Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's next for the Reds?

After signing Cabrerra, the big question is what's next for the Reds? If anything. Most likely, the Reds are finished with any big deals (and by that I mean more than $1 mil.) but there will still be some moves. For one thing, the Reds will have to make room on the 40-man for O-Cab. It looks like O-Cab signed with the Reds because he wanted to play short instead of second. That's exactly what we predicted would happen.

Here's what I'm proposing for the Reds: they need to trade a prospect off of the 40-man (actually 2) to make room for O-Cab and find a better 5th-starter option, preferably a lefty. The Reds have committed to Rolen at third for the next three years, so Juan Francisco is blocked there. They may try him in left, but that's not a great solution, especially with the other young talent they have in the outfield. So who needs a third-base prospect and has an extra lefty for the rotaion? The Twins. They've had trouble at third for a while now, and if ever a guy needed a change of scenery it's Glen Perkins. Perkins would be an upgrade over Maloney and Francisco has good trade value right now coming off of a great power year. The Twins have depth in the rotation, and could spare Perkins. The Reds would have to include another 40-man guy, but it could be a lesser prospect, and the Twins would have to include a non-40-man guy, preferably a third-base prospect who is further away than Francisco.

What about other free agents? As far as actual 2010 payroll, the Reds still have a little bit left over from the Rolen re-structure, but some of that was no doubt eaten up in raises for the arbitration eligible guys. So let's say they're out of money and could only sign another guy if Mr. Castellini opens up the payroll a little more. John Fay has reported he might do that, but arguably he already did with O-Cab. But if you're going to trade for Rolen and sign O-Cab, why not go a few more marginal dollars and make a run? Last year, the Reds reportedly took quite a run at Jermaine Dye; it just didn't work out. And that was when Dye was making in the neighborhood of $12-13 mil. Now, he is no doubt available for quite a bit less. He reportedly turned down a similar deal to what the Cubs gave Nady, but I'm not convinced that was because of the money. Nady signed as the fouth outfielder; I don't think Dye was ready to give up on a starting role. Dye could be this year's Abreu, signing a one-year deal a little below market in a favorable player situation to rebuild his value for next year. The Reds (and they're left field spot) are the perfect fit for Dye. His defensive decline will seem less sharp in left field for the Reds. And the short fence in left will help him at the plate, as well. I could see him coming here and having a big bounce-back year, putting himself back on the market next year off of a good season, looking for a multi-year deal. Again, see Abreu.

The Reds are also reportedly still in on Gomes, as well, having offered a minor league deal. I think Gomes will hold out for a major league contract based on the season he had last year. Of course, if the Reds were to sign Dye, Gomes would have to look elsewhere.

I really don't see any other free agents that would both be affordable and help the Reds short or long term. Mark Mulder is out there, and he's got some history with Walt Jockety with the Cardinals, but there's been no chatter connecting Mulder to the Reds. He would be a nice lefty starter if healthy, but may need more guaranteed money than the Reds want to pay (like Sheets). Damon is also out there, but I think he'll hold out for more than what the Reds could pay Dye, and I think Dye's a better fit because of his power potential in Pretty Good American Small Park.

Reds nab O-Cab

Everyone is reporting that the Reds have signed Orlando Cabrerra to a one year deal with an option. John Fay has reported the deal as $3 mil. but other reports have it at $4 mil. With a $1 mil. buyout of an option, it's really $5 mil. guaranteed.

This is exciting news for anyone that wants to see the Reds compete in 2010. The Reds have taken the money they "saved" on Rolen's restructure to sign a veteran guy at a big hole. (I say "saved" because it would have been cheaper not to trade for Rolen in the first place, but that's water under the bridge.) A lot of people are really looking forward to Rolen's leadership this year and O-Cab may help in that department. He certainly seemed to help the Twins last year make the playoffs when he came over in a deadline deal from the A's.

O-Cab will hit; the question is will he play enough defense to be an upgrade over Janish. I think he will. The other question is whether Janish even makes the team now. If your the Reds, and this may depend partly on how the outfield is constructed in terms of right/lefty, wouldn't you rather have a guy like Drew Sutton, who's left-handed and has some pop, over Janish on your bench?

Friday, January 29, 2010

O-Cab rumors

According to, O-Cab is choosing between offers from the Rockies and the Reds. The Reds certainly need him more than the Rockies do, and could leave him at shortstop.

Reds 25-man roster preview - outfield

The final part of our 25-man roster preview is the outfield, at least until we have to do a bunch of updates because of a new signing, etc. or just because I left out guys. As usual, let's start with the easy stuff. Jay Bruce will be the right fielder. A lot of people don't realize this, but Bruce actually had more at bats in '08 than '09. Bruce's '09 was certainly a disappointment, but he's still very young and I haven't seen any expert predict he won't eventually break out even though it didn't happen last year. His .223 average was certainly a concern, but he improved his walks to strike outs ratio a lot over '08, hit for more power, and had a slightly increased OPS. Plus, in 34 post-injury at bats last September, he hit .353 with four home runs. Look for Bruce to have a big year this year.

