2013 Reds

Reds Sign Olivo and Parra

The Reds have made a couple of minor signings.

Per Fay on Olivo:

The Reds signed catcher Miguel Olivo to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp. Olivo, 34, hit .222/.239/.381 with 12 home runs and 29 RBI for Seattle last year.

And on Parra:

Parra was 2-3 with 5.06 ERA last year for Milwaukee. He held left-handers to a .229 average. With Aroldis Chapman slated to go into the rotation, Sean Marshall was only the left-handed reliever on roster with any big league experience. (Note: Walt Jocketty said the plan for Tony Cingrani is to have him work as a starter in the minors.

I have to think Olivo is purely a depth signing. A little competition for Mesoraco, maybe, but Devin would probably have to fall on his face.

Parra will probably see some time as a LOOGY, though. Which is fine. These are both kind of “whatever” signings.

76 thoughts on “Reds Sign Olivo and Parra

  1. I suspect Mesoraco is ticketed for AAA unless Olivo falls on his face or Meso has a killer spring on both sides of the ball and in the clubhouse.

    A lot of goodwill, faith, and trust got burned by Meso last year; and, he ended up virtually in exile. He is going to have to earn his way all over again I suspect

    • I suspect Mesoraco is ticketed for AAA unless Olivo falls on his face or Meso has a killer spring on both sides of the ball and in the clubhouse.

      A lot of goodwill, faith, and trust got burned by Meso last year; and, he ended up virtually in exile. He is going to have to earn his way all over again I suspect

      Not sure what you mean by “A lot of goodwill, faith, and trust got burned by Meso last year”. He obviously did get on Baker’s bad side somehow. I don’t believe it ever came out how. That’s what I would like to know. Lack of performance? Baker is always crowing on how the youngsters haven’t been through an entire major league season and, thus, much isn’t expected from them their first year. So, Devin’s performance last year shouldn’t have meant one thing to Baker. It was definitely something else.

  2. That’s funny…..I was expecting Redsfanman to weigh in with some theory about how the Parra signing is yet another “sign” that the Reds have no real intention in moving Chapman to the rotation.

  3. @Drew Mac: Sorry about the delay, I was enjoying my Friday.

    Interesting points about Manny Parra:
    -Parra had a WHIP of 1.65 and an ERA of 5.06 in 58.2 innings. Last year the Reds demoted relievers (Ondrusek, Hoover) who did better than Parra.
    -Parra has no identifiable role, either as an improvement against lefties or as a long reliever.
    -Lefthanded hitters hit .229 with a .323 OBP off Parra in 2012 but lefties hit .165/.299 against Jose Arredondo.
    -Parra is very effective at getting ground balls but NOT at getting outs.

    Why did they pick up Manny Parra? Is he some sort of successor to Arthur Rhodes and Bill Bray (2008 and 2011 version) as a lefty specialist? No, he’s a downgrade from Arredondo. Is he a quality long reliever? I don’t think so, not with a 1.65 WHIP and 5.06 ERA, he’s worse than LeCure and Simon. Is Parra a guy they build the pitching staff around? No! He’s this year’s version of Alfredo Simon and the chances that the Reds will strike gold twice in a row is extremely slim. If he’s designated for assignment (just like what just happened to Todd Redmond) before opening day I would NOT be surprised. He’s a long shot to make the bullpen and seems irrelevant to the decision regarding Chapman. If the Reds acquired a lefty specialist it’d be another story, but they didn’t, they got a lefty who is worse than Arredondo at getting lefties out.

    • -Lefthanded hitters hit .229 with a .323 OBP off Parra in 2012 but lefties hit .165/.299 against Jose Arredondo.

      Yeah, so I’m reading multiple places now about how Parra will become a lefty specialist. Am I the only person who recognizes that getting lefties out isn’t a particular strength of his? And that he’s a downgrade from Jose Arredondo in that role? What do they have Arredondo around for?

      Only two Cincinnati Reds pitchers (Bray and Redmond) had a higher WHIP and/or ERA than Parra last year, and arguably they were the victim of small sample sizes. Parra is being cheered as a relevant acquisition but he’s arguably the worst pitcher, at least on paper, reporting to spring training for the Reds.

      I thought Todd Redmond was irrelevant and certain to be cut (oh look, he was designated for assignment today!) and after further review I place Parra into the same category. I don’t see how he makes the team without injuries to several guys.

  4. The trouble seemed to run a lot deeper than Baker. It was more like he was in the organizational dog house. Several media types were suggesting Meso was not taking well to coaching. The last straw apparently had something to do with the org wanting him to keep his mouth shut and serve his suspension while he wanted to stretch the whole deal out.

    Following on that, he got banished to AAA for a week (the end of the AAA season) and upon his return in September got what? A single plate appearance for the entire month of September.

    After being involved with the caravan last year, unless I missed something, he was nowhere in sight this year while they trotted out the likes of Corky and Barnhart.

    All in all in would seem to be a pretty significant and complete fall from grace.

