2013 Reds / Chapmania

Aroldis, Aroldis…

Spring Training isn’t as dramatic as it was years ago.

There was genuine competition for jobs, rotations were being established, and many times this lasted into the last week of spring training. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen anymore; it’s just that with long term contracts and the salary structure of the game, it is harder for the hot-shot prospect to make an impact during the spring.

The 2013 Reds are pretty well set, and they are in a good position. The Reds are the sexy, trendy pick this year, a fact not lost on Cincinnati fans who have felt ignored for the better part of two decades. The Cardinals are still a threat but Milwaukee’s pitching staff is suspect, the Pirates are still looking to finish above .500, the Cubs are still the Cubs and the Astros have been pawned off to the American League.

Expectations are running high. We all know that. Right or wrong, nothing less than a division title and a playoff run is not going to be good enough.

But even for the 2013 Reds, there are some concerns. Some non-concerns. And one question that is dominating Goodyear, Arizona, Cincinnati and Kabul, Afghanistan.

The concerns: (1) Can Todd Frazier build upon or sustain his successful 2012 rookie season? Was his September slump just that— a slump? Or is it something we will see more of in 2013?

(2) Can the wildly successful starting rotation (Cueto-Latos-Homer-Arroyo-Leake or Chapman) stay intact for another year? If injuries crop up, can the few but promising starting pitchers targeted for Triple A emerge and step up?

The non-concerns: (1) Joey. If he’s healthy, the numbers will be there. If he plays at the Joey Votto July 2010 level, the MVP numbers will be there. It was one of the best months by a Reds player since Eric Davis in May 1987 when Eric the Red was the best player in baseball.

(2) Shin-Soo Choo’s ability to play centerfield. The Reds brass will know in two weeks if he can or if he can’t. More importantly, so will Marty and the Cowboy. They call it as they see it. Drew Stubbs drove Reds fans crazy with his combination of speed and inability to make contact but there was always a comfort level seeing him in centerfield. If I felt that in the stands, you can bet Reds pitchers felt that on the mound.

(3) Bronson is 36 years old. He’s a crafty veteran. His numbers for innings pitched and starts per season are among the best in baseball the last three years. Barring an injury, his numbers wll be consistent. (I still feel he’s a strong candidate for the Reds Hall of Fame.)

The Big Question: Aroldis Chapman. What do the Reds do with this guy?

The case for starting Chapman: Chapman’s salary demands that he starts. He has the potential to easily be a #1 or #2 starter. He’s only 25 years old. He’s the guy you want starting Game 5 against SF. Closers convert 93% of save chances with a one-run lead in the 9th inning, say the Sabermetric Boys. When the Reds were swept by the Phillies in 2010, the Reds closer never got in a game. In 2012, the Reds lost in 5 and Aroldis, outside of a shaky save in Game 1, wasn’t a factor.

The case against starting Chapman: he only pitched 70 innings last year. He can’t pitch more than 150 this year. His speed will inevitably come down. No more Mr. 106. Do we want a Strasburg Redux this year in Cincinnati, when your team makes the playoffs but enters post season play without its best damn pitcher and loses in seven games to the damn Cardinals?

Reds fans seem to feel Chapman should start. Dusty seems to be hedging on this.

Here’s my take, for what it’s worth.

I love a dominating closer and that’s what Chapman was in 2012. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I loved the combination of setup guys Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall and the Cuban Missile, It wasn’t the Nasty Boys but they were close. I’m not giving up on Mike Leake yet, despite Game 4 against SF last year.

If Reds pitching coach Bryan Price can guarantee me Aroldis Chapman starting postseason games in 2013 -— if the Reds get that far — I’m all for it. That’s going to call for some creative thinking or at least keeping Chapman in the bullpen to start off the season.

I thought the Nationals were nuts in shutting down Strasburg last year. But maybe that’s also because the Cardinals wound up knocking them out of the playoffs, too.

61 thoughts on “Aroldis, Aroldis…

  1. Ultimately, what happens this spring will likely determine what role Chapman has at the beginning of the year. If he has a spring like last year, I do not know how he is not in the rotation (assuming that there aren’t bullpen injuries).

    However, at thiat point, I am just willing to wait and see when it comes to Chapman. Does anyone know when he will make his first ST appearance? . . .

    As for this season, I couldn’t be more excited. This team is simply intriguing. The lineup itself is full of interesting characters and stories. There is the blue collar, underappreciated catcher who seems to relish nothing more than seeing just how perfectly he can place his mitt and implore the hurler to execute the right pitch in the right location. There is the genuinely flashy second baseman who is more of a gamer than folks typically think flashy players to be. There is the brash and good natured third baseman who, in his free time, is also a superhero. There is the veteran left fielder who is enjoying a career rebirth/renaissance and enjoys the respect of teammates and opponents alike. There is the outfielder imported from Korea/Cleveland who has statistics that make us dream about how many more runs the Redlegs will score this year (replace the “WOOOOO!” with “CHOOOO!”). There is the immensely talented right fielder with the smooth swing who has grown up right in front of our eyes. The shortstop is straight from central casting: a cleancut, soft-handed, smooth fielding, quiet guy who sometimes looks overmatched at the plate.