Center field is a mild question mark. I guess the only issue is whether Dusty's love affair with Willy Taveras is over? In spite of a terrible year (an OPS of .559) Dusty stuck with Taveras right up to his injury. At that point, the Reds went with Drew Stubbs, who had a stunning debut with 8 home runs, 10 stolen bases,and a .762 OPS in 180 at bats. The OPS was just a tick below Bruce's. According to Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus, the break out does not seem like a fluke. He compared Stubbs to Mike Cameron. We'll take that. Now, if we could be sure that Stubbs will get his chance. I could see Dusty going back to Taveras if he has a good spring. Probably the most egregious part of last year's T-Virus debacle was that Dusty never moved him out of the lead-off spot. I'd show up at the park and see Taveras leading off and Janish batting second. I knew we were doomed. Look for Stubbs to struggle some in the starting role, but end up with a decent season if the Dusty sticks with him. The power will go down some but the steals (and the defense) are for real. I'm sure the Reds would trade Taveras if they could, but look for the Reds to aggressively shop him come trade deadline time.

Now the biggie: left field. There have been a ton of rumors swirling around the Reds this week, mostly because the media are obsessed with the Johnny Damon thing. Best I can tell, Scott Boras tried to get the Reds involved with Damon, not the other way around. Although Jockety did admit to discussing Damon with Boras, but apparently after calling Boras about Nady, who's since signed with the Cubs. Crazy stuff, but it's nice to see the Reds in the rumor mill. I'll wait to write about Damon if we get him. Otherwise, I'll assume the Reds are going to go to camp with what they've got. (I think Gomes, who I love, is trying to cash in on a pretty good season last year and will hold out for more money than the Reds can afford. And besides the Damon issue, I see the Reds trying to fill the short stop hole (or fifth starter hole for that matter) through free agency before they buy a left fielder.)

There are a ton of candidates for the left field spot. One possibility before we get to them all, though, would be to play Taveras everyday in center and let Stubbs take over in left. This might satisfy Dusty, and might showcase Taveras for a possible trade (if he's playing well) without stunting Stubbs. If the Reds don't think they can compete, building up Taveras's trade value might be the way to go. Right now, however, it looks like the Reds have two righties and three lefties in the mix. For righties, there's Wladimir Balentien, a late-last-season pick-up, and Chris Heisey, the Reds' top outfield prospect, but only a three-star one. Heisey really impressed last year, but I see Balentien, a prospect who's been around for a while and who might be down to his last shot, as the front-runner for the "rightie" spot in left. He's got a ton of power, but needs to make better contact. Plus, Heisey and Stubbs in the outfield, with a still not proven Bruce, seems too young to me. Balentien's at least got some MLB at bats.

On the left side for left field, the Reds have Chris Dickerson, who sort of broke out in '08, but had a disappointing year in '09, Laynce Nix, who played a lot (and some times well) for the Reds in '09, and the newly signed Josh Anderson. Both Nix and Anderson are on minor league deals, which makes it harder for them to make the team. Dickerson seems to be the front-runner for the spot, but this could be one of those true spring training battles for a roster spot.

Other options include moving guys out of position. Yonder Alonso had a rough year (albeit an injury-plagued year) and his star has tarnished some. If he's less of a sure thing, maybe he will be the guy to eventually move to left rather than Votto. But that won't happen this spring. Juan Francisco, the power hitting third base prospect who hit .429 in a brief call-up last year, may see time in left, but BP has him rated below Heisey on the prospect list. The Reds' top position-player prospect, Todd Frazier, who by all accounts is ready to hit in the bigs, is another option. But they're actually talking about him playing some shortstop (he's been at second base mostly) this spring to see if they can get him in the line-up that way.

Right now, I see Bruce in right, Stubbs in center, and Taveras as the fourth outfielder. The other two outfield spots (really a platoon in left) will be up for grabs in the spring. They're are enough guys in the mix right now that they don't need to sign anyone, and don't need to move a guy out of position (yet). But stay tuned for possible changes. (And keep your fingers crossed for Johnny Damon.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reds rumors

Something is up with the Reds, as things are heating up on the rumor mill. Fay and Sheldon have both been very active in the last couple of days. Here is a summarizing link.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reds add to infield mix

The Reds signed Miguel Cairo to a minor league deal. He can play all four infield positions. He was with the Phillies organization last year, but didn't add much to the major league roster. He's a veteran of a bunch of teams, but I don't see him making the team. He might be a good candidate for the 25th spot, and could be an upgrade over Adam Rosales, the guy most likely to lose out because of this signing.

Lost preview

Last night, ABC re-ran last season's Lost finale. There are now two big questions on everyone's mind, the first being, did the bomb "work"? Or, is the plane still going to crash?