  5. I am impressed that they got Miguel Olivo on a minor league contract. I thought he’d get a few million dollars to start somewhere (bad), maybe Houston. He’s a credible veteran big league catcher, having been in the majors since ~2003, rather than a reclamation project (Navarro) or a career minor leaguer (Corky Miller). Maybe he’s suffered some from playing at Safeco Field but he has 20+ homerun power and the ability to hit ~.250 with an OBP around .300.

    I think the Reds suddenly have a good reason to justify starting Devin Mesoraco out in AAA, if they choose to do so. If he doesn’t hit well in spring training they can send him there until he starts hitting, no harm done. If Hanigan got hurt I’d still expect (and want) to see Mesoraco start for the Reds. I definitely don’t believe the Reds are angry at Mesoraco, fed up with him, let down by him, giving up on him, or anything like that, but if they feel playing everyday would help his development (more than spending 3 of every 5 games on the bench) they can justify doing that now.

    The backup catcher role now becomes an interesting battle to watch in spring training.

  6. I think Parra is an interesting pickup. Last year was his first full season in the bullpen, that coming off of a missed 2011 season with a sprained elbow ligament and back issues. He appears to be tough on lefties and strikes out a good number of batters. The key with him will be if they can get him to throw strikes. He walks way too many batter. He could turn into a decent LOOGY is they can keep him throwing strikes and limit the RH batters he faces.

    Olivo will be 34 next season. Well, he does have a little pop. He’s going to have to pull a big time Roberto Hernandez to be anything more than a RH emergency caddy for Hanigan in case Mesoraco shows that last year was his true colors. Even then, Mesoraco might still outhit the aging Olivo next season who is coming off of two consecutive sub .650 OPS seasons.

  7. I’m impressed w/ the Olivo signing. I actually hope Mesoraco can get 300ish AB’s at Louisville and just get back in the hitting groove again. If he can do that, I think it’ll be good for him, long-term.

    As for Parra, I do like that he has strikeout stuff. And I suppose he’s potential depth at starter too. But, eh, I was really hoping for Mike Gonzalez. Parra has been a consistent 1.6 WHIP guy. That isn’t good.

  8. One thing I noticed buried in Manny Parra’s splits (if you’ll indulge me in some statsy-ness for a minute)…

    Parra’s career BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .342. That’s one of the highest I’ve ever seen. (NL league average last year was .300. Milwaukee’s team BABIP was .318. The Reds’ was .291.) Was he just getting killed to an unusual degree by Milwaukee’s bad defense?

    Anyway, if he could get his BABIP down to more normal levels, his overall numbers would look a lot better.

    So there’s that – a dash of BABIP optimism for your Saturday morning. :)

  9. The Parra signing is already a bad signing. Redmond > Parra, I don’t care what his role is. But according to the GM book of team building you have to have a LOGGY. Just dumb.

  10. I hate the Olivo signing. There is not a single positive aspect to it.

    Where to start? His walk-rate was 2.2% (not a typo) last year. He had the lowest OBP in MLB (by far) for players with 300 AB. Jeff Sullivan, from FanGraphs, and Mariners’ blogger, wrote this:

    “(Olivo) might have the league’s very worst batting approach, and he has more career home runs than unintentional walks. As a Mariner, he has more home runs than overall walks. He is not a gifted defender, relative to other backstops, and still none of this has stopped him from finding employment. It’s worth celebrating the fact that we’ll probably never have to watch Miguel Olivo bat as a Mariner again.”

    Olivo’s defense doesn’t commend him, either. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs fame, who also writes for U.S.S. Mariner, wrote this:

    “Catching the ball is the basic fundamental skill required of the position – it’s why they’re called “Catchers”. Miguel Olivo is absolutely terrible at this, and has been for a very long time. He’s the active leader in passed balls by a mile – he has 92, the next highest is Ramon Hernandez at 78 – and he has almost twice as many as the #4 guy on the list.”

    What’s the harm? That he catches lightning in a bottle in Spring Training, that the Reds ignore his horrible OBP (wouldn’t be the first time) and talk themselves into bringing him to Cincinnati. Every pitch he takes from one of the Reds major league pitchers is a pitch some other catcher could be receiving.

    I honestly have no idea why the Reds sign players like this, even to minor league contracts.

    • Where to start? His walk-rate was 2.2% (not a typo) last year. He had the lowest OBP in MLB (by far) for players with 300 AB. Jeff Sullivan, from FanGraphs, and Mariners’ blogger, wrote this:

      “(Olivo) might have the league’s very worst batting approach, and he has more career home runs than unintentional walks. As a Mariner, he has more home runs than overall walks. He is not a gifted defender, relative to other backstops, and still none of this has stopped him from finding employment. It’s worth celebrating the fact that we’ll probably never have to watch Miguel Olivo bat as a Mariner again.”

      Olivo’s defense doesn’t commend him, either. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs fame, who also writes for U.S.S. Mariner, wrote this:

      “Catching the ball is the basic fundamental skill required of the position – it’s why they’re called “Catchers”. Miguel Olivo is absolutely terrible at this, and has been for a very long time. He’s the active leader in passed balls by a mile – he has 92, the next highest is Ramon Hernandez at 78 – and he has almost twice as many as the #4 guy on the list.”