    Simply put, what is there not to like about the ’13 Reds? . . .

  2. I am not sure why people saying that the Reds are not paying Chapman to be a closer. They are paying him , what, $30 million over 6 years. That is $5 million a year. That is less than CoCo cordero, Madsen and Broxton are getting/got paid to be a closer.

    I hope the reds bring him into the rotation around June 1 and keep him there through the end of the year.

  3. The Reds have a plan for handling Chapman’s transition to a starter. I have no idea what that plan is but I do have confidence that a well-conceived plan does exist to protect Chapman from injury and allow the Reds to avoid the abomination of how Strasburg was handled last season. I’m in the camp that as long as Chapman does not incur injury and as long as Chapman is available for the post season, the Reds can’t make a wrong decision regarding Chapman. With that said, what about this plan for transitioning Chapman from closer to starter…

    The most obvious scenario as DatDudeMP referenced is to start Chapman in the bullpen, but not as the closer. He pitches 2-3 innings per appearance every 4-6 days, preferably targeting either Arroyo’s or Leake’s appearances to finish the 6th-8th or 7th-9th innings. This helps keep the bullpen fresh, especially the back end of the bullpen and allows Chapman to get extended innings of work.

    An alternate option and a tougher option to manage would be to put Chapman in the starting rotation from the get go, but strictly limit his innings and pitch count with Leake scheduled to finish the games Chapman starts. I personally like this option because I think it is physically less stressful for everyone involved, but the requirement for efficient, diligent bullpen management concerns me, a lot.

    There are certainly other options for managing Chapman’s transition, but these are the two at the top of my list.

  4. I don’t think Joey is a non-concern. I think he’s a big concern – the biggest on this team by far. He is still saying that his knee is not 100%. I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, but I know that it doesn’t take six months plus to recover from a minor knee surgery. He should have been 100% long ago. The fact that he still isn’t screams to me that there is something floating in that knee, and that means it’s only a matter of time before a surgeon is back in there fishing something out.

  5. Regarding Chapman, the math is very simple: Do you want your most talented pitcher throwing 71 innings or 150 (or more)?

    As dominating as Chapman was in the closer role, we all need to remember that he had essentially the same success rate as the un-dominating Francisco Cordero. Point: The job just isn’t that hard. Chapman’s dominance was largely wasted.

    • @Chris Garber:

      Regarding Chapman, the math is very simple: Do you want your most talented pitcher throwing 71 innings or 150 (or more)? As dominating as Chapman was in the closer role, we all need to remember that he had essentially the same success rate as the un-dominating Francisco Cordero. Point: The job just isn’t that hard. Chapman’s dominance was largely wasted.

      Couldn’t agree more.

  6. I don’t know how you can just say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That seems to say that since the Reds won a lot of games last year, the team shouldn’t do anything to try to get better.

    Mike Leake has a Career ERA- of 106. He’s a below average pitcher. He’s not a terrible pitcher, but he’s below average. Similar pitchers over the last three years are Carlos Zambrano, Jair Jurjens, and Bruce Chen. Of course you can have a below average pitcher as your 5th starter, most teams do.

    But is there anyone on this board that thinks that Chapman will put up a worse than league average ERA as a starter? No one thinks that he’s going to have a 1.50 ERA out of the rotation, but all of the projections I’ve seen have him in the low 3s.

    I guess it just depends on how you define “broke.” It certainly seems like Chapman to the rotation would be a pretty big fix.

  7. @al: Chapman to the rotation is a short term fix, for 150 innings. After that he gets shut down and the team moves to plan B or C for the playoffs. If the Reds want to win the World Series it seems like having Aroldis Chapman available to contribute in the playoffs is something you’d want, rather than something you’d strive to prevent in spring training.

    Start the season with Chapman in the rotation or with Chapman in the bullpen? If it’s a question of whether you want him benched or pitching, respectively, in the postseason.

    • If the Reds want to win the World Series it seems like having Aroldis Chapman available to contribute in the playoffs is something you’d want, rather than something you’d strive to prevent in spring training.

      But you can’t build your season-long roster with an eye toward the World Series pitching rotation. You may never get there.

      • @al: I don’t think they’re converting Chapman to the rotation with the intention of skipping him whenever they can. In 2012 they almost always kept the 5 man rotation intact, which didn’t involve skipping Mike Leake’s spot, and I don’t think that’ll change that.

