2013 Reds

43 thoughts on “Even better? Not as good?

  1. “It’s difficult to comment on their output without resorting to profanity.” In reference to the Reds’ bench is one of the greatest lines ever written!

  2. I think the NLC is going to be VERY tough this year as well. Everyone, including the Cubs, has improved. The Cardinals, Brewers, and Pirates all might have something to say about crowning the Reds are a repeat champ. I really expect the 4 team race to go well in to July before it starts to thin out. I also think 92 wins is optimistic which is 5 less than last year. 87 wins is more likely, but I don’t see anyone in the NLC having more than 87 wins either.

    Theo is not done with the Cubs yet, but I don’t see them being a horrible as last year. And, of course, no Astros. Like I said, the NLC is going to be tough.

  3. @TC: Huh, I go into this season with less fear of the other teams than I have in awhile. Cubs are better, sure, but not threatening in any way… The Cards just sustained a hit in losing Carpenter, but I by default expect them to be the team to compete with.

    The Brewers, I think they are in for a let down season compared to recent years past… they are just counting very heavily on some unproven starting pitching to carry them for a season after Yovanni. Yo, Fiers (good but hasn’t attempted a full season yet), and Narveson (coming off injury) are nice, but then it gets very uncertain. It doesn’t really ring with Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Bronson, Chapman.

    Pittsburgh is a maybe… but will AJ Burnett be a stud again for several months, or flip back to dud? Adding Russell Martin certainly doesn’t scare me, but you never know.

    So nobody is terrible (except the Cubs), but I feel that on paper, the Reds really are the class of the NL Central. I also feel they improved the most by addressing the glaring leadoff issue and attempting to make room for Chapman to start. They may win less games overall than lat season, but I am the most optimistic I’ve been in awhile that they’ll rule the division.

  4. @Matt WI:
    I concur. The Reds don’t operate in a vaccum, so you have to take into account the middling improvement of the division while subtracting some gimme wins the Astros provided.

    Excellent work, Travis. That analysis is light years ahead of the ex-player pundits on TV and radio.

  5. @Matt WI: If the Brewers signed Lohse, then I could maybe get behind them as contenders on par with the Cardinals. Both teams will score runs, the Cubs won’t score at all, and the Pirates will hover around .500 as a franchise until their stud pitching arrives.

  6. We were 10-5 vs Houston.

    StL was 11-4.

    Chi was 8-7.

    Mil was 9-8.

    Pit was 12-5.

    Maybe the whole Central Division is hurt by Houson leaving, but will relative standings change that much?

  7. @Sultan of Swaff: Yes, I’ve heard a rumor or two about that… if they add Lohse, I’d certainly upgrade their chances. But even he might lose that magic the Cards seem to have with pitchers!

  8. @Sultan of Swaff: You may be right, but I still maintain 87 wins in the central will be tough sledding.

    No Astros… 5 games over .500. The Reds were very fortunate to get 97 wins last year. Reds lose Votto, they can’t lose. They lose Phillips on top, they become even more dominant. And having a healthy rotation with 4.5 studs last year helped the bullpen and by extension, wins.

    87 wins is great. I’ll take it.

    BTW – Sheldon’s article on Arroyo made me tear up a little.

  9. The “not as good” reasons are more compelling, particularly the health of the rotation, the bullpen, and the expected W-L. We can’t reasonably expect that the starters will for a second year in a row have no injuries whatsoever, the bullpen to be the best in league again, and the team to again exceed their expected W-L by 6 games.

    That said, his “better” reasons are valid. I could see the Reds picking up one additional WAR from having Votto healthy all year and having Choo in CF. I predict 90-93 wins.

  10. @TC: Yeah… 95, 87, it’s all to the good. I don’t put too much emphasis about what the win total is compared to whatever it will take to bring home another division title. However it shakes out, I my hope is the Reds won’t be facing mortal combat from within division… compared say, to Atlanta/Washington, LAD/SF, or LAA/Texas, etc. I guess I’m making an assumption that most of the Astros games are being replaced outside of the division, which almost by default will be more difficult, resulting in a few more losses, but I don’t want to think anyone in the NL Central is better. Should be fun.

    • @TC: Yeah… 95, 87, it’s all to the good. I don’t put too much emphasis about what the win total is compared to whatever it will take to bring home another division title. However it shakes out, I my hope is the Reds won’t be facing mortal combat from within division… compared say, to Atlanta/Washington, LAD/SF, or LAA/Texas, etc. I guess I’m making an assumption that most of the Astros games are being replaced outside of the division, which almost by default will be more difficult, resulting in a few more losses, but I don’t want to think anyone in the NL Central is better. Should be fun.