      So, other than for these facts, it’s a great signing, right? ;-)

  11. One more. From Baseball Prospectus:

    “(Olivo) swings at nearly half of all pitches outside the strike zone. He swings at more than half the sliders he sees, and half the curves, and nearly two-thirds of changeups, and 80 percent of splitters. He’s a generational hacker.”

  12. I promise this one really is the final Olivo quote I’ll post (from Dave Cameron last September):

    “Miguel Olivo has gotten a free pass on his laziness and fundamental flaws for far too long, after an easily blocked ball got away from him and eventually cost the Mariners the game. Same deal tonight. He simply will not do what any high school catcher in America is required to do before his coach will play him. There’s no reason for Miguel Olivo to be a Major League player. He’s the least fundamentally sound player I’ve ever seen, and an absolute disaster both as a hitter and a fielder.”

    • There’s no reason for Miguel Olivo to be a Major League player.

      And now he’s probably not, unless we have an injury at catcher. His career OPS is still more than 100 points higher than our other third catcher’s (Corky Miller). Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of superstar catchers interested in sitting in the minors in case of injury.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Would you rather see Miguel Olivo on the roster or Corky Miller?

      Corky Miller, without a doubt, 365x24x7. I don’t know I’ve ever seen a question posed here where the answer is so obvious?

      Miller = Excellent defense, knows the pitching staff already, provides the same OBP as Olivo.
      Olivo = Bad defense, a little bit of power.

      For someone who might see 50 or so ABs while caddying for “Hannigan” and Mesoraco, you should completely ignore offense for the 8th hitter anyway and go for the, obvious in this case, better defensive player.

  13. @redsfanman: From what I’ve read about how Corky Miller tutors and handles the young pitchers at Louisville, I’d rather see him catch them every day. In terms of spot assignments with the big club, I’d rather have Miller for his defense and familiarity. Miller and Olivo are about the same (terrible) at the plate. I’ve never seen Corky Miller described as lazy, either. There’s a reason they were able to get Olivo on a minor league contract in February.

  14. @Steve Mancuso: As far as why they could get Olivo on a minor league contract, I think it’s like with Jeff Francis last year – he knows that he can get a job elsewhere but the Reds provide the best opportunity for him to play for a contender. I think he could have gotten a roster spot with the Astros or some other bad team, but he chose not to.

    I think Olivo’s hitting is slightly underrated, he can put up a .250 average, .300 OBP, and 20 homeruns in a season. His numbers in recent seasons are better than those put up by Dioner Navarro before his signing. Fans were happy to overlook Navarro’s fielding deficiencies in favor of hitting, I don’t know why there’s so much more resistance to Olivo. If he plays lazy or anything, I think that’s something they can motivate him to change if his job’s on the line. I’m interested in seeing what he can do in spring training before writing him off.

  15. I think Olivo is like the Jeff Francis signing, too. Francis (2012): 5.58 ERA, 1.478 WHIP … terrible.

    You seriously think Olivo passed on a major league contract to sign a minor league deal? Anyone else besides you speculating that?

    Olivo has had one season in his entire career with an OBP of .300 – due to an extremely atypical (for him) BABIP of .346. Olivo’s career OBP is .275 and it has dropped sharply along with his AVG the past two seasons. His OBP was .239 last year, by far the lowest among any player with 300 AB. Why wouldn’t you think his “job was on the line” as he struggled last year in his contract season with the Mariners?

    I’m not interested in seeing what he does in 50 AB in spring training. No way that should be allowed to override the record of an obviously rapidly deteriorating player, as proven over 800 AB the past two seasons. Judging him based on spring training is ridiculous.

    He’s Miguel Cairo without the hustle and locker-room skills.

  16. @redsfanman: Hey, I didn’t shotgun a beer and cheer “USA!” when I heard that they signed Parra (however, I may go play in traffic after reading Steve’s insightful analysis of the Olivo signing). I know he’s not the second coming. However, I do believe that the fact that they are moving Redmond from the 40 (willing to put him out there for others) further indicates that there may, in fact, be no great conspiracy to talk about moving Chapman to the rotation while secretly planning to put him back in the pen. I’m just hoping that Price can do what he did with Simon and I don’t think the odds are too long for this to happen. Parra has always had a lively arm (like Simon) and plus pitches (like Simon). He justs needs to be consistent with location. We will see if this works out.

  17. @Steve Mancuso: I don’t think Miguel Olivo’s job has been on the line much with the Mariners because my impression is that he’s been competing for catching time with the DH, Jesus Montero. In his contract year I assume his priority was to stay healthy rather than to go all-in and put his health at risk. IF Mesoraco starts the season in AAA Olivo will know that he’s a bad game, one lazy play, or one mistake away from losing his roster spot.

    Is Olivo rapidly deteriorating? The same argument was made about Dioner Navarro. And Ryan Ludwick, whose career was rapidly deteriorating throughout his time in San Diego and Pittsburgh. I hope the Reds give Olivo a chance to see what he can do, maybe he’ll make the team, maybe he’ll cut, but it’s silly to rule him out because of his reputation.

