2013 Reds

This and that…

John Erardi (and our friend Joel Luckhaupt) give the Reds a “different idea” of how to “save Aroldis Chapman” this season.

A taste:

I see no reason why LeCure couldn’t be piggy-backed with Chapman early in the season to save Chapman’s innings and make it much more likely that Chapman will still be around in October to take his turn in the playoff rotation – if he’s earned it.

The other thing of real interest in today’s Enquirer is a column by Paul Daugherty on Ryan Hanigan:

Think you know Ryan Hanigan?

Hanigan majored in philosophy at Rollins College. That’s not a bad way to go, if you’re pondering a career dealing with neurotic major-league pitchers. I asked him who his favorite philosophers were. Just to make conversation.

Yogi Berra, maybe. Casey Stengel. Marty Brennaman.

“I like all the existentialists,” Hanigan said. “Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Sartre. That was my genre. I believe in it. The only way to understand knowledge in life is through experience. Experience gives you a different level of understanding.”

Sometimes, we don’t know nothin’.

That’s especially true when our subject is a catcher, the only player on the field whose head is helmeted in plastic and steel. Rumors of Ryan Hanigan’s intellect abounded. His dad is a retired FBI agent, who once tracked down a fugitive who’d been on the lam for more than a decade.

36 thoughts on “This and that…

  1. Very interesting that Hanigan lies Nietzsche, but at the same time, can’t say I’m surprised. The kind of minimal stoicism would be befitting of a catcher, and you can see it reflected in how he approaches the game.

    Truly fascinating. Would that I could sit and discuss philosophy with Hanigan, I would be curious to see how deep that rabbit hole goes.

  2. Joe Torre showing off some elite managing skills-sacrifice bunting with Adam Jones in the 2nd inning of a 0-0 game. :(

  3. Between Hanigan majoring in philosphy .. and news of Votto reading Thinking, Fast and Slow — a book by Nobel Peace Prize Winner in Economics – Daniel Kahneman … I’m super impressed with how cerebral some of our guys truly are… Makes me like them more.

  4. Joey Votto officially survived the World Baseball Classic! Yikes! Who would’ve thought. He didn’t even get involved in a mess about punching people in a big Mexico-Canada fight. Some no-name pitchers for Team Canada blew their chance to beat Team DatDudeBP later in the game.

  5. Yea.. but did you see him strike out looking during that last at bat of the game? :/ I’ve never been so conflicted about an at bat in my life … wanting him to hit a HR vs wanting him to strike out so USA wins. I hope I never have to root against Joey Votto again!

  6. @CI3J: Wouldn’t Marcus Aurelius be a better intellectual model than Nietzsche for a catcher?

    I shudder at the thought of an advocate of Dadaism calling pitches.

    On the other hand, the idea of a baseball team arguing philosophers in the locker room, in the bullpen and on the bench sounds like a hilarious comedy routine. I suspect umpires of being post-modernists, frankly.

  7. @RES:

    I was not in any way trying to say or suggest there was a correlation between the two factors. All athletes who succeed get that in a variety of ways. Cerebral intellect is not a neccessity by any means. I was merely saying that I have a lot of personal respect for both of them for having more to them than their baseball atheletic talents. While I admire athleticism…and of course enjoy watching the Reds. I also have a great and adoring admiration for the mind and analytical thinking. If you combine the two… WOW. I realize perhaps that I might be in the minority.. and this is afterall a conversation about baseball… but I find individuals who excel in mutiple areas to be stronger role models that I personally want to look up to and that I’d want kids to look up.

  8. @Love4Reds: Joey Votto was 1 for 3 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored. I’m fine with that day, even if it ended with a strikeout.

    I wasn’t particularly conflicted – I wanted Canada to win. How funny would that be? Root for the underdog. Like the Olympics it really doesn’t matter if your country finishes in first place.
    -If Team USA wins… why the heck did the other teams even participate, the other teams knew they couldn’t win (which is what happened), why did players like Votto volunteer their time?
    -If Team Canada had won… chaos… geez, what a joke of a series, Team USA must not have tried, lets question the whole makeup of the WBC. Maybe Joey Votto would get some credit for an upset.

    Now I’m conflicted – I want to root for the underdog but I also want to root for Brandon Phillips, who seems to play for the team that is the frontrunner.

  9. Hasn’t Japan won the whole thing for the last several WBC? I don’t think USA is a “given” win.

    • @bearcats2004: Good article, addressing the collateral damage to the bullpen, that either way the Reds face controversy related to their decision (in April it might be over why Chapman was left out of the rotation, in September it’ll be over why he has to be shut down).