      A division crown is nice. But home field advantage throughout the playoffs this year will be much nicer. The home field edge is going to be huge this year in the playoffs. There won’t be that funky situation the Reds had last year with SF by having to start on the road even though they had the better record. Plus, with a much improved LA Dodgers, Atlanta and Washington makes it more important to have that home field advantage in the playoffs. And hopefully the NL wins the All-Star game too. lol.

  11. TC, I think 87 wins will get some people fired as we will have to be very bad to just win 87 games. Or hurt. One can never account for health, and it is hard to predict somebody will get hurt. that is like predicting that we will have several rain outs creating 15 double headers. It could happen.

    Bigger questions though: Is this the year that Jay Bruce figures it out and is not feast of famine? You know, that slump prone 33 HR 100 RBI guy? I say better.

    Can Todd Frazier handle playing every day? 2nd year slump? not really as good as he was in 2012? I say steady, not better, not worse, just more ABs and 90 RBIs

    Will Phillips be better in the 2 hole? Between to 300 hitters in Choo and Votto, Brandon has his best year at the plate and scores 100

    Ludwick of 2012, or 2011, or 2010, or 2009. We won’t see the 2008 version (but wow if we did). more abs and 100 rbis. I see more of same for 2012

    Votto? Joey do what Joey do

    Zack? steady with glove. Thrives lower in the order. I think he can hit 270 in the 7 hole, and the guy has 20 HR power

    Catching? I think this is the year that Hannigan steps back. Age, injury, whatever. I really like him, but just looking at the cards. love to be wrong

    Relief: Some will be better, some will be worse. the pen will once again be effective and we will not need Chapman there.

    Chapman: The guy is a stud, best athlete on the team. Slow first half, leaves games with no decisions due to inning cap. Second half of year, we don’t miss Leake in the rotation one bit.

    Not many variables here. Pitching staff is so deep that we could sustain an injury. Shoot, we had Massett and Madsen last year. maybe all the pitchers are healthy this year. Hard to count on. I think it is the pen where there is again injury, which is why I want Chapman out of the pen. That and that he is flat out good and I do not think we should limit our best pitcher to 70 innings

  12. @Matt WI:
    Matt, being a fellow Wisconsite, I have to agree with your assessment of the Brewers pitching. With Marcum and Greinke gone this year,they would have to get an awful lot out of their replacements to contend. Lohse certainly would change that outlook, but the Brewers are trying to reduce payroll this year. Even with Lohse, the Reds pitching is still better.

  13. @reaganspad: 87 is very bad? Come on. A little perspective, please. Finishing the year in 1st place at 12 wins over would get people fired?! You’re tough. You realize both Detroit and St. Louis had 88 wins last year. 87 wins is a good year in anyone’s book and likely to get you in the playoffs. Average is 81 wins, so I think 87 would be better than very bad.

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t read the rest of your post. Hopefully the rest of what you said makes more sense.

  14. @TC: Who knows as far as win totals, but I really don’t see the other clubs in the NL Central having improved much at all.

    STL: Their biggest acquisition this winter was Ty Wiggington (hardly terrifying) and they were counting on a full season of Chris Carpenter and they’ll get zero starts instead. They have some prospects that are highly rated, but you never know how people are going to make that jump (See Mesoraco). I’d say they got slightly worse.

    MIL: The Brewers are definitely worse. They lost a ton of guys, including one of their best starters, and the best they can claim adding is Tom Gorzelany. Also, Cory Hart is already hurt again.

    CHI: The Cubs made some nice additions, but this is to a club that lost 101 games last year. The Cubs improved but in the end, who cares? Not me yet.

    PIT: The Pirates also had a lot of turnover on their team, but didn’t really make much of an improvement. Russel Martin I guess. I think they’ll be good, but they also got some pretty incredible performances last year that they might not.

    The Reds on the other hand got a lot better with the addition of Choo and the bench guys, and Chapman to the rotation.

    To make it as simplistic as possible:

    Reds ++
    Cubs +
    Pirates
    Cards
    Brewers -

  15. From my perspective, the real wild card regarding the Reds success or lack of success is the one person who absolutely shouldn’t have a negative impact on the success of a MLB team, the manager. Mr. Baker certainly creates a positive atmosphere in the clubhouse and players love to play for him. Big Bob and Uncle Walt apparently support Mr. Baker without reservation as evidenced by the two year contract extension after last season’s playoff fiasco.

    Travis Gettys nailed the issues facing the Reds due to Mr. Baker’s lack on-field management capability: the bullpen management and the lineup management.