        As far as Chapman’s outlook after he returns to the bullpen – maybe Dusty will force him to stay there permanently – I say cross that bridge when they come to it. Maybe a need for a starter will arise. Or the Reds can distribute pamphlets about Kris Medlen to fans.

        I must be one of the few who admire what The Nats did with Strasburg last year, and, really, all along.They didn’t anticipate being a playoff team last year, but they stuck to their guns.

        I wish the Reds had handled Chap the same way.Maybe he’d have had TJ, too, but we’d know what he is by now.

        I admire what the Nationals did with Strasburg, I think that was the right decision for THEM to make as they looked ahead to future seasons. That said, I don’t think doing the same thing with Chapman would’ve been the right move for the Reds this year or last. The Reds should be thinking about winning the 2013 playoffs.

        But you can’t build your season-long roster with an eye toward the World Series pitching rotation.You may never get there.

        I think the Reds are a pretty safe bet for the playoffs even if Leake or Cingrani is starting in April and May. I think planning Chapman’s season around playoff needs is smarter than reaching the playoffs only to find him unavailable.

        • don’t think they’re converting Chapman to the rotation with the intention of skipping him whenever they can. In 2012 they almost always kept the 5 man rotation intact, which didn’t involve skipping Mike Leake’s spot, and I don’t think that’ll change that.
          As far as Chapman’s outlook after he returns to the bullpen – maybe Dusty will force him to stay there permanently – I say cross that bridge when they come to it. Maybe a need for a starter will arise. Or the Reds can distribute pamphlets about Kris Medlen to fans.
          I must be one of the few who admire what The Nats did with Strasburg last year, and, really, all along.They didn’t anticipate being a playoff team last year, but they stuck to their guns.
          I wish the Reds had handled Chap the same way.Maybe he’d have had TJ, too, but we’d know what he is by now.I admire what the Nationals did with Strasburg, I think that was the right decision for THEM to make as they looked ahead to future seasons. That said, I don’t think doing the same thing with Chapman would’ve been the right move for the Reds this year or last. The Reds should be thinking about winning the 2013 playoffs.

          Huh?

  8. I must be one of the few who admire what The Nats did with Strasburg last year, and, really, all along. They didn’t anticipate being a playoff team last year, but they stuck to their guns.

    I wish the Reds had handled Chap the same way. Maybe he’d have had TJ, too, but we’d know what he is by now.

  9. Analogies are good for starting discussions not debate. Here goes.

    The American Way is to improve things, make them better, add value or call it what you willl. It is the timing , more often than not, which can determine whether the improvement ‘works’.

    Could there be a better time than now,knowinng what we know now, to start AC?

    Yes, we can infer from what we know, but inference isn’t fact.

  10. @redsfanman: 150 innings is 25 starts of 6 innings. There are all kinds of ways the Reds can work that out. Most 5th starters don’t get 30 starts, because their teams skip them frequently throughout the year.

    I think the Reds can just skip him a few more times throughout the year, either giving spot starts to the long man in the pen (hopefully Leake), or more innings to the other 4 starters.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with him working some innings of relief, but I’m worried about Dusty and fans crying for him to stay if he has a few impressive relief outings.

  11. Gracious… Chapman…. AGAIN!!

    Grrr. So I choose another point in the post… Bronson Arroyo. YES! I believe he is very worthy of the Reds Hall of Fame.

    Tenure…. check
    Stats…. check
    Likeability ……. check

    Am I missing something?

  12. I like that the brass are keeping the Chapman plan close to the vest. Hopefully they learned from the Strasburg mess with the Nats last year. Have a plan and keep it under wraps. I don’t want to see hundreds of articles written about the Chapman decision if its made public in March. At this point I’m willing to sit back and watch, and keep my fingers crossed that Walt knows what he’s doing. I am guessing by April 1 we will at least know part of the plan.

    I arrive in Goodyear Sunday morning. Can’t wait to get 2013 started!

    Z

  13. @RC: I think if Arroyo is in, Harang has to be in… and there are few Reds I’d like to see celebrated more than Harang. He was great on some bad teams. Watching Harang vs Zambrano used to be the highlight of my Reds’ year. My how things change.

  14. Heck, Harang was here for part of 8 seasons! Didn’t seem like that long…

    Yeah, he’s in, and I apologize to the whole Harang family for doubting it.

  15. The most obvious scenario as DatDudeMP referenced is to start Chapman in the bullpen, but not as the closer. He pitches 2-3 innings per appearance every 4-6 days, preferably targeting either Arroyo’s or Leake’s appearances to finish the 6th-8th or 7th-9th innings. This helps keep the bullpen fresh, especially the back end of the bullpen and allows Chapman to get extended innings of work.