    @Drew Mac: Todd Redmond was pretty irrelevant and seemed like a non-factor in spring training and Parra looks similar. In my opinion Alfredo Simon and Sam LeCure now have a competitor for a long relief job in Parra, but that’s about all he offers – competition for the long relief spot and insurance if Jose Arredondo gets hurt.

  18. Count me in the (small) camp of those who are happy with these signings. They are low risk insurance policies. A veteran lefty(who I think still has some upside since his injury) and a backup catcher both tucked away in the minors waiting for the glass to be broken in case of fire are good things. If Olivio makes the roster out of spring to backup Hanigan, so be it. He does have some pop which may translate well at Great American.

    Arrondondo throws with the wrong arm. That’s why his splits have been ignored by Dusty. He will never meet the critera of being a LOOGY because of that. I know, I know, but it should be clear by now. I was a Jose fan back in his Angels days, and his history was clear then. He was just used a little more efficiently there.

  19. Well…hard to be too excited. If Parra was coming off surgery last year, there is a chance he could rebound a bit. Olivo… it can’t have been fun playing for the Mariner’s last year. Who knows…maybe Corky can teach him to catch. Honestly, I would have to think any catcher who has to watch Hannigan catch everyday would learn something. The Reds are so fortunate to have a gamer like Hannigan. He might be my favorite Red.

    • @OhioJim: Rather than underscore the low esteem Mesoraco has fallen to with the organization Olivo’s signing shows that they still need 2 catchers in AAA, hence the minor league contract – Corky Miller can’t catch every game there. Nevin Ashley (who? he’s a nobody catcher they signed to a minor league contract in November and invited to spring training) is the guy with a problem now, and he’ll probably be bumped to AA as a result of Olivo.

      It was clear that the Reds were going to have to find another catcher to fill out the minor league rosters, I was just surprised it was a journeyman MLB catcher rather than another career minor leaguer (like Nevin Ashley and Corky Miller).

      Honestly, I would have to think any catcher who has to watch Hannigan catch everyday would learn something.The Reds are so fortunate to have a gamer like Hannigan.He might be my favorite Red.

      Not to be rude or anything but a good way to show respect to your favorite Red would be to learn to spell his name correctly. If you watch him a lot you’ll see it written on his jersey. He’s entering his 7th season with the Reds and his name is still Ryan Hanigan, not Hannigan.

      • @OhioJim:

        Not to be rude or anything but a good way to show respect to your favorite Red would be to learn to spell his name correctly.If you watch him a lot you’ll see it written on his jersey.He’s entering his 7th season with the Reds and his name is still Ryan Hanigan, not Hannigan.

        Not to be rud in retirn but Uh, I’m not the the one who made the Hanigan comment. Anyone who has been on this site and read very many of my posts about the catching situations would know straight out that I am not among those that worship at the shrine to Hanigan.

      • Not to be rude or anything but a good way to show respect to your favorite Red would be to learn to spell his name correctly.

        Ugh. So what, man.

  20. I like the Olivo signing if for no other reason the job is not just being handed to Mes. I’m sorry but the youngster just did not impress me too much. He looked slow and over matched most of the time. I hope I’m wrong and he comes out stronger in ’13 but I’m not counting on it.

    Olivo is a major leaguer with some question marks in his character but his is of Major League talent. If they brought in additional catchers to compete for the back-up slot, that would be fine. Much preferred Navarro over Mes when all was said and done.

  21. Olivo is what he is, a journeyman MLB catcher. His signing underscores the low esteem Mesoraco has fallen to with the org.

  22. @Steve Mancuso: If Wilson Valdez got 300 PA last year he would have a far worse OBP than olivo. I think the olivo signing is good for our catching depth too since Dusty likes having a veteran catcher on the roster

    • @redsfan48: If Wilson Valdez got 300 PA last year he would have a far worse OBP than olivo. I think the olivo signing is good for our catching depth too since Dusty likes having a veteran catcher on the roster

      “Hey, he was better than Wilson Valdez” is a pretty low bar. The lowest.

      And “far worse” ?? Not sure how you got that. Valdez OBP in 208 AB was .236 while Olivo’s in 323 AB was .239.

      Dusty liking a veteran catcher on the roster (Hanigan?) is exactly what scares me about the Olivo signing. Olivo will hit a little bit in spring training against spring training pitching and Baker will lobby Walt Jocketty to put Olivo on the Reds roster instead of Mesoraco.

      • Dusty liking a veteran catcher on the roster (Hanigan?) is exactly what scares me about the Olivo signing. Olivo will hit a little bit in spring training against spring training pitching and Baker will lobby Walt Jocketty to put Olivo on the Reds roster instead of Mesoraco.

        I don’t think anybody in the Reds organization is lobbying to flat out replace Mesoraco with Olivo. Hanigan is the #1 catcher, Mesoraco is the #1A guy and the catcher of the future, and Olivo is a backup. There’s a good argument to be made that letting Devin Mesoraco start in Louisville will be more helpful long term than asking him to sit 3 or 4 out of every five games on the Reds’ bench. If Olivo hits and catches well in spring training he strengthens that Mesoraco to Louisville argument. Olivo would have to work hard though, because his job would be in constant jeopardy – one bad game, one lazy play, one foolish mistake and he might get shipped out of town.