    Sean Marshall started last season as the closer but lost his job when manager Dusty Baker lost confidence in him, although he still was his usual effective self, posting a career-best 10.92 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate. If anything hurt his value, it was his limited usage; Baker seems to see him as a situational lefty, although Marshall’s career numbers suggest a less severe platoon split than he displayed last season (sample size rules apply). Oddly enough, right-hander Jose Arredondo ought to take over the situational lefty role, with his bizarre reverse-platoon splits (career .759 on-base-plus slugging vs. right handers, .581 OPS vs. left-handers), but that’s not how he’s been used by Baker.

    The team’s most frequently used non-starters, Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo, were essentially automatic outs, taking 2.1 wins off the table (according to WAR) in just 364 combined plate appearances. Willie Harris and Mike Costanzo took away another 0.9 wins in just 69 combined plate appearances. It’s difficult to comment on their output without resorting to profanity.

    Uncle Walt provided another LHP because he was sure that Mr. Baker would like another LHP to use in the Reds bullpen (those were his words not mine). Unfortunately the LHP the Reds gained is not as good as any pitcher they already have that won’t make the ML roster becaause Parra is LH. Parra certainly isn’t as good against LH hitters as several of the already available bullpen options. Mr. Baker is simply devoted to his situational substitutions, most notably LH/RH substitutions, even if they don’t make any sense.

    Uncle walt also made wholesale changes on the bench from last season, and rightfully so. Unfortunately the reserves are still reserves, not starters, and as such will not produce like the starters. That won’t deter Mr. Baker from over-utilizing them again, to the detriment of the team. After all, he’s got to ‘get them going’ or ‘keep them ready just in case’.

    Good Luck Reds. I hope 2013 represents another successful season and a deep run into the playoffs.

  16. Miguel Cairo has been signed by the Reds to help with the FO. What many here mentioned multiple times has come to pass; he has become a part of management rather than playing.

  17. Injuries can never be predicted. So, those aside, I believe the Reds will go about 90-72, give or take.

    I do believe the Astros leaving will take a bit.

    I believe we were fortunate to have a top staff last season; having that performance 2 seasons in a row is more difficult. Not that I hope they don’t, for I hope our pitching is as good as last season. It’s just more difficult to do it twice in a row, just like Votto winning 2 MVP’s in a row.

    I do believe our offense will be better, but I believe a key to that will be Ludwick. If he can provide protection for Votto, we will be fine. If not, Votto isn’t going to have to fun much, because he will be walking to first a lot.

    I believe our defense will take a hit. But, will it be bad? I can’t see that. We should still have a good defense.

    Our bench will hopefully be way better replacing Cairo and Valdez.

    Biggest question for me is Ludwick. I believe he has to produce again, if not more. But, my most concern goes to Votto and that knee.

  18. Yes TC, 87 wins for this team would be very bad. it is built for the playoffs and needs to go much further this year. 87 wins will have them watching sooner than they want.

    10 games less in 2013 after the season they had and the additions.

    87 wins was a good goal for 2009 with a young team. This team has won 2 divisions in the last 3 years and the best players on the team are maturing. St. Louis is one year removed from Sir Albert and is declining from where they were.

    And yes with the Reds staff they could go in as a wild card much better than most teams. But to be 10 games worse than the 2012 Reds I couldn’t call a success

  19. @al et al: Fair enough. I think the Cardinals improve by getting healthy (especially in their bullpen) and from promoting some rookies. I also think Wady will help the Pirates rotation this year and Morton will be back at some point. They also have their shiny new top rookie Starling Marte who we saw a bit last year. He was very impressive.

    All things being equal though, there was some luck that played into the Reds’ record last year (playing good teams during slumps, healthy rotation, strangely positive effect losing Votto, Phillips, and Rolen). Not having the Astros will make a difference. Playing the AL West instead of the AL Central will make a difference. Yes, even an improving NL Central. I think they’ll be a better team with a worse record. But I wouldn’t stake my life on any of it. I can’t predict the future.

    • I think they’ll be a better team with a worse record.

      That’s a very fair way to look at it. Plus, with due consideration for the points about home field advantage (nobody could ever lose 3 in a row at home right?), they just need to get there, by hook or by crook. St. Louis and their 88 wins were just as powerful as the Reds with 97… team record can be a bit like batting average, it’s not always telling the full story.

  20. Grant Balfour will undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean up a meniscus tear in his right knee. Balfour said he felt some knee soreness near the end of last year but it went away during the off-season. He felt it again yesterday and still threw a full side session, but the A’s sent him for an MRI today just to be on the safe side and that revealed the tear.