    I like this plan best… Aaron Harang is one of my all time favorite Reds. I genuinely think he loved being a Red. Sad…his last start of … what was it…2010?

  16. it’ll be interesting to see about harang and arroyo. arroyo is much more of a fan favorite, and he’s been a clubhouse leader on two playoff teams.

    that said, in 7 years he’s put up about 14 wins, making him a pretty steady 2 win pitcher for the reds.

    harang toiled on terrible teams, and it was during the height of the steroid era, when putting up a 3.80 ERA was actually really good, but it still sounds sort of meh, when you think about what maddux was doing in the 90s.

    but harang put up 22 wins or so over his 7+ years with the reds, making him much closer to a 3 win pitcher. he also had a great peak of 4, 5 and 5 win seasons.

  17. On the Choo vs. Drew topic: I wondered how things were going for him. Looks like he’s their starting RFer. Cleveland gets to have 3 center fielders at once. We don’t have any.

    Hopefully Stubbs’ new shorter stroke will benefit him, although there are probably enough ex-Reds killing it out there already, no?

    I found a quote from him that made me go wow:

    ***
    In the past three years, Stubbs has never struck out fewer than 166 times. He knows he has to become more efficient, but only to a degree.

    “You don’t want to throw away all the other strengths of your game to address one issue,” he said. “I don’t want to sacrifice my power and other things just to cut strikeouts in half.”

    http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2013/02/cleveland_indians_outfielder_d_1.html
    ***

    My thought is: cutting your strikeouts in HALF would be worth quite a LOT of the other stuff. Particularly when your manager tells you to bat lead-off. Stubbs clearly never bought into that role.

  18. @redsfanman: i disagree with you on chapman 100%. the reds didn’t skip leake last year in the rotation because he was their second best starter in 2011 and they wanted to get the most out of their 5 starters.

    however, they skipped leake plenty in 2010 when he came up. look at the numbers, he made 22 starts and pitched 138 innings. the reds can do something exactly like that with chapman and have some innings to spare.

  19. Yeah, count me in on Harang as well. Great guy. I’ll never forget Aaron’s Aces. His last start was an emotional day for me.

  20. @TC: I remember seeing Aaron Harang do a spot for some charity… perhaps the Children’s Hospital… before a game and feeling like a had to give money. I am pretty sure it’s the only time I’ve given money to an organization just because I saw an athlete endorse them. There is just something about the guy.

  21. @al: Last year, I went through the schedule and figured out how many times they absolutely needed a 5th starter. It was in the low to mid 20s. I’d be interested to see if this actually is the plan. Interestingly, we know three things:
    1. Chapman is preparing as a starter.
    2. There is a plan to control his innings.
    3. The Reds believe they can keep him available for the playoffs.

    Given that, they’ve got to have a plan for giving him some kind of significant rest. Interesting to see what it will be.

  22. All they have to do is start Chapman 3 of every 4 times through the rotation. Start Leake every 4th time through the rotation. This will give Chapman about 22 starts, so averaging 6 innings per start would give him 132 innings for the year. That leaves a lot of innings in the tank for the playoffs. He should be available to pitch an inning or two in a setup role about 10 times, keeping his inning count under 150.

  23. Of all the reasons to not start Aroldis, I think that one of the weakest is that it will keep him out of the playoffs this year. Firstly, if his innings are managed right, he can make the playoff roster. But even if he couldn’t, it makes zero sense to keep someone a reliever who has a chance to be a dominant starter for many years just because only one year of playoffs would be missed. Thank heaven John Ring isn’t in a position to make such a decision. He would rob the Reds of a chance to have a potential 20 game winner for many years just to have a closer for one year of playoffs, even after he points out that our closer has been essentially a non-factor in our last 8 playoff games!!

  24. Must say, I’m amazed that only one other person had a reaction similar to mine: Listing Votto as a “non-concern,” but then having to follow up with the words “if he’s healthy …” … To me, if his health is in doubt, that’s a concern. …

    Regarding Chapman, does anybody recall Dusty doing something out of the ordinary, such as what would be required to accommodate some of these suggestions? Chapman for 5 and Leake for 4 (or 3, etc.) might be a fine idea, not arguing that topic, but I can’t see Dusty doing that.

    • @Brian Van Hook:

      …does anybody recall Dusty doing something out of the ordinary, such as what would be required to accommodate some of these suggestions? Chapman for 5 and Leake for 4 (or 3, etc.) might be a fine idea, not arguing that topic, but I can’t see Dusty doing that.