One of, if not the best, all-time Lost scenes was the first scene of Season 2, where we meet Desmond in the hatch. Appart from the time travel, that was probably the single most game-changing moment in the entire series. So we know Lost likes to open with a bang (last season's opener introduced the time travel aspect). My prediction, this season will open with the whole gang getting on the plane in Sydney and flying to L.A. In other words, no plane crash. So in that sense, blowing up the island in the 1970's "worked" from the stand point that the plane never crashed. But clearly this group had conections, or a destiny. A great season would be the group landing in L.A., but then spending the season connecting to each other anyway, or fullfilling their destinies. The problem with this approach, however, is that none of the questions about the island would be answered. I guess they could make it to the island for some other reason.

Remember, it was Fariday's idea to set off the bomb and change the future. Maybe Miles was right last night when he questioned if this idea would work. I always suspected that Fariday wanted to reverse history just so his girlfriend, Charlotte, wouldn't die from the time-travel sickness.

The second big question, of course, is whether or not we'll get a satisfactory ending. I think they'll spend all season building to the "big tell" (and high ratings) which will come in the finale. In other words, they won't possibly have the time to tie up all of the loose ends. But a great explanation of the what and why (and the when?) should alleviate concerns over a few loose ends. But it better not be purgatory and I don't want to see Suzanne Plushette or Jackie Childs.

Baseball Prospectus top 10 Reds prospects

Here are the Reds' top prospects according to Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Aroldis Chapman, LHP
Four-Star Prospects
2. Mike Leake, RHP
3. Todd Frazier, INF
Three-Star Prospects
4. Yonder Alonso, 1B
5. Travis Wood, LHP
6. Chris Heisey, OF
7. Brad Boxberger, RHP
8. Juan Francisco, 3B
9. Yorman Rodriguez, OF
10. Billy Hamilton, SS
Two-Star Prospects
11. Miguel Rojas, SS

Four More:
12. Matt Maloney, LHP: A pure finesse lefty, Maloney is exceptionally good at his craft, but his ceiling is a fifth starter.
13. Zach Cozart, SS: Cozart is a plus defender at shortstop with surprising pop, but his pure hitting skills are lacking.
14. Mariekson Gregorius, SS: This Dutch import has solid tools across the board, and he impressed scouts in the Pioneer League.
15. Juan Duran, OF: He has crazy tools, but to call him raw doesn't really do the concept justice.

The most disturbing aspect of this list has to be Yonder Alonso downgraded to a three star prospect. Last year Goldstein had him as a five star prospect, 35 overall in all of baseball. Now he's below Frazier, as he is on most top-ten lists I've seen.

Goldstein says scouts are split over whether his power has dropped off or if the power was simply gone due to a hamate bone injury. One good thing, he gets on base. With his drop in status, it seems more likely the Reds will try to move him to left and leave Votto at first rather than vice versa.

I'll be interested to see if Chapman ends up in BP's overall top 10. Could happen, but I doubt it. He needs to show more consistent control to be a can't miss guy.

Here is how Goldstein ranks the Reds' top guys, regardless of prospect status, under 25:

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (Born 4/1/84 or later)

1. Aroldis Chapman, LHP
2. Homer Bailey, RHP
3. Jay Bruce, OF
4. Drew Stubbs, CF
5. Johnny Cueto, RHP
6. Mike Leake, RHP
7. Todd Frazier, INF
8. Yonder Alonso, 1B
9. Travis Wood, LHP
10. Wladimir Balentien, OF

Nice to see Stubbs so highly regarded, and that Goldstein still believes in Bailey and Cueto. Here is Goldstein's short summary:

Chapman alone brings up the organizational ranking considerably. Without him, the Reds' system is down, but for all the right reasons, as the youth is already at the big-league level, including an impressive cadre of young arms, which could return the team to contention.

Reds bullet points

We don't do a lot of bullet point posts here, but the rumors in baseball are really starting to heat up and the Reds have come up on a number of guys. So here are some bullet points and links for your consideration:

- We mentioned O-Cab yesterday with a link to John Fay's blog; Mark Sheldon thinks it's unlikely his price will fall far enough for the Reds to be able to afford him.

- The Reds are one of several teams set to watch Noah Lowry pitch in an audition for a starting rotation spot. His best asset, of course, is that he's a lefty.

- Scott Boras is trying to drum up interest in Johnny Damon. You have to assume this is only a ploy to bring the Yankees back up to a respectable offer. I doubt the Reds could afford Damon, but he'd fit nicely in left. Frankly, I'd rather see the Reds pursue a shortstop if they can't do both.

- In addition to O-Cab, the Reds have been linked to Alfredo Amezaga. In spite of the great name, he would be a disaster signing for the Reds.

- Eric Milton is still out there.

- So is Eric Bedard. He seems riskier than Sheets, but probably wouldn't command as high a contract. I'd like to see the Reds at least kick the tires on the power lefty. One thing about him, although he's often been injured, he's usually pretty good when he does pitch. Maybe the Reds could give him two years and give him 2010 to work his way back to being an ace. I sure would like to know what the scouts are saying about him. Maybe he should hold an open workout like Sheets did.

