.

    • schmenkman

      July 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

      The -2.5 million is translating -0.5 wins above replacement to a dollar value, at the prevailing open market rate of about $5 million per win. It’s -0.5 despite his limited playing time because of his extremely poor hitting and below average fielding. It says basically that his stats on average translate into a half win less than what a typical AAAA replacement player might give you. That’s all by way of explanation, but nevertheless any WAR numbers based on such tiny samples as Martinez’ and Horst’s, while they might be indicative of how well they’re doing, need to be taken with large grains of salt.

      • George

        July 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

        I still find these values, or lack of values rather stupid, even when the salt grain is figured in. As I said, I can’t recall a single time when Martinez singlehandedly cost the team a victory, so I don’t see where he’s rated -.5 wins. It’s a team game, and it takes a team to lose even half of a game. Martinez is a bad batter, but at times, he’s been a needed one. Just filling in for a player who needs a break or is nursing a “day-to-day” injury is worth something. Rest can make that regular player better, and that can be more valuable than playing that same regular until he can’t run, hold a bat, or stop a grounder. Bench players will always be undervalued by sites like FanGraphs until they figure that in.

      • schmenkman

        July 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        I don’t think bench players are undervalued. They are valued using the same criteria as regulars — based on their stats. A negative number simply means he’s been worse than we would typically expect from a replacement-level player.

        It’s all converted to “wins” to have a single overall number for value, based on those stats. If you want to grant them more value (because of versatility, or “clubhouse presence”, or a regular’s durability, or whatever), that’s up to one’s interpretation.

      • George

        July 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        I respect your thoughts, and appreciate your explanation. I will still interpret a player’s worth differently, though. There’s just no way any player has negative value unless he’s throwing games or murdering people.

      • schmenkman

        July 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm

        OK. I’ll just add, in case it’s not already apparent: it doesn’t mean that he less than 0 value — anybody who gets on base at least once, or makes any play in the field will have non-zero value), it’s only negative compared to a certain standard, that being the replacement-level AAAA player. And Martinez, in a very small sample, has been less valuable than that standard.

  2. Ryne Duren

    July 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

    horst looks pretty good to me!if he pans out, and only time will tell then yea that’s one way to retool. but it’s not the model of retooling that’s gonna get you where you wanna be. it’s just one way. thats how we got jc remero. not a big move but one that worked out and helped us for a few years. i think we actually picked him up on waivers (not sure) but small moves like that. and you are right george players like valdez are a dime a dozen. so with raul valdez and horst we now have 2 what seems like servicable lefty’ s the jury is still out on diekman but i think he’ll be ok if he’s used right to kind of ease him in. ( but i doubt the current manager will do that!) he has a propensity not to with his pen pieces. and to me bastardo is a tradable commodity at this point! another way to retool. he has flashes of being really good but i don’t think he’ll do it here. he’s too inconsistant. if they don’t trade him the brain should get him out of the 8th role and try someone else and give bastardo a chance in middle inning to gather his confidence. but charlie seems to be so bullheaded he don’t do things like that. check the leadoff spot! and check vic batting second! ( he must have had a flashback with utley and howard back)

    • George

      July 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      It’s pretty hard to figure bullpen roles when everybody in it is inexperienced, inconsistent, or just plain bad. I just can’t go along with the brutal criticism of Manuel here. He has to mix and match until he finds what works, and that involves testing those inexperienced arms to discover just wghat they can or can’t handle. And by the way, he’s used Victorino in the two hole exactly once when Utley and Howard were in the game, and he also tried Rollins batting third earlier this season. That worked well, didn’t it?

    • schmenkman

      July 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Speaking of Victorino, interesting article on why it might make sense to extend him now.

  3. EricL

    July 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

    This is a rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic type of re-tooling.

    The other thing is that they’re using EXTREMELY small sample sizes here. Yes, Fangraphs has rated their value, but making any kind of determination about the abilities of a player after throwing 20 career major league innings is a little bananas (which also applies to guys like Savery – 25 career innings and Diekman 17 career innings), as is incorporation of fielding metrics (which are taken into account for valuation purposes by Fangraphs) of guys like Martinez, Fontenot, Orr and Valdez based on very limited playing time over the course of half a season. (Offensive metrics stabilize quicker, but even then, this is probably not enough data upon which to draw such conclusions)

    • George

      July 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      I agree, and in fact hinted at that earlier. Fringe players are fringe players. They’re replaceable parts like headlights and lug nuts. You don’t make your car run better with a light bulb or a chrome plated thingamabob.

      • Lefty

        July 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

        Yes, but lug nuts are pretty dang important, no?

        But seriously,
        I agree, Charlie has had very little to work with in the pen partly due to injury, bad luck, and over paying for the one piece, none of which is his fault. So I’m not advocating it, but sometimes in sports, these guys take the fall anyway, I think the term used most often is “shaking things up”. It’s just part of the insecurity that comes with these jobs, it wouldn’t surprise me if it happens.

  4. bacardipr

    July 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Too soon to tell. I dont have his stats but read he can be wild. If he is too wild MLB hitters will learn(most of them) to just lay off his initial offerings.

  5. Lefty

    July 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Okay getting ready for another year, another HR Derby with the sound turned off. I assume it’s the back back back dude again.

  6. Bruce

    July 10, 2012 at 12:12 am

    HR Derby is such a bore for me. The only time I tuned in was for Ryan Howard and in an earlier time, Bobby Abreu (his HR streak was an eye-opener I’ll admit). Hitting ‘batting practice-type’ pitches over the fence to achieved a top $$$ prize does not stimulate any interest for me whatsoever. It just eye candy for fans loving the display of power from the selected “sluggers”.

  7. Chuck A.

    July 10, 2012 at 12:19 am

    I enjoy the Derby. It’s light entertainment and I like seeing the players relaxed and having a good time. And something about crushing the crap out of a baseball has appeal for me. In fact, I enjoy it more than the AS game itself. Whatever…to each his own…

    • Ian Riccaboni

      July 10, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Me too, Chuck. I love the Derby and only like the AS Game itself.

    • Lefty

      July 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      I like both, but I’m addicted to baseball. I wish I could still play, getting old stinks. To me the two worst days of the summer are tomorrow and Thursday. I wish they’d go back to playing on Thursday, but I understand the need for a decent break.

  8. Pingback: All-Star Break Grades: The ‘Pen •

  9. Pingback: All-Star Break Grades: The ‘Pen |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Phillies Nation has been bringing Phillies fans together since 2004 with non-stop news, analysis, trade rumors, trips, t-shirts, and other fun stuff!

Browse the Archives

Browse by Category

Copyright Phillies Nation, LLC 2004-2016
Not Affiliated with Major League Baseball or the Philadelphia Phillies

To Top