      This is also my biggest concern regarding the transition and why I profered the following observation or question on the Chapman post started by Chad:

      Does anyone else get the feeling that Bryan Price might be running the show (or at least have majority stockholder input) regarding Chapman’s transition? After the job he did in Arizona, then Seattle and now Cincinnati, Price is arguably the best in the business. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking driving my perception since I have a whole lot more confidence in Price making the decisions regarding Chapman’s transition rather than Dusty making those decisions.

      This is certainly going to be an interesting ST leading into the 2013 season.

  25. Closing is overrated. That’s the simple truth. I’d rather have Aroldis starting, just like I’d rather have Cueto starting, just like I’d rather have Latos starting. Wainwright is better off in the rotation, Chris Sale was better off in the rotation, David Price is better of in the rotation…even though all 3 of those guys experienced time as late-inning relievers. With Chapman’s potential, not starting him isn’t borderline idiotic-it’s completely idiotic. If it doesn’t work, fine, put him back where he’s comfortable. You can always make that switch back.

    But what if it does work? What if in October a team rolls in to Cincinnati knowing they have to survive facing Cueto, Chapman, Latos and Homer? Hmm. I’ll take the experiment. Because those 4 in any 4 game series, playoff or not, is more valuable than anything in the bullpen.

  26. @RC: I agree..Harang is in if nothing else for pure sympathy of being awesome during a time of immense suckitude. The big man gave the team all he could.

  27. Regarding point #1 on Super Todd… I have this nagging feeling he’s going to lose the super tag and I don’t know why. Time will tell.

    Joey… he’s just rope-a-doping about his knee. “Sure, pitch to me, I don’t have much power back just yet, just can’t get right…” BAM! Opening Day, 3HR’s and he winks at Pujols each time around the bases and whispers “The MVP is back.”

  28. If they double chapman innings during the year, that is a goo thing.140 innings of chapman will help get the reds to the promised land.

    What if we really do not need a closer this year?

    If Bailey, Latos, Cueto and Bronson all pitch 7 innings, and you have Hoover, Lecure,Marshall Broxton et all trying to mop up 2 innings with a 5 run lead every night?

    Chapman is unneeded in the pen in that scenario.

    Pitching every 5th day, his innings can be counted on to help the team in a critical.situation. The example of how much did our best pitcher help.us in the SF series tells us all we need to know.

    Do we want Leake in game 4 or Chapman?

    Glad to hear about how excited the staff is with his 4 pitches.

    We are looking to improve the team. Get more innings out of guys who have a 1.5 era and get fewer innings out of guys who have a 4.5 era is a great way to improve the team.

    Chapman can win more than 12 games.

    Leake could save 35 games for this team and would probably be better as a cloaer. Leake is better the first time through the lineup.

    Leake at 70 innings and Chapman at 160 makes the team better than the other way around for 2013

    • @reaganspad:

      If Bailey, Latos, Cueto and Bronson all pitch 7 innings, and you have Hoover, Lecure,Marshall Broxton et all trying to mop up 2 innings with a 5 run lead every night?

      This is an excellent observation I had not really considered. With the extra week of ST this season, the starters should be stretched out pretty good right out of the chute too. If the starters do go deep into the games, there’ only limited number of innings available to keep the bullpen active and ready to pitch in top form.

      If the starting rotation is set to a strict 5 day schedule, skipping the 5th starter for off days and placing Chapman in the 5th starter position, then during April, Chapman will face: the Dirty Birds on 4/10; the Phillies on 4/15; the Fish on 4/20; the Nats on 4/25 and the Dirty Birds on 4/30. I like those matchups!

      • then during April, Chapman will face: the Dirty Birds on 4/10; the Phillies on 4/15; the Fish on 4/20; the Nats on 4/25 and the Dirty Birds on 4/30. I like those matchups!

        Dirty Birds? The Reds play the Orioles? ;)

        • @TC:

          The Reds play the Orioles?

          Ah, will the personal attacks never cease…? CHAD!!!

  29. @Shchi Cossack: Your comment makes two compelling points. First, the Reds schedule in April is brutal. It includes three games vs the Angels, seven vs. the Harpers, five vs. the Cardinals and three with the Phillies.

    Second, who would you rather have starting against the Cardinals, Phillies, Marlins, Nationals and Cardinals again, Mike Leake or Aroldis Chapman?

  30. Key question for Redleg Nation:

    With the retirements of Chris Carpenter and Tony LaRussa, is it still accurate to refer to the Cardinals as the WLB?

    Perhaps someone should ask DatDudeBP…

    • Key question for Redleg Nation:

      With the retirements of Chris Carpenter and Tony LaRussa, is it still accurate to refer to the Cardinals as the WLB?