      If Walt Jocketty really felt strongly he could have traded Mike Leake. You know, remove the competition for the rotation who apparently is such a significant problem and weakness. Instead he kept him, and maintains that he’s still one of 6 starters in camp. I agree that it’ll be an organizational decision, Dusty and the players vs Bryan Price, but if Jocketty was strongly committed to converting Chapman he would find a way. In my opinion, by doing nothing, Jocketty is pushing Chapman back to the rotation and any blame should be placed on him.

  10. @Drew Mac:

    That and the Toddfather just found the last number in pi.

    The Cossack is really getting old. I had to reread your post 3X before I got it, but I like it! I may be getting slow, but I still get there.

    With another off day for the Reds today and Joey V rejoining the Reds on Tuesday after the elimination of Canada from the WBC, I thought I would revisit some early ST results of particular interest.

    How are the biggest concerns at the end of last season handling ST:

    Choo => .421/.476/.474/1.071
    Votto => .389/.522/.667/1.188
    Meso => .400/.471/.867/1.337

    Donald => .300/.462/.400/.862
    Hannahan => .227/.346/.273/.619
    Izturis => .320/.393/.440/.833
    Burriss => .320/.320/.440.833
    Rodriguez => .400/.429/.500/.929

    Keep an eye on this prospect:

    Donald Lutz
    Spring Training 2012 => .320/.320/.640./.960
    Arizona Fall League 2012 => .395/.422/.581/1.004
    Spring Training 2013 => .368/.400/.579/.979
    Rk 2010 => .286/.356/.478/.834
    A- 2011 => .301/.358/.492/.850
    A+/AA 2012 => .269/.336/.517/.852

  11. I’m a huge Cozart fan and I’m completely comfortable with Zack playing SS for the Reds in the foreseeable future. I believe he will win at least 1 GG during his career and provide some pop with a serviceable bat. I know that it’s just spring training, but I’m seeing the same tendencies from Dusty that werehave been so disturbing during past seasons. Just because Cozart plays SS, does not dictate that he has to hit in the top of the order. He is not a top of the order hitter and continually inserting him into the top of the order, even in BP’s absence, does him and the Reds a huge disservice.

    With his shoddy defense, Henry Rodriguez may have very well eliminated even his slim chance to make the 25-man roster. That won’t play well with Dusty or WJ, but the kid can certainly hit.

    Choo has handled CF more than adequately. The Reds’ scouts and WJ seem to have made an excellent determination, offensively and defensively, in acquiring Choo to lead off and play CF.

    BHam may not be nearly as ML ready as a lot of fans wanted to project him to be. He might even start the year in CF for the Blue Wahoos with LaMarre in CF for the Bats. LaMarre had a pretty good full season in AA last year.

  12. Okay I accessed the article:

    GOODYEAR, Ariz — Dusty Baker has been here before. It’s not the first time he’s heard people say he and his general manager don’t see eye to eye on a particular issue. As manager of the Chicago Cubs, Baker was accused of playing over-the-hill veterans instead of prospects despite the wishes of the front office.

    The veterans gave him the best chance to win, he’d say to the media.

    Now at the helm of the Cincinnati Reds, Baker is convinced leaving flame-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman as his closer gives him the best chance to win. Most of the players and staff think Chapman should close, too.

    However, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty is convinced his team is better with Chapman starting. Pitching coach Bryan Price agrees.

    Normally the manager makes the call on a player’s role. And understand, Baker will ultimately do what the organization wants. But it’s clear there’s something of a schism pertaining to Chapman’s role. Could this be the start of another Stephen Strasburg/innings limit-type controversy we witnessed last season?

    If Chapman closes, the Reds’ bullpen is one of the league’s best with Jonathan Broxton, Logan Ondrusek, Sean Marshall and J.J. Hoover preceding him. Without Chapman, they all move in domino-like fashion into roles of increased responsibility. Though Broxton and Marshall both have handled the closer’s and set-up roles before, taking Ondrusek and Hoover out of their comfort zones could be risky.

    Should Broxton and Marshall fail in the eighth and ninth innings or Chapman fail as a starter, you can bet the decision to move an almost unhittable closer to the rotation will be second-guessed and could become a distraction for a team that has World Series aspirations.