        • I don’t think anybody in the Reds organization is lobbying to flat out replace Mesoraco with Olivo.Hanigan is the #1 catcher, Mesoraco is the #1A guy and the catcher of the future, and Olivo is a backup.There’s a good argument to be made that letting Devin Mesoraco start in Louisville will be more helpful long term than asking him to sit 3 or 4 out of every five games on the Reds’ bench.If Olivo hits and catches well in spring training he strengthens that Mesoraco to Louisville argument.Olivo would have to work hard though, because his job would be in constant jeopardy – one bad game, one lazy play, one foolish mistake and he might get shipped out of town.

          This doesn’t make any sense because if he ever gets called up, he’ll be playing 2 out of every 5 games, at least as long as Hanigan is a Red. Mesoraco already had a year in AAA playing full time. I don’t see how that argument flies. On the other hand, if they are trying to motivate and/or are disappointed with him, it makes sense. I don’t think anyone (except you) really knows what the organization’s view of Mesoraco is.

          Also, what happened to the Reds valuing defense over offense, at least according to you? Olivo doesn’t play it, and Mesoraco does.

  23. @redsfanman: I aborted a much snarkier comment, because I’m pretty sure it violated several of the commenting guidelines… but I would like to point out that Hannigan is by far the more common spelling of that name, and requiop’s mispelling is both common and understandable.

    • @redsfanman: I aborted a much snarkier comment, because I’m pretty sure it violated several of the commenting guidelines…but I would like to point out that Hannigan is by far the more common spelling of that name, and requiop’s mispelling is both common and understandable.

      @BenL: Good post. Olivo was not brought in to be Minor League fodder either. He was brought in to compete for the MLB back-up role. Make no mistake.

  24. Espn’s Shoenfield has an article about top 5 starting rotations … and the Reds arent one of them. How is that possible???

    • Espn’s Shoenfield has an article about top 5 starting rotations … and the Reds arent one of them. How is that possible???

      5 other teams probably pay more money for big name players and former Cy Young Award winners. The Reds have lesser known guys. Nothing wrong with being an underdog.

  25. @Tom Diesman: If the answer is so obvious, why does Olivo have about six times more MLB plate appearances than Miller at a similar age? It seems that people who are paid to make these types of decisions don’t generally agree with you.

    20 HR a year is not an insignificant difference in offense. 20 runs is 2 wins. You lose something on defense, for sure, but I think there is room for a reasonable person (like myself and several other posters above) to disagree.

  26. @BenL: When it comes to spelling a guy’s name the issue is how he spells it, not how you want to spell it. People frequently spell Hanigan’s (Hannigan) and Mesoraco’s (Meseraco) name wrong but that doesn’t make it correct.

    @Tom Diesman: It seems like a big argument for demoting Devin Mesoraco is that he hits too badly to be on the roster, but it seems like the same argument is even more true with Corky Miller. The argument that hitting is important for a backup catcher got Dioner Navarro a roster spot – it wasn’t his defense vs Mesoraco – and it seems possible that hitting could benefit Miguel Olivo also.

    • @Tom Diesman: If the answer is so obvious, why does Olivo have about six times more MLB plate appearances than Miller at a similar age?It seems that people who are paid to make these types of decisions don’t generally agree with you.

      20 HR a year is not an insignificant difference in offense.20 runs is 2 wins.You lose something on defense, for sure, but I think there is room for a reasonable person (like myself and several other posters above) to disagree.

      What’s the scenario we are dreaming up that will allow the 3rd string catcher enough PA to amass 20 HR?

      The argument that hitting is important for a backup catcher got Dioner Navarro a roster spot – it wasn’t his defense vs Mesoraco – and it seems possible that hitting could benefit Miguel Olivo also.

      That’s the problem, Olivo’s offense benefits nobody, and his defense hurts everybody. Mesoraco should without a doubt play before him, and Corky Miller would be a much better solution for a short term stint should a 3rd string catcher be needed.

  27. @redsfanman: I couldn’t disagree more. The Reds signed Parra to a Major League deal. They plan on him making the roster. They almost certainly won’t DFA him unless he performs below their expectations during the first couple months of the season.

  28. @Dan: Based in stuff signing Parra looks good. Based on past results though, Gonzalez may be much better. I am surprised Parra was brought in on a Major League deal.

  29. @redsfanman:

    These are his top picks – some definitely warranted .. others questionable at best. And it definitely bring the question as to why the Reds were left out even stronger.
    Detroit Tigers
    Philadelphia Phillies
    San Francisco Giants
    Tampa Bay Rays
    Washington Nationals

    • @redsfanman:

      These are his top picks – some definitely warranted .. others questionable at best. And it definitely bring the question as to why the Reds were left out even stronger.Detroit TigersPhiladelphia PhilliesSan Francisco GiantsTampa Bay RaysWashington Nationals

      I have no problem with something expecting any of these rotations to be better with the possible exception of Phillie. But I would also add St. Louis and possibly Oakland to the list.