      Perhaps someone should ask DatDudeBP…

      I truly hope not. I never liked it anyway. I am not a Molina fan at all, but WLB was tired after the first week. They are a good team with some really excellent players. I choose to like the Cardinals until they play the Reds. All this St. Louis hate has distracted the casual Reds fan from detesting the true evil empire which dwells in Chicago. (Although I am an Epstein fan, so there’s that.)

      • @TC:

        All this St. Louis hate has distracted the casual Reds fan from detesting the true evil empire which dwells in Chicago.

        In 2-3 years, the Stupid Cubbies will be seriously competing with the Reds in the NLCD. If the Bucos can get their ship righted, their young prospects should finally be ready to bring them into contention and the Dirty Birds (I don’t care, they are the Dirty Birds) should retool from their aging veterans with their young prospects, the NLCD may very well be not only the most competitive division, but the best division in MLB with inquestionably the best run organizations in MLB.

  31. Biggest problems for me:

    1) Offensive production from the 4 hole. Right now, we are looking at Ludwick. If he doesn’t work, we may be looking at putting Frazier in there. Regardless of who it is, we need someone in there to make pitchers bat to Votto. If not, then pitchers are going to be pitching around Votto every chance they get.

    2) Not as much one big problem but a lot of smaller problems all grouped together, like many have mentioned
    – Will Choo work in CF?
    – Will Chapman work starting? If he does, will the pen work without Chapman?
    – Votto’s knee
    – Contract/payroll status – I can’t help thinking it is getting a little high for us. I’m all for spending money, but it has to be money well spent. The Angels and Yankees have shown recently lots of money spent doesn’t necessarily mean positive results
    – Baker
    – To me, I still feel there may be something with catching duties, but we will see. As I remember, Devin spent the end of last season in Baker’s doghouse for some reason. I believe Devin was just a victim of going from “starting everyday”, being “the man” or at least one of, to essentially being a bench player right from the beginning.
    Players don’t always respond with good play by playing spottingly. They can’t take advantage of playing in one game and being told “Here’s your chance.” Few would be able to do that. Many need an everyday routine to get into before they are able to show good play. They need several weeks or more to be able to show what they can do.
    Players like Stubbs and Gomes were over-extended that opportunity 10-50 times over. Heisey finally got his chance last year and responded well. He just couldn’t get back in much when afterwards Ludwick took his turn and caught fire with his bat. Baker couldn’t take that bat out of the lineup.
    I believe Devin may be similar. If Baker wants to see if he can perform well, Devin may need several weeks or more of being “the man”. If it doesn’t work for Devin, we know what we have, essentially a 2nd string catcher. But, if it does. . .?
    Don’t get me wrong. I love Hanigan, also, and would hate to see either one leave. But, I see nothing but Devin being blocked, exactly like Alonso was blocked by Votto and Didi was blocked by Cozart. Whereas, something like with these guys, I believe we should either see if Devin does have what it takes (give him several weeks to a month to prove himself), or trade him off to fill some holes and go get a real second string catcher.

  32. @steveschoen: Your comments on catching bring up a good point. Backup catchers tend to play 1 or 2 games out of every 5. It’s why you don’t see too many highly regarded prospects or even young players working as backup catchers. Backup catchers tend to be veteran guys who work well with pitchers. They are not always good receivers but they usually have a clue about game management and pitcher management. Most young catchers just aren’t very well suited to a backup role. Most young players in general really aren’t.

  33. I would love to go to a Reds/O’s game when they play at GABP sometime in the next couple years. The O’s are my AL team of choice. They are the one team that really took a good look at me for playing pro ball. I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for them.

  34. @LWBlogger: Growing up the O’s were the closes major league team, though most in my area were either Yankees or Reds fans. The old timers were Twins fans. The local media covered them so I liked them as well.

  35. @steveschoen: I think saying that Devin Mesoraco is blocked exactly like Alonso was blocked is a stretch of major proportions.

    Hannigan is 32 years old and while he has a good OBP, his OPS+ last year was 88, and his career mark is 96. That means he is a below average offensive player.

    Mesoraco is going to be 25 this year, has one year of service time, and has a career minor league OPS of .795.

    What you have here is a pretty normal situation of an older steady player and a younger high ceiling player. In all of those situations the younger player has to prove that they can at least be steady before they get the shot fulltime.

    But it’s hardly like the Reds are thinking about moving either catcher. Hanigan is pretty old, he’s going to move back to backup duty in the next 5 years (for sure) and that’s the window for Mesoraco.

    In 2011 Alonso was 24 and Votto was 27. Votto wasn’t going anywhere, and he had just put up a .947 in the majors a year after his MVP season, while Alonso had an .836 OPS in the minors. So you had a younger guy with a lower ceiling behind a still young guy who was already achieving at an elite level in the majors. The two situations are about as different as I can imagine.