    Jocketty said Chapman’s case is different than Strasburg’s because Chapman is not returning from Tommy John surgery, as Strasburg did last season. He also points to C.J. Wilson and Chris Sale as examples of pitchers who went from 70 innings pitched one season to 180 the next with no ill effects. Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the pitchers’ different deliveries, release points, ages and health risks, but you see what Jocketty’s thinking.

    Price reiterated they won’t start Chapman five to 10 times, then decide to put him back in the ‘pen. He either starts or closes — not both. Jocketty says the plan also would have Chapman available to start in the postseason, should things turn out favorably for the Reds.

    Jocketty says confidently the decision will be made by Opening Day, but I get the feeling the real resolution of this debate won’t be until well after. Let’s hope that by Opening Day, Jocketty does the right thing and delegates the decision to Baker and let Chapman close, thus giving the Reds their best shot at winning their first World Series since 1990.

    Meanwhile, the other question in Reds camp surrounds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and whether he will be adequate in center field. The resounding answer is yes, especially considering the cozy dimensions of Great American Ball Park. So far, Choo has made all of the routine plays, and although everyone realizes his range running forward will be below average, they think that the range of middle infielders Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart going backward will compensate for Choo’s limitations. Reds players and management believe that finally having a legit leadoff hitter will more than offset his defensive liabilities.

  13. One’s personal philosophy should be added to the heap of meaningful topics we don’t discuss in public; like money, politics, and religion.

    • @TC: I adhere to Vottoism, TC, and I’m not afraid to talk about it.

      Me too. I’m studying to become a Vottoiscan Monk. I’ve taken a vow to crush any baseball that comes within arm’s length of me. I’ve really found my inner peace here. It’s quite rewarding.

  14. I actually played baseball at Rollins and still live in the area. Hanigan is kind of like a mythical figure around the team and program. With a completely new staff since his playing days, current and recent former players like myself do not know much about him. There is a disconnect with most of the players from that time period because they loved Rollins’ old coach and dislike our new one so we’re not privy to their stories and experiences with him or those teams. All we know is that he played outfield for Rollins because another catcher started over him. That catcher made it to AAA with the Astros so not a completely ridiculous move. So the only stories we hear about Hanigan are from that catcher who, as you can imagine, has some jealousy in his voice when he talks about Hanigan due to the fact that Hanigan made it and he came close but never did. That small connection makes these kinds of stories all the more interesting and adds some more insight into the man, the myth, the legend of Ryan Hanigan.

    Also, knowing the campus, I can see Hanigan just sitting out on some dock overlooking our lake with a philosophy book in one hand and scouting reports for the next game’s pitchers in the other.

  15. A conversation here last week regarding Baker teaching Hamilton to swing more often had me mulling some things over. I tend not to question hitting with the philosophies pros. There’s a reason why they are on the field and I’m home watching the game on my 70″ TV. But it unsettled me. Why mess with a .406 OBP and 16.8 BB%? So I did some digging. In the end, I’m still not sure what I think, but I’m not so against this hitting approach for Hamilton as I was. I tried to write out all the stats that got me to where I’m at for you, but that was a nightmare so I’ll give you the highlights.

    While Hamilton’s .400 BABIP cannot be sustained, especially in the majors, his ability to beat out the ground ball will allow him to carry a higher BABIP than average. Considering his higher BABIP (I used .325), I looked at the difference between leaving the bat on his shoulder and trying to take a walk as opposed to swinging at strike three. The strike outs he adds at the expense of walks with Baker’s philosophy is pretty much the same number of trips to the bases that he’ll leg out by swinging. Not everything I needed for my calculations were available at FanGraphs or Baseball Reference so I had to make some assumptions. The difference depending on whether my assumptions were conservative or extreme resulted in +/- 10 times on base one way or the other over a season of 605 PAs. The assumptions were the percentage of walks in a full count as opposed to a strike out and what percentage of his strike outs were looking.

    There is less to be concerned about than I thought. But only because of his high BABIP… the lower his BABIP to less the Baker philosophy works. The higher Hamilton’s BABIP, the more Baker looks like a genius. A BABIP of .325 seems to be break even number.

    But consider this, Hamilton is not as likely to hit into the DP because (just like Stubbs) he’ll beat it out. Weigh a strike out leaving anyone else on base, or a fielder’s choice with Hamilton on base, I’ll take the fielder’s choice. (I’m ignoring the possibility walk which results in no outs because there is also the possibility of a hit that results on no outs either. We can only take this too far.) Also consider that if someone is in scoring position, the likelihood has just increased that Hamilton moved that hitter over or knocked him in. A walk does not move the runner at 2nd or 3rd unless the bases are clogged.

