This week I'll be taking a stab at predicting the Reds 25-man roster heading north from Sarasota. Today, I'll start with the pitchers, but before we get to them, I'm also going to include payroll numbers, because when I'm done I'm going to make some predictions on some potential mid-season moves for the Reds. The Reds have several guys that will make the roster and are still under team control for '09. These guys made under $500 k last year, and are not eligible for arbitration. For my purposes (I don't have any idea how much they'll make for '09) I put all of those players at half a million, figuring that should cover it. The obvious pitchers:
Harang ($11 mil.); Arroyo (9.5); Volquez (.5); Cueto (.5); ($21.5 mil.)
Cordero ($12 mil.); Weathers (3.9); Rhodes (2); Lincoln (1.5); Bray (.5); Burton (.5); ($20.4 mil.)
That leaves only the fifth starter open and one bullpen spot if the Reds take 7 relievers north (total of 12 pitchers) which I think they will do.
All-in-all, this is not a bad staff of pitchers. Here are the top four starters for the other teams in the division:
Cubs: Zambrano, Harden, Dumpster, Lilly (Very good, if Harden is healthy, which is a big if.)
Brewers: Gallardo, Bush, Suppan, Looper (Solid, but not as good as the Reds.)
Cards: Wainwright, Carpenter, Lohse, Wellemeyer (Full of question marks, especially Carpenter.)
'Stros: Oswalt, Rodriquez Hampton, Backe (Good top two, very questionable from there.)
The Reds have enough 5th starter candidates to make it a race in Sarasota, but I think it's between Micha Owings from the Dunn trade and Homer. The more interesting question might be what happens to the guy that doesn't get the job. Will Owings make the team as a right-handed power bat off the bench/long reliever? That would solve the "how many pitchers do we take north" dilema. Does Homer stick in long relief (Dusty has been hinting at this in the paper -- maybe he wants to see how Hal McCoy will react before he decides) or does he head down to L'ville to start every fifth day? I say Owings wins the fifth starter spot and Homer ends up starting for the Bats, at least to start the season. I have Owings as a $.5 mil. player.
That leaves one bullpen spot for either Josh Roenicke or Aaron Fultz, the veteran lefty. I say they end up with Fultz to start the season to give Dusty as much bullpen flexibility as he can get. That puts Roenicke in AAA. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bailey win a bullpen spot, but for now I'm going with Fultz, also a $.5 mil. player. (If he's not $.5 mil. (I couldn't find his contract stats other than that he signed a minor league deal) then give the spot to Roenicke.)
One final wild card for the bullpen is Carlos Fisher. He's not that young, he turns 26 next week, but he had some success closing games in the Arizona Fall Leauge. He's not on anybody's top prospects list, but he's a hard thrower and has had some bullpen success.
That leaves Daryl Thomson, Matt Maloney, Ramon Ramirez, and Homer as your AAA starters. Nothing to set the world on fire, but some decent depth for when the Reds need help in the rotation. Fisher, Roenicke, and Danny Herrera would be in the AAA pen.
So we have five starters at $22 mil. and 7 relievers at $20.9 mil. for a total pitching staff of $42.9 mil.
The Reds say they're emphasizing pithching, and the payroll stats seem to indicate that, but $32.5 of that $42.9 is allocated to just three guys, Cordero, Harang, and Arroyo.
The Reds have a very solid starting staff, with a deep, if not specatular, bullpen. If we get the '07 Harang, and the second-half Arroyo, and if Cueto and Volquez just do what they did last year (no guarantee) there are enough other guys floating around that the Reds will not be able to blame another losing season on lack of pitching. Around here, that is big news and should have everyone excited for '09.
Next up: the hitters. After that, some predictions.
Mike Mussina, Hall of Famer
3 months ago