Look for our last installment of the 25-man roster preview, the outfield, soon. It's taking a while to figure out all of the possible left field options.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Yesterday I mentioned Orlando Cabrerra as a possible solution to the Reds' shortstop hole. I'm not the only one that thinks that. In discussing the remaining free agents, John Fay of the Enquirer had this to say:

The only guy on the list I see as a fit for the Reds is Orlando Cabrera. He’s probably too expense for them at this point. A week or so into February and that might not be the case.

Stay tuned.

Fanhouse top 100 prospects

The Fanhouse website is up with its top 100 prospects list. Here is what they said about Aroldis Chapman at no. 39:

Chapman could easily be in the top five, but at this point how can we really be sure? Much of Chapman's game is still a mystery, but if reports are to believed, and he can consistently produce that type of huge velocity, he'll be moving up this list in a hurry. Right now, he makes it purely on expectations.

Other Reds on the list include Todd Fazier at 56, Yonder Alonso at 57, and Mike Leake at 61. It's a little disappointing to see the Reds' last two first round picks, Alonso and Leake, so low.

Interestingly, Zach Stewart, who the Reds traded to Toronto as part of the Scott Rolen deal, is 60. Maybe the Reds gave up more than people thought in that deal, although I think the prospects were part of the deal because the Jays sent money back to the Reds to pay the rest of Rolen's 2009 salary.

I'm sure more top prospects lists will be out soon and we'll try to get you all of the Reds dope on the prospects. Baseball Prospectus should have its top-11 Reds' prospects up today or tomorrow. Also, check back for a post of where the Blue Sox' prospects appear on the various lists.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Baseball America top-ten propects lists by team

Baseball America has its top-ten prospect list up for each team and you can look at the lists for free. More detailed information requires a subscription. Here is the link for the Reds.

Reds 25-man roster preview - infield

Continuing with our 25-man roster preview, today we tackle the infield. Four of the five spots are set, with one caveat, how many games will Ramon Hernandez start at catcher?

The Reds re-signed Hernandez to a one-year $3 mil. deal (with an option) to catch. Hernandez managed to play only half of the games last year due mostly to injury, and played quite a few of those games (rather well defensively) at first base, filling in for Joey Votto. Hernandez was one of the Red's bigger moves last off-season when they brought him over from Baltimore for fan favorite Ryan Freel. Hernandez looked great in spring training, driving the ball to center and the gaps, but he never really put it together for the Reds during the year. He batted only .258 and slugged only .326, but did have an OBP of .336, striking out only once more than he walked. He hit only 5 home runs with 37 rbi's. Bringing him back at only $3 mil. was not a terrible move, though, especially on a one-year deal. If healthy, he could have a much more productive year, and his defense (with no real back-up for Votto) is an asset.

The back-up will be Ryan Hanigan who perhaps hit the least-productive .263 ever. He recorded an OBP of .361 in 251 at bats over 90 games, but managed only a .331 slugging percentage and only 11 rbi's. That is major futility. But he did serve as Bronson Arroyo's personal catcher. Interestingly, I wonder if Hanigan will be the opening day starter if Arroyo is given the assignment on the hill? Hanigan is still earning close to the minimum.

Joey Votto returns at first base. His continuing development as a star will be a big story for the Reds this year. He hit very well last year with a .310/.388/.536 line with 25 home runs and 84 rbi's in just 469 at bats over 131 games. He's no Albert Pujols, but his three-year average in the majors is .310/.388/.536. Not bad. Votto is not arbitration eligible until 2011. Hernandez will be the back-up.

Brandon Phillips returns at second base. Phillips had a typically productive year, with his home runs down some, but his rbi's up. That was mostly due to his hitting out of place in the clean-up spot. As usual, he played a great second-base. He'll make just shy of $7 mil. this year and over $11 mil. next year in the last year of his deal. If the Reds are out of it by the deadline, don't be surprised if they shop BP. Interestingly, it has long been rumored that BP would switch to shortstop. The Reds have a glaring hole at short (I'll get to that in a minute) that BP could fill nicely. BP started as a shortstop with the Indians and was a big-time prospect there. The Reds have a lot of options for second (which I'll also discuss in a minute) but few viable shortstop options. But for whatever reason, this shift has not happened and there is no indication it will happen this spring.

The Reds traded for Scott Rolen last year at the deadline and, when in the line-up, he seemed to help the team. Bad luck (he got hit by a pitch that led to a concussion and a lengthy stretch on the bench) kept us from getting any kind of extended look at him last year. But there was no question that his defense was an improvement over Edwin Encarnacion's at third. Rolen's slash stats were down as a Red over his Toronto stats, but he was more productive with the rbi's, something the Reds desperately needed. Rolen was set to make $11 mil. this year on the last year of a three-year deal, but the Reds restructured the deal, adding on money for 2011 and 2012 (with a $5 mil. bonus at the back end) for lowering his deal to $6 mil. for 2010. We'll discuss how the Reds might use that extra money here in a minute. (It didn't go to Chapman, because that deal is also back end loaded.)

That just leaves shortstop as a question mark, but boy it's a big one. Right now, the job belongs to Paul Janish who, when he wasn't pitching for the Reds last year, did a nice job of helping the Reds prevent runs. But his bat left a lot to be desired. Over two seasons with the Reds and 336 at bats, he's hit just .205 with a .582 OPS.