    I’m not necessarily advocating Baker’s batting philosophy for Hamilton. There are too many moving parts to really know if it would be successful. And I’m sure you can pick at any one of a hundred parts of this to find something you disagree with. So no, I’m not drawing any conclusions. I am suggesting that there is a possibility that Baker may be right and it might be a net sum gain, not necessarily by getting Hamilton on base more often, but because of what it causes on the bases.

  16. Doesn’t it matter what the player wants? Chapman commented in an interview at ST he would prefer working as a closer. Hopefully both Leake and Dusty will help and put him there.

  17. When you start from a blatantly false premise…

    “… let Chapman close, thus giving the Reds their best shot at winning their first World Series since 1990.”

    … anything that follows is predictably worthless.

  18. @RC: I don’t think you can call it “blatantly false”. The reason being that many, many old-school baseball types believe that Chapman in the pen does give the Reds a much better shot at winning the WS, than moving him to the rotation. A lot of old-school baseball people think moving Chapman to the rotation is a horrible idea. While I can certainly see the reasoning that the more statistically included have for wanting Chapman in the rotation and while it does make sense on paper, I think there are a lot of people who are, to say the least, ‘unsure’ about the move the Reds are making.

    One thing is for sure. The Reds’ are often accused of not being forward-thinking enough. Moving Chapman to the rotation is a bold move that flies in the face of lots of the conventional wisdom. I’m not sure it’s the right move or not but the stat-geek in me can really see how powerful this could be if it works.

    • The reason being that many, many old-school baseball types believe that Chapman in the pen does give the Reds a much better shot at winning the WS, than moving him to the rotation.

      But they don’t explain *why*. They don’t explain *how*, given that his net efect was actually one game better than Coco the year before, and that he had very little real effect on the Reds’ playoff series last year.

      Chapman was amazing. He was fun. He didn’t drive us nuts the way certain other closers have. But tell me how he was an integral part of the team’s success last year, because I don’t see it.

      • But they don’t explain *why*.They don’t explain *how*, given that his net efect was actually one game better than Coco the year before, and that he had very little real effect on the Reds’ playoff series last year.

        Chapman was amazing.He was fun.He didn’t drive us nuts the way certain other closers have.But tell me how he was an integral part of the team’s success last year, because I don’t see it.

        You said it yourself, Chapman was amazing, he was fun, he didn’t drive us nuts the way other closers have. Francisco Cordero is long gone, replaced by a far more questionable guy in Jonathan Broxton. Teams knowing that they have to score all the runs in the first 8 innings changed the dynamics of the game while Broxton would ensure a return of the last minute uncertainty and headaches. Every blown save he gets would be questioned, surely any smart manager would replace him with _________ after that. I think fans leaving the game feeling excited (did you see Chapman strike out those three guys?) are more likely to buy tickets again than ones who feel dismayed (geez, Broxton made that close).

        How was he an integral part of the team’s success? For one thing he put other guys into roles that they’re great at. Marshall and Broxton pitching setup, in particular. Both are great setupmen but mediocre or questionable closers. Removing Chapman from the Reds’ bullpen is synonymous with removing Craig Kimbrel from the Braves’ – it weakens everyone in the bullpen.

  19. I think a lot of people want the Reds to make a ‘forward-thinking’ move to convert Chapman so that he can take his place along side Justin Verlander and David Price as MLB aces in a year or two. Yeah, that’s a great idea if you’re rebuilding. Bryan Price is right that it’s the best way to get the most out of the pitcher.

    If, like Dusty Baker, Walt Jocketty, and Bob Castellini, your priority is to win the World Series this year and I think you would approach it another way. After years of rebuilding to get to where they are now I think the Reds will favor the present over the future, and rightfully so.

    I think the Reds are working hard to be vague about their message so that any outcome is obviously EXACTLY what they planned.

    -If Cueto, Latos, Bailey, or Arroyo gets hurt Chapman and Leake both enter the rotation, JUST like the Reds planned all along. They’ve constantly showed utmost confidence in both guys as starters. Neither is mistake or contingency plan (like Mike Leake was when he was activated to replace Cueto in the NLDS).

    -If everyone stays healthy Chapman returns to the bullpen, because they’ve shown they have utmost confidence in Leake as a starter and Chapman as a closer.

    Demeaning either guy, like by saying that they don’t deserve consideration for a rotation spot, doesn’t do anything positive. It just sets up problems later on.