    • @steveschoen: What you have here is a pretty normal situation of an older steady player and a younger high ceiling player. In all of those situations the younger player has to prove that they can at least be steady before they get the shot fulltime. But it’s hardly like the Reds are thinking about moving either catcher. Hanigan is pretty old, he’s going to move back to backup duty in the next 5 years

      Several things, Al. First, how is Devin suppose to prove himself that he can at least be steady if he isn’t playing steady? Devin was the “future stud” of the club, a #1 draft choice, AAA All-Star. And, you are going to relegate him to a backup role for the next 5 years, where by that time he will be 30 himself, and thus on the same line that Hanigan is now? The norm around the league, if any norm, which I don’t subscribe to for all players, is one year on the bench while you learn, never for 5 years. Devin’s had his year. I say it’s high time to give him his shot. We will either be getting a great catcher or someone who is what he will be at this level, a backup catcher.

      I never did say the Reds were looking to move either catcher. I specified I liked both and would hate to see either go. But, by definition, if one is the #1 guy, the other would be the backup. And, backups aren’t necessarily hard positions to fill. Just look at last season. The Reds filled the backup catcher position fairly easily the last month of the season with a former All-Pro reject from another club, benching Devin.

      Dude, just by stating that Devin isn’t going to be the the #1 guy as long as Hanigan is here, that by definition means Devin is blocked. If you want to talk about for blocked for 5 years, that’s fine with me. But, also, in that 5 years, it would be easy for Devin to lose his skills and be essentially meaningless to us, nothing more than a backup catcher. Remember, Baker benched him the last month or so of the season for a All-Pro reject from another club.

      I’m not saying to give the starting catching job outright to Devin, never would say that with Hanigan here. I will say, give the kid his shot. It’s time. A couple of weeks to a month. Let’s see what he can do. If it doesn’t work out, hey, we still got what we got, a backup catcher. But, if it does workout, it would be a great problem to have.

      • @steveschoen:

        Several things, Al. First, how is Devin suppose to prove himself that he can at least be steady if he isn’t playing steady? Devin was the “future stud” of the club, a #1 draft choice, AAA All-Star. And, you are going to relegate him to a backup role for the next 5 years, where by that time he will be 30 himself, and thus on the same line that Hanigan is now? The norm around the league, if any norm, which I don’t subscribe to for all players, is one year on the bench while you learn, never for 5 years. Devin’s had his year. I say it’s high time to give him his shot. We will either be getting a great catcher or someone who is what he will be at this level, a backup catcher.I never did say the Reds were looking to move either catcher. I specified I liked both and would hate to see either go. But, by definition, if one is the #1 guy, the other would be the backup. And, backups aren’t necessarily hard positions to fill. Just look at last season. The Reds filled the backup catcher position fairly easily the last month of the season with a former All-Pro reject from another club, benching Devin.Dude, just by stating that Devin isn’t going to be the the #1 guy as long as Hanigan is here, that by definition means Devin is blocked. If you want to talk about for blocked for 5 years, that’s fine with me. But, also, in that 5 years, it would be easy for Devin to lose his skills and be essentially meaningless to us, nothing more than a backup catcher. Remember, Baker benched him the last month or so of the season for a All-Pro reject from another club.I’m not saying to give the starting catching job outright to Devin, never would say that with Hanigan here. I will say, give the kid his shot. It’s time. A couple of weeks to a month. Let’s see what he can do. If it doesn’t work out, hey, we still got what we got, a backup catcher. But, if it does workout, it would be a great problem to have.

        Couldn’t agree less. Hanigan has earned his position, taking it away from Ramon. If Mancuso is a stud, let him earn his playing time.

        • @earmbrister:

          @steveschoen: Couldn’t agree less. Hanigan has earned his position, taking it away from Ramon. If Mancuso is a stud, let him earn his playing time.

          err, Mesoraco, not Mancuso. Mancuso has earned HIS playing time, lol.

        • @steveschoen: Couldn’t agree less. Hanigan has earned his position, taking it away from Ramon. If Mancuso is a stud, let him earn his playing time.

          I never said Hanigan didn’t earn his position. I never said Devin should be given the starting position. I only said Devin should get a couple of weeks straight, up to a month, to give him his shot, see what we really have, see if he is really a stud at this level, which only helps this organization, or if we have exactly how we are playing him, as a backup catcher. For, without this, I believe Devin is blocked and we should look at letting him go to fill something else.

  36. Got to get back to work, but two points.

    I like the above work, it was well written. However, I’m firmly in the camp to have Chapman starting.

    On a more trivial note, I don’t get the above quote: “Shin-Soo Choo’s ability to play centerfield. The Reds brass will know in two weeks if he can or if he can’t. More importantly, so will Marty and the Cowboy. They call it as they see it.”