    This just makes me cringe as Votto prepares to report to camp and angers me that the Reds management and medical staff weren’t more proactive last season. I suppose what’s done is done water over that dam. With health will come Reds success. Here’s hoping for silver slugger awards to the right side defense (Votto, Phillips, Bruce and Choo) with a couple of GG, an MVP and CY award thrown into the mix for good measure.

    The NLCD should be more competitive with the Stros gone to the ALWD, but the impact within the division will be across the board, with the Reds winning the division by double digits. The Reds certainly improved their roster from 2012, arguably significantly. I just don’t see any other team within the NLCD as having made any real improvement, except the Stupid Cubbies and they have a very long way to go before again being competitive.

    • The NLCD should be more competitive with the Stros gone to the ALWD, but the impact within the division will be across the board, with the Reds winning the division by double digits.

      That’s what I want to believe! It’d be great to slap the division like that. I was too chicken to put it out there flat out… but all else being equal (health, etc), I think this team can win this division early (whatever number of wins that is) and watch Billy Hamilton play as much CF he can handle all Sept.

  21. The Astros left the division but I believe that influences every team in the NL Central equally, and the Reds remain the favorites in the NL Central. Maybe not playing the Astros as much will cost the Reds a few wins, but it should have the same effect on the Cardinals.

    The Milwaukee Brewers, I think they’re headed into a rebuilding mode whether they want to admit it or not. Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Yovani Gallardo, and John Axford are practically all they have left as far as talent, after dumping so many key players over the past two years. There’s talk about them considering signing Kyle Lohse, but that doesn’t help them, it just postpones the rebuilding that they desperately need – it’s not enough to make them a contender but it’s enough to give them a worse draft pick next time around (due to a few more wins). They should be trying to rebuild their farm system, not to add expensive older players who give them no hope of contending (Aramis Ramirez, Kyle Lohse). I would be shocked if the Brewers finished over .500.

    The Cardinals, they’ll be relying really heavily on young pitchers, and we saw what happened to Lance Lynn in the second half last year. Regardless of how well the season starts out for the Cardinals pitchers I think they’ll decline as the season progresses. Lynn. Jaime Garcia. Trevor Rosenthal. Shelby Miller. Joe Kelly. A bunch of good pitchers, but does anyone expect them to be as successful and effective past 150 innings? I sure don’t. The Reds MIGHT give ONE rotation spot to a guy who has concerns about whether or not he can pull off a full season in the rotation (Chapman) – with Wainwright and Westbrook stay healthy the Cardinals will still give 3 rotation spots to guys with big questions.

    The Cubs, they’re the loveable losers.

    The Pirates, I hope they finish over .500, just to shake things up. I think they can.

    @BloodyHo: You sure don’t like Dusty Baker, do you? You really see some sort of competition between Dusty and Walt Jocketty? Ever consider the possibility that Dusty knows what he’s doing as far as keeping guys rested? It seems to me like providing players is Jocketty’s job, and it’s not Dusty’s fault if he’s given bad options.

    I think Dusty is going to do a great job this year because Jocketty fixed the team’s most noticeable problem – lack of a leadoff hitter. With Choo’s arrival Dusty’s baseball IQ shot straight up, and I’ll bet he learned how to choose a good leadoff hitter. Write in Choo. Breaking down playing time between Frazier and Hannahan is much more straightforward than Frazier vs Rolen. The players who fans loved to complain about – Stubbs, Valdez, Cairo – have been replaced. I think Dusty should be excited for this season and I think he’ll be a top candidate for Manager of the Year… again.

    • The Astros left the division but I believe that influences every team in the NL Central equally, and the Reds remain the favorites in the NL Central. Maybe not playing the Astros as much will cost the Reds a few wins, but it should have the same effect on the Cardinals.

      Look at the Reds schedule and Cards schedule. Not the same. Not equal. The Reds is tougher. The Cards play the Astros 4 times and the Royals 4 times. The Reds face those two teams 0 (Zero) times.

    • You sure don’t like Dusty Baker, do you? You really see some sort of competition between Dusty and Walt Jocketty?