  30. Just caught Bill James on MLB-TV and he opines that Ryan Han(n)igan and Ben Zobrist are the two most underrated MLB’ers. Very high praise, indeed!

  31. @Love4Reds: I implied that those ESPN rankings probably placed more emphasis on money and big names.
    -Phillies (Halladay, Hamels, Lee)
    -Tigers (Verlander)
    -Nationals (Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Zimmermann)
    -Giants (Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Vogelsong)
    -Rays (David Price, Hellickson)

    Are Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos better than some of those guys? Maybe. Are Cueto and Latos better known than most of those guys? No.

    @LWBlogger: Todd Redmond signed a major league deal with the Reds, and look at him now. He was designated for assignment. I think Parra will get a shot at making the roster but he looks like a longshot and somebody who can also be designated for assignment. Being lefthanded doesn’t change that he had a higher WHIP and ERA than any of the regulars on last year’s team, and it doesn’t change the fact that he’s been less successful at getting lefties out than Jose Arredondo. Manny Parra now makes $1m but I think they’ll eat the contract if he doesn’t deserve to make the team.

  32. The question wasn’t which team has the best pitcher — its who has the best starting rotation. Wouldn’t that mean its some kind of average of the 5-6 pitchers who would be considered part of that rotation.. not purely based on 1 or 2 pitchers in that rotation. That one pitcher is only pitching once every 5 days.

    But I suppose you’re right.. I shouldn’t be surprised because we all know how Cincinnati gets overlooked over and over again by ESPN and their “experts”.

  33. @redsfanman: Fay ran a blog piece yesterday about the crunch for roster space the Reds are going to have even assuming Rolen is not in the picture.

    I would not be surprised to see the Reds make a deal or two in spring training similar to the departure of Francisco last year. I would be even less surprised if such a deal netted them someone to pair with Hanigan as the catching tandem at the MLB level.

    I don’t think a team which believes it is contending for a spot in the World Series can afford to go with a 4 day a week catcher backed up by someone like Meso who came up snake eyes given his big shot last year.

    One thing we do agree on is that the best place for Mesraco to start the season is in AAA. Best case scenario is that he recovers what he found at AAA two years ago. Then if the opportunity arises, hopefully he comes back up and makes a place for himself in the line up at least 3 days a week.

  34. Those griping about Mes – He didn’t even get 200 PAs last year. He has, literally, 5 more balls drop in and he bats .240 and we aren’t having this conversation.

    • Those griping about Mes – He didn’t even get 200 PAs last year. He has, literally, 5 more balls drop in and he bats .240 and we aren’t having this conversation.

      These are my favorite arguments. What if 5 of his hits hadn’t dropped in or how about 15 more balls dropped in? Hell, he could be a .300 hitter and everyone would want him to start.

      Bottom line – he did not impress last year and does not deserve a spot on the roster just handed to him. Not saying the young man’s career is over by any means, but face it he has work to do.

  35. @Tom Diesman: If Olivo would be better over 150 games because of his offense, doesn’t it stand to reason that he’d be better over 10? There is nothing magical about logic.

    • If Olivo would be better over 150 games because of his offense, doesn’t it stand to reason that he’d be better over 10? There is nothing magical about logic.

      That is exactly the point I’m contending, I don’t think he’d be better over the short term because of his offense. Over the short term both Olivo and Miller will make about the same number of outs at the plate. Olivo has the edge in power, so he he probably knocks one or two HRs over the short stint. The determining factor here is that Miller holds a huge edge defensively. Olivo is reported be on many fronts a dismal reciever. Miller is known to be an excellent defensive catcher and also had the unmeasurable aspects of being a organizational guy who is liked and respected off the field and is already familiar with most all of pitchers. So if you ask me again which one of these guys I’d want on my roster, knowing that neither is going to amass any significant amount of playing time, the answer is easy. Miller will have far more positive effect on the team in a short term assignment due to his defense and intangibles than Olivo will by hitting one or two more HRs and showing us how adept he is at catching PB caroms off of the brick wall behind the plate at GABP.

      Now if the unspeakable happened, and Olivo somehow became the #2 catcher for a long stretch due to an early serious injury to Hanigan or Mesoraco, there’d be a debate and Olivo would probably be the guy. I’d still be hoping they went out got someone else though, because I don’t want see another defensive hack behind the plate, Hernandez was bad enough.

  36. @CharlotteNCRedsFan: The point is that the evidence suggests that Mesoraco is actually going to be quite a good catcher, both offensively and defensively and that we shouldn’t condemn him based on 200 PAs where he had a BABIP that was unsustainably low.

    Given what we saw of him in the minors, there’s no reason to think last years performance is indicative of his true talent. Those are the arguments I love. Some guy got a month of playing time and wasn’t good. Therefore he stinks.

    Phillips was terrible his first full season and Cleveland gave up on him. That worked out really well, huh?

    • The point is that the evidence suggests that Mesoraco is actually going to be quite a good catcher, both offensively and defensively and that we shouldn’t condemn him based on 200 PAs where he had a BABIP that was unsustainably low.