So what to do? Perhaps they'll take some of the Rolen money and find a free agent like Orlando Cabrerra, who is rumored to be looking for around $3 mil. Or try another prospect such as Todd Frazier, who will play some shortstop in spring training, his original position. The Reds also have Adam Rosales and Chris Valaika, both of whom were drafted as shortstops. Frazier is the better hitting prospect, batting .292 last year with 16 home runs and 71 rbi's at AA and AAA combined. Rosales is not an option because he hit just as poorly as Janish and is not as good with the glove. Valaika has played mostly second, but again, the Reds don't seem inclined to move BP to short, to make second base available for Valaika. That is also true for lefty hitting Drew Sutton who came over from the 'Stros for Keppy. He played some last year for the Reds and showed some promise, but I'm not sure he can handle shortstop.

Look for the Reds to play a lot of guys there in spring training and in the minors, but go with Janish on opening day, hoping he can hit. Look for Rosales to make the team as the utility infielder (he can play several spots) and Sutton to take the other spot because he's a lefty. Of course, a free agent signing could change all of that, but it would have to be a relatively cheap guy. The Reds could very well be waiting to see if I guy like O-Cab could fall to them on a one year deal at or below the $3-4 mil. range.

Odds and ends: Yonder Alonso, the Reds' top prospect may be ready this year, but he's parked behind Votto right now. So far, there's no indication that the Reds are seriously considering him for left field (or Votto for left) and there is no reason to have him in the bigs and riding pine. He needs to be playing every day. He could be part of a blockbuster trade at the deadline if the Reds really need a top guy, but I think he'll spend the year in the minors and the Reds will see how he does.

The Reds also have top prospect Juan Francisco, but he's a thirdbaseman and behind Rolen. Look for him to see some time in left field in spring training as the Reds try to get his solid bat (albeit with a poor eye) in the lineup.

The Reds reportedly will also look at Zach Cozart at short during spring training, but he's like Janish, good glove, no stick.

Up next: the outfield.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reds sign Arredondo for 2011

According to (citing's Matthew Leach) the Reds have signed Jose Arredondo, most recently of the Angels. He was supposed to take over for K-Rod at closer last year for the Angels, but the Angels signed Brian Fuentes. He then had a disappointing season (following a break-out 2008) that culminated in injury and Tommy John surgery. Rumor has it the Angels let him go due to the injury and lost 2010, but also because of some issues with the Angels at the end of last season. He's got great upside, but won't pitch at all in 2010. Cordero is in year three of a four year deal, so the Reds will look for Arredondo to pitch in a set up role in '11, coming off the injury, and then compete for the closer role in '12.

So far, the Reds off-season moves have looked like a team preparing for the future.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reds 25-man roster preview - bullpen

I did starters first because it seemed the easiest. I'm not so sure, because the bullpen seems pretty set, particularly if Owings does not make the rotation. Before we start, one more point about the rotation. Don't be surprised to see the Reds try and add a starter in free agency. Waiting out to the very end to see what's left and then offering an incentive-laden deal to a guy desperate for a job seems like a decent way to add some competition to the 5th-starter battle. By the way, Sheets does not fit that category. I'd be surprised if the Reds sign Sheets, but we've been surprised before this off-season.

Anyway, on to the pen. Cordero is obviously the closer. He's in the third year of a four year deal. No question, he's been good for the Reds. He walked more guys than he would have liked last year and his strikeouts are down some, but he shut the door very effectively last year and there's no indication he won't be a reliable closer this year. He's certainly overpaid, and we could have a short debate (it's wrong) about whether a team like the Reds should have such a high percentage of their payroll locked up in a closer, but the contract doesn't have anything to do with his performance on the field. He's been solid.

The bullpen was a plus for the Reds last year, and a big part of that was the emergence of Nick Massett as a good set up man. He came over for Jr. and competed in spring training for a starter's role. But he ended up in the pen and had a great year. The Reds just signed him for this year and next, avoiding arbitration. Set-up men can be volatile, so he needs to put together another great year to be considered a top guy. Like Arthur Rhoads, who's made a great career being a good, lefty set-up guy. Last year, he mostly pitched the 8th inning, not just against lefties, and was effective in that role. He and Massett are a good tandem setting up Cordero. If something happens to Cordero, look for Massett to get the next chance, even though he's 1 for 6 career in save chances.

I expect Owings to miss out on a rotation spot, and take a long relief role. Don't forget, Dusty likes his bat off the bench.

Unless Bill Bray bounces back and finally reaches some of his potential (he was supposed to end up a closer) or he gets out pitched by Pedro Viola, Daniel Ray Herrera will take the second lefty spot in the pen. Dusty had (justified) faith in him last year even though he faded a lot at the end of the year.