    Why is it “more important” what Marty and the “Cowboy” think or say? I’ll be all atwitter in anticipation. They can be almost unlistenable at times, Marty’s blind spot for Jay Bruce is a mile wide, and the “Cowboy” turns himself into a cartoon character way too often.

    And don’t get me started on those ice cream commercials …

  37. @steveschoen: I didn’t mean that Mesoraco is blocked for 5 years, I’m saying that we have Mesoraco controlled for 5 more years.

    Hannigan is 32 and a catcher. He’s also a free agent in 2015. He’s not going to be the Reds #1 guy for that long, and my point was that there is going to come a time during the 5 years we have Mesoraco that Mesoraco is going to be the #1 guy by default. And that time will likely come when he’s in his prime, around age 26 or 27.

    But the Reds are in Win-Now-Mode, don’t you think? It seems like there is plenty of time for Mesoraco to develop, and the Reds should be playing the best guys they every day (with enough rest to go through the playoffs). Mesoraco is going to get his playing time just like Hannigan did, and if he outhits Hannigan he’ll get more, just like Hannigan did.

    If your concern is that he needs to play almost everyday to keep developing, then fine. I think your argument should be to send him to AAA if that’s the case (which may happen). This is not the type of team that should be gambling with their offense when they don’t have to. We have a proven above average catcher in Hanigan, and to just give more time to Mesoraco at this point doesn’t make sense to me.

    • @steveschoen: I didn’t mean that Mesoraco is blocked for 5 years, I’m saying that we have Mesoraco controlled for 5 more years.Hannigan is 32 and a catcher. He’s also a free agent in 2015. He’s not going to be the Reds #1 guy for that long, and my point was that there is going to come a time during the 5 years we have Mesoraco that Mesoraco is going to be the #1 guy by default. And that time will likely come when he’s in his prime, around age 26 or 27. But the Reds are in Win-Now-Mode, don’t you think? It seems like there is plenty of time for Mesoraco to develop, and the Reds should be playing the best guys they every day (with enough rest to go through the playoffs). Mesoraco is going to get his playing time just like Hannigan did, and if he outhits Hannigan he’ll get more, just like Hannigan did. If your concern is that he needs to play almost everyday to keep developing, then fine. I think your argument should be to send him to AAA if that’s the case (which may happen). This is not the type of team that should be gambling with their offense when they don’t have to. We have a proven above average catcher in Hanigan, and to just give more time to Mesoraco at this point doesn’t make sense to me.

      And, in that time, Devin’s skills can erode to the point that we would have exactly what we have now, a backup catcher, where we would probably be looking for someone else anyhow to start come that time.

    • catcher. He’s also a free agent in 2015. He’s not going to be the Reds #1 guy for that long, and my point was that there is going to come a time during the 5 years we have Mesoraco that Mesoraco is going to be the #1 guy by default. And that time will likely come when he’s in his prime, around age 26 or 27.
      But the Reds are in Win-Now-Mode, don’t you think? It seems like there is plenty of time for Mesoraco to develop, and the Reds should be playing the best guys they every day (with enough rest to go through the playoffs). Mesoraco is going to get his playing time just like Hannigan did, and if he outhits Hannigan he’ll get more, just like Hannigan did.
      If your concern is that he needs to play almost everyday to keep developing, then fine. I think your argument should be to send him to AAA if that’s the case (which may happen). This is not the type of team

      Devin’s done everything he can at AAA, Al. The Reds need to commit to one or the other. I have said I would hate to see either Devin or Hanigan be demoted to bench player as well as let go. But, while we have both, we aren’t doing either one any favors much less us any favors when one of our player’s skills could erode by not playing because of the other.

  38. Seriously – afraid this year’s “Chapman in the bullpen” will be similar to last year’s “NL’s 2 lowest OBPs batting 1 and 2…” idiot will no doubt cost us wins and, likely, advancement in the postseason…Seriously – 2012 Chapman 38/43 saves… 2011 Cordero 37/43 saves…so let’s take a possibly INCREDIBLE starter and bury him as a closer who is SLIGHTLY BETTER than COCO CORDERO just like we put a .213 hitter with 160+ Ks in the leadoff spot last year…

  39. The discussion regarding Meso and Hanigan provided one piece of insight and welcome news that I had not realized. I always thought Hanigan’s 2 year contract for 2012 & 2013 avoided FA. Now I find that Hanigan has one more year of ARB in 2014 after his 2 year contract expires this year. This came as outstanding news for me. Since the Reds have one more year of player control, the decision to extend Hanigan may be a tough one. He will be a 34 year old catcher in 2015 when he would be a FA. I love everything about Hanigan and the way he plays the game, but extending a 34 year old catcher is a pretty significant risk. That’s just one more item that will make this season so interesting.

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