      I just didn’t see what you did. Unless he is very strong in Spring Training, I would like to see him return to AAA to see if he regain his form. He just looks sluggish to me – like the game is too quick for him. Granted, this very well could change and we all hope it does. But if we could get Grandal straight up for him, I’d take it. PEDs or no PEDs.

      It is also disappointing that he did not appear to get better as the season wore on. I hope your right that, “Mesoraco is actually going to be quite a good catcher”. In the meantime, let’s have some decent competition for that roster spot and let the chips fall were they may.

  37. @Jason Linden: And BP had to hit rock bottom and be shipped to a different org before the light went on for him. It often has to unfold that way once a guy crashes at the MLB level, particularly one who is essentially written an blank check of opportunity and squanders it away like Mesoraco did..

    Logically it is just as valid to say that if Meso had had 5 more not fall in or get through then he would have only been a .181 hitter. As Bill Parcells liked to say, we are our record.

    I don’t agree Meso’s minor league career was nearly as sterling as you see it. He was being spoken of as a possible first round bust both defensively and offensively as late 2009. He put together big seasons in 2010 and 2011 that saved his career as far as getting a shot at the MLB level. However I think it is being very optimistic to say with certainty that last year’s effort wasn’t indicative of his MLB ceiling.

    Last year was Mesoraco’s age 24 season. Johnny Bench by the same age had won 2 NL MVP awards (.932 and .920 OPS for those seasons). OK, so nobody expects Meso to be “the next Johnny Bench”; but on the other hand, I don’t think it is unreasonable to question his MLB ceiling based on how little he has accomplished by the end of his age 24 season.

    • @Jason Linden: And BP had to hit rock bottom and be shipped to a different org before the light went on for him. It often has to unfold that way once a guy crashes at the MLB level, particularly one who is essentially written an blank check of opportunity and squanders it away like Mesoraco did..

      Logically it is just as valid to say that if Meso had had 5 more not fall in or get through then he would have only been a .181 hitter.As Bill Parcells liked to say, we are our record.

      I don’t agree Meso’s minor league career was nearly as sterling as you see it. He was being spoken of as a possible first round bust both defensively and offensively as late 2009.He put together big seasons in 2010 and 2011 that saved his career as far as getting a shot at the MLB level. However I think it is being very optimistic to saywith certainty that last year’s effort wasn’t indicative of his MLB ceiling.

      Last year was Mesoraco’s age 24 season. Johnny Bench by the same age had won 2 NL MVP awards (.932 and .920 OPS for those seasons). OK, so nobody expects Meso to be “the next Johnny Bench”; but on the other hand, I don’t think it is unreasonable to question his MLBceiling based on how little he has accomplished by the end of his age 24 season.

      Really? You’re going to argue that Phillips had a bad year, was shipped off, and that was a good thing to do? You are arguing that Mesoraco should be shipped off based on 200 plate appearances? And the reasoning is that it worked for Phillips? ????

  38. @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I think I am in about the same place as you on Meso. I did see a few really nice defensive moves out of him last year, not so much as a receiver but in playing hit balls.

    The thing about that big AAA season of Meso’s offensively (2011) was that much of the year he was really in a rocking chair type type of situation. He had the likes of Alonzo, Frazier, Cozart, Sappelt and a couple of career minor league bashers hitting around him; and he was pretty much a lesser light of all of them.
    Meso’s slash line for 2011 at AAA was .289/.371/.484 which seems pretty darn good but then in the same environment Corky’s slash for that season was .276/.359/.448. In his long and fabled minor league career, Corky has only been in that neighborhood maybe one other time at AAA; and, we all know he never came close that at the MLB level. So, I don’t automatically buy in that Meso could do the same again at AAA or ever approach that output at the MLB level.

    • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I think I am in about the same place as you on Meso. I did see a few really nice defensive moves out of him last year, not so much as a receiver but in playing hit balls.

      The thing about that big AAA season of Meso’s offensively (2011) was that much of the year he was really in a rocking chair type type of situation. He had the likes of Alonzo, Frazier, Cozart, Sappeltand a couple of career minor league bashers hitting around him; and he was pretty much a lesser light of all of them.
      Meso’s slash line for 2011 at AAA was .289/.371/.484 which seems pretty darn good but then in the same environment Corky’s slash for that season was .276/.359/.448. In his long and fabled minor league career, Corky has only been in that neighborhood maybe one other time at AAA; and, we all know he never came close that at the MLB level. So, I don’t automatically buy in that Meso could do the same again at AAA or ever approach that output at the MLB level.

      You are seriously mistaken. In 2011, Miller had a horrendous season: OPS of .652. You are thinking of his 2010 season. So that means that you need to probably look for a different reason to say that Mesoraco sucks. I know you have many others; my personal favorite is that he was not real good for his first two years, and great for his second two years, but we should look to the first two years to determine how well he’ll do in the majors.

      In any case, Miller has a career OPS in the minors of .797, so your whole point is, frankly, fallacious. You cannot stand Mesoraco, fine no problem, but you should try to stick with facts. (And, by the way, Miller posted a .386 OBP last year in the minors, on a horrible team. I don’t see the “good hitters around him” thing that you do.)