I don't see a third lefty in the pen, because I think Jared Burton (who just re-upped for one year to avoid arbitration) and Mike Lincoln (in the second year of a terrible (for the Reds) two-year deal -- he's making $2.5 mil. this year) will grab the last two bullpen spots. Carlos Fisher will try and compete for one of the spots. He was great last year in the Arizona Fall League, closing games, but he was not great last year for the Reds. But he does have a great arm. He's got options, though, so expect him to be ready in AAA if there's an injury.

The Reds have four more pitchers on the forty-man roster, all added on November 20 to avoid the Rule 5 draft. Don't expect any of Enerio Del Rosario, Logan Ondrusek, Jordan Smith, or Phillipe-Alexandre Valiquette (all-name team candidate) to compete for a job.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage

We spend a lot of time on this blog not being serious, and a lot of time being way more serious than we should about baseball (and even fantasy baseball). But here is a link to a terrific take on a very serious issue, one that I'm confident will be resolved in the next decade or two, but that will no doubt cause some angst in the process.

Starting pitchers addendum

According to, the Reds were one of the teams on hand for the Ben Sheets work-out, which apparently was pretty impressive. It seems unlikely the Reds could afford Sheets, but this may be why they restructured Rolen, to sign another starter. They've already signed Chapman, but that contract won't have a big impact on 2010. Obviously, Sheets is not left-handed, but he would be a huge boost over Matt Maloney in the rotation.

Even if the Reds don't sign Sheets, which again seems unlikely, they could certainly go for one of the other veterans on the market. The idea being that they scout Sheets to see what people are bidding on to help them know what other guys are worth relative to whatever contract Sheets gets.

I know it would go against my proposed plan to sign Sheets, but I can't help but be excited that maybe the Reds are in the Sheets sweepstakes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker dies

It's a sad day for mystery lovers. Robert B. Parker, the creator of the wonderful Spenser "spelled like the poet" series died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Spencer was old and I always thought his next book would be his last. Now we'll never know what would have happened to Spenser, Hawk, and Susan

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reds 25-man roster preview - starting pitchers

Pitchers and catchers start reporting one month from today, so I'm going to go ahead and start my Reds 25-man position-by-position roster preview. We'll start today with the starting rotation, because it requires the least amount of work on my part. Both Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo have both been rumored to be traded but nothing has happened yet. Barring a trade, which at this point seems unlikely (and not just because I proposed not trading anyone), Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo will head the rotation. Harang is probably the team's "ace" and will likely start opening day although, arguably, Bronson has earned the spot.

Arroyo's been remarkably reliable in his 4 years as a Red. His first year (14 wins and 3.29 era) and last year (15 wins and 3.84 era), two really good years, sandwiched two mediocre to bad years in '07 (9 wins and 4.23 era) and '08 (15 wins but a 4.77 era). But he managed to start at least 33 games every year and pitch at least 200 innings. That's a pretty good run. There is no reason to expect anything other than 34 starts 200 plus innings pitched and an era around 4.00. 15 wins is not a stretch for him by any means.

Harang on the other hand, since a great three-year run from '05 to '07 has been anything but reliable. Just like we said last year, Harang becoming the '05-'07 pitcher is a huge key to this team's success both for 2010 and, if he builds his trade value, for the future.

Both Harang and Arroyo will make north of $12 mil. this year on the last year of their contracts, and both have 2011 buyouts of $2 mil. Look for these guys to either lead the Reds to challenge for the division or be shopped at the deadline.

Right now, Johnny Cueto is the third starter and Homer Bailey is the fourth starter. The continued development of these two pitchers (especially Bailey's roller coaster ride from top-prospect to failure back to a top prospect?) is a huge factor in the Reds' ability to contend for the division this year. If these two pitch well, combined with good seasons from the top two guys, who is the fifth starter won't matter.

Which leads to the biggest question mark for the Reds going into spring training. Assuming again no trade or signing, the fifth spot will be up for grabs among a few candidates. Nick Massett, who was just re-upped for two years, is probably not a candidate even though he was last spring. He was great in a set-up role, and will keep that role for 2010.

Perhaps the most intriguing option (besides Chapman, who I'll get to in a second) is Travis Wood. He had a great year last year and was added to the 40-man roster in November. Between AA (where he dominated) and AAA (where he was good, not great) he pitched 167.2 innings over 27 starts (8 in AAA) with a 1.77 era and a 13-5 record. He struck out 135, walking 53, and only gave up 6 home runs. Tell me that won't play well at Pretty Good American Small Park. But Wood seems like a good bet to start at AAA for a little more seasoning.

Of course, there's Chapman, but I cannont conceive of the Reds starting him in the majors. For one thing, if he earns arbitration eligibility in 2012, it alters his contract.

Another AAA guy, Sam LeCure has shown some promise, but won't be in the mix. His 10-8 season for Louisville (with 4.46 era) requires some attention, but won't be enough to get a serious look.

That really only leaves Matt Maloney and Micha Owings from the 40-man. Dusty likes Owings in the pinch-hitter role, so I see him as more likely a long reliever than a starter.