      Your assumption or observation is categorically incorrect. I like Dusty Baker a lot. I respect Dusty Baker even more. I have emphatically made that statement on numerous occasions on both this blog and the Reds.com site. When Dusty Baker was a young player coming up as a centerfielder with Atlanta, he was absolutley one of my favorite players. I actually wanted the Reds to somehow manage to get him in the outfield at Riverfront Stadium. As a player, Dusty Baker was clutch and could flat out rake with the best of them. I don’t know him persoanlly, but the public perception of him privately as a person, a man, a father , a husband and a friend is simply top shelf. I would welcome the opportunity to share a table and tip a glass with him any day. I have absolutely no dislike for Dusty Baker. Just because Dusty Baker was a great hitter during his playing days and is an absolutely standup guy, doesn’t qualify him or disqualify as a MLB manager. His drawback as a manager is his stubborn, old-school inflexibility regarding his on field decisions. That drives me so crazy, I can’t even go to a game and enjoy watching the game while he is managing. As a life-long (very long) Reds fan, I do resent that, but that is my issue and my problem, not Mr. Baker’s problem. When his players have more talent (or juice as was the case prior to coming to the Reds) his teams win, but when the teams have equitable talent (can you say playoffs and world series?) Mr. Baker continually gets out managed by the other dugout.

      I have no idea where or how you manufactured the statement regarding a ‘competition between and Dusty and Walt Jocketty’, but I’ve noticed that you are pretty good such antics.

  22. Lohse can be as big a headcase as there is in the game of baseball. He always had dazzling stuff, but it was dazzling stuff that can go anywhere. He needs to stay with a disciplined coaching staff to be successful. He might be lightning in a bottle, or he might make you want to drink lightning in a bottle. Too big a gamble for me if I want to compete.

  23. @redsfanman: Add Lucroy to the Brewers list of pretty darn good players. I love that guy. And Hart is a fine player, albeit he’s starting out hurt. I’m not suggesting this changes their outlook much, but they have a pretty good positional team.

  24. @WVRedlegs:

    Actually, the new divisional alignment helps balance out the interleage schedule, which has always been my biggest complaint about interleague play. Here’s this years NL central interleague schedule organized by team.

    Each NLC team plays each ALW team 3 times at least. One NLC team plays one ALW team 4 times, so there’s a little difference. Then each NLC team has 4 games against their regional rival, which is the biggest schedule difference.

    The Brewers and the Cardinals have the easiest schedules because the Twins and the Royals aren’t that good. Pittsburg has it the worst in that they get the Tigers.

    Cubs: TEX (3) LAA (4) OAK (3) SEA (3) HOU (3) CHI (4)

    Reds: TEX (3) LAA (3) OAK (4) SEA (3) HOU (3) CLE (4)

    Brew: TEX (4) LAA (3) OAK (3) SEA (3) HOU (3) MIN (4)

    Pitt: TEX (3) LAA (3) OAK (3) SEA (4) HOU (3) DET (4)

    Card: TEX (3) LAA (3) OAK (3) SEA (3) HOU (4) KCR (4)

  25. @al:
    Thanks Big al and TC. I stand corrected. I simply skipped over the Stros in mid-September. That does balance it out more. I’m glad it is more equitable.

  26. @BloodyHo: I guess I misinterpreted your previous post. Sorry?

    I don’t think Dusty frequently gets ‘out managed’ by the other dugout – I think fans over analyze the problems later while placing blame for what goes wrong and ignoring whatever goes right. If Dusty brings in a reliever who does well it’s an obvious decision that anybody would have made, if the reliever does badly NOBODY would have ever brought that guy in in that position. If he gives a washed up veteran a chance and he does well (like Ludwick) nobody cares, if he gives a washed up veteran a chance and he does badly (like Cairo) everyone cares. If it works, it was obvious. If it doesn’t work, it’s Dusty’s fault. That’s a continuing theme we’ve see for years.

    Frequently I think Dusty suffers a disadvantages compared to his rival managers, such as a weak bench and the lack of a leadoff hitter, which have hopefully been resolved by Walt Jocketty this winter. In the playoffs he suffered a loss to Johnny Cueto against a team that demoted Tim Lincecum to the bullpen – I’d call that a disadvantage.

  27. @WVRedlegs: I’m with you, I hated the old system. Two teams could have such different schedules with two series against the regional rival and then playing only a few teams from a division.

    I remember some year when the Reds got the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays, and Cleveland, while the Cardinals got the Royals, O’s, Blue Jays, and Rays. Or something like that, but it was really bad. Could easily have accounted for a 3 or 4 game difference, and that could mean the division every year.

  28. @redsfanman: I think you have a negative view of Reds fans, especially those on this board. I think there’s plenty of criticism here that Dusty has earned, but there’s also credit when it’s due, like with Ludwick.

    I think that overall, the consensus here is that the negative moves we can see outweigh the positive moves we can see, but that there is stuff that fans can’t see that might balance it out. How much weight you give to that stuff we can’t see is usually the deciding factor in how fans feel about Dusty overall.

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