      I have no idea what Mesoraco will do in the majors, and neither do you, really. Maybe you’ll be right. We’ll see.

  39. @Tom Diesman: I can certainly see your point about Olivo’s lack of familiarity with the staff, but I’m still not really convinced. Like you point out, familiarity is a hard thing to quantify. I know the value of a HR or two, and it’s pretty unclear to me that unfamiliarity with the catcher over a 10 game stint (after being able to get to know them somewhat in spring training) is going to cancel out that value.

    On a related note, a quantitative study of pitcher performance vs familiarity with the catcher would be pretty interesting. How large is the effect and how many starts does a battery need together before it’s no longer an issue? I wonder if such a study has been done?

    • On a related note, a quantitative study of pitcher performance vs familiarity with the catcher would be pretty interesting. How large is the effect and how many starts does a battery need together before it’s no longer an issue? I wonder if such a study has been done?

      I’ve never seen one, but you’re right, that would be an interesting read.

  40. It’s a minor league signing before Spring training. Catchers are the toughest position to play outside of pitching. Every team looks out for veteran backstops to handle the extra work. If Olivio play earns him a roster spot, hey, there are worse fates than a veteran backup catcher with some pop on our bench. If not, we have him sitting in AAA. If Meso wants to be on the roster, Meso needs to have his play justify it. This is really nothing to get worked up about, regardless of spelling….

    • This is really nothing to get worked up about, regardless of spelling….

      :lol: I’m certainly content to the let the catching work itself out as it needs to. I remain hopeful Mes proves the worriers wrong.

      But man, Parra, there is just no part of that I can get excited about as a major league contract. If they have to go so “paint by number” in the bullpen, it makes me a little sad.

      • But man, Parra, there is just no part of that I can get excited about as a major league contract. If they have to go so “paint by number” in the bullpen, it makes me a little sad.

        Well said. I’m not in favor of this signing at all.

  41. In my opinion defense is the most important thing a catcher can bring to a team. I will in almost every case take a strong defensive catcher who doesn’t hit so well over a strong offensive catcher who doesn’t really cut it defensively. There are only a few exceptions. Mike Piazza’s offense was good enough to override some serious defensive flaws. He was such a tremendous hitter that his defensive limitations were overshadowed. The other extreme would be a guy with a sub .600 OPS or so getting significant time even if his defense was exceptional.

    For a backup role, I’d rather have Miller as my catcher. Olivo provides extra depth but his offense isn’t nearly good enough to overshadow his terrible defense. There was some mention of Navarro last year but he was brought up for a couple reasons. One was he was a swtich-hitter and he had a little power from the LH side. Also, as bad as Navarro was defensively, Olivo is in my opinion, worse.

    I’m not really thrilled about this signing however it is a Minor League deal and I’m assuming that the Reds front-office knows what they are doing.

  42. I’m excited about Parra in that he adds a lot more competition to the bullpen. I think he’s an interesting low risk, high reward gamble who should be fun to watch in spring training. If he gets a job in the bullpen who does he beat out? What role does he get? It says something positive about the Reds’ bullpen if they can justify cutting Parra in spring training. A few years ago he’d be competing for (or be handed) a rotation spot for the Reds.

    Similarly Olivo makes the whole catching situation far more interesting despite being something of a longshot to make the team.

  43. @redsfanman: I agree that a few years ago, Parra would have been competing for a rotation spot on our beloved Reds. This team has certainly come a long way from the Jimmy Haynes or Paul Wilson as the team’s #1 starter days. Not that those guys were always awful, but they certainly weren’t top of the rotation guys when they were Reds.

  44. @LWBlogger: Nice post. I think it makes a lot of sense that if you’re going to pick one or the other, err on the side of defense with catching.

  45. @Hank Aarons Teammate: you are right. Sometimes I don’t see a line straight across a page or screen anymore. That is my problem; and, I should have checked to make sure I i was referring correctly prior to hitting the Post button. For that I apologize.

    The fact remains that a number players (such as Phillips) are highly regarded in one org and flame only to surface later and have excellent careers elsewhere.

    But my main point in this entire thread has been that a team which considers itself a world series contender cannot afford to go into the season with a number one catcher who is a four day a week player who tails off severely when over used and a backup who is totally unproven at the MLB level.

    You are right that neither of us nor anyone else knows how Mesoraco will turnout in the end. I stand by my belief that the 2013 Cincinnati Reds are not the place to try and find out the answer to that question.

  46. @OhioJim: Well, they did the same thing last year and finished 1 game off the best record in the NL. I think it’s too strong to say they “cannot afford” to do it. Exactly for the reason that the number 2 catcher does not play that much—they can do it.

    Now, they may not. I kind of think you are right that they will start Mesoraco in AAA, but we’ll have to see.

  47. @Tom Diesman: I was a catcher and I know from a comfort standpoint it makes a huge difference for both the picher and catcher if they’ve had a dozen or so games together. It is even more comfortable when the battery-mates have a simular approach to pitch selection and how to go about getting hitters out. Rather that comfort translates statistically and if so how much, I don’t know. It would be neat to see a study.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s