Maloney wasn't great in his '09 Reds' debut, but he did show some promise and he's left-handed, which the Reds desperately need. In 7 starts, he went 2-4 with a 4.87 era and 28/8 K/BB in 40.2 innings (not quite 6 per start). He also allowed 9 home runs. But unless he blows up in the spring, the Reds sign another starter, or Wood or Chapman are just too good in spring training to be denied, Maloney will be the fifth guy.

Overall, starting pitching has to considered a strength with this club, although the rotation is not without its question marks, the biggest of which are which Harang will show-up? and will Cueto and Bailey continue to develop?

Up next: the bullpen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I'm psyched that Glee! won the Golden Globe, even though I never got a wedgie in high school.

McGwire follow-up

Bud Selig said he knew about McGwire, "before hand, but not by much." This is a blatant lie, unless you count 1993 as "not by much."

By the way, here is the link to Steve Wilstein's 1998 AP article about McGwire's andro use.

Jockety ignores Blue Sox Baseball . . . again.

Jockety is apparently ignoring my advice not to sign guys past 2010. He renegotiated with Rolen (adding two years, but freeing up some money for this year) which we have previously discussed. Now, Jockety has signed Nick Masset for two years. Again, against my advise. But this is much better than Mike Lincoln for two years, a couple of years ago. Massett is a quality arm, coming off a great year. Having said that, he went from a potential fifth starter to a quality set-up guy. Starters are hard to find and much more valuable than relievers, and quality set-up guys have a pretty solid history of being up and down from one year to the next. If you find a good one, give him another year and hope for the best. But stick on a one year basis. All told, however, this isn't a terrible idea.

The link (to Mark Sheldon's blog) also mentions that Jared Burton is the lone arbitration case remaining and that a deal is imminent. Interestingly, the Reds have apparently adopted the Rays' approach of refusing to settle after numbers are exchanged. This prevents an "arbitrary" settlement between the two exchanged numbers. Pretty solid thinking.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I'm thrilled (and shocked) by the Chapman signing. I have said that the Reds should not sign anyone and, if they do, not for more than just this year. The theory is that they should make a run with what they have (which is a fair amount of talent with some significant holes) and see where they are at the trade deadline. If they're in it, they'll have the flexibility (and the prospects) to make a deal and a run at the division or wild card. If they're out of it, they can trade everyone. They have a ton of payroll flexibility next year with only Cordero and BP signed beyond 2010. (They're are some buyouts.) They also signed Rolen through 2012, but that was a move that actually freed up some money for this year (if they need it) because they deferred some of Rolen's 2010 salary ($5 mil.)

The Chapman signing violates both of my rules, but that's not the point. First, Chapman is a huge prospect. I expect now that he's signed, he'll be in many lists top ten for 2010. He'll be a better buy than some of the guys that signed in this year's draft. Plus, the Reds backloaded the contract. This is similar to owing Alonso a bunch of money. He's still cheaper than if he were a free agent. We're looking at a rotation in 2012 of Volquez, Cueto, Bailey, Chapman, and Leake. That's a solid, and reasonably priced rotation.

The weird thing, and maybe what a lot of you thought (I know Rachel did) was, what's wrong with the guy if the Reds got him? Chapman apparently knew very little, if anything, about Cincy (he had to be shown where it was on a map) but liked the fact that the manager and pitching coach speak Spanish (you go, Dusty) and the Reds have other Spanish-speaking starting pitchers and Cordero. I don't know why the Reds got him, but other teams were in on him. Billy Beane in particular made a run (and he has to be right, right?) So I'm choosing to be super-excited. Which I needed today as I spent a half hour on the phone just trying to find someone with the Reds who would take my season ticket renewal order. I guess they're spending on payroll.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bombshell #2

Here is a link and another one until I can get my analysis up.

Bombshell #1

McGwire admitted to the AP and then to Bob Costas on MLB Network that he used steroids over several years, including in 1998 when he broke first Roger Maris's record and then Sammy Sosa's record for most home runs in a season. This, of course, was not news. Everyone knew he used steroids. It is nice to have him come clean (pun intended) and I've spent a lot of time on this blog defending McGwire. But today, I want to move on and stop "talking about the past."

Here is what should have happened. In 1998 when that AP reporter first broke the story about McGwire having Andro in his locker (which McGwire admitted using) Selig should have taken action. If he were truly a leader, and truly had the best interest of the game in his mind, he would have released the following statement:

"Mark McGwire has admitted to using Andro. While Andro is neither illegal nor currently banned by MLB, it is a known precursor to steroids. While I have no evidence of any player using steroids, I want to remind everyone that steroids are not permitted in major league baseball (see memo from Fay Vincent relied on by those who claim steroids were banned). While MLB does not have testing for steroids, I will personally push for steroid testing in the next agreement we collectively bargain with the union. We can not stand for steroids in baseball and I will do everything I can to prevent them from destroying our game. Those players tempted to use steroids, are hereby warned."

What kind of impact would this statement have made? I don't know, but I wager we wouldn't be talking about steroids in baseball right now had he made such a statement and followed through. Instead, he did nothing. Arguably, he did worse than nothing and actually condoned steroid use. The owners needed baseball to come back and as everyone knows, "chicks did the long ball."