  20. I am shocked at the depth of Schoenfield’s knowledge of the Reds makeup. Most national writers don’t have that level of knowledge of a particular team unless they live in that city. Agree or not, he knows the Reds.

  21. As this discussion isn’t about Chapman per se, but about relief “roles” in general, I think it’s interesting and not quite as worn out as other discussions…

    Most of what you’re talking about here are the psychological effects of having a Chapman in the pen. I don’t *totally* discount those things… but I do think they’re overrated, and they are obviously not measurables in any real sense.

    I just don’t get the idea that a Broxton or a Marshall are quite comfortable in the 7th and 8th innings, but huge question marks in the 9th. They largely are what they are – to the extent that pitching in the 9th might “get in their heads”, it’s because they have been artificially denied the opportunity to pitch there by this idea that it’s *so much easier* starting the bottom of the 8th. It just seems like some very weird thinking to me.

    “Closer” is a made up thing, a manager’s security blanket, and really, a terrible thing to do one of your best pitchers. You worry about having a guy “available” for the playoffs, when there’s absolutely no guarantee that, in a seven game series, you’ll ever have a “save” situation for him to pitch in. The Coco 2011 vs. Chapman 2012 numbers are, to me, the smoking gun – in the same number of appearances, *one game* is the difference between “get this guy out of town” and “him closing gives us our best chance to win the World Series.”

    I am not buying.

    • As this discussion isn’t about Chapman per se, but about relief “roles” in general, I think it’s interesting and not quite as worn out as other discussions…

      Most of what you’re talking about here are the psychological effects of having a Chapman in the pen.I don’t *totally* discount those things… but I do think they’re overrated, and they are obviously not measurables in any real sense.

      I just don’t get the idea that a Broxton or a Marshall are quite comfortable in the 7th and 8th innings, but huge question marks in the 9th.They largely are what they are – to the extent that pitching in the 9th might “get in their heads”, it’s because they have been artificially denied the opportunity to pitch there by this idea that it’s *so much easier* starting the bottom of the 8th.It just seems like some very weird thinking to me.

      “Closer” is a made up thing, a manager’s security blanket, and really, a terrible thing to do one of your best pitchers.You worry about having a guy “available” for the playoffs, when there’s absolutely no guarantee that, in a seven game series, you’ll ever have a “save” situation for him to pitch in.The Coco 2011 vs. Chapman 2012 numbers are, to me, the smoking gun – in the same number of appearances, *one game* is the difference between “get this guy out of town” and “him closing gives us our best chance to win the World Series.”

      I am not buying.

      For an inning or two Chapman may be one of our best, but what about 6-7 innings per outing? We have zero way to know that. If this was a rebuilding team I would be okay finding out, but we are not, thus you leave him where you know he can dominate…

  22. @RC: I think Redsfanman explained the biggest impact Chapman had on the bullpen in his last paragraph above. It isn’t just a matter of games blown in the 9th and save percentage. It is a matter of how the bullpen does as a whole. How often does the team blow a lead when they have it going into the 7th? Then they have the whole “chemistry” argument and the effect that a dominating bullpen has on the opposing team. I’m not sure I’m completely on board with that but I never played in the Majors. Al Leiter had some really good reasons when he gave his opinions on Chapman’s transition during MLB Tonight on the MLB Network. Unfortunately, a lot of what he said is slipping my mind at the moment.

    All that said, from a numbers standpoint moving Chapman makes perfect sense. My concern is that the game is played on the field and if the conversion to starter fails there could be repercussions aside from him not being a particularly good starter. Is that a likely outcome? Perhaps not but it is possible and this is a team that even with Chapman in the pen, had excellent pitching.

  23. I think intangibles and psychological effects of things like leadership, chemistry, confidence, and the attitude the team projects can all be important. Even if they’re hard to measure. If a team questions its ability to hold leads they can question their ability to beat the other team, starting the players down a distracting path of despair and dismay.

    Maybe a closer is like a ‘manager’s safety blanket’, but he’s also almost the definition of the bullpen. Who are the key non-Reds relievers in the NL Central? John Axford (Brewers), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Jason Motte (Cardinals), and Jason Grilli (Pirates), in no particular order. Which team has the strongest bullpen? I think any discussion starts with the named closer. The quality of the bullpen is defined by the best reliever, not the long relievers or setupmen. If the Reds batters faced, say, Axford or Broxton, I’d be optimistic about their ability to tack on a few runs in the final inning – if Kimbrel or Chapman enter the game is practically over already.

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