Since that didn't happen, here is the only other thing that will end this. Players need to start telling the truth about their steroid use when they don't have to. A couple of guys need to come out and say, "I used steroids" even though they haven't been caught. Some guy needs to say, "thanks to McGwire coming clean, I want to do the same." It needs to be some guy that hasn't been on the radar for steroids. The chance of that happening: .0000001%.

The players union (and Don Fehr) of course had their chance. As you will recall, the Mitchell Report recommended amnesty for steroid users, which I supported at the time. The players union needed only to recommend that its players (clients) cooperate with the Mitchell Report. Of course, it couldn't force the players to cooperate. But here was baseball's chance to end all of this. A report, with full cooperation from the players, on what happened, with amnesty. Instead, the report had no chance. Although it got some info (because of McNamara's indictment) it was only a small piece of the puzzle.

Instead, the next thing down the line will be another name released off the list of 103, and we'll be discussing steroids every January (at HOF time) for the next 15 years.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More info

Here is a link to John Fay's blog with some of the details.

Reds sign Chapman

The Cincinnati Reds have signed Ardolis Chapman (thanks for the tip, Nick) to a rumored 6 year $30 million deal. The big dollars apparently don't kick in right away. I'll get some reaction/analysis up when the deal is official, but this is BIG!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dawson in, everyone else out

I think baseball is the only place where you can fail 7 out of 10 times and be considered great.

I must be great, because I got one out of three on my HOF predictions, with Andre Dawson getting in and Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar missing by less than 1% and 2%, respectively. But in my defense, Blyleven and Alomar were very close and no one else was even close. Jack Morris got 52.3% of the necessary 75% and Barry Larkin 51.6%. Larkin's showing was not bad for his first year on the ballot, and probably means he'll eventually be elected. Alomar's in next year for sure. Raines has gotten more support, but McGwire's has stayed about the same. I look forward to next year's debate, and watching Whitey get inducted this summer.

Here are the vote totals of those getting at least 5% (and, therefore remaining on the ballot for next year):

Player Total Votes Percentage
Andre Dawson 420 77.9%
Bert Blyleven 400 74.2%
Roberto Alomar 397 73.7%
Jack Morris 282 52.3%
Barry Larkin 278 51.6%
Lee Smith 255 47.3%
Edgar Martinez 195 36.2%
Tim Raines 164 30.4%
Mark McGwire 128 23.7%
Alan Trammell 121 22.4%
Fred McGriff 116 21.5%
Don Mattingly 87 16.1%
Dave Parker 82 15.2%
Dale Murphy 63 5.9%
Harold Baines 33 6.1%

Who have been "the best player in baseball" since 1970?

Here is a very interesting article on "the best player in baseball" over any given five year period since 1970. It's long, but worth it.

Reds add to outfield mix

The Reds have signed Josh Anderson to a minor league deal to compete for an outfield spot. Here is Mark Sheldon's blog post about the signing.

Anderson has stolen 36 career bases in just under 500 at-bats. He's got a career .272 batting average, but only a .665 career OPS, with a weak .313 on-base percentage. He bats lefty, and I don't know that he's an upgrade over Chris Dickerson, but he should add some valuable depth to the outfield competition, and if he doesn't win a spot on the roster, he's a nice player to have in AAA for when he's needed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coach Brooks retires

Here is a great comment on the retirement of Rich Brooks as UK's football coach.

Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame vote for this summer's induction class will be announced tomorrow. I think this is the year Bert Blyleven finally gets in. I also think Andre Dawson will get in, but he's not the slam-dunk that Blyleven is. I think those are the only two hold-overs that will make it.

McGwire's case (which has been much analyzed and debated on this blog) hasn't changed much since last year. Maybe now that he's back in baseball he will address his steroid issues and the voters can forgive him and put him in (and I don't want to hear any debate about his case -- he's a HOF'er).

Alan Tammell should be in too, but won't make it this year (and probably won't come close). Mike Dodd of USA Today wrote one of the stupidest things I've read this year about the Hall of Fame. He compared Trammell to Barry Larkin and said they should both be in at some point. Then he said he wouldn't vote for Larkin this year because he's not a first-timer, but that he would vote for both next year. If they both deserve to be in, and Larkin won't get the vote because he's not a first-timer, why wait on Trammell? Stupid.

With Blyleven getting in, that leaves Tim Raines as the most deserving (and eligible) player not in the hall. There's no indication that Raines has a chance this year. Lee Smith will get a lot of votes from the hold-overs; just not enough to make it.

Of the new guys, look for Roberto Alomar to make it this year. He and Larkin have remarkably similar rate stats (Alomar's carrer OPS is .814, Larkin's is .815) but Alomar has the edge in counting stats thanks to a little more than 1000 extra AB's. Larkin could make it next year.

Both Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez will fall short in their first year on the ballot. Martinez brings up some interesting issues with the DH, but ultimately doesn't have enough counting stats to overcome no production in the field. McGriff was quite a slugger, but never dominate enough in the era in which he played. Both could make it in eventually.